Debating Whether To Cut The Movie Theater Shooting Scene From Ryan Gosling’s Gangster Squad Ignores The Larger Problem

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The Gangster Squad movie theater shooting scene cut The Dark Knight Rises Warner Bros.

Update: Warner Bros. has decided to scrap the entire scene and replace it with an unrelated scene that, one assumes, hits the same emotional/plot points as what they'd originally intended. I'm not sure I entirely agree that this was a necessary choice, but kudos to the studio for erring on the side of caution rather than worrying over money.

In the wake of Friday's horrific shooting at a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises, rumors swirled that Warner Bros. would cancel screenings over the weekend. That didn't happen, but now the studio has another dilemma: Should they delay their September 7th release The Gangster Squad, and/or should they entirely cut an eerily similar scene where Ryan Gosling and Josh Brolin‘s LAPD officers march into a movie theater and shoot up the place?

Over the weekend, Warner Bros. removed the trailer, which was set to run with prints of The Dark Knight Rises. (The shooting scene occurs right around the two-minute mark.) But now there's a legitimate question over whether they would edit the movie out of deference to the families of the victims. However, as Joe.ie points out, this sequence is a “climactic” point of the film, and to lose it could mess up the movie. It's a similar question to whether there would be any mention of Heath Ledger‘s Joker in TDKR—where is the line between honoring the filmmakers' intended story and not upsetting your audiences. How long will the moratorium be on this specific movie scene? I ask not to whine or push, but rather rhetorically. As we learned from The Dictator, joking about blowing up New York City buildings is now funny again after about a decade. It likely won't take that long despite the Aurora tragedy.

But the real issue here, which this Gangster Squad hemming and hawing exemplifies, is that people are being reactive and not proactive about the situation. James Holmes had access to an assault weapon. We should be evaluating that disparity and determining what it means for gun control laws in our country. I'm not putting forward any sort of agenda either way, but obviously we need to do our best to ensure that this combination of factors — unhinged man, easy access to firearms and other weapons — don't get matched up again, however we're going to figure that out. What we shouldn't be debating is the fact that some screenwriters thought up a nightmare scenario that one mentally ill man made real.