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Artisan’s ‘Impact’ vid flies into issue of sensitivity

'Just an oversight,' sez spokesman

Creepy coincidence, prophetic filmmaking or the worst kind of war profiteering? Only 11 days after the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Artisan began flogging “Sonic Impact,” a year-old straight-to-vid thriller starring Ice-T.

In “Sonic Impact,” in which the rapper co-stars with James Russo, three men hijack a 747 en route to New York City. They herd passengers into the back of the plane and threaten to crash it into the “biggest metropolitan area” they can find. A nail file becomes a weapon in the unfolding drama. And when talks fail, the President scrambles F-16s to shoot down the plane.

While the pic is now prominently displayed on new-release shelves of Blockbuster and other vid chains, an Artisan spokesman stressed that “Sonic Impact” is a repackaged and discounted re-release, and was “probably just an oversight.”

Helmer Rodney McDonald understands how, in the present political climate, his low-budget thriller could be perceived as both insensitive and exploitive.

Popular on Variety

“Yes, I personally think there could have been a better time to release this film,” said McDonald, whose other straight-to-video pics include “Steel Sharks” and “Surface to Air.” “It does have a lot of the same elements that could have happened that day in the air. And it may be too close to home for some people to watch. … But it has nothing to do with the Trade Center, and I don’t think anyone at Artisan is trying to capitalize off this.”

Should the video be pulled out of respect for the national mood?

“I think it’s a good movie for its genre, but I don’t think people are going to watch it now,” McDonald said.

“Personally, I think people will be looking for different types of entertainment.”

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