The twin towers were such an iconic American landmark, it’s no wonder that they were depicted time and time again in popular American movies and TV shows. Take 1987’s The Squeeze starring Michael Keaton, for example. The poster for the comedy about a New York lottery scam features a giant Keaton sandwiched between the twin towers as a jumbo human hand squeezes the towers against Keaton so much that they crack. Of course, back in 1987, this was perfectly acceptable.
But in today’s post-9/11 world, this sort of movie promotional poster would be seen as distasteful at best and largely offensive and wounding at worst. So it is easy to see why soon after 9/11/2001, the world was not ready for anything that even sort of resembled the attacks that befell New York City on that awful day.
We found fifteen movies and TV shows who had their writers and designers scrambling to make last-minute changes after the attacks happened. Many of these movies and shows were set to be released very shortly after 9/11 so you can imagine the race that was on to make sure these releases didn’t offend anyone. A couple of projects had to be scrapped altogether due to their direct involvement with the towers. All of these shows and movies had to undergo changes to some degree but they were better for it and helpful in the sense for getting our heartbroken society back to normal or to our “new normal” by providing some laughs, excitement and overall entertainment with one of America’s favorite pastimes: movie watching.
15. Lilo And Stitch’s Jet Was Changed To A Spaceship
A sweet, quirky, innocent kid’s movie had a scene with terrorist attacks? Not exactly, but the unreleased cut of the Disney fan favorite featured a Boeing 747 jet that Stitch and his crew hijacked and then proceeded to fly through Honolulu’s city center haphazardly. During one scene, the jet flies sideways through a narrow street of tall buildings. Seeing as how this was in the movie during September 2001, Disney sprang into action to change the scene so that the jet is now a spaceship (why wasn’t it a spaceship in the first place?) and the cityscape is now a beach/mountain setting… much more appropriate anyway. Word on the street is that the original scene can still be seen in some DVD releases with certain special feature settings.
14. True Lies 2 Never Saw The Light Of Day
The 1994 thriller/action/comedy movie, True Lies starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jamie Lee Curtis was such a monster success that there was little doubt that the sequel, True Lies 2 would have had a lot of interest. Sadly, director James Cameron didn’t think that there was any way to make the movie without it having a painful reminder of the terrorist attacks on 9/11. “Terrorism isn’t funny anymore” is a direct quote from Cameron as to why he was putting the brakes on the much-anticipated sequel. As disappointing as the move was, releasing a movie where there is a healthy chance that a terrorist-fighting spy main character is going to fly a plane amidst plenty of explosions made Cameron’s decision understandable especially seeing as though the planned release date was much too close to 9/11.
13. The Bourne Identity’s Storyline Required Tweaking To Make It Palatable
Unlike some of the others on this list, The Bourne Identity, a movie that helped Matt Damon‘s acting career in a major way, needed lots of help in not just the digital editing of painful sights of the twin towers but the actual storyline had to be adjusted. The reshooting that was required for this film pushed its release date back one year to 2o02. The movie’s producers decided to film alternate opening and ending scenes because they had struggled with the notions of taking the themes of terrorist activity and potential government involvement up or down in the movie. In the end, filming alternate scenes and providing a lengthy explanation on the DVD’s special features felt like a good compromise to the producers for this very sensitive and delicate situation.
12. Zoolander Digitally Removed The World Trade Center
Comedic actor Ben Stiller was at the top of his game during 2001. With that being said, Zoolander, a comedy about a ditzy male model who was brainwashed in order to have him kill the Prime Minister of Malaysia, should have been a smash hit. And it probably would have been if it weren’t for the tragedy that struck America on 9/11. The movie hit theaters two weeks after the attacks but not before editors had to rush to do last minute edit jobs on any scenes that featured the twin towers in the background… and there were several considering that the movie was filmed in New York City. Although the movie is technically a flop since not too many people felt like laughing up a storm so soon after the attacks, even today you can still catch fans of the movie quoting Stiller’s character and doing their best impression of “Blue Steele.”
11. Men In Black II Switched The World Trade Center To The Statue Of Liberty
It wasn’t just a simple scene that had to be changed for Men in Black II after the attacks on 9/11, it was the whole finale of the movie that required a drastic alteration. In the movie, Agent J (Will Smith) and Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) bravely fought murderous aliens on the top of the World Trade Center but that wasn’t the scene that we got to see. The scene had been filmed and edited and then the attacks happened and the producers realized that it would be insensitive to those affected to show the previously filmed scene. So the crew reshot a new “emergency ending” at the Statue of Liberty instead. As a sweet touch in remembrance to those affected and America in general, Men in Black 3 showed fans a shot of the Freedom Tower in 2012 which was under construction at the time.
10. Collateral Damage Needed A Lot Of Heavy Editing To Make It Politically Correct
Collateral Damage was supposed to be Schwarzenegger’s big comeback in 2001. Originally scheduled for October 5, 2001, Warner Bros. halted the release in order to do some heavy editing and re-strategizing. The original advertising for the movie featured the tagline “What would you do if you lost everything?” So not appropriate for those times! The word “bombing” was also in the promos and trailers. On top of all that, Sofia Vergara made a cameo as a Colombian airplane hijacker. Yikes. Warner Bros. really had no choice to do everything they could to change the movie’s potential offending scenes as much as they possibly could before the released the movie in February 2002 to audiences who didn’t care much to see a lackluster spy thriller. So much for Schwarzenegger’s big fated comeback.
9. Sex And The City’s Twin Towers In The Opening Credits Were Removed
HBO’s smash hit, Sex And The City‘s fourth season was all set to air in January of 2002 as its massive fanbase impatiently waited for its arrival. Unfortunately, the show was rich in World Trade Center imagery and the bigwigs at HBO as well as the show’s producers all agreed that any images of the towers had to be removed. No easy feat for a show based in New York City focused on the lives of four busy New York City residents. The opening credits which originally featured pictures of the twin towers with Sarah Jessica Parker‘s name, for example, was replaced with an image of the Empire State Building. The only tiny peek that remained of the World Trade Center is in a snow globe featuring the twin towers.
8. Offensive Scenes From The Sopranos Found Themselves Sleeping With The Fishes
The opening credits of HBO’s The Sopranos showed Tony Soprano in his car, headed home passing New York City scenery. Before 9/11, the twin towers could be seen in Tony’s rearview mirror as the credits rolled so after the attacks, HBO changed the single shot so that the towers were removed. This was likely the alteration that required the least amount of effort or money, for that matter, on this entire list but it might be one of the most noticed. You see, The Sopranos had an amazing run from 1999 to 2007 and the show was an instant hit. Around 2001, the show was hotter than hot. People knew every word of the intro song and had memorized each tiny detail about the show so the opening scene minus the twin towers would have been very noticeable. Many experts in the business credit The Sopranos with paving the way for shows like Mad Men and Breaking Bad.
7. The Incredibles Needed An Incredible Scene Change
The Incredibles was a welcome relief three years after the 9/11 attacks. So when it was released on November 5, 2004, it did well, to say the least, raking in six hundred and thirty-three million dollars at the box office. A fun film that the whole family can enjoy, right? Well, only after some careful editing was it a fun film for the whole family to enjoy. This is because of a scene where Mr. Incredible blew off some steam by destroying an abandoned warehouse. As a result, part of the building collapses onto another building. Not exactly a terrorist attack but it was enough to make the Pixar bosses nervous and rightfully so. The scene was cut and replaced with a calmer yet still funny scene.
6. Friends Had A Bomb-In-An-Airport Joke That Had To Go
Ah, Season 8 of Friends. Specifically, the third episode. Love was in the air and bomb threats were being issued via good ol’ Chandler Bing at the local airport. Bing-a-ling Boss Man Bing was joking about bombs being at the airport but unfortunately for him and his easily-stressed wife, Monica, (but fortunately for the plot line) he joked a bit too loud and both he and his new bride were detained for questioning about the bomb joke before they were allowed to leave for their honeymoon. But none of this really matters since the scene was scrapped altogether in the end. Even though Chandler Bing’s signature style was to deliver lines that were hilarious in an awkward, cringy way, there was no amount of adorable Bing charm that could have smoothed out this terrible joke with terrible timing.
5. Spy Game’s Offensive Explosion Scene Was Cut
2001’s Spy Game starring Robert Redford and Brad Pitt had about as much action and physical drama as you would expect from any crime/spy thriller with A-list actors but one specific scene had editors running for the scissors. In one heck of a smart move, the movie’s producers felt that it was far too soon to show a building explode (with people surrounding it) in a movie. The explosion scene was incredibly similar to photos, videos and the twenty-four-hour news coverage of the World Trade Center that was currently being shown on news channels everywhere. The offensive scene was changed, the movie released and the story about a CIA operative named Nathan Muir went on to score one hundred and forty-three million dollars at the box office.
4. Spider-Man’s Twin Towers Scene Was Swapped Out
An early trailer for 2002’s Spider-Man starring Tobey Maguire showed Spidey capturing a helicopter between the twin towers, suspended by a huge web between each tower. The scene was shot pre-9/11, of course. After 9/11 happened, that trailer was immediately pulled and the scene was replaced with the super-insect man hanging off of a super-sized flagpole with an American flag flying on it, in tribute to the victims of the attacks. All images of the World Trade Center were scrubbed out of the movie and all of its promotions. This is one of the few movies that actually paid homage to the 9/11 victims as well as editing out anything that had to do with 9/11 so soon after the attacks.
3. Glitter Lost Its Shine – On The Big Screen And In Real Life
Singing diva extraordinaire Mariah Carey chose the film, Glitter as the vehicle for her feature film debut and it was choice that would nearly end her career. It didn’t, of course, but it certainly wounded her career. The movie, about a young woman who works as a “lowly” back up singer but has dreams of making it big, was released just days after 9/11 and at the time, no one felt like watching Carey’s character achieve her singing dreams in New York City, of all places. We’ve also heard (we haven’t seen this movie, of course) that it’s a bit of a tearjerker and the last thing people wanted to pay money to do days after the attack was to cry. In the movie, a view of the towers can be seen in a certain shot and in an ironic twist, another view of the towers, this time clouded in smoke from the attacks, could be seen near a billboard advertisement for the movie in real life. Producers of the flop had to hustle to try to erase the twin tower connections in the movie.
2. Serendipity Took The Twin Towers Out Of The Ice Skating Scene
It was likely with a lot of sadness that yet another film and graphics editor had to digitally remove the twin towers from a film that was filmed pre-9/11. The towers were so iconic and beloved pieces of architecture in New York City that it only makes sense that they were included in 2001’s Serendipity, a fantasy/romance movie that has John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale playing would-be lovers betting on fate to bring them together for good. Nothing could be worse than having the recently demolished twin towers featured in a feel-good romance movie at a time when the public was still reeling from the painful aftermath of the attacks. While the task of removing the towers must have been a hard decision due to the reason behind it, overall it was the right thing to do with the public in mind.
1. Nosebleed Was Doomed To Never Be
The movie, Nosebleed doesn’t ring a bell for you? Well, there’s a reason for that. Jackie Chan was on a roll around the time of the attacks and as such, was set to start in a new action movie with a very unfortunate setting. Nosebleed was to be filmed at the World Trade Center because Chan was to play a New York City window washer who learned of a terrorist plot to bring the towers down. Rumors had spread soon after the attacks that Chan had been slated to start filming in the North Tower on the morning of 9/11 and because he wasn’t there, he narrowly escaped potential death or injury but this rumor was later proven to be false. Filming had not yet started on this movie and after 9/11, it never would.
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