James Comey, the National Security Agency, and other U.S. intelligence groups have already confirmed that Russia (or operatives affiliated with Russia) were behind a massive election breach last November. Considering State Secretary Rex Tillerson’s reported plan to close his department’s cyber security office, however, many worry the country isn’t doing enough to stave off another attack. Even the production teams behind two upcoming Hollywood movies are so concerned about the threat of hacking that they’ve reportedly cut depictions of Russian President Vladimir Putin from their films entirely.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the Jennifer Lawrence vehicle Red Sparrow and the based-on-a-true-story Kursk have both excised all references or depictions of the Russian leader from their scripts and shoots. An adaptation of former CIA officer Jason Matthews’ bestselling novel, Sparrow‘s story was initially changed from the modern day to the ’70s for what Fox executive Emma Watts called a “timeless” feel, but the later addition of a new director shifted it back to Putin-era Russia. As a result, the studio has been “has been scrambling to reflect what is playing out 24/7 in the news” while using encrypted scripts.
Plus, Sparrow‘s contemporary setting outright avoids Putin, who figured prominently in Matthews’ novel. Sources told THR executives made “creative choices” to get around the Russian president in the film, which is precisely what the makers of Kursk did too. Based on Robert Moore’s A Time to Die, the true account of a Russian submarine that sank to the bottom of the Barents Sea in 2000, both the incident and the book detail the public outcry against Putin’s perceived inaction. Yet the upcoming film adaptation has removed the Russian president altogether from its story.
Whether or not Putin, friendly elements within his Russian government, or third-party operatives eager to please their president would retaliate for such depictions isn’t known. Considering the infamous Sony hack perpetrated by North Korea, which debilitated the studio following the release of James Franco and Seth Rogen’s The Interview, it’s easy to see why nobody wants to take any chances.
(Via The Hollywood Reporter)