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‘Bound by Honor'--Boyz ‘n the Barrio : Background: Disney, nervous about the movie’s gang theme, sticks with plan to postpone L.A. opening of the film, which will be released today in 30 cities.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

It has been nearly two weeks since the verdicts in the Rodney G. King case, but the Walt Disney Co. is sticking with plans to postpone the Los Angeles opening of “Bound by Honor,” which will be released today on 350 screens in 30 cities, including San Diego.

“It may be released (in Los Angeles) as soon as two weeks from now,” said Disney spokeswoman Terry Press. “We’re waiting to see if there are any problems (after today).”

Disney announced the delay two days before the verdicts were announced, saying it would be better to wait for what Dick Cook, president of Buena Vista Pictures, the studio’s distribution arm, described as “a more opportune time.”

Studio officials have been nervous about the Chicano epic, originally titled “Blood In, Blood Out,” ever since opposing factions of young Latinos came to blows last February in a Las Vegas parking lot outside the theater where the movie was about to be screened. The approximately three-hour film, which tells the story of three Chicano cousins growing up in East Los Angeles, contains violent scenes of gang and prison life.

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Following the episode in Las Vegas, “we changed the title of the movie and changed the marketing materials, and retested it,” Press said. “Everything was hunky-dory.”

So why the delay now that the tension that gripped the city for several weeks has dissipated?

Director Taylor Hackford said he needs time to “prepare” the Los Angeles market, just as he paved the way in 13 other cities, where “we screened the film for people who work with youth at risk,” as well as “youths, gang members and general opinion makers.”

“We’ve got to have the opportunity to do the things we do in every other place,” Hackford said.

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Even if the film’s release goes smoothly, Press said Los Angeles filmgoers will not be able to see it next weekend. “It takes a while to get theaters in line,” she said.

She said the studio’s concerns have nothing to do with the way the subject matter is treated. “It was never about the movie, it was about having these people (gang members) in the same confined space,” she said.


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