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As the shooting of Trayvon Martin by a neighborhood watch captain in Florida continues to engulf the nation, Fox has removed the first teaser poster and trailer for its summer space-alien comedy Neighborhood Watch from Florida theaters.
The studio tells The Hollywood Reporter it has done so out of deference to the growing controversy. There are no plans to change the film’s July 27 release date, however.
“We are very sensitive to the Trayvon Martin case, but our film is a broad alien-invasion comedy and bears absolutely no relation to the tragic events in Florida,” a Fox spokesperson tells THR. “The movie, which is not scheduled for release for several months, was made and these initial marketing materials were released before this incident ever came to light. The teaser materials were part of an early phase of our marketing and were never planned for long-term use. Above all else, our thoughts go out to the families touched by this terrible event.”
The Neighborhood Watch teaser poster for features the silhouette of an alien on a neighborhood watch street sign that’s riddled with bullet holes, in reference to the movie’s storyline about a group of men who try to stop an alien invasion. Directed by Akiva Schaffer, Neighborhood Watch opens July 27 and stars Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill and Richard Ayoade.
The tongue-in-check teaser trailer, which is playing in theaters before 21 Jump Street, shows the four actors driving through their neighborhood in a large SUV. At one point, Hill’s character, using his hand, pretends to shoot at a group of teenagers.
Fox is quickly moving on to the second phase of its marketing campaign, according to insiders, and the official poster is expected to feature the film’s stars and highlight the movie’s comedic aspects. The teaser poster will be replaced in theaters across the country as soon as possible.
It’s not the first time a Hollywood studio has had to alter a marketing campaign or a release date because of real-life events. After the Japan earthquake last year, Warner Bros. pulled Hereafter — which re-creates the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami disaster — from theaters in Japan. In 2003, the release of Fox’s sniper pic Phone Booth was delayed after the Beltway sniper case.
The case of Neighborhood Watch is different, since the sci-fi plot doesn’t mirror real-life events. Also, the movie doesn’t open for months.
Last year, the Christmas film We Bought a Zoo wasn’t affected by an Ohio man who took his own life in late October after freeing the animals he kept in a private zoo.
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