10 Films That Had To Be Altered Because Of Real Life Tragedies

Because there is more to life than a good movie.

Gangster Squad
Warner Bros.

The first recorded instance of tragedy directly affecting a film production was Buster Keaton's silent comedy Steamboat Bill Jr, the ending of which had to be hastily rewritten after the Great Mississippi River Flood of 1927 hit the area, causing widespread devastation and displacing countless families in the Mississippi Delta.

While Keaton at least had the benefit of the tragedy - the most destructive of its kind in US history - taking place before shooting began, countless filmmakers since have not been so lucky. The 9/11 terrorist attacks affected a great many number of films shot in New York City, one of which was Ben Stiller's offbeat comedy Zoolander.

The film, which was released a little over two weeks after the attacks, featured shots of Manhattan's famous skyline, leaving Stiller with an impossible choice to make - leave the Twin Towers in and risk upsetting his audience or digitally remove them. He went with the latter, deeming it the lesser of two evils, though it didn't stop him from coming under fire from a number of critics for his decision.

As films fans, we like to believe that nothing is more important to us than a good movie, though when a real tragedy takes place we are instantly reminded that this is not the case. Life always comes before art, and cinema, as you're about to see for yourself, has never been an exception.

With causes ranging from natural disasters and terrorist attacks to child molestation and murder, here are 10 films that needed to be altered because of real life tragedy...

10. The Watch - Trayvon Martin Shooting

Aurora Shooting Gangster Squad
Dominic Lipinski/PA Archive

The Watch is 2012 sci-fi comedy written by Seth Rogen, his reguler collaborator Evan Goldberg and SNL Digital Short creator Akiva Schaffer. The film actually began its life as a teen-targeted movie, with the original script written by Jared Stern, though after numerous face-lifts at the hands several different contributors, it in ended up on Rogen's desk.

The final version of the film follows the exploits of Costco senior manager Evan Trautwig (Ben Stiller) as he forms his own neighbourhood watch group in the sleepy town of Glenview, Ohio in response to the brutal murder of his store's security guard. Determined to catch the killer, he enlists the help of Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill and Richard Ayoade, who manage to make a routine job out of uncovering an alien plot threatening the world.

While the film itself made it to cinemas in tact, several aspects of the advertising campaign and even the title of the movie had to be changed in the aftermath of the 2012 shooting of Trayvon Martin by neighbourhood watch member George Zimmerman. The 'neighbourhood watch' (which was the intended title) side of the film was played down heavily in the promotional trailers and TV spots, with the attention instead shifted to the alien invasion premise.


Phil still hasn't got round to writing a profile yet, as he has an unhealthy amount of box sets on the go.