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'Neighborhood Watch': Ben Stiller and Shawn Levy on how the Trayvon Martin case affects their film

In comedy, timing is everything. And right now, in light of the Trayvon Martin tragedy, it’s hard to imagine worse timing for a comedy called Neighborhood Watch, even if the movie is about four volunteer crime fighters (Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill, and Richard Ayoade) battling space aliens. Yesterday, Fox pulled posters and the teaser trailer for the film from Florida, where, on Feb. 26, a real-life neighborhood watch captain shot and killed an unarmed African-American teenager, sparking nationwide protests.

“We are very sensitive to what’s going on,” Neighborhood Watch producer Shawn Levy tells EW. “But other than the name of the organization, there is zero overlap between the movie and what’s going on in Florida. It’s very much a comedy that pits regular guys against a non-Earthly foe.” Levy says there have so far been no discussions about whether to postpone the film’s July 27 release, but it sounds like at least one of the stars would prefer the show go on as scheduled. “You’re talking to the guy who had the first comedy out after 9/11,” says Stiller. “We just put Zoolander out there. There were questions about whether it was too early for a comedy, but we couldn’t find a reason why there shouldn’t be a comedy in the world.”

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Fox pulls 'Neighborhood Watch' poster and trailer in light of Trayvon Martin's death

neighborhood-watch

On February 26, 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman. That shocking, racially charged incident has led to widespread outrage, protests… and trouble for 20th Century Fox, the studio behind the upcoming aliens vs. Ben Stiller comedy Neighborhood Watch.

In light of Martin’s death, Fox has decided to pull the film’s first teaser poster and trailer from theaters in the slain teen’s home state of Florida. “The movie, which is not scheduled for release for several months, was made and these initial marketing materials were released before this incident ever came to light,” a Fox spokesperson told EW in an official statement. “The teaser materials were part of an early phase of our marketing and were never planned for long-term use. Above all else, our thoughts go out to the families touched by this terrible event.”

Fox is reportedly still planning to release Neighborhood Watch on July 27. In addition to Stiller, the film also stars comic heavyweights Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill, and The IT Crowd‘s Richard Ayoade. Check out the yanked trailer, as well as a full-size poster, below. READ FULL STORY

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