In Light Of 'The Dark Knight Rises,' Warner Bros. Rethinks 'Gangster Squad'by: Posted:
Warner Bros.' present predicament isn't exactly novel.
The entertainment industry inherently only survives with its finger persistently placed over the collective consumer pulse, and its ear to the public consciousness. So it is that the major studio is reportedly rethinking taking its Sept. 7 release "Gangster Squad" back to the editing room in light of July 20's massacre at an Aurora, Colo., midnight premiere of "The Dark Knight Rises," Reuters reports.
It was that morning that 24-year-old James E. Holmes stormed a packed theater and opened fire on the audience 30 minutes into the conclusion to director Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy. Less than 12 hours later, Warner Bros. executives announced publicly that they had ordered the "Gangster Squad" trailer airing before the film - concluding with a scene of gunmen opening fire through a movie screen and into an audience - pulled from all screenings. Holmes' rampage killed 12 and left another 58 people injured. He was apprehended minutes later in the parking lot.
Since then, options expected to be discussed today by studio executives include not only re-editing the film to remove at least the now questionable-in-taste theater moment, but pushing back the release date. Thus far, the isolated incident hasn't affected the box-office drawing power of "The Dark Knight Rises": despite a Warner Bros. stance to withhold officially reporting the film's box-office numbers until today, word surfaced over the weekend that at $162 million in the United States and Canada, the film is on track for the third-best opening weekend in history.
Warner Bros. did scale back opening-weekend events surrounding the film considerably. Cast and filmmakers were pulled from all scheduled public appearances. The studio canceled opening events in Paris, Tokyo and Mexico City. In many markets, local authorities stepped up security at other screenings. Still, other openings for action-packed, violent films look to be unchanged. Jeremy Renner's "Bourne" franchise debut in "The Bourne Legacy" is still set for Aug. 10, and the remake of 1990's sci-fi action hit "Total Recall" is still slated for Aug. 3.
"The immediate reaction is to go to some dark place when something like this happens. By Monday that's forgotten and the business of releasing a movie takes over," a source allegedly understanding Warner Bros.' modus operandi claimed.
And indeed, Warner Bros. would understand this. Following the 1999 Columbine High School massacre by Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, Warner Bros.' "The Matrix" found itself draped in a controversial stigma when the bullet-riddled sci-fi film's trenchcoat-clad, automatic weapon-wielding protagonists became synonymous with the black trenchcoats Harris and Klebold were known to don. Clips from the film frequently found their way into exposés and in-depth reports pondering whether violent entertainment could easily bring violent tendencies to a boil.
Similarly, 2000's "Fight Club" drew critical ire for its anarchic, nihilistic themes near the Columbine massacre's one-year anniversary.