10 Unfortunate Intersections of Movies and Real Life Events

Collateral Damage/Big Trouble

Compared to two other intended fall 2001 releases, Spider-Man’s post-9/11 tweaks were minor; at least the troublesome footage was only in an advertisement, and not in the finished film. But the Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicle Collateral Damage was in bigger trouble; slated for release on October 5, it featured Schwarzenegger as an LA firefighter avenging the death of his wife and son, who are killed in a Los Angeles building bombing coordinated by terrorists. Warner Brothers immediately pulled the film’s trailers (which included that bombing, of course) and pushed the release date back to February. In an attempt to stifle the odor of exploitation, Schwarznegger donated a million dollars to the Twin Towers Fund and got New York mayor Rudy Giulliani to accompany him to the New York premiere (to the consternation of some commentators and police), where the mayor pronounced it “a classic Arnold Schawarzenegger movie.” Audiences didn’t seem to agree; it grossed a small-for-its-star $78 million worldwide (on an $85 million budget).

Barry Sonnenfeld’s comedy Big Trouble fared far worse. A funny picture with a lousy sense of timing, this ensemble comedy (adapted from Dave Barry’s novel) culminated in a climactic airport sequence, in which a suitcase bomb is smuggled onto an airplane. Ha, ha… ha? Originally slated for a September 21 release, the film was quickly pulled from that date, but there wasn’t much Touchstone could do with it otherwise; the bomb (and gun) on a plane stuff was pretty much what the movie was about, so it wasn’t like they could do some clever editing and remove the now-troublesome elements. Instead, they sat on the film until April of 2002, released it quietly, watched it tank ($8 million gross against a $40 million budget), and wrote it off as a loss.