Gangster Squad the First Film to Suffer in the Wake of Aurora Shootings
(photos: Warner Bros.)
Last Friday’s tragedy in Aurora, Colorado stunned the world. It stunned, but it didn’t surprise. With gun laws as slack as ever in the United States; after the Virginia Tech shootings it always felt like a matter of time before the next headline-making killing spree. No one could have predicted that it would happen during a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises. Alas, it did, and all we can do is mourn this awful tragedy and do everything we can as a global community to offer support for the victims and their families.
The media, as it happens, have taken it upon themselves to fail to relinquish their to-be-expected claims of a direct connection between the unique acts of terror undertaken by one man and the film the victims were watching when it all took place. Referring to James Holmes as ‘Joker’ or the ‘Batman Killer’; it’s all nonsense. This event could just as easily have taken place during the screening of a film that prides itself on gratuitous violence. Maybe, then, a filmmaker would have something to answer for.
As a result, heartbreaking as events like these are and just as the American government refuses to negotiate with terrorists, the powers that be in Hollywood should never feel as if they need to compromise art to improve the situation. Warner Brothers are already being considerably sensitive in light of what has taken place and are offering mountains of support for anyone affected by the incident in Aurora, but on Tuesday decided that they would let one lone psychopath dictate the way in which they release films.
Ruben Fleischer’s Gangster Squad is one of the most hotly anticipated films for the latter part of 2012. Starring no less than Sean Penn, Ryan Gosling, Josh Brolin, Emma Stone, Nick Nolte, Anthony Mackie and Giovanni Ribisi, it tells the story of real life mob boss Mickey Cohen and his intimidating exploits having made the move from New York City to Los Angeles in the 1940s. Promotional material for the film leads us to believe that this could be one of the actioners of the year, and yet, Warner Brothers have taken their stance on the Aurora incident as far as today deciding that a mere six weeks prior to its international release, they will be cutting what may well have been the single most defining scene in the film.
Granted, it is a shootout in a cinema. If one was to predict the context, it would involve either a band of cops and detectives wiping out a theatre full of mob types, or alternatively (and less preferably) and cold-blooded, mob-led slaughter of the Los Angelean public. Either way, any complaints that would come Warner Brothers way upon the release of the film would be entirely unfounded as the film was written, shot and cut months before the Aurora killings. Should anyone bother to take this fact into account, claims that Gangster Squad was trying to perversely capitalise on what happened in Aurora could easily be immediately dismissed.
The position of the studio is clearly one of trying their utmost to avoid any kind of media furore. The last thing they want after a truly commendable response to the situation so far is accusations of insensitivity, but it still strikes as troubling that anyone would go as far as recalling a canned film for potential rewrites and more than likely reshoots. Potentially, this could involve gathering the likes of Penn, Gosling and Brolin, months after the film has wrapped, to shoot additional scenes. The logistics of it are staggering. Then, even if they are able to achieve such a miracle, whatever scene they end up shooting instead will more than likely appear rushed and forced in the final cut.
It’s a jaw dropping decision from Warner Brothers, and a decision that probably would not have been made were it not the same studio that has The Dark Knight Rises to its name. Only time will tell as we await the release of Gangster Squad, but one thing is for sure. Gangster Squad will not be released on September 7th, 2012. At best, we’re looking at the first quarter of 2013 which would completely eliminate it from any kind of potential awards consideration. That is, unless Warner Brothers manage to prove us all wrong and produce some sort of miracle. For the moment though, they’re shooting this film in the foot.