The theatre shooting last week in Aurora, Colorado is not the first time a tragic event has happened around a movie.
In 2001, the September 11 attacks posed a challenge for many Hollywood filmmakers.
The box-office release of “Training Day” was delayed because film executives believed it would allow the public to support New York’s Police Department rather than support a film about police corruption. The initial “Spider-Man” trailer had to be altered since it featured the Twin Towers in the superhero’s robber-catching scene. "Men in Black II" also experienced a delayed release since the ending was originally intended to take place at the twin towers.
The 2003 thriller, “Phone Booth” featuring Colin Farrell became all too real in light of the Virginia sniper killings. In the film, Farrell becomes the target of a sniper when he answered a pay phone. The Virginia sniper killed a total of ten people.
Ben Stiller’s comedy “The Watch,” which is set for a July 27 release, was altered due to the Trayvon Martin tragedy involving neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman. Producers for “The Watch”, which was originally titled “Neighborhood Watch”, had to change their promotional poster because it featured a neighborhood watch sign containing bullet holes, an unnerving reminder of the Florida tragedy.
In wake of the Aurora theatre shootings, Warner Bros. is considering a delay for the new Ryan Gosling film “Gangster Squad.” The movie includes a scene in which four gangsters are lined up behind a movie screen ready to open fire on the audience. Film executives have already pulled the film’s trailer and are considering a 2013 release.
It is difficult to decipher if bad timing can truly affect the success of a film during a tragedy.
"After congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot last year, people spoke of politics being more civil forever and now, only a year and a half later its back to normal," Ronn Torossian, CEO of top PR agency 5WPR, told reporters. "Movies will be the same. Barack Obama and Mitt Romney have both temporarily pulled negative campaign ads in Colorado and as sure as I am that their negative ads will return, so too will regular marketing for ['The Dark Knight Rises']."
Films like "Training Day" and "Phone Booth" aren’t typically remembered for their associations to a tragedy. Although the “The Dark Knight Rises” carries a national tragedy on its tail, it appears that it won’t affect its box-office success.