EXCLUSIVE … UPDATE 9:30 AM: Warner Bros is now telling me that its outside non-studio spokeswoman failed to tell me the whole and accurate story about the process that led to the studio taking down its offensive Gangster Squad trailer this morning. A Warner Bros executive now tells me how the studio was scrambling to deal with the Aurora theater shooting crisis in the pre-dawn hours of the morning. Then, at 5 AM, one of the top distribution execs remembered that Warner Bros’ Gangster Squad trailer was playing “loose” this weekend timed to the studio’s The Dark Knight Rises release in about 30% of domestic theaters. (“Loose” means that theaters had been asked to play the trailer which was not paired with The Dark Knight Rises.)
According to Warner Bros, this distribution exec suddenly remembered that the trailer for the mob movie contained a scene showing a gangster with a machine gun shooting up people in a movie theater from behind the big screen. This distribution exec quickly instructed the studio to “replace it as soon as possible”. At 6 AM, Warner Bros started notifying the theater circuits to pull the offensive Gangster Squad trailer. That is being done all over North America today. Meanwhile, Warner Bros’ marketing department is scrambling to get out its second-generation Gangster Squad trailer already in the works. This new trailer, without the movie theater scene, will be swapped out for the offensive one within a week. Warner Bros says this is now the whole story.
And the studio’s explanation which I absolutely believe also makes clear that, while my phone calls overlapped with their behind-the-scenes process, I was not responsible for the studio pulling the offensive Gangster Squad trailer with the movie theater shooting scene.
PREVIOUS 7:30 AM: This was truly terrible decision-making by Warner Bros — both to release a trailer like this
and then not to pull it immediately after today’s tragedy. I have confirmed that the studio which released The Dark Knight Rises paired offered it with the official movie trailer for Gangster Squad, an upcoming pic set in 1949 about a ruthless Mafia Godfather who runs Los Angeles. One of the scenes in the trailer that’s been playing all morning today shows a gangster with a machine gun shooting up people in a movie theater from behind the big screen. Several outraged moviegoers tipped me to this scene.
This morning I called on Warner Bros to take this trailer down immediately. The studio’s response to me? “There’s a meeting about this and then a decision will be reached.” I just received the call that the trailer is being pulled.
But only after I complained. And yet movie moguls wonder why so much of the country hates Hollywood values where money trumps everything, even during the Aurora theater shooting tragedy. Here’s the horrible clip which no one at Warner Bros should have allowed to be made, much less released, in the first place: