US cinemas wary of Death Of A President

All right, so it kicks off with George Bush being gunned down by a disgruntled protestor and then takes a long, hard, albeit fictional stare at America’s response to the assassination. But really, is that cause for several big American cinema chains to consider boycotting the movie?

Apparently, yes. Newmarket Films – no stranger to controversy after releasing Mel Gibson’s The Passion Of The Christ – slapped down $1 million to buy the US rights to Gabriel Range’s film at Toronto. And now the company is facing a real challenge in getting it into Stateside cinemas because of the touchy subject matter. “We would not be inclined to program this film," Regal Entertainment Group CEO Mike Campbell decreed to The Hollywood Reporter. "We feel it is inappropriate to portray the future assassination of a sitting president, regardless of political affiliation." His voice and his company’s choice carry real weight – Regal is the biggest chain in the US.

Newmarket, naturally, thinks it’s something that should be seen. “Yes, it's controversial," Newmarket co-founder Chris Ball said. "It's quite a compelling political thriller. In many ways it is sympathetic to George Bush. It talks about a rush to judgment. In no way is it a call for violence." And it’s also getting the thumbs up from Bob Berney, who used to run Newmarket’s distribution side before the company was sold off to Time Warner. "They made a bold, controversial move buying that movie," he told the Reporter. "It's certainly a challenge, and it's the right thing to do if the elections are catalysts for attention to the film. But they're going to run into resistance. A film like this generates publicity if somebody bans or won't play the film. That's not bad just as long as somebody does, and they will. That's more of a headline than a deterrent."