SUNDAY AM, 6TH UPDATE: Looks like Sony Pictures, Amy Pascal, Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal should stop worrying about all those torture scene critics in Hollywood and Washington DC. Not only did the controversy fuel filmgoers’ curiosity …
#1 ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ Widens For $24M, ‘Haunted House’ Beats Disappointing ‘Gangster Squad’ For #2; ‘Silver Linings’, ‘Lincoln’, ‘Life Of Pi’ Get Oscar Bumps
OPINION: Is anyone surprised that, following a one-week waiting period since 20 children and six others were gunned down in a Newtown, Conn. elementary school, the National Rifle Association would surface to pass the buck and blame the carnage on violent Hollywood movies and video games?
It has only been a few months since the last gun massacre, when 12 were killed and 58 wounded by an assault weapon-wielding madman during a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises. In the aftermath, I asked a number of filmmakers — and even studio moguls assembled at our The Contenders panel — if that tragedy caused them to re-evaluate the violence they depict onscreen. It’s a no-win question for studio moguls, and they were circumspect; they said they understood the responsibility of movies that project into the culture differently than other forms of media. But they haven’t dramatically changed the decision-making process on the movies they finance and distribute to the masses because they feel they already exercise responsible restraint. Quentin Tarantino — whom I interviewed before the Connecticut massacre — flat out rejects the notion that movie violence leads to the real thing.
“I think that guy was a nut,” Tarantino told me in Playboy Magazine, referring to the Aurora shooter. “He went in there to kill a bunch of people because he knew there would be a lot of people there and he’d make a tremendous amount of news doing it. That’s no different from a guy going into a McDonald’s and shooting up people at lunchtime because he knows a lot of people will be there.” When I asked him to address criticism that onscreen violence promulgates the real thing, Tarantino pointedly said, “I make violent movies. I like violent movies. I’m on record about how I feel there is no correlation between art and life in that way.”
Some of my favorite films, from The Godfather to Heat and Goodfellas, depict violence. I hate guns, have never owned one, and do worry about gratuitously violent films — particularly in the horror genre — and I won’t watch them. I do find it disconcerting that right after the last two major shootings that studios and TV networks had to alter movies like Gangster Squad and more recently change marketing on films like Jack Reacher because of parallels to tragic events. I don’t play video games, and personally loathe those that make players participants in warfare settings. That’s mainly because I feel it is the height of disrespect to the armed forces risking their lives, only to have their soldiering reduced to a form of mindless entertainment. But for a gun lobby to point the finger at Hollywood for semi-automatic killing sprees is preposterous and it’s too bad that we are only just waking up to that.
Sean Penn has never been one to mince words — and he doesn’t in a recent, wide-ranging interview with Esquire. When he gets around to talking about the current state of the movie biz, it seems he’s not too happy. The complete interview appears in the January issue of Esquire. Here are some excerpts:
I just did this picture that I enjoyed doing. Gangster Squad. But I do think that in general the standard of aspiration is low. Very low. And mostly they’re just doing a bunch of monkey-fuck-rat movies, most actors and actresses. And I blame them just as much as I do the business. I know everybody wants to make some money, everybody’s got a modeling contract, everybody’s selling jewelry and perfume. I’m blinded by it. Bob Dylan said in an interview one time — somebody asked him, Are you really this reclusive? He says, No, I’m not reclusive, man. I’m exclusive. Exclusivity is like intimacy.
EXCLUSIVE … UPDATE 9:30 AM: Warner Bros is now telling me that its outside non-studio spokeswoman failed to tell me the whole and accurate story about the process that led to the studio taking down its offensive Gangster Squad trailer this morning. A Warner Bros executive now tells me how the studio was scrambling to deal with the Aurora theater shooting crisis in the pre-dawn hours of the morning. Then, at 5 AM, one of the top distribution execs remembered that Warner Bros’ Gangster Squad trailer was playing “loose” this weekend timed to the studio’s The Dark Knight Rises release in about 30% of domestic theaters. (“Loose” means that theaters had been asked to play the trailer which was not paired with The Dark Knight Rises.)
According to Warner Bros, this distribution exec suddenly remembered that the trailer for the mob movie contained a scene showing a gangster with a machine gun shooting up people in a movie theater from behind the big screen. This distribution exec quickly instructed the studio to “replace it as soon as possible”. At 6 AM, Warner Bros started notifying the theater circuits to pull the offensive Gangster Squad trailer. That is being done all over North America today. Meanwhile, Warner Bros’ marketing department is scrambling to get out its second-generation Gangster Squad trailer already in the works. This new trailer, without the movie theater scene, will be swapped out for the offensive one within a week. Warner Bros says this is now the whole story.
And the studio’s explanation which I absolutely believe also makes clear that, while my phone calls overlapped with their behind-the-scenes process, I was not responsible for the studio pulling the offensive Gangster Squad trailer with the movie theater shooting scene.
PREVIOUS 7:30 AM: This was truly terrible decision-making by Warner Bros – both to release a trailer like this and then not to pull it immediately after today’s tragedy. I have confirmed that the studio which released The Dark Knight Rises paired offered it with the official movie trailer for Gangster Squad, an upcoming pic set in 1949 about a ruthless Mafia Godfather who runs Los Angeles. One of the scenes in the trailer that’s been playing all morning today shows a gangster with a machine gun shooting up people in a movie theater from behind the big screen. Several outraged moviegoers tipped me to this scene.
Warner Bros has released the initial trailer Ruben Fleischer‘s Gangster Squad. The cast for the period mob drama about the LAPD’s battle against Mickey Cohen includes Sean Penn (as Cohen), Ryan Gosling, Josh Brolin, Emma Stone, Mireille Enos, Anthony Mackie, Nick Nolte, Michael Pena, Giovanni Ribisi and …
It’s been a busy week for Hollywood studios settling on release dates. Here’s what’s happened:
Unauthorized, Sundance Now, Oct. 7**
Puss In Boots, DreamWorks Animation, Oct. 28 (Nov. 4)
Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol, Paramount, Dec. 16 sneak previews (Dec. 21*)
The Adventures of Tintin, Paramount, Dec. 21 (Dec. 23)
War Horse, DreamWorks/Touchstone/Disney, Dec. 25 …