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‘Made in France’ sees theatrical release canceled in wake of Paris attacks

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Members of the French Foreign Legion guard near the Eiffel Tower on Nov. 16, 2015. 

(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

“Made in France,” a movie about a journalist who infiltrates an Islamic terrorist cell in the suburbs of Paris, won’t be released in cinemas in France, its distributor has announced.

The movie, whose theatrical opening was postponed immediately following the Nov. 13 attacks in the French capital, will only see a video-on-demand release starting Jan. 29, according to an announcement on Tuesday from Pretty Pictures, the distributor.

The film was scheduled to open in cinemas the Wednesday after the Paris attacks, but was subsequently postponed. Later, a new theatrical release date was set for Jan. 20. 

No reason for the theatrical cancellation was given in the announcement this week on the company’s website. But in statements sent to French media outlets, co-producer James Velaise said that some independent cinemas had expressed support for the movie, though not in sufficient numbers.

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He said the movie “could no longer be shown as it should be” and that an on-demand release was a “real opportunity” for the movie to “reach a very large audience.”

The news channel France 24 quoted a statement from the distributor saying that the decision for an on-demand-only release was made in the wake of difficulties in getting the movie booked in theaters.  

The statement said that the booking difficulties were related to the “subject matter of the film.”

Starring French actor Malik Zidi, “Made in France” follows a journalist who uses his own Muslim background to infiltrate a mosque in the suburbs of Paris. He eventually joins up with a group of would-be terrorists planning to “sow chaos in the heart of Paris,” according to a synopsis that appeared on the French movie website Allociné.

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A trailer for the movie suggests a dark, dramatic story with scenes of gun fire and other forms of urban terror. A poster for the the movie depicted the Eiffel Tower in the form of an assault weapon. 

The Nov. 13 attacks in Paris saw several coordinated assaults in the metropolitan area, resulting in an estimated 130 dead. The Islamic State, also known as ISIS, later claimed responsibility for the attacks.  

The presumed organizer of the attacks was Abdelhamid Abaaoud, a Belgian born man of Moroccan descent who is believed to have traveled to Syria. Abaaoud died during a police raid in November in the Paris suburb of Saint-Denis.

“Made in France” isn’t the first topically sensitive French movie to bypass cinemas in recent years.

“Welcome to New York,” the Abel Ferrara film loosely inspired by the Dominique Strauss-Kahn controversy, with Gérard Depardieu in the lead role, was released only on video-on-demand in France in 2014.

Twitter: @DavidNgLAT

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