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cyberdude557

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: April 30, 2007, 11:12:53 AM

After Virginia Tech, Testing Limits of Movie Violence
By MICHAEL CIEPLY
LOS ANGELES, April 29 — If the horror at Virginia Tech has changed the chemistry of America’s popular culture, those who count box-office receipts at Lionsgate would be among the first to know.

The independent studio, a clearinghouse for some of the entertainment industry’s most graphically violent fare, still plans to release on June 8 its “Hostel: Part II,” about the torture killing of college students.

The movie will open as other studios are turning toward comedies like “Knocked Up,” capers like “Ocean’s 13,” or fantasy adventures like “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer.”

Given its subject matter and the marketing campaign that has already come with it — posters featuring a woman’s severed head and other grisly images are now scattered on the Web — the Lionsgate film is emerging as a test of continued audience enthusiasm for such onscreen brutality, which some commentators have connected with the Blacksburg gunman Seung-Hui Cho’s video and its possible echoes of the Korean revenge film “Old Boy.”

“What might have been traditionally acceptable exploitation in one period can be seen as stupendously bad taste in another,” said Martin Kaplan, director of the Norman Lear Center at the University of Southern California, which examines the links among entertainment, commerce and society.

Eight years ago, in one such case, the Columbine High School killings fed a political storm around the marketing of violent entertainment to the young, and led to stricter policing of sales practices in the movie and video-game industries.

“You can’t win on this one,” said Peter Dekom, a longtime entertainment lawyer and author, with Peter Sealey, of “Not on My Watch: Hollywood vs. the Future.”

Mr. Dekom predicted that fallout from the killings would hurt the film’s performance. But the damage would only grow deeper, he suggested, if Lionsgate delayed the film, allowing the Internet buzz to tag it as being troubled.

Written and directed by Eli Roth, with Quentin Tarantino as an executive producer, “Hostel: Part II” follows an immensely lucrative predecessor, which cost only about $5 million to make, and took in more than $80 million worldwide when Lionsgate released it last year in partnership with Sony Pictures Entertainment’s Screen Gems division. (Sony, whose executives declined to comment, also has a stake in the new film.)

The original film told the story of three young travelers who are lured by gorgeous women into captivity and deadly torture; the new picture follows three young women studying abroad who fall into much the same trap. Along with the three hits in its “Saw” series, the film cemented Lionsgate’s reputation as a nonpareil distributor of so-called torture porn and helped to feed a surge in violent horror movies from virtually every major studio in recent years.

(Lionsgate is not solely devoted to gore; it has also released the family-oriented Tyler Perry movies and “Crash,” which won the best picture Oscar for 2005. On Friday, the studio will open Sarah Polley’s “Away From Her,” based on a short story by Alice Munro about an aging couple dealing with the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.)

Peter Wilkes, a Lionsgate spokesman, confirmed that his company plans to proceed with a June release for “Hostel: Part II,” but declined to discuss whether it planned to adjust the movie or its marketing campaign.

In recent weeks, the Motion Picture Association of America, which reviews advertising materials for films that seek a rating, approved the severed head poster, with a proviso that it not be displayed in multiplex theaters, where children might be exposed to it, according to a person involved with the process.

Lionsgate has circulated additional images, including one of a dead or dying woman suspended upside down with fluid dripping from her nose. “Hostel: Part II” has not yet been rated, but like its predecessor, will probably receive an R rating.

Even before the events in Blacksburg, the heavy run of violent films had gained attention from the government — a Federal Trade Commission report this month found that studios were still selling R-rated fare to adolescents over the Internet, among other things — just as the genre was beginning to show signs of audience fatigue.

Pictures like “Dead Silence” from Universal, “The Hills Have Eyes 2” from Fox Atomic, “Grindhouse” from the Weinstein Company, and “The Reaping” from Warner Brothers Pictures were box-office disappointments. And Sony’s “Vacancy,” which opened on April 20 even as images of the Virginia killings continued to fill television screens, has pulled in just $14 million in its first 9 days.

“You might have seen a little effect” from Blacksburg in audience behavior a week ago, said Roy Lee, a film producer whose projects include a proposed remake of “Old Boy” for Universal.

Mr. Lee said that film, initially intended as a project for Justin Lin, the director of “Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift,” had fallen out of active development long before Mr. Cho’s video and commentator chatter about supposed influences.

Mr. Lee said that the killings have seriously shaken the prospects for his “Battle Royale,” based on a Japanese video game in which ninth graders imprisoned on an island are forced to kill one another. (Lionsgate’s “The Condemned,” with a similar island face-off premise involving adults, opened this weekend to $4 million.) New Line Cinema has been working since last year for film rights to the game but has yet to sign a deal, according to Mr. Lee.

But he said that he was glad the movie had not started production before the Blacksburg killings. “We would have been slaughtered by the press,” he said.

Asked if he would still be willing to proceed with a “Battle Royale” movie, Mr. Lee said yes, though “we might be a little more sensitive to some of the issues.” A spokeswoman for New Line said she had “no news” about progress on the rights deal.

The trade paper Variety reported last week that two films based on campus violence — the documentary “The Killer Within,” about a planned killing spree at Swarthmore College in the 1950s, and the drama “Dark Matter,” about a dangerously disaffected Asian student — are still looking for distributors.

Yet Dr. Kaplan of the Lear Center, a former film executive for Disney, noted that popular culture has a way of riding out even the most shattering of events.

Dr. Kaplan added that he was hard-pressed to think of any event that had suddenly, and irrevocably, changed audience responsiveness. “Famously, 9/11 was supposed to be the end of irony,” he said. “If anything, irony has blossomed.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/30/bu...tner=TOPIXNEWS

Booker

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#1 : April 30, 2007, 11:16:59 AM

People will never take blame for a damn thing anymore

mjs020294

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#2 : April 30, 2007, 11:21:56 AM

I blame South Korea.


MrFreakinMiyagi

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#3 : April 30, 2007, 11:25:43 AM

Unbelievable.........

Movies?? C'mon now......... Anyone with half a brain knows that video games are at fault here

Dolorus Jason on a ban bet with me over the BCS Championship: \"You have your bet. I ain\'t scurred.\"- 12/8 \"Youre being banned from your own stupidity. Enjoy.\"-12/8 \"Prepare for your ban .\" -12/9 \"Miyagi gonna be banned.\"-12/9 \"Best bet I ever made ...\"-12/9 \"Miyagi mad , gettin banned.\"-12/9\"You mIght need a break from the board. Our bet should help you do just that.\"-12/10 11:38 AM
 \"The bet is off now.\"12/10 1:24 PM

Booker

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#4 : April 30, 2007, 11:28:13 AM

I think puppet shows are to blame

MrFreakinMiyagi

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#5 : April 30, 2007, 11:29:05 AM

I think puppet shows are to blame
Interesting thought

Dolorus Jason on a ban bet with me over the BCS Championship: \"You have your bet. I ain\'t scurred.\"- 12/8 \"Youre being banned from your own stupidity. Enjoy.\"-12/8 \"Prepare for your ban .\" -12/9 \"Miyagi gonna be banned.\"-12/9 \"Best bet I ever made ...\"-12/9 \"Miyagi mad , gettin banned.\"-12/9\"You mIght need a break from the board. Our bet should help you do just that.\"-12/10 11:38 AM
 \"The bet is off now.\"12/10 1:24 PM

cyberdude557

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#6 : April 30, 2007, 11:50:14 AM

The gunman was insane. He may have made references to one violent Korean film. But he also compared himself to Jesus and thought the Columbine boys were "martyrs." So movies had very little to do with this guy's psychosis. He had serious psychological problems that people ignored for years. And violent movies did not cause his psychosis.

But just saying that this guy is crazy is not enough for the media and the public. They need someone or something to blame.

leeroybuc93

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#7 : April 30, 2007, 12:52:44 PM

Did anyone actually read the article?  It didn't blame movies for anything.  It asked it the killings at VT would slow down the market for violent horror films.

cyberdude557

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#8 : April 30, 2007, 02:38:00 PM

Did anyone actually read the article? It didn't blame movies for anything. It asked it the killings at VT would slow down the market for violent horror films.

The article has a bias against violent films.

buckit

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#9 : April 30, 2007, 03:39:24 PM

Forget sociopathology, sever attachment disorder and clear evidence of overt physical and sexual abuse history (see his plays), let's blame Hollywood!


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dalbuc

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#10 : April 30, 2007, 03:50:36 PM

Did anyone actually read the article?  It didn't blame movies for anything.  It asked it the killings at VT would slow down the market for violent horror films.

In particular the splatter-films have a fairly narrow audience base. Most horror films open big and then trail off as that core goes away and that group is likely not gonna be really touchy-feely about the whole VT thing because most of those folks know fiction from reality.

All posts are opinions in case you are too stupid to figure that out on your own without me saying it over and over.

ufojoe

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#11 : April 30, 2007, 03:51:46 PM

The gunman was insane. He may have made references to one violent Korean film. But he also compared himself to Jesus

Ban violent books such as The Bible.

leeroybuc93

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#12 : April 30, 2007, 04:55:27 PM

Did anyone actually read the article? It didn't blame movies for anything. It asked it the killings at VT would slow down the market for violent horror films.

The article has a bias against violent films.

Hahaha!  What?  It doesn't have any bias at all.  It's a business article! 

krazybuc

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#13 : April 30, 2007, 05:56:03 PM

glad to hear hostel 2 wont be delayed! loved the first one!
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