Universal Pictures will not open its upcoming horror movie “Happy Death Day 2U” in theaters in and around Parkland, Florida as the February release coincides with the first anniversary of the Parkland school shooting tragedy. The studio is also moving up the movie’s release nationwide from February 14 to February 13 as to entirely avoid the Parkland anniversary.
The Blumhouse-backed “Happy Death Day 2U” is the sequel to the 2017 surprise horror hit “Happy Death Day,” written and directed by Christopher Landon and starring Jessica Rothe and Israel Broussard. Prior to Universal changing its release plans, the sequel’s theatrical date was called into question by Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter Jaime was one of 17 students killed when a gunman opened fire at Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on February 14, 2018.
“My daughter and 16 others were killed on February 14th,” Guttenberg wrote on Twitter. “Universal Studios is releasing a movie called ‘Happy Death Day 2U’? I get the pun on Valentines Day, for me it will always be the day my daughter was murdered. Please reconsider this.”
Universal reacted by issuing a statement (via Entertainment Weekly) confirming it would move up the nationwide release a day and not release the movie theatrically in the Parkland area. The studio also said it would pull all “Happy Death Day 2U” marketing in the Parkland area. Universal said once it discovered the movie’s release coincided with the Parkland shooting anniversary it “spoke with victim advocates and immediately began the process of changing the release date of the film.”
Per Universal’s statement, “The studio has decided not to show the film in Parkland and the surrounding areas. Outdoor, digital and in-theatre marketing for the film will be suspended in that market. The studio understands the importance of memorializing the February 14 date as an opportunity to continue to allow the Parkland community to heal.”
“Happy Death Day 2U” opens nationwide February 13.
My daughter and 16 others were killed on February 14th. Universal Studios is releasing a move a movie called Happy Death Day 2 U? I get the pun on Valentines Day, for me it will always be the day my daughter was murdered. Please reconsider this!!!!https://t.co/mcx72VKE7A
— Fred Guttenberg (@fred_guttenberg) January 16, 2019