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Can Angry Disabled Groups Help ‘The Dark Knight’ Stay Alive at the Box Office?

Courtesy of DreamWorks

Over the weekend, to no one’s great surprise, The Dark Knight steamrolled Pineapple Express to top the box office for a fourth straight time, bringing its overall take to $441.5 million and making it the third highest domestic grossing movie in history. But while many suspected Pineapple might be vulnerable, pretty much everyone thinks that this Friday’s tirelessly marketed Tropic Thunder will be the film that finally knocks Batman into second place. Everyone, that is, except for the disabled.

Following last week’s kerfuffle over Thunder’s subplot involving fake movie Simple Jack (in which Ben Stiller’s actor character plays a dolt), a coalition of disabilities groups is calling for a boycott of the film over its use of the word “retard.” “Not only might it happen, it will happen,” says Special Olympics chairman Timothy Shriver to the Times about the expected campaign. Shriver is also calling on Congress to pass a resolution condemning Thunder and its “hate speech.”

In a statement released yesterday, a DreamWorks spokesman called Thunder “an R-rated comedy that satirizes Hollywood and its excesses and makes its point by featuring inappropriate and over-the-top characters in ridiculous situations,” stressing that “no changes or cuts to the film will be made” (though, as we noted last week, they seem to have backed off the R-word in its marketing). The movie seemed to have been begging for a controversy (it also features, of course, a blackfaced Robert Downey Jr.), but, as the Times notes this morning, large-scale boycotts are somewhat rare and if this one actually comes off, it won’t spell good things for Tropic Thunder’s earning potential. All of which is to say that this is potentially great news for The Dark Knight’s continued box-office dominance. Watch out, Titanic!

Nationwide ‘Thunder’ Boycott in the Works [NYT]
’Dark Knight’ on top for 4th week [Variety]

Earlier: ‘Tropic Thunder’ Abandoning ‘Simple Jack’?

Can Angry Disabled Groups Help ‘The Dark Knight’ Stay Alive at the Box Office?