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Impact of the September 11 attacks on cinema

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This is the original Spider-Man teaser poster which was recalled after the September 11 attacks with the World Trade Center.

The September 11th attacks, often referred to as 9/11, was a name of a series of terrorist attacks that happened in the United States, including New York City's original World Trade Center, and The Pentagon in Washington D.C. that was launched by the Wahhabi terrorist group Al-Qaeda against the United States on the morning of Tuesday, September 11, 2001. Not long after the attacks, many of these films and TV shows started to cut off any part that contains the original World Trade Center, canceling any future projects, installments due to the attacks, before even, or after their releases, or any episodes that were banned or pulled due to the tragic 9/11 attacks event, and many of these films started to make 9/11 films to pay tribute the victims who died in the 9/11 attacks.

Examples

Movies

  • Spider-Man (2002) - The World Trade Center can be really seen in the teaser trailer, and after the attacks, there was a poster that was banned that shows Spider-Man looking at the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center.
  • Lilo & Stitch - Originally was going to have a scene where the main characters hijack a Boeing 747 to chase Gantu’s ship which goes through the city of Honolulu, damaging several buildings during the chase. In the final version, Jumba’s spaceship replaced the 747 and the aerial chase took place through mountains instead of an urban environment.
  • True Lies - Was originally going to have a sequel to the first film, but after the attacks, Cameron stated the film would not be made following the September 11th attacks: "Terrorism is no longer something to take as lightly as we did in the first one. I just can't see it happening given the current world climate".
  • Forrest Gump - Was originally going to have a sequel to the first film, titled Gump and Co. based on the book of the same name. But, after the attacks, Tom Hanks, Eric Roth and Robert Zemeckis felt that the story was no longer "relevant". Though it was said in 2007 that the project could still be made. However, nothing has been heard about since then, so such sequel will likely never happen.
  • Mad Max: Fury Road - Was originally going to begin production in 2001, but the attacks, along with the Iraq War cancelled production of the film due to shipping and budget concerns. More info can be found on the development hell page.
  • Men in Black II - In the climax, shots of the WTC were replaced with shots of the Statue of Liberty.
  • Home Alone 2: Lost in New York - Several television channels started airing a version with the WTC scene edited out.
  • Back to the Future - Television airings removed and altered several references to terrorists. In the scene where Marty gets chased by Libyans outside the mall, closer shots of the Libyans and Doc Brown's death were edited out. In the note that Marty writes to Doc Brown in 1955, the words "by terrorists" are digitally removed and the dialogue "Dear Dr. Brown, on the night that I go back in time, you will be shot by terrorists" is changed to "Dear Dr. Brown, on the night that I go back in time, you will be shot. Please—".
  • E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial - In the 20th-anniversary re-release, Mary's line "You're not going as a terrorist" is changed to "You're not going as a hippie."
  • Monsters Inc. - The original version of the Harryhausen's scene ends with the restaurant being blown up. In the new version of this scene, the restaurant is quarantined, with the explosion effect being replaced with a giant plasma bubble. The original version of the scene was shown and discussed in the Filmmaker's Roundtable bonus feature on the 2009 Blu-ray release.
  • Spy Game - This film opened just two months after the attacks. the filmmakers behind this dialed back plumes of smoke in a scene in which a bombing occurred. The reason being is because the thick pillars of smoke would unintentionally evoke 9/11.
  • The Time Machine - Had a scene where large chunks of the moon fell in New York removed.
  • Zoolander - Any shot that had the World Trade Center were not cut, but instead the towers themselves were digitally scrubbed from the footage.
  • Jackie Chan was going to get a film called Nosebleed which would have talked about a window washer on the WTC who foils a terrorist plot. It was canceled due to the uncertain nature of the film development. Filming would have started on September 11 of 2001.

TV Shows

  • The Friends episode "The One Where Rachel Tells..." originally had Joey joking about a bombing in the airport. After the attacks, the episode's story was rewritten and re-shot.
  • It's commonly said that Nickelodeon lost interest in keep producing cartoons with too much black humor. Coupled with the low ratings, it's suspected that this is why Invader Zim was cancelled. Indeed, the episode "Door to Door/Warning of Doom" was going to premiere on September 14, 2001 but Nickelodeon ultimately postponed it until March 29, 2002.
  • The SpongeBob episode "Just One Bite" had a deleted scene where Squidward opens the door to the Patty Vault and makes a bucket of "water" on top of the door spill, Squidward smells it, and realizes that it's gasoline. A robot arm drops a lit match into the gasoline, and the Krusty Krab explodes. This was removed because the attacks happened a month ago, or possibly because Nick didn't want kids to repeat the scene. For some reason, this wasn't banned in Canada and Korea.
  • The Simpsons episode, "The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson" was banned from syndication due to the prominence of the World Trade Center in the plot, but returned to syndication in 2006 after certain parts of the episodes were edited out.
  • The fourth season of Sex and the City was set to air in January 2002. The season contained shots of the World Trade Center which were removed. The shot of the towers in the show's opening credits was also swapped for a shot of the Empire State Building. A snow globe containing the towers was left in, however.
  • The 2000s reality competition show that is based on the original Dutch reality show Big Brother had contestants who were not told what's going on in the outside world. An exception would be Monica Bailey who had a cousin that died in the World Trade Center.
  • Power Rangers Time Force had several episodes that were changed in order to remove imagery that might evoke 9/11 or the twin towers such as a speech by Ransik that felt too remisicent to one of Osama bin Laden's videos.

Video Games

  • Among many of the changes made in Grand Theft Auto III after 9/11, one of which was the police cars’ color schemes, which were changed from light blue with white stripes to a black and white scheme that resembles that of the LAPD. This change was made so that the police cars didn’t resemble those of the NYPD, out of respect for those who lost their lives in the attacks. The police helicopters however still retain the blue and white color scheme.
  • The console ports of Max Payne remove the Twin Towers, even from the graphic novel cutscenes and the billboards.
  • Spider-Man 2: Enter Electro - Spider-Man and Electro were gonna fight on top of one of the World Trade Center towers, but the location of the fight was changed.
  • Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty - A scene where the Statue of Liberty was destroyed as well as a shot of the towers were removed in the game.
  • Advance Wars (2001) - It was originally going to release on September 11 in Japan and Europe in 2001, but it was delayed when the attacks happened.
  • Microsoft removed the towers from Microsoft Flight Simulators beginning with the 2002 edition along with removing crash damage from future editions of the game.
  • Twisted Metal Black had the European version get an altered first level. The game gave the player the ability to shoot down a circling Boeing 747 which would crash into a building revealing a secret area. Instead, the level starts with the plane already crashed
  • Mobile Suit Gundam: Journey to Jaburo got delayed in the US due to the opening scene where a space colony was dropped on a city that resembles New York.
  • The "Plane Crash" disaster from the SimCity games were removed from future titles in the series.
  • Metal Wolf Chaos is an Xbox game that was not localized into other languages and not released outside of Japan due to the political climate following the attacks. A remastered version was released worldwide in 2019.
  • Rhythm Heaven Fever had a minigame called Exhibition Match which featured a grayscale background of New York at night once the camera zooms out all the way with the Twin Towers showing. Rhythm Heaven Megamix changed it to a generic city sprite.
  • Lego Bionicle: The Legend of Mata Nui had a lot of changes as a result of the attacks. Darvell Hunt, one of the developers for Saffire has stated that Lego had asked them to remove all violence from the game in mid-development in wake of the attacks. Eventually, the game was canceled altogether, with many fans assuming that the attacks also affected the game's cancellation as it did with the violence and combat, however, the producer, Jeff James, stated that it had been canceled due to chip compatibility issues and doubt over the developers being able to finish working on the game before hitting the deadline.
  • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Trials and Tribulations had an episode called The Stolen Turnabout where the date September 11 was mentioned in the Japanese version when the English version changed the date to October 11.

Trivia

  • It's rumored that Rockstar Games originally planned to include a mission named "Love Hurts" in Grand Theft Auto III where Claude was going to crash a Dodo plane into the Love Media building to kill Donald Love, as Love disappears from the story with too much elaboration. However, this was denied by Rockstar in 2012.

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