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''The Kite Runner'' Controversy

”The Kite Runner” Controversy — A sensitive issue pushes the release date for the anticipated fall film

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The cultural tensions at the heart of 2003’s best-seller The Kite Runner have put the three Afghan children who star in the film adaptation in potential danger. That’s the conclusion of Paramount Vantage, which recently announced that it would postpone Runner‘s rollout for six weeks (until Dec. 14) because of concerns over a scene in which a boy is raped by a neighborhood bully. The actors’ families are worried for their children’s safety, saying the portrayal of the rape could cause ethnic tensions. Early reviews have been overwhelmingly positive, but director Marc Forster says he supports the decision: ”Everybody’s primary concern is the safety and welfare of those kids.” In the meantime, Vantage is trying to keep the marketing campaign on track. ”It’s not an ideal situation,” says exec Megan Colligan. ”We’ll work extra hard to make sure people realize [the film changed dates].” The studio is arranging for the boys to attend Runner‘s U.S. press junket, and plans to move them to the United Arab Emirates — at least until the dust settles.