UPDATE: Indian audiences and theater owners are in an uproar over the recently canceled theatrical run of Woody Allen’s “Blue Jasmine” in their country. The film will not be shown in India because Allen wouldn’t tolerate anti-smoking messages playing during scenes from his film.
Per Indiewire, the rules for mandated ads during Indian theater-going are only about to get worse, too. Beginning this week, theaters in Delhi could be forced to show a 15-minute video encouraging patrons to vote in the country’s upcoming elections. An anonymous theater manager spoke to Indiewire, saying, “Unless the order comes from someone we can’t reject… we are not going to follow it.”
EARLIER: The upcoming theatrical release of Woody Allen’s “Blue Jasmine” in India has been stubbed out. Why? Because Allen didn’t want the country’s mandated anti-smoking ads playing before and during his film. India’s Ministry of Health ads, which depict the health hazards of tobacco, have to play before every film that includes characters smoking, and overlay an anti-smoking text message on the scenes where characters light up.
Allen has creative control per his distribution agreement. The Hollywood Reporter quotes PVR Pictures COO Deepak Sherma: “[Allen] wasn’t comfortable with the disclaimer that we are
required to run when some smoking scene is shown in films. He feels that when
the scroll comes, attention goes to it rather than the scene.”
We can’t recall exactly when characters smoke in “Blue Jasmine,” but if it’s anywhere near half as often as Jasmine (Cate Blanchett) reaches for her Stoli vodka or Xanax, then those anti-tobacco scrolls would be quite the distraction.
In 2012, David Fincher similarly bumped heads with India’s censors, who wanted “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” cut (presumably to eliminate the more brutally graphics scenes, such as Lisbeth Salander’s rape). Fincher refused, and so that film didn’t receive distribution there, either.