Neither CNN nor NPR will run ads for Newmarket Films’ Death of a President opening this weekend on October 27th, a press release issued by the film’s PR rep said today. Already, two major American cinema chains — Regal Entertainment Group, the No. 1 U.S. cinema operator with more than 6,300 screens in 40 states, and Cinemark USA, which operates roughly 2,500 screens in 34 states — have said they will not show a controversial new movie that depicts the assassination of President George W. Bush. The hugely controversial political thriller from director Gabriel Range, about the fictional assassination of President George W. Bush, became one of the most talked-about films at the Toronto Film festival in September. Since then, the 93-minute pic’s subject matter has led to many protests against even the fictional idea of a movie about the killing a U.S. president, much less a sitting U.S. president. Others, however, believe the documentary-style film has an anti-violence message. Range has said he has received death threats since it screened at Toronto, where it won the Prize of the International Critics (FIPRESCI Prize). (The jury of international film critics cited the film “for the audacity with which it distorts reality to reveal a larger truth.”) Because of its subject matter, the pic had a hard time finding a U.S. distributor until Newmarket stepped forward. Today’s PR release helps the film get publicity before it opens this weekend in mostly art houses and regional venues. Even though both print and electronic ads for the pic have been approved by the Motion Picture Association of America, Newmarket Films said it was told by CNN in an email today that the news organization “has decided not to take the ads because of the extreme nature of the movie’s subject matter.” NPR cited similar reasons in refusing to run sponsorship announcements on behalf of Death of a President, according to the distributor. Other advertising platforms aren’t objecting: people connected with the film say broadcast and digital ads for the movie have been accepted by MSNBC, Fox.com, and CNET.com, among others, and print ads have already appeared in major newspapers, including The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, and Philadelphia Inquirer. “To refuse to accept ads for a movie is tantamount to saying it shouldn’t be seen, and this runs counter to everything we are supposed to believe in as a free society,” Newmarket co-founder Chris Ball said in a news release today. “What we find especially troubling is that these decisions are being made by people who we believe have not seen even seen the movie. This rush to judgment tramples on the basic American values of fairness and free expression.” The director, who also co-wrote the film, uses archive footage of Bush to create the scenes that lead up to the president being shot. Digital effects are used to superimpose his head onto an actor for the assassination scene.
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