Hollywood studios pack heat for summer

May 23, 2018

The Hollywood studios are “packing heat” for this summer, and it has nothing to do with the weather. In fact, according to a May 20 report by Deadline Hollywood, the posters for features opening within the next couple of months might as well be promoting the NRA: Rifles and double-barreled pistols are ubiquitous in the imagery.

Indeed, following recent school shootings in Florida and Texas, the studios may well be “taking some heat” from gun control advocates for the ways in which they are plugging their new releases.

There’s baby-faced Alden Ehrenreich as Han Solo in Solo: A Star Wars Story from Lucasfilm and Disney, aiming squarely at the viewer with bazooka-size handgun, Deadline Hollywood notes. And just below, a smiling Emilia Clark, as Qi’ra levels a double-barreled pistol; while Joonas Suotamo, Chewbacca, totes the deep-space version of an assault rifle.

Denzel Washington points a pistol with poker-faced indifference on the billboard for Columbia’s R-rated Equalizer 2; and Tom Cruise stands ready to shoot, gun in hand, on the poster for Paramount’s Mission: Impossible-Fallout.

Follow that with Mila Kunis along with Kate McKinnon, her hands posed to look as if she is leveling a gun in the billboard for the August release from Imagine Entertainment and Lionsgate, The Spy Who Dumped Me. Not so bad, but you get the intent.

Will Americans stunned by the violence in our schools allow their children to buy tickets to these aspiring blockbusters? A poll conducted by Pew Research Center in 2017 found that 61% of U.S. adults who do not own guns think that movies with gun-related violence contribute to the onslaught of school murders we are seeing today; 44% of gun owners agree.

And, according to Deadline Hollywood, “… anyone who doesn’t think parents and activists are poised for a fresh assault on Hollywood’s approach to screen violence is probably dreaming.”

Only on May 14—four days before the shootings at Santa Fe High School in Texas—the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania issued a call for a new, PG-15 violence rating.

Speaking to The New York Times, Annenberg’s Daniel Romer, the author of a study by the center calling for the PG-15 rating, said, ““The findings suggest that parents may want a new rating—that the film industry is taking inappropriate advantage of the PG-13 system,” adding, “These movies often get a PG-13 rating by omitting the consequences, such as blood and suffering, and by making the use of gun violence seem justified. But parents of teenagers say that even scenes of justified violence are more appropriate for teens who are at least 15.”

The Motion Picture Association of America, which runs the voluntary domestic film ratings system, declined to comment.

Research contact: michaelcieply@deadline.com

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