'Gangster Squad' to debut after reality intervened
FILE - This publicity film image released by Warner Bros. Pictures shows Sean Penn, left, as Mickey Cohen and Josh Brolin, as Sgt. John O'Mara in the film, "Gangster Squad." "This isn't a movie promoting violence," said "Gangster Squad" producer Dennis Lin. "It's a movie about unsung heroes. (AP Photo/Warner Bros. Pictures, Wilson Webb, File)
LOS ANGELES (AP) — "Gangster Squad" director Ruben Fleischer was stepping out of the shower on the night of July 20 last year when he received a chilling phone call from a studio executive at Warner Bros. There had been a deadly shooting at a midnight screening of "The Dark Knight Rises" in Aurora, Colo. The studio was pulling the trailer for its "Gangster Squad" movie.
The problem was that the preview, which had been scheduled to debut before some showings of the latest Batman film that weekend, featured a peek at a pivotal moment in the 1940s true-crime romp when Los Angeles mobsters ruthlessly shoot into a movie theater audience.
Thus began an arduous odyssey to the screen of a film loosely based on violence 60 years ago impacted by the real-life violence of today — from the Colorado massacre that forced the reshooting of a key scene, through the country's mourning following the Connecticut elementary school shooting last month, to this week's replaying of the July theater horror in a Colorado courtroom just as the film prepares to finally open on Friday.
Fleischer couldn't initially process what was happening in that moment when he was on the phone last summer but eventually, everyone involved with "Gangster Squad" agreed: The scene was just too similar and had to be cut — not just from the trailer, but also from the movie, which was set for release two months later.
FILE - In this Dec. 15, 2012 file photo, from left, actor Josh Brolin, actress Emma Stone, and actor Ryan Gosling from the cast of the film, "Gangster Squad," pose for a portrait at the Four Seasons Hotel, in Beverly Hills, Calif. The film releases in theaters on Friday, Jan. 11, 2013.(Photo by John Shearer/Invision/AP, File)
"Many conversations followed that, and we talked about it and very quickly decided that the appropriate action would be to take the scene out of the movie out of respect for the families who suffered that loss in the tragedy," said Fleischer. "Because we didn't know when we were gonna come out or what was happening, we decided we have to come up with a new scene."
So the entire movie theater sequence featuring Josh Brolin's hard-boiled cop John O'Mara being ambushed inside famed Hollywood movie palace Grauman's Chinese Theater was excised from "Gangster Squad."
For many of the film's cast and crew members, it was their favorite scene in the highly stylized gangster flick, which tells the tale of the real-life tussle between off-the-books LA police officers and an army of mobsters.
"I was really impressed with Ruben (cutting the scene) because it was the best scene in the movie," said Ryan Gosling, who plays reluctant squad member Jerry Wooters. "There was an alchemy about it. Everything came together. It was the most cinematic part of the film because it happened in a cinema, as well, but there was just something special about it."