Okay, here's the backstory -- Lionsgate partner After Dark Films has been generating some serious 'word of mouth' advertising for its upcoming film Captivity over the past couple of months by putting up controversial billboards and taxi tops in L.A. and New York, even after they were rejected by the MPAA. The offending ads featured star Elisha Cuthbert being tortured in four-frame storyboards, and each frame had one of the following captions: "abduction," "confinement," "torture," and "termination." Lionsgate was no doubt smiling as people everywhere expressed outrage and sites like ours wrote the word Captivity over and over and over again. Well, now the empire has struck back -- the MPAA has suspended Captivity's ratings process and slapped After Dark Films with a sanction -- something Variety is calling "unprecedented."
Never before has the MPAA done what they've done in this case -- require a film company to clear with the MPAA all venues and locations of its ad buys, but the organization is staunchly defending its action, with an MPAA publicist noting After Dark's "prominent display in both Los Angeles and New York of advertising that the MPAA had explicitly disapproved as inappropriate for general public viewing." The publicist also said this action "marks a rare instance where a company has acted in such a clear and direct violation of our rules. The overwhelming majority of companies and filmmakers understand, support and abide by MPAA rules and procedures. It is now up to After Dark Films to restore good faith with the MPAA."
Lionsgate, which has a production and distribution deal with After Dark but is not overseeing advertising for Captivity, issued a two-handed statement of its own, saying "if" After Dark's violation was really so flagrant, then the MPAA action was warranted. Is there any way Captivity could actually live up to all this controversy? I guess we'll see.