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''Death of a President'' is a hard sell

The controversial mockumentary rattles theater chains

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Death of a President has been an oddity since its inception — a film about the murder of George W. Bush that got reamed by many reviewers, yet won the International Critics award at September’s Toronto film festival. Its strange journey continues: Now its studio, Newmarket, is having trouble finding theaters willing to show it. ”We don’t feel it’s appropriate to play a film that depicts the assassination of our current president,” declares an AMC rep. Newmarket execs, who know a thing or two about controversy after releasing The Passion of the Christ in 2004, claim they’re content with the 100 or so theaters opening the flick on Oct. 27. ”In the places it’s not available, I’m hearing, ‘Why not?”’ says marketing and distribution head Richard Abramowitz, who denies DoaP‘s release was timed to coincide with midterm elections. (Speaking of which, White House reps say ”[the film] does not dignify a response.”) ”People [will] make up their own minds about the film,” Abramowitz adds. Unfortunately for him, that’s what at least one chain has done — stressing that their dissent stems from a different taste test. Quips a Cinemark exec: ”It’s not a great [filmgoing] experience.”