Will the D.C. sniper shoot down Fox's ''Phone Booth''?
Twentieth Century Fox, the studio behind the upcoming ”Phone Booth,” is going to have to make a difficult call: Should it hold the movie because of its parallels to the current news from Washington, D.C., where a sniper targeting civilians remains at large? The movie is currently scheduled for release on Nov. 15, but Variety reports that the studio is considering bumping the film from that date.
The movie is about a New York man (”Minority Report”’s Colin Farrell) who answers a ringing phone in a sidewalk booth, only to be told by the voice at the other end that, if he hangs up, he’ll be immediately shot by a sniper (Kiefer Sutherland). Given the real-life drama unfolding in Washington, where a sniper has killed eight people in the last couple weeks, will moviegoers want to see a similar story played out on screen next month?
Regarding the release date, a Fox spokesperson told Variety that the studio is ”currently evaluating the situation.” Director Joel Schumacher (”Batman and Robin”) dismisses the similarities, calling the movie and the news story ”different cases.” He told Variety, ”I mean, there are many serial killers that haven’t been caught. Should they not release ‘Red Dragon’?” Still, he said, he’d abide by whatever the studio decided.
Movies postponed because of a similarity to real-life violence have not done well lately. Tim Allen’s comedy ”Big Trouble” and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s ”Collateral Damage” were both shelved for several months because of plot points that would have reminded viewers of Sept. 11, but both opened to indifferent box office. More recently, the spate of high-profile kidnappings of young girls led Sony to push back the release of child-abduction thriller ”Trapped” from summer to mid-September, when the studio opened the film without fanfare — no talk-show appearances for the stars, no screenings for critics — and the movie flopped. Which begs the question: When is a decent, appropriate weekend for a movie about a capricious urban sniper?