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Warner Bros Cutting Violent Theater Scene from 'Gangster Squad'?

by
July 23, 2012
Source: The Film Stage, Variety

Gangster Squad

In light of the recent tragic events during a midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises in Colorado that left 12 dead and over 50 injured, Warner Bros has apparently been on "crisis-management". They've cancelled a number of press events and pulled ads for TDKR from radio & TV. The movie did still go on to earn an impressive $162 million at the box office, but Warner Bros has something else to worry about. WB quietly started pulling trailers for Ruben Fleischer's Gangster Squad, the 40s/50s cop drama, after the shooting. Now Variety say they're recutting the film because, if you recall, it has a violent movie theater shooting in it.

The scene in question, if you recall seeing it in the trailers, involves Sean Penn as mobster Mickey Cohen and his cronies entering the famous Grauman's Chinese theater from behind the screen, shooting tommy guns as they walk towards the audience. At the time this was released, in May two months ago, it was just a violent scene that nobody through too much of. Now just rewatching it elicits uncomfortable feelings of terror and unavoidable comparisons to the recent tragedy, which is why Warner Bros is making a move to change it. Variety reports specifically on the alteration, stating in their article on Warner Bros' decisions:

"The studio moved swiftly Friday to pull from exhibs and online outlets the trailer for Gangster Squad, a period drama that featured a scene in which agents spray machine-gun fire into a crowded movie theater from behind the screen. Given the eerie association created by the Aurora shootings, Warner Bros. has since decided to remove the scene from the film, which opens Sept. 7, and is putting reshoot plans into motion, a source with knowledge of the situation told Variety. Warner Bros. would not comment."

This isn't the first time we've heard that this might be happening, as The Film Stage and other outlets were picking up on hints and bits and pieces behind-the-scenes through other online reports. The LA Times ran an article on all the Gangster Squad trailers being pulled, stating: "Studio executives are discussing the possibilities of pushing the release date and recutting the film to minimize the theater shooting scene or remove it altogether." Now it sounds like they're definitely removing or at least altering the scene and, I would assume, delaying the release as well. It is, unfortunately, a decision that makes sense given the state of the nation after the shooting, plus the connection with movies and movie theaters is all too painful now.

The scene was a rather important part of the movie, a key piece in the later half. I actually remember seeing Ruben filming part of the scene outside of the actual Grauman's Chinese late one night (see photos here). Thinking back to it, the scene was rather horrific, involving the mobsters shooting into the theater and the audience members fleeing out the entrance screaming, tommy guys and shotguns going off everywhere. I don't think anyone wants or needs to see anything like this anytime soon, even in another movie, and it's right of WB to put a hold on this and make revisions, as unfortunate as it is for Ruben and the movie itself.

Critic Richard Roeper also commented on the Gangster Squad connection on his own blog recently, adding his thoughts into the mix about the necessity of the scene being cut now. "It is of course a small thing in the grand scheme, but when there is large-scale tragedy, there is pop culture fallout." He makes a very good point and I think Warner Bros understands that bigger connection/concern, too. From Roeper's post:

"I read the screenplay for Gangster Squad, and the theater scene (ONSCREEN GUNFIRE joined by ACTUAL GUNFIRE...Panicked PATRONS dive, crawling, scrambling toward the exits...) is a key sequence taking place fairly late in the action. No official word yet on whether the scene in question will be cut from the movie.

No matter. I can’t imagine Warner Bros. keeping the scene in the film. With Gangster Squad set for release only six weeks from now, it would take people out of the moviegoing experience and instantly remind them of the movie theater shootings in Aurora, Colo."

At the moment, Warner Bros is playing things very close to the chest, not announcing much or revealing any major changes. We've been following updates regarding the repercussions of the shooting and while they're still letting The Dark Knight Rises play, without reporting box office numbers yet, it sounds like Gangster Squad is going to be put on hold. Possibly so they can reshoot scenes. Variety says "Warner is considering canceling a Gangster Squad test screening planned for later this month", and every single version of the trailer has been scrubbed entirely off of the internet—at least for the United States ("has not made this video available in your country"). From here, we'll have to wait for actual updates from Warner Bros on all of this.

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  • rocky728
    I hate these over-reactions by companies. I hope I don't come off as heartless. I feel terrible for what happened and actually choked up this morning when reading about the actual victims. My prayers go out to the families..... but we live in world full of tragedies, from wars, massacres and just ruthless crimes. Are studios going to cut out anything that brings back any bad memories. They'd have to cut car crashes, shootings and just about any acts of violence or death since I'm sure millions of us have either been associated or loss someone due to one of the above. If anything postpone the release as to let the memory fade a little but I really don't like this sort of self-censure. Just my opinion Again my condolences to all those affected by this senseless tragedy
    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Brad-White/1458067169 Brad White
      I agree 100%, if we did this for everything, we'd never had movies like Flight 93, or A perfect storm or Star Wars, I mean did Lucas cut the Alderaan explosion out because 3 billion people died? Don't think so...
      • JBrotsis
        I thought that scene with the machine gun fire coming through the screen and then them walking through it was brilliant...haven't seen a scene like that in a long time (maybe ever). I know the situation in colorado was a real tragedy, but this is just a movie and doesn't compare to the real thing. this blows.
  • Xerxexx
    For the love of god I hope they don't.
    • http://mithunonthe.net/ Mithun Divakaran
      But they surely will, to avoid the bad PR they're going to get from the mainstream. But it'll be included in the uncut DVD/Blu-Ray for sure.
  • netizen24601
    I have never understood why people fear stuff like this. Do we really need someone to hide the scary stuff from us so we can pretend the world is not a scary place?
  • HazedMind
    This is seriously bad news one of my most anticipated films of the year ruined by the media again
  • Blkstar
    @rocky728:disqus You don't come off as heartless I agree with you 100%. Because of one mans act of violence, this film is now going to suffer and be stripped of its artistic creativity. This is wrong, and I doesn't make WB look any better for taking this scene out. If I was the director or the writers I would stand up for my work and not allow them to change this scene. It has nothing to do with what happened in Colorado at all.
  • germss
    Just push the film back. Give it two months and the media will have moved on. If anything disturbs me more than the actual shooting, it's the media's coverage of it. It's not just a shooting in Colorado, it's the 'batman shooting.' They are looking for connections to justify this man. What 'inspired' him. We miss the real issues here, as to how he was able to build this arsenal and no one noticed, or how someone could be so heartless that he thought nothing of killing a bunch of innocent people. These shootings, if inspired by anything at all, probably stem from the glorification of these acts by the media. Let us face these issues head on and not try to place blame whilst burying our heads in the sand.
  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Brad-White/1458067169 Brad White
    Total Over reaction
  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Brad-White/1458067169 Brad White
    You don't see this with books, people are too damn sensitive & moronic at the same time...by doing this you let the idiot with the Orange Hair win...
  • Jurassic_Max
    This is ridiculous. They shouldn't cut it
  • happy camper
    This is so stupid. Why not just make only PG films for the next few years then? Scale back all the violence then?
    • beevis
      people have been killing each other for hunderds of thousands of years - long before guns, tv, movies, video games, and suggestive music were even made. nothing will change it now.
  • thaRiddler
    Everybody let's give a round of applause to political correctness! Happily destroying the first amendment at all cost.
  • http://twitter.com/PolarBear26J Joshua Abbott
    I realize they are trying to cover there asses while in there own way respecting those that died, were wounded, or lived through the traumatic events that took place last week; but in so many ways this action just seems like cowardice. Like so many other aspects of our society, we would rather forget, than face what has happened. That being said, no I have never experienced the pain the people affected must be enduring, nor do I ever wish to, and my deepest condolences go out to them. Its just...I can't see censorship as the answer. They already did it with the Twin Towers...please not again, or at least make sure the original cut is available for viewing on the DVD release. I honestly feel sadder when I watch a movie Hollywood has purposely removed the towers from. Even in a fictional event, its like we're saying that 9-11 never happened. The same should apply to a film like this. Have people remember that lives were lost due to someones actions. Make us remember our past, and maybe it will shape us to be better in the future.
    • Interl0per
      " we would rather forget, than face what has happened." Thanks, that is the most perfectly accurate description of what is going on here. Even in America in general with all of this Politically Correct nonsense and trying to dumb down how life really is. The world is as violent and scary as it can be harmonious and beautiful. We should probably just get used to that idea that yes, as horrible and brutal as it is, this shit does happen.
  • grimjob
    Godammit. I knew this would happen.
  • DoomCanoe
    I live in Littleton Colorado and while i do understand the reason for the removal i dislike that its happening. hopefully it will be added in for the DVD release, because seeing it in the trailer it looked really well done. both the incident and having to cut a possibly amazing scene from the film are such a shame
  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Brad-White/1458067169 Brad White
    17 out of 17 comments agree bad move by the studio...
  • The Truth
    If they cut the scenes out, then there should be a discount for this ticket price. What i'm trying to say is even if it's just 3 minutes, it's still a crucial scene to the story. So it's like having an entree without a glass of wine.
  • Voice of Reason
    We'll always have Inglorious Basterds...
  • SuicidalOptimist
    Goddammit, I hate this shit. I really feel bad for the entertainment industry in times like this. They are always the first to get blamed and chastised when a tragedy like this happens. It's not their responsibility to police and control crazy people that get inspired by fictional events and persons. And, while I understand that this particular scene is gonna be a little too close to home for the people affected by the recent shooting, it's not like WB added the scene after the incident, thinking "Ooh, what a great, chilling and dramatic idea!" They aren't trying to exploit the poor individuals that died, got hurt or lost someone on that tragic night. It will probably sound cruel and heartless, but life does go on and the world keeps on turning, and in a couple of months news regarding the shooting will have been pushed back to page 8. People need to learn to distinguish between real life and fiction and stop being offended by absolutely everything. Push back release a couple of months. That should be enough.
  • tzarinna
    I really wish they wouldn't do this. It's really a shame.
  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M7YGEVuJ4mM Carpola
    I live in Scotland, after a showing of Braveheart before a rugby match between Scotland and England, in which Scotland lost by a great deal, an English student was beaten to death, by two men who had watched the film. I don't actually believe that to be the case, Scottish people are not the most clever and level headed people on the planet. People copy things out the Bible, should that be banned or censored too? Human beings are not clever, I know grown men who idolise Tony Montana, they are fucking idiots, possibly they want to sleep with their own sister, who knows. All the cuts/reshoots in the world will not change the fact that some dumb ballsacks can't see the difference between a bunch of grown ups pretending to be crazy onscreen and the reality of being someone with severe mental health problems. But I don't own a film company, as a business decision it makes sense, especially in America, someone might sue them.
  • PS123
    This is just going to exacerbate things. If this proves true, this movie will go down in history as the one that had to cut what looks like a very intriguing scene out as a result of some lunatic taking many lives and ruining the lives of their loved ones. When (or if) "Gangster Squad" is released, people will reignite converstaions about this tragedy, only causing more pain and sorrow. That man in Colorado will answer for his craziness, but we shouldn't have to see long-term affects of it. What's next? Cutting the third act out of "Inglourious Basterds" from further DVD and Blu-Ray productions?
    • beevis
      oh, you know WB will use this to their advantage - after the theatrical dvd comes out - a "special" uncut dvd WITH the scene will be released.....and for more money i'm sure.
  • David
    This stupid fucks wanna cut the fucking scene after recent massacre?!!! what the fuck is the benefit of this stupid action?
  • Zero
    ACTUAL GUNFIRE...Panicked PATRONS dive, crawling, scrambling toward the exits...) is a key sequence taking place fairly late in the action. I don't mean to sound cold but... If I understand correctly they are cutting a, "key sequence" out of the film that has been in post before the events of last weekend took place. Gangster Squad has absolutely nothing to do with Colorado. I really don't think anyone is going to be offended by a period film with a 1940's 1950's cinema shoot out. If they are going to be like this about the film then they might as well take all the scene's with gun's in them out while they are at it..... Again I don't mean to sound like an a$$ but this is considerably silly to me.
    • beevis
      you beat me to the post - i couldn't agree more.
  • beevis
    i guess we need to be glad "we need to talk about kevin" got released before colorado incident - if not, the whole movie probably would have been shelved.
  • Interl0per
    For f****s sake One guy loses his mind and WB reacts by screwing up its movies with hasty re-cuts to nerf the violence? What is that going to accomplish? I could imagine the patrons of the Aurora theater might not be interested in watching such a scene, assuming they will ever see a movie again. In all seriousness, this is an awful, awful crime, my hearts out to the families and friends. Holmes deserves to be hung twice I'm never sure what makes me more sick in the US, the act or the idiot reactions after like this. "He used guns, ban all the guns!" "More gun laws!" "He played violent games!", etc. Always the same exact same bs with these things where the media goes insane and sensationalist. But you know what, guns don't kill people by themselves, and violent games have turned exactly zero people into a murderer. The guy's own mother basically admitted he was already kind of insane. Don't punish the rest of us for one man's terrible act. In the end he really does win then.
  • Squiggly_P
    I hope they have the current cut somewhere on the disc at least. It would be a shame if they were to release some hacked up version that doesn't work only to find out that the version they had to 'fix' was a great film. Wouldn't be the first time that happened, tho I can't think of too many times when the decision to cut a scene was done due to some tragedy or whatever. I know there was a scene cut out of the first Spiderman that featured spidey on the twin towers, but that wasn't a key sequence of the film. Anyone know of any major scenes that got snuffed due to real-life controversy at the time?
  • Cody W
    My sister was at that show, I can see the theater from my apt balcony. I actually had a chance to see it but I hate super packed theaters so I turned it down. I know lotsa people who were there, one of which was shot twice but shes fine. But I still think this is a huge fucking overreaction.
  • Kenneth
    Coming from a European perspective, Hollywood should rather take a stand against the wide-spread availability of guns in the US, instead of butchering what looks like a modern gangster classic. Even the 'holy' second amendment doesn't cover need for being able to buy automatic weapons, high end explosives, and 6000 rounds of ammo. And apparently this can all be done 'legally' and even 'online' in Colorado?!? This is far more disturbing than a scene in a movie involving a theater shoot out. In any case, reading all of your intelligent comments, almost restores my faith in -most- Americans ... .
  • notreally
    I heard Inglourious Basterds is getting all its DVDs pulled from shelves and is being reedited/rereleased to edit out the theater shooting, too. In the new version, "Triumph of the Will" wins Best Picture and Hitler lives.
  • Dspot7070
    ...sigh here we go again, After the 9/11 attack's Westwood studio's popular Command & Conquer series had to Revamp its Box graphics due to the WTC towers being depicted severely damaged and on fire. (The artwork in question was designed and submitted prior to 9/11) After the columbine shootings many other video games were criticized and some production studios were even threatened with violence if they did not alter, edit, or in some cases censor their games entirely. In 2010 Electronic Arts was pressured to change the name of the Taliban in their popular Medal of Honor series to "Opposing Force". Producers of a popular British series 'coronation street' recently cut several scenes from their show in which a body was found in a canal due to similarities between the cut scenes and the circumstances in which the body of a young man named Christopher Brahney was found even though the scenes were filmed prior to Mr. Brahney's death. I could go on and on with examples but where does it end? And where is the line drawn between consideration for the survivors and victims feelings and outright censorship. Will we live in the world of Fahrenheit 451 where funerals are banned because they make people feel bad? Or can we all toughen up a bit and realize that sometimes the world and even artistic expression itself is not always pleasant. Editing out all of the things that offends someone will ultimately lead to a very bland and naive existence.
  • android333
    Looks good but, wow wat are the chances of a shooting scene in a theater being removed from a movie then an actual shooting in a theater happens in Colorado
  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Chris-Sherwood/1429333497 Chris Sherwood
    I believe there is more to this than political correctness. Altering and reshooting the scene is, ironically, best for the artistic integrity of the film. Released so soon after the events, offended or not people would be taken out of the moment when viewing that scene. Their minds would travel to and linger on the events at Aurora, and everything after that scene would lose its impact. Pushing back the release date would need too long a wait. It will be months, probably years before a scen

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