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It is not unusual for studios to respond to real-world issues by changing titles, delaying films, or even altering content within the movie. This can be done for any number of reasons.
Anyone who has been following the Trayvon Martin story in Florida would likely understand 20th Century Fox's decision to change the title of their summer science-fiction comedy "Neighborhood Watch." The movie doesn't have anything to do with that situation or anything like it, but just knowing that George Zimmerman was a member of a neighborhood watch program and hearing that phrase on news story after news story had to be enough reason to get the studio nervous.
Today, they are set to officially announce the title change to "The Watch," and they'll do so with a debut of the new red-banded trailer for the film.
Here's the official announcement they are set to release regarding the matter:
LOS ANGELES, (Friday May 4, 2012) – Twentieth Century Fox launches the next phase of its marketing campaign for the summer comedy THE WATCH in raucous style – with a red band trailer debuting today on IGN.COM.
THE WATCH is the new title for “Neighborhood Watch.” As the subject matter of this alien invasion comedy bears no relation whatsoever to the recent tragic events in Florida, the studio altered the title to avoid any accidental or unintended misimpression that it might.
THE WATCH lands in theaters everywhere on July 27, 2012. The film is directed by Akiva Schaffer, written by Jared Stern and Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg and Justin Theroux, and produced by Shawn Levy and Michael Ewing.
Whatever the film is called, I'm interested because the first few drafts of the script were promising, and because that cast intrigues me. Stiller, Vaughn, and Hill are reliably funny, and the addition of Richard Ayoade feels like a really lovely left turn.
We first caught wind that they might change the title earlier this week, when one of my Twitter followers participated in a phone survey about possible alternate titles, and I don't blame Fox at all. They just want to release their sci-fi flavored riff on "The Burbs," not trade in a real-life tragedy.
"The Watch" arrives in theaters July 27, 2012.