Hollywood's nerves are shredded. The era of hacking is here.
The memory may have faded, but movie studios can still feel the sharp barb left behind by 2014's release of The Interview, the James Franco and Seth Rogen-starring slapstick comedy that saw the duo assassinate Kim Jong-un; hundreds of Sony's e-mails were leaked by hackers in the aftermath, causing their own controversies, while even the brief threat of all-out war seemed to hang strangely in the air.
A baffling time for movies and a controversy no studio is keen to replicate in the near future, which may explain their current extreme caution towards Vladimir Putin.
The Hollywood Reporter has stated that the Russian leader has been excised from two major upcoming releases. First is Fox's Red Sparrow, which sees Jennifer Lawrence play a Russian spy turned double agent for the CIA, an adaptation of former CIA officer Jason Matthews' novel. Though Putin was a key figure in the original book, he's been quietly cut out of the film adaptation.
A similar case to EuropaCorp's Kursk, the true story of a Russian submarine that sank in the Barents Sea in 2000 and killed everyone on board; though Putin had a significant role in the events, appears in the source material of Robert Moore's best-seller A Time to Die, and even featured in early versions of the screenplay, he's nowhere to be found in the finished film.
What's ironic, however, is that Hollywood's nervousness over showing Putin on film seems at odds with its current Russian obsession, with studios searching high and low for scripts that can best capture the current political climate in all its fraught intrigue. A writer has even reportedly taken meetings with Mikhail Gorbachev about the potential for a biopic.
This is more than the Cold War's simple fixation on Russian villains, however, with StudioCanal producing, for example, The Tracking of a Russian Spy, which sees Logan Lerman play a journalist who travels to Russia and becomes a tool of the Kremlin, in a film which sets out to tackle ideas of fake news and disinformation campaigns.
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