There’s a front page New York Times article today about 20th Century Fox's sudden marketing nightmare for its upcoming summer popcorn comedy, “Neighborhood Watch.” You can imagine how the country might not see the “funny” in a film like that right now, even though it’s about “four suburban watch members who save their neighborhood, and the world, from an invasion of space aliens.” Fox is trying its darndest to push the “space alien” angle (as opposed to the “vigilante” angle), but I have to say this summer might still be “too soon.” As the timing of George Zimmerman’s arrest gets pushed later and later into the infinite future, the Trayvon Martin murder story is not going away. And here's another thing that may keep "Neighborhood Watch" problems in the news.
There is an AP story today out of Sanford, FL about the possibility of a civil lawsuit against Zimmerman’s neighborhood homeowners association, “The Retreat at Twin Lakes.” According to lawyers familiar with the situation,
Exhibit A would be a newsletter sent by the association to residents in February, the same month as the shooting. It said Zimmerman was the go-to person for residents who had been the victims of a crime.”
Under the heading “Neighborhood Watch,” the newsletter’s message recommended that residents first call police and then “please contact our Captain, George Zimmerman ... so he can be aware and help address the issue with other residents.”
That seeming endorsement of Zimmerman exposes the 7-year-old association to possible legal action by Martin’s parents, homeowners association attorneys said.
“It’s almost like if you give your son the keys to a brand new Corvette when he turns 16” and he gets in an accident, said Roberto Blanch, a South Florida attorney who specializes in homeowners associations. “You may be seen as enabling the occurrence or the loss.”…
“So, if you’re going to send out a newsletter saying, ‘Hey, he is the captain. Whatever he says goes,’ You have now basically rented a free police officer for your neighborhood,” [attorney Justin] Clark said. “He certainly took on that role with the homeowners association, and it seems to me that they recognized that.”
It's not just the film's name that has that studio worried. They have also pulled the trailer out of movie theaters (see it below) and even pulled back the movie poster (see it above.) What do you think. Too soon? Or just more bad Karma for Rupert Murdoch.