This was what summer was all about.
As we all know, the events that unfolded in Aurora, Colorado last Friday morning merged the line between fantasy and reality... and in the end, it all became much too real. And devastating. As reports came streaming in, it was said that many in the Century 16 Theater first thought the gunman's appearance was a publicity stunt. I can only imagine the terror in that theater when, moments later, bullets went flying.
Is this really happening? How could this happen? Why?????
Warner Brothers got its monumental weekend (albeit in a far different way than anyone at the studio could have predicted.) In public relations speak, they call it "crisis management." This is when a major event immediately threatens an organization, its reputation, its shareholders, or the general public. The Crisis being that the event has already occurred, it poses a very real threat, and it forces a company or organization to make strategic decisions in a very short amount of time.
As news poured in from Colorado, the studio and companies associated with The Dark Knight Rises had some very real decisions to make FAST. According to The Los Angeles Times, Christopher Nolan, the cast and crew, were in "lockdown mode" in Paris where the studio cancelled a scheduled premiere.
WHAT WARNER BROS. DID RIGHT
*Warner Bros. immediately combed through advertisements and pre-existing promotional material for The Dark Knight Rises in order to remove and/or alter any catch phrases or taglines with negative or violent connotations.
* Warner Bros. also quickly pulled trailers of their upcoming release, Gangster Squad which was originally scheduled for release in September. That film chillingly includes a theater shooting sequence. (According to Variety, the studio has now made the decision to do away with the whole sequence, reportedly a climax of the film.)
*Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures have made substantial donations to The Aurora Victims Relief Fund, a 501(c) nonprofit established to help victims' families and survivors of the tragedy.
*AMC Theatres released photos via Facebook of Christian Bale and his wife Sibi Blazic visiting with survivors of the tragedy and a victims' memorial in Aurora.
In light of what happened, it's natural to want to point fingers. We want to point fingers. We want to blame. We want to find the one true answer as to why? Why did this happen? How could this happen? It's Guns. It's Hollywood. It's Societal Pressure. It's Youth Alienation. It's the glorification of Violence.
Sure, one can say that Warner Bros. acted purely for publicity's sake. That's fair. It could very well be true. My point, however, is that they could very easily have buried their head in the sand. Other companies faced with similar crises certainly have dealt with things that way. It's as if to say: "If we do nothing, the problem will eventually go away..."
Instead, I applaud Warner Bros. for all they have done. Yes, it's about publicity and a studio (and film's) reputation. More importantly, however, it's about acting sensitively from a business and human standpoint. It's about acting responsibly. It's understanding that, while a company can face tragedy and crises like an adult (as Warner Bros. has), that company's actions do not mean they are fully accepting responsibility.
The shooting is not Christian Bale's fault. It's not Christopher Nolan's fault. Or Warner Bros. fault. Or Batman's fault. As much as we'd like it to be. That would be too easy.
Be sensitive to the victims, thankful for the heroes, and to the people who survived.
Focus on the things that went right when everything else was going so horribly wrong...
For more information:
Studio Handling Crisis With Care And Compassion
Warner Bros. Donation To Shooting Victims
Donate To Victims Of The Aurora Shooting
©2012 by KLiedle