'World War Z' Brazil Premiere Canceled Amid Safety Concerns

Paramount Pictures
"World War Z"

Growing social unrest in the country's major cities has led Paramount to scuttle plans of a red carpet appearance by Brad Pitt.

BUENOS AIRES – After a week of social unrest in the streets of Brazil’s major cities, Paramount Pictures Brazil announced the cancellation of Monday’s World War Z red carpet premiere, in which star and producer Brad Pitt was scheduled to participate with director Marc Forster.

"In light of the current and ongoing events taking place in Brazil, we will not proceed with red carpet arrivals,” read a statement by Paramount Pictures Brazil, in which the studio also expressed concern over the country’s current social upheaval: "Everyone involved with World War Z sends their respect and goodwill toward the people of Brazil at this time of national unrest."

Last week, a huge protest organized by the Movimento Passe Livre (MPL) against an increase in public transportation fares turned into bigger, nationwide protests that took officials and political analysts by surprise. The country is not accustomed to large street demonstrations.

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The protests targeted corruption, defective public services and bloated public spending on the upcoming 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games. While initially peaceful, the demonstrations were later spiked with episodes of violence and looting by small groups attacking government buildings as state and national police were deployed to repress the outbursts.

Clashes across the country resulted in several people being wounded by anti-riot police and a 54 year-old woman being killed by tear-gas poisoning last Friday in the city of Belen. 

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Brazil's President Dilma Rouseff addressed the nation that same day, acknowledging public demands and promising a "pact to improve public services." Rouseff met today with MPL activists, who suspended any further demonstrations, claiming “conservative groups” infiltrated the protests in an attempt to change their original message. 

Local reports indicate that government authorities are now concerned about further negative effects the protests could have on other events, particularly the ongoing FIFA Confederations Cup and the upcoming visit of Pope Francis.