After the shooting tragedy in Aurora during the opening night of Dark Knight Rises, Warner Bros. is considering removing scenes from an upcoming film Gangster Squad because a climactic scene in the movie features gunmen shooting up a movie theater from behind the screen.
It is the second time this year that a big Hollywood production was upended by real-life events. The movie Neighborhood Watch, starring Vince Vaughn and Ben Stiller, ran smack into the Trayvon Martin shooting in Sanford, Florida, and the moviemakers actually dropped the word “neighborhood” from the title. Now the movie, which is scheduled for release next Friday, is called simply The Watch in a vain attempt to remove any suggestion that it might be connected to neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman.
Gangster Squad, which is scheduled for release Sept. 7, features a key scene in which mobsters open fire on a theater audience from behind a movie screen. Automatic gunfire rips through the screen as horrified filmgoers rush for the exits and police try to stop the mayhem.
The scene is a centerpiece of the trailers for the movie, a 1940s period piece focusing on gangster Mickey Cohen’s attempted takeover of Los Angeles and starring Sean Penn and Ryan Gosling. The trailer had actually been showing during the playing of Dark Knight at movie theaters across the country, but Warner Bros. pulled the trailer. They even took it down from YouTube.
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, according to two knowledgeable people not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.
As a result of the editing plans, Warner is considering canceling a “Gangster Squad” test screening planned for later this month, the people added.
Cutting the scene won’t be an easy task. It serves as a climactic moment, and even shortening it could hurt the noir action film’s narrative arc. As a result, any significant changes might require shooting new scenes.
Regardless of whether there are re-shoots, it’s possible Warner will delay the release of “Gangster Squad” in order to distance it from Friday’s shooting rampage.
A studio spokeswoman did not respond to requests for comment.