Woody Allen stops “Blue Jasmine” India release because of anti-tobacco ads
(We have updated this post with a statement from Allen’s publicist)
Woody Allen’s latest movie “Blue Jasmine” will not debut in India this weekend after the filmmaker objected to anti-tobacco ads that the Indian government requires cinemas to play before and during movies that feature scenes with characters smoking.
Allen refused to make “customisations” in the film to accommodate the ads, which led to distributor PVR Pictures cancelling the release, said two sources familiar with the matter. Both sources declined to comment because they were not authorized to talk about it with journalists.
“Blue Jasmine,” which critics have praised as the 77-year-old Allen’s best work in recent years, stars Cate Blanchett as a wealthy New York socialite who endures a humiliating fall from grace after her husband is arrested for financial crimes. The film was supposed to come out in India this weekend, three months after its U.S. release.
“Allen was adamant that he wanted the film to be shown as he had made it, without any additions to the print,” one of the sources said.
One of Allen’s publicists confirmed the sources. “Due to content in the film, it cannot be shown in India in its intended manner. Therefore, the film is not scheduled to play there,” said a spokesman for Allen at the firm 42 West.
India has banned smoking scenes in movies and television shows, and filmmakers for about a year have been required to show health warnings on screens whenever a character smokes in a film. Typically, a smoking scene would include a text insert at the bottom of the screen warning of the dangers of tobacco use. This is in addition to anti-smoking and anti-tobacco ads that run before films begin.
While most national and international directors accept these rules, Allen was adamant that he would not allow these “insertions” into his film.
India’s film censor board routinely requires cuts and changes to films on the grounds that certain scenes might offend some audiences in the country. It also has banned films, including David Fincher’s “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” because of rape and torture scenes, and Steven Spielberg’s “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” because of objections to the film’s portrayal of Indians and its imperialist tone.
Some directors allow cuts and alterations, while others, such as Fincher, have refused. Many directors, including Martin Scorsese, David Lynch and others, argue that changes to their films, including changing the aspect ratio in which some movies are shot, are unacceptable because they corrupt the artist’s vision.
India forms a miniscule portion of Hollywood revenue, but with a large, English-speaking population, it is a growing market. Hollywood films formed 8.5 percent of all box office collections last year, according to a report by consultancy KPMG.
(Editing and additional reporting by Robert MacMillan; Follow Shilpa on Twitter at @shilpajay and Robert @bobbymacReports. This article is website-exclusive and cannot be reproduced without permission)