The release of Guy Ritchie's £125-million ($150-million) spy comedy Operation Fortune has been delayed a second time in order to remove the villains' Ukrainian nationality, the Daily Mail reported on Wednesday. Initially set to be released last January, the film is now scheduled for cinemas later this year.
The offending characters are a group of Ukrainian gangsters who have purchased a deadly weapon, which the film's heroes have to retrieve to foil their evil scheme. Sources told the Mail the gangsters' characters have been edited so that they are no longer Ukrainian.
While there are “many bad guys in the film” and “the antagonists come from all over the world,” a source close to the production told the Mail that “out of sensitivity to the ongoing war in Ukraine it was decided some of these should no longer be identified as Ukrainian.”
It’s not clear how much editing this required – the film’s trailer features one of the main characters boasting that he can “get inside the Ukrainians.” The revised release date in March was yanked “without explanation” by distributors STX when Russian forces entered Ukraine on February 24, and no definite date has yet been set for the Operation Fortune’s global theatrical release.
Ritchie isn’t the first filmmaker to see his work tied up in red tape because of Western sensitivities to the perceived needs of Kiev. French director Michel Hanavicius, whose zombie comedy Z was set to premiere during opening night at the Cannes film festival last month, hurriedly changed the film’s French release title to Coupé lest the prior title offend Ukrainian sensibilities with its resemblance to the Russian military symbol.