A scene in the upcoming Sacha Baron Cohen film The Brothers Grimsby, in which Donald Trump contracts AIDS, reportedly has Sony executives worried about potential blowback from the Republican presidential frontrunner.
Cohen’s upcoming film, due out March 11 in the United States, sees the Borat star take on the role of Nobby Butcher, an inept soccer supporter who must team up with his MI6 secret agent brother (Mark Strong) to save the world from a malicious plot. From the consensus of early reviews, the film is as irreverent, offensive and vulgar as Cohen’s other films, like Borat and Ali G.
However, according to the Huffington Post, one joke in particular has Sony executives nervous.
Metro reports that in a scene in the latter half of the film, Trump contracts AIDS after accidentally swallowing the blood of Harry Potter actor Daniel Radcliffe (played in the film by a double), who contracts the virus earlier in the film. The Telegraph reports that the scene was originally written to have the Queen of England contract the virus, but it was deemed to be too offensive and switched out for Trump in the final cut.
The UK paper reports that the scene in which Trump contracts AIDS drew “loud cheering” at the film’s premiere, and the Huffington Post adds that it drew standing ovations at screenings across Europe.
With Trump inching closer to securing the Republican nomination, executives at Sony are reportedly working to minimize the impact of the joke, and, according to Huffington Post, have significantly scaled back the film’s American marketing efforts.
“If you were told that they’re shying away from the movie because of the political implications, I can tell you that’s 100 percent true,” a “well-placed source” told the outlet. Another source added that a traditional marketing campaign for the film in the U.S., which would ordinarily include billboards, TV and digital advertising, has been nonexistent.
A disclaimer has reportedly been added to the end of the film, stating that both Trump and Radcliffe did not participate in its production.
But a spokesperson for Sony Pictures told the Huffington Post that reports of its uneasiness with Grimsby were “utter nonsense,” and that the studio was “supportive” of both Baron Cohen and the film.
Grimsby‘s “Trump gets AIDS” bit comes on the heels of increasingly vicious (and at times threatening) “jokes” made at the Republican frontrunner’s expense.
In a segment on his Comedy Central program The Nightly Show earlier this week, host Larry Wilmore said he “literally” wanted to deprive Trump of oxygen by smothering him with a pillow: “Somebody get me the pillow they used to kill Scalia, and I’ll do it. I’ll do it!”
Also this week, comedian George Lopez tweeted an illustration of famed drug lord El Chapo clutching Trump’s severed head atop a mountain of skulls.
— George Lopez (@georgelopez) February 28, 2016
The Brothers Grimsby is in theaters on March 11.