‘The Brothers Grimsby’: Will ‘Donald Trump Contracts HIV’ Scene Be Removed?
Sacha Baron Cohen is no stranger to controversial movies, and it sounds like his new flick The Brothers Grimsby might already be tipping the controversy scales. According to reports following European screenings of The Brothers Grimsby, the film contains a scene in which reality TV star and GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump contracts HIV. If that’s not enough, when The Brothers Grimsby screened in several European cities and even some U.S. locations, the audience reacted to the scene with clapping and cheers. In at least one European city, the crowd reacted with a standing ovation, according to reports.
Went to watch Grimsby and the whole cinema clapped when Donald Trump got given AIDS in it???
— HollyDolbear (@hollydolbear2) February 27, 2016
Now, the Huffington Post is reporting that Sony may be having second thoughts about The Brothers Grimsby, and that the studio has even chosen to limit its U.S. marketing of the satirical comedy, which opens in theaters on March 11. The reason? According to reports from industry sources, Sony executives are “concerned” about Donald Trump’s reaction to the scene.
“Afraid of Trump’s reaction, they’re ‘subtly trying to make it disappear,’ says an industry source.”
While audiences the world over have reacted positively to the scene in The Brothers Grimsby, which was reportedly done in Cohen’s “standard over-the-top style,” with some saying the joke has “proven cathartic” to those in the audience “terrified” by Donald Trump’s sudden rise to potential presidential power, Sony execs are far from amused. According to reports from three sources in the industry, the movie studio pushed to have the scene removed from the finished movie. Sacha Baron Cohen, who wrote and produced The Brothers Grimsby in addition to starring in it, apparently has the final authority over the film and the final say regarding which scenes go and which stay.
His level of artistic leeway is reportedly a rare deal.
According to reports, Sony execs are seriously concerned that they are going to anger the “vengeful and litigious” Donal Trump with the release of The Brothers Grimsby if it contains the scene in which Trump contracts HIV. The studio is also concerned about potentially angering the next U.S. president.
If the Sony reaction to Trump’s potential outrage over The Brothers Grimsby sounds familiar, that’s because it is. In 2014, Sony suffered some serious flack when the studio’s film The Interview angered Kim Jong-un, the dictator of North Korea. As BBC News reported at the time, the release of The Interview resulted in the dictator condemning U.S. president Barack Obama, cyber attacks, and threats. At one point, Sony had considered canceling the release of the film (about a fictional plot to kill the North Korean dictator), a decision that Obama criticized. The president warned that doing so would be a threat to freedom of expression. What might Obama say about the fear of a Trump reaction to The Brothers Grimsby?
This time around, Sony has decided not to try to pull The Brothers Grimsby. Rather, they have opted to include a disclaimer stating that Donald Trump did not have any participation in the making of The Brothers Grimsby.
“If you were told that they’re shying away from the movie because of the political implications, I can tell you that’s 100 percent true.”
The studio has also reportedly all but stopped promoting The Brothers Grimsby due to the refusal of Sacha Baron Cohen to remove the scene depicting Donald Trump contracting HIV. That hasn’t stopped the star/writer/producer from promoting the flick himself, though. The film’s creator has reportedly shown The Brothers Grimsby to social media celebs, such as the Kardashians, then sharing their reactions to the film online.
— Kim Kardashian (@KimKardashian) March 2, 2016
— Kourtney Kardashian (@kourtneykardash) March 4, 2016
Critically, The Brothers Grimsby is getting some decent reviews. The Telegraph’s movie critic gave the movie a solid 4/5 stars, saying, “I laughed, winced, gagged, then laughed even more.”
It remains to be seen how the movie will fare at the box office, but the studio’s trepidation regarding the reaction of one potential U.S. politician is definitely giving people something to think about. How much has the world changed since 2014, when Sony executives clearly believe that a U.S. presidential hopeful may react in a similar as the North Korean dictator to one of their films? With The Brothers Grimsby opening in the U.S. in just under a week, we’ll soon see whether or not the controversy surrounding the Donald Trump/HIV scene helps or hurts the film.
What do you think? Did The Brothers Grimsby go too far with the scene depicting Donald Trump contracting HIV, or was the creator of The Brothers Grimsby simply exercising his Constitutionally protected freedom of expression?
[Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images]