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Hewlett’s comments at CineEurope, the annual convention of foreign exhibitors in Barcelona, came just one day after Jim Carrey — who plays a bat-wielding crime fighter in the R-rated superhero pic — withdrew his support of the movie, saying he couldn’t support its level of violence in the wake of the Sandy Hook school shootings.
“I did Kick-Ass 2 a month b4 Sandy Hook and now in all good conscience I cannot support that level of violence. My apologies to others involve[d] with the film. I am not ashamed of it but recent events have caused a change in my heart,” Carrey said in a tweet.
Hewlett didn’t address Carrey’s tweet during his presentation before theater owners, but noted that the movie is controversial. “It’s irreverent, dark and often offensive,” he said.
The executive said that while the original Kick-Ass, released in 2010, didn’t do well in every foreign territory, it did huge business on DVD across the international marketplace. It also was heavily pirated.
CineEurope attendees reacted very favorably to footage of Kick-Ass 2, and Universal believes the sequel, with Chloe Moretz and Aaron Taylor-Johnson returning in the title roles, will do strong business both domestically and internationally. The first film, released by Lionsgate in the U.S., quickly turned into a sleeper hit in North America, grossing $48.1 million. Overseas, the movie also did $48.1 million, doing its best in the U.K., France and Australia.
The sequel, based on the comic books by Mark Millar and John Romita Jr., begins its worldwide rollout in August.
Millar, responding on his official forum to Carrey’s tweet, said: “[I’m] baffled by this sudden announcement as nothing seen in this picture wasn’t in the screenplay 18 months ago. Yes, the body count is very high, but a movie called Kick-Ass 2 really has to do what it says on the tin. A sequel to the picture that gave us Hit Girl was always going to have some blood on the floor and this should have been no shock to a guy who enjoyed the first movie so much.
“Like Jim, I’m horrified by real-life violence (even though I’m Scottish), but Kick-Ass 2 isn’t a documentary. No actors were harmed in the making of this production! This is fiction … and avoids the usual bloodless body count of most big summer pictures and focuses instead of the CONSEQUENCES of violence, whether it’s the ramifications for friends and family or, as we saw in the first movie, Kick-Ass spending six months in hospital after his first street altercation. Ironically, Jim’s character in Kick-Ass 2 is a Born-Again Christian and the big deal we made of the fact that he refuses to fire a gun is something he told us attracted him to the role in the first place.”
Hewlett promoted a slew of other upcoming Universal international releases, including Martin Scorsese‘s The Wolf of Wall Street, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, and Robert Redford‘s All Is Lost. He also previewed footage of the studio’s upcoming summer tentpole R.I.P.D., starring Jeff Bridges and Ryan Reynolds, Richard Curtis‘ fall film About Time, starring Rachel McAdams and Domhnall Gleeson, and Keanu Reeves‘ 47 Ronin, which Universal releases worldwide in December.
Following the presentation, Universal bowled over theater owners with a screening of upcoming animated tentpole Despicable Me 2.
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