PARIS — The devastating violence that hit Paris late Friday night — a coordinated series of terrorist attacks against crowded locations around the city — eerily mirrors elements of a shock thriller entitled “Made in France” directed by Nicolas Boukhrief that was set to open in French theaters next Wednesday.
UPDATE: According to a statement issued Saturday morning, “Following the tragic events of last night, the distributor Pretty Pictures and producer Radar Films immediately decided to postpone the film’s release to an later date.”
The film, which has already raised controversy with a provocative poster depicting an AK-47 assault rifle superimposed over the Eiffel Tower (tagline: “The threat comes from inside”), had its release canceled once before this year when original distributor SND Distribution pulled out following the terrorist attacks on the Charlie Hebdo newspaper headquarters last January.
Whereas sensitivity to actual events motivated SND’s decision to drop the film, Pretty Pictures stepped in with a campaign that played up the real-life comparisons.
The film follows a Muslim journalist (played by Malik Zidi) who goes undercover in an extremist jihadist cell in the Paris suburbs — unique in that the would-be terrorists are converts to Islam, not foreigners who’ve come to wreak havoc on the city.
“Made in France” premiered as a midnight movie at the Busan Film Festival under the title “Inside the Cell” in October and was scheduled to screen Saturday night at the Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival.
According to the Busan festival catalog, “Shot a mere few months before the Paris events of January 2015, ‘Inside the Cell’s’ storyline bears close resemblance to what happened in reality. … ‘Inside the Cell’ is a daring investigation thriller that plunges you inside the extremist Muslim groups that grow inside western countries and can strike at any moment.”
The Friday night attacks put Pretty Pictures in an uncomfortable situation: Do they pull the film from French theaters on Wednesday? (Will locals even consider French theaters a safe place to visit in the wake of a terrorist attack that targeted a soccer stadium and concert hall?) Will they edit the film, which features scenes of Islamic extremists firing upon French police, in any way? (French law gives directors final cut, which complicates any such decision.)
In America, multiple films have made been forced to rapidly alter their marketing and delay releases when violent tragedies struck too close to home. In 2012, Warner Bros. pulled trailers for “Gangster Squad” featuring a scene in which mobsters shot up a movie theater after a gunman opened fire in an Aurora, Colo. screening of “The Dark Knight Rises.”
After the World Trade Center attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, Warner Bros. pushed Arnold Schwarzenegger actioner “Collateral Damage” from an Oct. 5 release to Feb. 8, 2002. Sony pulled early “Spider-Man” posters that showed the Twin Towers reflected in Spidey’s mask, as well as a teaser in which the superhero spun a web between the buildings. DreamWorks swiftly reworked key art for prison uprising drama “The Last Castle,” finding posters featuring an American flag flying upside down to be in bad taste amid the upswell of patriotism that followed.
Already unsettling, posters for “Made in France” — on display in metro stations and bus sides all over Paris — are now in especially bad taste.
(This story has been updated to reflect an announcement by Pretty Pictures and Radar Films.)