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Zero Dark Thirty Scores Number 1 at Box Office, Sony’s Co-Chair Speaks Out on Torture Remarks

Zero Dark Thirty Scores Number 1 at Box Office, Sony's Co-Chair Speaks Out on Torture Remarks

The Zero Dark Thirty torture conversation shows no sign of abating.  Sony’s co-chairman Amy Pascal responded to claims from AMPAS member, actor David Clennon (Miles from Thirtysomething), that Zero Dark Thirty advocates torture. Clennon said he would not vote for Zero Dark Thirty in any category because it “makes heroes of Americans who commit the crime of torture.”  He also urged other Academy voters to not vote for the film as well. Here is Pascal’s response:

Zero Dark Thirty does not advocate torture. To not include that part of history would have been irresponsible and inaccurate.  We fully support Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal and stand behind this extraordinary movie. We are outraged that any responsible member of the Academy would use their voting status in AMPAS as a platform to advance their own political agenda. This film should be judged free of partisanship. To punish an Artist’s right of expression is abhorrent.  This community, more than any other, should know how reprehensible that is. While we fully respect everyone’s right to express their opinion, this activity is really an affront to the Academy and artistic creative freedom. This attempt to censure one of the great films of our time should be opposed. As Kathryn Bigelow so appropriately said earlier this week, ‘depiction is not endorsement, and if it was, no artist could ever portray inhumane practices; no author could ever write about them; and no filmmaker could ever delve into the knotty subjects of our time.’  We believe members of the Academy will judge the film on its true merits and will tune out the wrongful and misdirected rhetoric.

Pascal’s statement comes on the heels of the senate investigation into Zero Dark Thirty and Bigelow’s Oscar snub. Despite the controversy surrounding the film it certainly did not hurt its nationwide expansion over the weekend. It made $24 million, taking the number one spot at the box office.  This gross is higher than the $17 million total gross for her Oscar winning film The Hurt Locker.

Below see Bigelow’s appearance on Letterman. This was one of the first interviews where she appeared without Mark Boal.  It clearly makes a difference.  She comes off as strong and tough and Dave clearly is a big fan.  She really now seems to have found her voice. 

‘Zero Dark Thirty’ Does “Not Advocate Torture” Says Sony’s Amy Pascal After Oscar Voter Reveals He Won’t Vote For Film (Deadline)

‘Zero Dark Thirty,’ in Wider Release, Captures Box-Office Crown (The New York Times)

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Bigelow and Sony chose to tackle probably the most controversial topic of our times. This is not something that everyone is going to be on board with, and some would question if it lent itself to a fictional retelling at all. In an attempt at tip-toeing through the virtual mine-field of sensitivities, it would appear that they tripped some. Let people see the film and judge for themselves, but the controversy and the subsequent Oscar snub, do not seem to be unwarranted.

Joel Johnson

I certainly do understand why there is a controversy about the torture scenes. It is not what we want to see or how we want to see our country, but I agree with Amy and with Kathryn in the clip that to not show the torture would "whitewash" the history of this period. It is disconcerting to see, but it is obvious that there were people in our intelligence community who believed they would get useful information through torture. What is less clear is whether the film demonstrates that any useful intelligence that was garnered from torture played a significant role in locating Osama bin Laden. I think the film takes a broad canvas and tells a story that can be looked at quite straightforwardly as finding a bad guy and giving him what he deserves or can be evaluated with considerable nuance in how it affected individuals and our entire nation. It is a tough movie and certainly one worthy of consideration from the Academy. If Kathryn was snubbed based solely on this controversy, it is a shame.

Daniel Delago

It's a shame Kathryn Bigelow has been snubbed by The Academy. She's so talented. Read my insights on this well-crafted spy thriller. copy/paste into browser –

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