Since Tuesday tragedies, all five major Hollywood studios and most independent producers are taking a hard look at films in the can and in development to make sure potentially offensive themes or images aren't released. In particular, films and promotional material dealing with the now-touchy subject of terrorism are being recut or shelved. Even those that feature pictures of the World Trade Center or the Pentagon are also being reconsidered.
One film set to undergo a major overhaul is Men in Black 2. Sony's Columbia Pictures, which is coproducing the picture with Steven Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment, announced it plans to alter the already-shot climax, set near the World Trade Center. "We are now in the process of looking at alternatives," a Sony rep says.
Shooting on the anticipated sequel, which was suspended upon news of the tragedy, resumed on Wednesday.
Columbia previously pulled all teaser trailers for its 2002 summer release Spider-Man. The preview depicted the webslinger catching two bank robbers by stretching a web between the World Trade Center's Twin Towers. The studio also pulled the preview off the Internet and recalled one-sheets that showed the towers reflected in Spider Man's eyes.
Another project headed back to the drawing board is Nose Bleed, Jackie Chan's next action-comedy for MGM. That film, featuring Chan duking it out with terrorists atop the Empire State Building while doing his usual death-defying stunts, will undergo several major revisions, says producer Ashok Amritraj.
"When horrific events like this happen, one has to do the right thing--movies really have to come second," Amritraj tells the Los Angeles Times. "I certainly wouldn't want to be involved with any projects where there are terrorists and bombs in skyscrapers. It's just too traumatic a subject."
DreamWorks, meanwhile, is recalling posters for its October 12 prison drama, The Last Castle, starring Robert Redford and James Gandolfini. The posters, already adorning bus stops and train stations nationwide, portray an upside-down American flag, the universal sign of distress.
The studio said it believed the image was too much for anguished Americans to handle.
In fact, the George Theater Company, a 23-theater southeastern exhibitor, had gone ahead and removed the offending posters before the official recall.
As previously reported, Arnold Schwarzenegger's Collateral Damage, which features the actor battling terrorist bombers and was supposed to be released October 5, has been postponed indefinitely. The Tim Allen-Rene Russo comedy, Big Trouble, whose finale involves a bomb on an airplane, which was pushed back from next weekend to next year.
Other movies, such as Denzel Washington's cop drama Training Day and Edward Burns' Sidewalks of New York, have been delayed not so much because of their content, but because studios haven't been able to promote the films given the 24-7, commercial-free coverage of the attacks.
Warner Bros. moved Training Day's opening from September 21 to October 5, while Paramount Classics' delayed Sidewalks' release from this weekend until sometime in November. Both studios hope that the move will give them time to air commercials and allow for write-ups in the press, which given the current crisis, is the last thing on anyone's mind.