Officially, it’s called Untitled International Thriller, but the original release date of October 12, 2012 for the film based on the SEAL Team 6 mission that killed Osama bin Laden had even Maureen Dowd questioning the motives of the filmmakers — and of the White House, which was apparently cooperating with the filmmakers and providing inside information. Republicans in Congress expressed outrage, promised investigations, and proposed laws to block Hollywood from gaining access to information.
Coincidentally or not, Sony has moved the release date for the film:
Sony likely won’t be releasing Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal’s untitled project about the hunt for Osama Bin Laden before the 2012 Presidential election as planned.
Originally skedded to launch Oct. 12, the studio said it will definitely move the film — but is considering a few different options as to when.
According to Variety, the studio moved a Kevin James comedy into the October 12th slot, which means they needed to find another release date for the movie anyway, but there is certainly a chicken-or-the-egg question about which came first. On the other hand, the film hasn’t even gone into production yet, as Variety and IMDB both report. They would need to have shot the film quickly and turned around the editing in a narrow time frame to make that date, which is less than a year away now, and it doesn’t even have an announced cast yet.
Govindini Murty hails the decision regardless of the motivation, and says it will not just help Bigelow’s project, but others coming to screens later as well:
The dispute over the bin Laden film didn’t just threaten to undermine the film itself — it also potentially diminished support for a number of other film and TV projects in the works that aim to portray the American military positively in the War on Terror. These projects range from Jerry Bruckheimer’s Navy SEALs TV series for ABC and Relativity’s Navy SEALs movie Act of Valor to movies like Peter Berg’s Lone Survivor and Christopher McQuarrie’s Rubicon that depict Navy SEALs fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan. While liberals in the industry are supportive of these films after the success of the bin Laden raid, conservatives paradoxically have become convinced by the dust-up over Sony’s bin Laden movie that all these other projects must be thinly disguised pro-Obama propaganda as well. (See the comments section of my recent article in The Atlantic, where conservatives responded with skepticism to news of these War on Terror projects.)
As a result, a movie that should have been a unifying depiction of an American victory in the War on Terror has become a political hot potato. Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal released a statementin August saying that their film would depict the killing of bin Laden as “an American triumph, both heroic, and non-partisan.” Nonetheless, Sony needed to change the release date to truly show that their bin Laden movie was not intended to influence the election. …
Even Steven Spielberg, long an astute judge of public sentiment, decided to postpone the release of his Lincoln biopic until after the 2012 election for just this reason. As Spielberg told the Orlando Sentinel recently: “I didn’t want it to become political fodder.” Spielberg has the right instinct here. While movies should be free to express political viewpoints, by tying films to the political cycle, filmmakers risk subsuming the independent artform of film to the contentious forces of politics. This has a divisive and inflammatory effect on the public — something that the country certainly does not need right now.
Sony is making the right decision by postponing its bin Laden film to a time when the film will be judged on its own merits and not through the highly charged lens of a national election. The brave soldiers of SEAL Team 6 who carried out the raid that killed bin Laden did so on behalf of all Americans — not just for a particular political party. Any movie that seeks to accurately depict their actions should also honor their broader nonpartisan spirit.
I don’t have any problem with filmmakers creating political diatribes, as long as they’re honest about them. They almost always flop at the box office, though, because the only people who want to show up to a two-hour lecture on politics are the true believers. Note well the box-office bombs that Hollywood produced when it tried to turn the Iraq War into political statements: Redacted, Lions for Lambs among others were box-office embarrassments.
Given their treatment of The Hurt Locker, I’d say that Bigelow and Boal have the capacity to offer a fair look at the daring exploits of American commandos without turning it into a partisan diatribe, but we’ll see when the movie gets released. Now that Sony has wisely moved the release date to after the election and mooted accusations of attempting to produce propaganda for the current administration, I’m looking forward to giving it a chance.