Teaser posters and trailers for the upcoming alien-invasion comedy Neighborhood Watch are being pulled from Florida theaters after the tragic shooting death of unarmed seventeen-year-old Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman, the head of a neighborhood watch in Sanford, Florida. Fox decided to end the "early phase" of the marketing campaign, which included once benign aspects that now seem at the very least uncomfortable, out of deference to the incident and the ensuing controversy.
The comedy, which stars Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill, and Richard Ayoade, follows four men in a neighborhood watch who try to stop an alien invasion; it's not too analogous to the events in Sanford. (Unless you want to get more conceptual with it and talk about what we consider "the alien" in our culture, our notions of belonging, and the dangerous combination of powerlessness and the urge to be a hero figure. But this isn't college, so let's put that aside for the moment.) However, the studio thought it would be best to stop showing a teaser trailer in which the four men slowly trail teens from a car and pretend to shoot at them from the window:
Fox probably could have kept running the teaser and gotten away with it, though not without a bit of flack. There are bigger things to worry about, after all. But it was a smart and ultimately considerate thing for the studio to do. Plus, it's not like they don't have that "late phase" marketing ready to go. A spokesperson from Fox released the following statement to THR:
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. 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 long-term use. Above all else, our thoughts go out to the families touched by this terrible event.
So don't worry, Floridians: your state may be mired in a shit storm of angry arguments about gun control, race relations, and the ability of your police force to properly do their job, but on the bright side, you get to see the newest Vince Vaughn comedy the same day as everyone else.