Woody Allen Cancels 'Blue Jasmine' Release in India Over Anti-Tobacco Ads

Woody Allen - H 2013
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Woody Allen - H 2013

The director refused to comply with the Indian government's requirement that all films depicting onscreen smoking run anti-tobacco messages before and during screenings.

NEW DELHI -- Blue Jasmine didn't release in India over the weekend as planned, after director Woody Allen refused to accommodate the Indian government's mandatory anti-smoking ads. Before every movie -- both Indian and foreign -- an anti-tobacco ad by the Ministry of Health is screened depicting the hazards of smoking, while during screenings, an anti-tobacco text message is inserted on scenes showing characters smoking.
The critically acclaimed Blue Jasmine stars Cate Blanchett as a wealthy New York socialite struggling to come to terms with reality after her husband is arrested for financial fraud. The film was to be released in India by PVR Pictures, the distribution arm of India's biggest theatrical chain, PVR Cinemas.

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According to a report, Reuters quoted unnamed sources, stating that Allen refused to make "customizations" in the film to accommodate the ads, which led PVR Pictures to cancel the release. "Allen was adamant that he wanted the film to be shown as he had made it, without any additions to the print," one of the sources said.

"Due to content in the film, it cannot be shown in India in its intended manner. Therefore, the film is not scheduled to play there," a spokesman for Allen's publicists, 42 West, was also quoted stating.
"Woody Allen has creative control as per the (distribution) agreement," PVR Pictures COO Deepak Sharma told India's DNA newspaper. "He wasn't comfortable with the disclaimer that we are required to run when some smoking scene is shown in films. He feels that when the scroll comes, attention goes to it rather than the scene."

Last year, David Fincher refused to cut some scenes in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo after India's censor board "adjudged the film unsuitable for public viewing in its unaltered form." As a result, the film's distributors, Sony Pictures India, did not release the film here.