Studios delay film releases


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At least two major films due to be released in the next few months have already been put on hold, and others may be delayed over the next few weeks–because their plot lines revolve around terrorism.

Touchstone Pictures’ Big Trouble, an ensemble comedy starring Tim Allen and Rene Russo and directed by Barry Sonnenfeld, has been pushed back indefinitely from its Sept. 21 release date. The film centers on a group of people trying to get their hands on a suitcase with a nuclear bomb in it; the case eventually ends up on a plane.

Touchstone has also cancelled this weekend’s press junket for Trouble.

The Arnold Schwarzenegger political thriller Collateral Damage, due for release Oct. 5, has also been postponed indefinitely. In the film, Schwarzenegger’s character witnesses the death of his family when a downtown skyscraper is hit by a massive bomb blast. The title of the film also refers to innocent people who lose their lives simply by being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Warner Bros. released a statement saying they were making “an immediate and complete effort to retrieve all outdoor advertising; to pull the website and all in-theater adversting, including trailers and posters; and cancel all radio and television advertising and promotions for this film.”

The statement went on further, “On behalf of director Andrew Davis, producers Steven Reuther and David Foster, the film’s star, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Warner Bros. Pictures, we extend our deepest sympathy to the family and friends of those who lost their lives in Tuesday’s terrorist attacks and join the nation in focusing our hope on the continuing rescue efforts.”

Another film in flux is Ed Burns‘ romantic comedy Sidewalks of New York. The critic screenings this week have been postponed until November with the Sept. 21 release date being pushed back for at least a few months.

Although most of the L.A.-based studios halted production Tuesday, the good news for feature films is that most new productions had not yet started, either due to an excess of films pushed into production before the potential actor and writer strikes or recent returns from summer hiatus.

The other productions that have been temporarily stalled include Sonnenfeld‘s Men in Black 2, which was shut down Tuesday but is scheduled to resume today. Part of the film was shot in New York.

Jackie Chan‘s film The Tuxedo, which also stars Jennifer Love Hewitt, did not plan to shut down production on location in Toronto.

The Toronto Film Festival, where 40 percent of sales and acquisitions are made for this year’s feature films, canceled all activities on Tuesday for the first time in the 26-year-old festival’s history.

“We are certainly very sensitive to security issues and are increasing security where appropriate,” festival president Piers Handling told Reuters. He said a crisis team was in place to protect film stars, guests and officials.

The star-studded festival was to include appearances by Steve Martin, Danny DeVito, Helena Bonham Carter, Uma Thurman, Nicole Kidman, Denzel Washington and Anthony Hopkins.

TV programming, too, has been affected, and what would have been a violence/thriller-filled broadcast weekend will turn comic instead. ABC will change plans to air the Nicole KidmanGeorge Clooney thriller The Peacemaker, substituting Sandra Bullock‘s romantic comedy Hope Floats in its place.

Instead of airing the X-Files movie over the weekend, Fox will show the Hugh Grant comedy Nine Months. Fox will also replace a Sunday evening broadcast of Independence Day with Robin Williams‘s cross-dressing laugher Mrs. Doubtfire.