As debates about guns and movie violence rage on, as expected, in the wake of the “Dark Knight Rises” Aurora shootings on July 19, Warner Bros. has quietly pushed back the release from September to January of Ruben Fleischer’s “Gangster Squad.” Set in the 40s, the film starring Sean Penn, Josh Brolin, Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone features a key climactic sequence in which machine-gun-wielding gangsters surprise an audience from behind a movie screen, shooting into the theater.
Reportedly, the violent scene, filmed in Hollywood’s famous Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, was integral to the “Gangster Squad” plot as originally written. Thus the studio is buying more time to figure out how to proceed with possible reworkings of not just the shoot-out sequence but also the structure of the film. The trailer also had to be quickly re-edited for the July 20 weekend, to exclude shots from the movie-theater massacre. As it happens, Century 16 did not pair the Warners trailer with the opening night screening of “The Dark Knight Rises” when James Holmes opened fire on unsuspecting Aurora moviegoers.
The New York Times digs into the history of violent films at the Warners studio, from “Public Enemy” and “Dirty Harry” to Stanley Kubrick’s “A Clockwork Orange,” which Kubrick had pulled from theaters in Britain following copycat violence. And to his credit, activist Democrat Harvey Weinstein, whose stock in trade is indie fare–including such hard-R shockers as “Pulp Fiction” and “Grindhouse”– is exhorting fellow industry players to meet at a summit to discuss the impact of movie violence in the real world.