Both nationwide movie releases this week were intended to be light entertainment and both found themselves having to respond to real-life events that they inadvertently evoke. “The Watch,” an action comedy with Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, and Jonah Hill, was originally titled “Neighborhood Watch” until the Treyvon Martin shooting by a self-styled “neighborhood watch” member prompted the studio to change the name. And “Step Up Revolution,” the fourth in the series that features wildly creative and highly stylized dance numbers, jarred preview audiences with a scene featuring dancers wearing gas masks that triggered associations with the tragic shooting in Colorado last weekend. Reportedly, the studio considered deleting the scene. It is no longer featured in the trailer and advertising, but the scene is still in the movie. Summit said, “Because of last week’s tragic events in Colorado, Summit immediately removed television advertising that briefly showcased that scene from the film. The scene also briefly appeared in a trailer released three months ago that the studio is no longer actively servicing. Having taken these steps, Summit will open this inspirational, nonviolent film in theatres nationwide this weekend as originally edited.”
Some “The Dark Knight Rises” shows were preceded by a trailer for “Gangster Squad” that included a shoot-out in a theater. The trailer has been pulled from release and the movie’s opening has been postponed. It takes years to make a movie and there is no way to anticipate what the headlines will be when it is ready for release. “Step Up Revolution” reflects last year’s headlines with elements of the Occupy demonstrations and when it was being filmed the people who made it could not have anticipated that the gas masks would have painful associations. Unfortunately, sometimes audiences who go to theaters for an escape find themselves sharply reminded of real life.