Movie News & Reviews

Parkland parent gets major film studio to move the release date of a teen slasher film

Fred Guttenberg, the father of Jaime Guttenberg who was killed during the Parkland shooting last February, speaks during a discussion on gun safety at the Coral Springs Museum of Art on Friday, October 5, 2018.
Fred Guttenberg, the father of Jaime Guttenberg who was killed during the Parkland shooting last February, speaks during a discussion on gun safety at the Coral Springs Museum of Art on Friday, October 5, 2018. mocner@miamiherald.com

There was a time-honored tradition of pegging the creation, and release, of teen slasher movies to a holiday or event.

In the early 1980s, a boom time for these quickly made and profitable horror flicks, there was “Prom Night,” New Year’s Evil,” “My Bloody Valentine,” “Silent Night, Deadly Night,” and, of course, the “Halloween” sequels.

But the pending release of a new Valentine’s Day-themed horror flick, set for release on Feb. 14 by Universal Pictures, has at least one Parkland parent upset.

Upset enough, that Fred Guttenberg, who lost his 14-year-old daughter Jaime in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas massacre last Valentine’s Day, to take to Twitter Tuesday night to plead with Universal to move the release date of “Happy Death 2 U” from its original planned Feb. 14 opening.

“My daughter and 16 others were killed on February 14th. Universal Studios is releasing a movie called Happy Death Day 2 U? I get the pin on Valentine’s Day,” Guttenberg wrote on Twitter Tuesday night. “For me it will always be the day my daughter was murdered. Please reconsider this.”

Guttenberg directed his plea to the movie’s producer Jason Blum, founder of Blumhouse Productions. He also vowed to work alongside Blum to help make the movie a hit — “to make your movie successful” — if only the release date could be changed.

Many of Guttenber’s 150,000 followers agreed, responding in kind.

“Couldn’t it be a play on a Birthday, which could then be any other goddamn day? For God sakes, it’s the 1st anniversary. Fred, my best to you every day,” read one — perhaps recalling the 1981 slasher flick, “Happy Birthday to Me.”

Another took a more sobering tone given today’s many shootings: “Fred I understand that day is probably hard, but if Studios in America had to consider every school shooting before releasing their movies we’d probably never get movies.”

Apparently, Guttenberg’s request wasn’t in vain.

On Wednesday, he tweeted that Universal honored his request.

“Very happy to announce that I just got off the phone with executives at Universal Studios. They will be moving the release date of the movie off of February 14th and they will also be taking steps to address the local needs of the Parkland community. This was a great outcome,” Guttenberg posted.

A spokesman for the film studio told Yahoo! Entertainment, “When Universal Pictures became aware last week that the one-year anniversary of the tragic events in Parkland, Florida, fell on the ‘Happy Death Day 2U’ release date, the studio spoke with victim advocates and immediately began the process of changing the release date of the film.”

Happy Death Day 2 prom_fitted.jpeg
“Happy Death Day 2 U” promotional movie poster. Blumhouse Productions/Universal Pictures

The movie will now open on Feb. 13 in North America theaters.

But not in the immediate Parkland vicinity.

“Outdoor, digital and in-theatre marketing for the film will be suspended in that market,” the rep told Yahoo! Entertainment. “The studio understands the importance of memorializing the February 14 date as an opportunity to continue to allow the Parkland community to heal.”

“Happy Death Day 2 U” is a sequel to director Christopher Landon’s 2017 movie, “Happy Death Day to U,” a “time loop” thriller which made $125 million worldwide on a budget of nearly $5 million. The sequel’s story picks up two years after the events in the first film.

Guttenberg recently lashed out against Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd and Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri for appearing on separate talk show programs on NRA TV. Judd and Gualtieri are members of the commission that put together a scathing 458-page report on the Parkland shootings.

Miami Herald Real Time/Breaking News reporter Howard Cohen, a 2017 Media Excellence Awards winner, has covered pop music, theater, health and fitness, obituaries, municipal government and general assignment. He started his career in the Features department at the Miami Herald in 1991.
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