The Trayvon Martin controversy: Disaster for Ben Stiller's Neighborhood Watch?

In an ill-timed trailer for the summer comedy, a neighborhood watchman played by Jonah Hill pretends to shoot a group of teenagers

The teaser poster (pictured) and trailer for the forthcoming "Neighborhood Watch" have been pulled in light of the Trayvon Martin shooting.
(Image credit: Facebook/Neighborhood Watch)

The still-raw controversy surrounding the death of Trayvon Martin, the black Florida teen who was shot and killed last month by neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman, is complicating the marketing and release for the upcoming Fox movie Neighborhood Watch. The comedy, about suburban dads who form a neighborhood watch group that must thwart an alien invasion, stars Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, and Jonah Hill, and is set to be released July 27. Out of deference to the controversy, the studio is yanking the film's bullet-riddled poster (see it to the right) and trailer (watch it below), which shows Hill's character using his hand to pretend to shoot a group of teenagers. "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," a Fox spokesperson says. How should the movie handle its predicament?

This is exactly the right approach: The film's July release is still months away, so pausing to reassess the marketing in the wake of the Trayvon Martin story is both necessary and smart, says Katey Rich at Cinema Blend. "They won't lose much buzz," and producers can always launch a new campaign with a different focus leading into the summer months. "Obviously the Martin/Zimmerman case has nothing to do" with Neighborhood Watch. And "thanks to Fox's smart move, it never will."

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