This weekend the movie The Watch hits theatres after much hesitation from 20th Century Fox. The film, which tells the story of a self-important group of amateur males who attempt to protect their community, had its original title changed from Neighborhood Watch after self-titled neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman murdered unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin in early 2012.
Earlier this week it was announced by Variety that the period film Gangster Squad is being pushed back to 2013 because of a prominent scene that features a shooting in a movie theatre. Delaying the release will give Warner Bros. and director Ruben Fleischer time to re-shoot and potentially re-write the scene that echoes last weekend’s shooting in an Aurora, Colorado movie theatre.
These two instances from this year are certainly not the first examples of movies being altered to account for real world tragedy. Way back in 1928 Buster Keaton changed his film Steamboat Bill Jr. to end with a cyclone instead of a flood after a real-life flood devastated Mississippi. Dozens of films had to go back into production after the events of September 11 shook the nation and permanently altered the New York City skyline.
Are movie studios acting rationally and being sensitive when they censor movies because of real-life events or are they going too far and affecting free speech? It is a widely debated question and it is the subject of this week’s poll. Answer the question below and please share your reasoning in the comments. We will discuss our thoughts and share your answers on next week’s Film Misery Podcast.