‘Phone Booth’ Flick Faces Delay Due To Sniper Plot

Sensitivity an issue in wake of Washington-area shootings.

They say life often imitates art, but the bizarre similarity between the thriller “Phone Booth” and real-life current events is a sad coincidence — one that executives at Twentieth Century Fox are not taking lightly.

A spokesperson for the studio behind the upcoming Colin Farrell (“Minority Report”) movie, in which a sniper traps a New York man at a pay phone, said Fox is currently evaluating whether or not to release the movie on November 15 as planned.

The studio may decide to delay the film’s release in an effort to distance “Phone Booth” from the string of unsolved sniper shootings that has plagued the Washington, D.C., area for the past week in the minds of its potential audience.

“Phone Booth” director Joel Schumacher told Daily Variety that while he would support Fox in whatever decision they make regarding a release date, he feels that “Phone Booth” and the recent shootings are “such different cases” that filmgoers probably won’t make comparisons.

“I mean, there are many serial killers that haven’t been caught,” he told the Hollywood trade. “Should they not release ’Red Dragon’?”

Schumacher, who may remake “A Star Is Born” with Will Smith and Jennifer Lopez in the lead roles (see “Jennifer Lopez, Will Smith Wanted For Schumacher’s ’Star Is Born’ Remake” ), was traveling and could not be reached for further comment at press time. A spokesperson for Farrell did not return calls, while representatives for Kiefer Sutherland, who plays the “Phone Booth” sniper, declined to comment for this story.

If Fox does decide to change the film’s release date, “Phone Booth” will join a short list of movies that have suffered setbacks recently due to unfortunate plot or thematic elements that unwittingly mirrored real-life tragedies.

“Trapped” hit theaters a few months late to little fanfare and with almost no promotion, thanks to a storyline involving a young girl’s abduction that Sony’s Columbia Pictures felt was too close to a rash of child kidnappings over the summer.

“Collateral Damage” (in which Arnold Schwarzenegger played a terrorist battling firefighter) and the ensemble comedy “Big Trouble” (which featured a bomb on an airplane) were both postponed in light of the September 11 terrorist attacks.

“Phone Booth” also stars Forest Whitaker (“Ghost Dog”) and Katie Holmes (“Dawson’s Creek”).