Move would buy time to remove movie-theater scene

Warner Bros. is in serious discussions to boot “Gangster Squad” from its Sept. 7 release date to sometime next year — a move that would buy the studio more time to reconceive and reshoot a pivotal setpiece in which thugs spray machine-gun fire into a crowded movie theater from behind the screen.

In the immediate aftermath of a gunman’s rampage at a “The Dark Knight Rises” screening in Aurora, Colo., the studio pulled trailers — which prominently featured the scene — from exhibs and online. Variety first reported Sunday that the studio had then decided to remove the scene from the film altogether and was putting reshoot plans into motion.

But with just six weeks to go before release, WB is facing the very real possibility that it won’t be able to pull off those changes in time. Sources who have seen the period pic tell Variety that the assault comes during a critical moment in the film and will need to be rewritten and reshot to work within the narrative.

Sources also tell Variety that Warner has already cancelled press screenings for “Gangster Squad.”

Production began last fall on the ensembler starring James Brolin, Ryan Gosling, Sean Penn, Emma Stone, Anthony Mackie, Giovanni Ribisi and Michael Pena. Kevin McCormick and Dan Lin are producing the Will Beall-scripted pic through their respective banners, Langley Park and Lin Pictures.

Project is based on the Los Angeles Times series “Tales From the Gangster Squad.” The articles by Paul Lieberman chronicled the LAPD’s struggle with increasing crime and corruption in the 1940s by forming the so-called Gangster Squad to keep East Coast mobsters out of L.A.

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