Twentieth Century Fox has pulled its teaser trailer and in-theater posters for the upcoming Ben Stiller-Vince Vaughn comedy "Neighborhood Watch" in light of the Trayvon Martin shooting that has sparked national protests. The film is set for release in July.
Starring Stiller, Vaughn, Jonah Hill and Richard Ayoade as four suburban dads who form a neighborhood watch to get away from their families and wind up having to battle aliens, "Neighborhood Watch" couldn't be further from the tragic circumstances of the Martin case in Florida, in which an unarmed black teenager was fatally shot by a neighborhood watch volunteer. Yet in the minute-long trailer, which debuted in theaters ahead of "21 Jump Street" and online just three days after the shooting, the four actors are seen cruising their leafy neighborhood in a minivan with Hill's character making a gun motion out the window.
The in-theater promotional display shows a bullet-riddled street sign dripping with green goo. According to a Fox spokesperson, the materials were taken out of Florida theaters over the past week and will be removed from other theaters around the country in the coming days. Online, the trailer can still be found.
The studio wants to assure audiences that the film is in no way connected to the Martin case and will therefore accelerate to the second stage of its marketing campaign, one that focuses more on the alien invasion component of the film.
"We are very sensitive to the Trayvon Martin case, but our film is a broad alien invasion comedy and bears absolutely no relation to the tragic events in Florida," said a statement released by the studio. "The movie, which is not scheduled for release for several months, was made and these initial marketing materials were released before this incident ever came to light. The teaser materials were part of an early phase of our marketing and were never planned for longterm use."
The in-theater materials will be replaced with posters of the cast. Fox has not yet determined when a new trailer will debut.
This is not the first time a real-world event has coincided with a theatrical motion picture on a similar topic. Warner Bros. pulled Clint Eastwood's "Hereafter" -- which featured a deadly tsunami -- from the Japanese market after Japan's earthquake and tsunami hit last year. The British release for Warners' "V for Vendetta" was delayed in 2005 after the London subway bombings eerily echoed a key plot point in the vigilante-themed film.
Photo: Vince Vaughn and Ben Stiller, stars of the upcoming summer comedy "Neighborhood Watch," at an NBA basketball game in January. Credit: John Bazemore/AP