Warner Bros. to Recut Gangster Squad After Colorado Shooting

The studio already pulled the trailer from theaters over concerns of a scene featuring a movie-theater shooting. Now that scene may hit the cutting room floor

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Wilson Webb / Warner Bros. as Sgt. John O’Mara

Sean Penn as Mickey Cohen and Josh Brolin

Updated 5:00 p.m.

Life—so tragically—has imitated art even before that art takes to the silver screen, prompting a scramble within Warner Bros. to determine how to handle an Aurora, Colorado-like scene in Gangster Squad.

The star-packed gangster movie—which stars Sean Penn, Amy Adams and Ryan Gosling—tells the story of gangster Mickey Cohen’s Los Angeles rampage in the 1940s and contains a pivotal scene, which was also a key feature of the trailer, depicting mobsters firing on a theater audience from behind the screen.

(PHOTOS: Aurora, Colorado, Movie Theater Shooting)

The movie’s attack has the violence erupting on unsuspecting filmgoers, with automatic gunfire blasting through the white screen and throwing the theater into chaos. With filmgoers scrambling for exits and police rushing to the theater, the raw emotion of such a scene prompted Warner Bros. to yank the trailer before all Dark Knight Rises showings (and even from the web).

But delaying trailers may just be the first step, the Los Angeles Times reports, as Warner Bros. is mulling how to proceed. Studio officials met today to discuss whether to remove or edit the shooting scene or to change the Sept. 7 release date.

Unfortunately for Warner Bros., the theater scene isn’t just an add-in, but actually plays a key role in the flow of the film, so any tampering to that portion could also require some reshooting as a work-around.

Gangster Squad was originally set for an Oct. 19 release, so at least pushing it out of September seems likely at this point, but, in the end, it may come down to test screenings and focus groups to determine what audiences will tolerate and how difficult the Gangster Squad violence will be to stomach, now that it isn’t so fictional anymore. But the Times also reports that a test screening planned for later this month may even get pushed back. Of course, the studio could always decide to proceed with the debut but cancel any publicity, like advance screenings and celebrity interviews.

Variety reports that the studio has cut the sequence and ordered reshoots to patch the hole.

MORE: Shooting Puts Aurora On the Map in a Bad Way