YouTube to Recut Viper Club After Slain Journalist Controversy

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YouTube to Recut <i>Viper Club</i> After Slain Journalist Controversy

YouTube is taking measures to address criticisms from the mother of slain journalist James Foley about its film Viper Club, per THR.

Viper Club, which is set to hit theaters this coming weekend as YouTube Originals’ first-ever theatrical release, follows the fictional Helen Sterling (Susan Sarandon), a mother who goes against the advice of the FBI and State Department, and raises ransom money to free her son, a war journalist who’s been kidnapped by terrorists.

Diane Foley, whose son James Foley was an American war correspondent until he was killed in 2014 by ISIS jihadists in Syria, says she believes Viper Club is based on her story, and has criticized the film for its dangerous portrayal of journalists negotiating ransom money with terrorists.

“In consultation with Diane and the board of the James W. Foley Legacy Foundation we have chosen to adjust the film to better reflect the everyday realities for conflict journalists, their families and the incredible risks they undertake to tell important stories from some of the most dangerous places in the world,” said YouTube in a statement.

YouTube has re-cut the film in response to Foley’s criticisms, and is also donating $40,000 (plus 50 percent of its share of theatrical revenue) to the James W. Foley Legacy Foundation. The film also now includes a dedication to slain journalists including James Foley, Steven Sotloff, Peter Kassig and Luke Somers.

”[The producers] all were truly engaging and very concerned that the film not put anybody at risk,” Foley told THR. “I just feel much better about the film and am very grateful that they were willing to listen … They were very cooperative, which was very helpful—healing, if you will.”

Roadside Attractions will release the recut Viper Club in theaters Oct. 26, after which it will hit YouTube Premium in 2019. Watch a trailer for the film here.