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Movies: Past, present and future

Category: Vince Vaughn

Fox alters 'Neighborhood Watch' campaign after Trayvon Martin death

March 27, 2012 |  2:48 pm

Vince Vaughn and Ben Stiller, stars of the upcoming summer comedy "Neighborhood Watch," at an NBA basketball game

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.


Ben Stiller's 'Neighborhood Watch' begins to attract a crowd

Weinstein Co. to release 'Bully' documentary without MPAA rating

Summer showdown: Is there room for 2 action movies on the same day?

--Nicole Sperling

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

Ben Stiller's 'Neighborhood Watch' begins to attract a crowd

June 30, 2011 | 12:13 pm


EXCLUSIVE: "Neighborhood Watch" is one of those movies that kicks around Hollywood for a while then  gets jolted into action when some big stars take an interest in it.

The story of an urbanite who gets more than he bargains for -- in the form of extraterrestrial activity -- when he moves to the suburbs and joins the neighborhood watch was in development several years ago with Will Ferrell. But the science-fiction comedy got a new lease on life when Seth Rogen and writing partner Evan Goldberg came on to write a new draft of the script and Ben Stiller decided to  take the lead role that Ferrell once occupied.

Now the film, which is set up at 20th Century Fox, is getting another jolt. "Tropic Thunder" and "Iron Man 2" writer Justin Theroux has been brought on to write a new draft, and Fox has met with Vince Vaughn with the aim of bringing the "Wedding Crashers" star aboard, said two people familiar with the project who asked not to be identified because the movie is still in the development phase. [Update, 12:48 p.m.: A person close to the production said that Vaughn is now formally negotiating for the role, which means that if terms of a deal can be worked out, he will indeed star opposite Stiller.]

The Stiller-Vaughn pairing would mark a high-profile comedy reunion. The two played nemeses -- as the underdog Peter La Fleur and the conniving White Goodman -- in 2004's "Dodgeball," a movie that took in $115 million at the U.S. box office (a fact doubtless not lost on Fox, which made and released that film too). A Fox spokeswoman did not immediately have a comment.

Apart from Stiller and Vaughn, "Neighborhood Watch" is an opportunity for other comedic actors to strut their stuff, particularly in a time when bigger-budget original comedies aren't getting made very often.There's an older black character as well as a young dad role that could be filled by a 20-something white comic actor. Earlier this month, producers brought on Akiva Schaffer, a veteran of "Saturday Night Live" and sketch-comedy group Lonely Island, to direct the movie, which is being produced by "Night at the Museum" diretor Shawn Levy. The movie could potentially shoot as soon as November.

For comedy fans, the film would represent a return for Stiller to a non-sequel comedy -- he hasn't done one since 2008's "Thunder" -- and a move away from the romance-flavored comedies that Vaughn has taken to of late.


From the archives: 'Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story' movie review

Ben Stiller and 'Saturday Night Live' veteran look to team on new comedy

Ben Stiller, Edie Falco in 'House of Blue Leaves' on Broadway: What did the critics think?

--Steven Zeitchik and Nicole Sperling

Photo: Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn in "Dodgeball: a True Underdog Story." Credit: 20th Century Fox


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