Warner Bros. is contemplating changes to its upcoming thriller “Gangster Squad” in the wake of Friday’s movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colo. during a screening of “The Dark Knight Rises.”
The film, scheduled for release Sept. 7, features a key scene in which mobsters open fire on a theater audience from behind a movie screen. Automatic gunfire rips through the screen as horrified filmgoers rush for the exits and police try to stop the mayhem.
Trailers for “Gangster Squad” prominently feature the scene. The 1940s period piece, centered on gangster Mickey Cohen’s attempted takeover of Los Angeles, stars Sean Penn and Ryan Gosling and comes from "Zombieland” director Ruben Fleischer.
After the news of Friday’s shooting, Warner Bros. pulled the trailer from theaters. It had been playing in front of movies including “The Dark Knight Rises.” In addition, the trailer is no longer available to watch on websites such as YouTube.
Studio executives are discussing the possibilities of pushing the release date and recutting the film to minimize the theater shooting scene or remove it altogether, according to two knowledgeable people not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.
As a result of the editing plans, Warner is considering canceling a “Gangster Squad” test screening planned for later this month, the people added.
Cutting the scene won’t be an easy task. It serves as a climactic moment, and even shortening it could hurt the noir action film’s narrative arc. As a result, any significant changes might require shooting new scenes.
Regardless of whether there are re-shoots, it’s possible Warner will delay the release of “Gangster Squad” in order to distance it from Friday’s shooting rampage.
A studio spokeswoman did not respond to requests for comment.