‘Super Size Me 2’ pulled from Sundance Film Festival after Morgan Spurlock’s sexual-misconduct confession
The filmmaker’s former partners remove the documentary about chicken industry after Spurlock stepped down from company.
(Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Warrior Poets) Morgan Spurlock appears in "Super Size Me 2: Holy Chicken!" by Morgan Spurlock, an official selection of the Spotlight program in the 2018 Sundance Film Festival.
An exposé of the chicken industry has been plucked from the 2018 Sundance Film Festival lineup by the movie’s production company, a day after director Morgan Spurlock confessed to past sexual misconduct.
Spurlock’s “Super Size Me 2: Holy Chicken!” will not play in Park City in January, after the remaining partners of his former production company, Warrior Poets, pulled the film late Friday.
“Due to Morgan Spurlock stepping down from Warrior Poets, we the partners have decided this is not the appropriate time for ‘Super Size Me 2: Holy Chicken!’ to premiere at the Sundance Film Festival. Therefore, we will be removing the documentary from the festival’s slate,” read a statement signed by Spurlock’s former production partners, Jeremy Chilnick and Matthew Galkin.
On Thursday, Spurlock — who shot to fame with his Oscar-nominated 2004 expose of the fast-food industry, “Super Size Me” — wrote a long blog post confessing to a college sexual encounter that the woman described as rape, and to verbally harassing an assistant at Warrior Poets.
On Friday, Spurlock stepped down as a partner at Warrior Poets, which he co-founded with Chilnick.
“Super Size Me 2,” in which Spurlock examines the chicken industry by opening his own fast-food restaurant, premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September.
At that festival, the streaming service YouTube Red bought distribution rights for a reported $3.5 million. On Friday, YouTube dropped distribution, according to the industry website Deadline. “We feel for all of the women impacted by the recent statements made by Morgan Spurlock,” a YouTube statement said.
A statement from Robert Redford’s Sundance Institute, which runs the Sundance Film Festival, said: “We fully support these decisions by the films’ teams. We were saddened to read Morgan Spurlock’s recent admissions. We empathize deeply with the many people affected — especially the women who were impacted.”
When “Super Size Me 2” screened in Toronto, Spurlock, as a publicity stunt, opened a pop-up chicken restaurant there. Fans of Spurlock’s first-person filmmaking were hoping he would open a similar restaurant in Park City.
(Ben Hider/Invision/AP) In this Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2015, file photo, Morgan Spurlock attends an event at the SVA Theatre in New York. Declaring "I am part of the problem," Spurlock confessed in an online post Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2017, to sexual harassment, infidelity and said a woman accused him of rape in college.
In a lengthy online post Wednesday, Spurlock said he was accused of rape while in college and settled a sexual harassment case with a female assistant at his office eight years ago.
In his blog post, Spurlock described a college sexual encounter that he thought was consensual, but that the woman later described as rape. He also admitted that he paid a settlement to a former assistant at Warrior Poets so she would keep quiet about his verbal sexual harassment.
Spurlock’s post came in response to a spate of sexual misconduct cases among well-known men in Hollywood and the media. “I can’t blindly act as though I didn’t somehow play a part in this,” Spurlock wrote. “Over my life, there have been many instances that parallel what we see every day in the news.”
The environmental documentary “The Devil We Know,” which is set to premiere at Sundance, will drop Spurlock as a producer. The movie, directed by Stephanie Soechtig and featuring activist Erin Brockovich, details the release of a dangerous chemical from an industrial plant in West Virginia into a nearby river.
“Right now, our priority is ensuring nothing distracts from the extraordinary people who shared their stories with us and the important issue at the heart of this film: the lack of oversight when it comes to our exposure to toxic chemicals,” a spokeswoman for that film said in a statement released to Deadline.
Also on Friday, Andrew Duncan, CEO of indie production company June Pictures, announced that he was stepping down in the wake of sexual-harassment accusations. According to the industry website Deadline, June Pictures President Alex Saks bought Duncan out of the company.
June has two movies in the 2018 Sundance lineup: “Wildlife,” first-time director Paul Dano’s adaptation of Richard Ford’s novel about a family in 1960 Montana; and “What They Had,” a drama starring Hilary Swank as a woman dealing with her Alzheimer’s-afflicted mother (Blythe Danner).
Representatives for Sundance and June Pictures did not respond to requests for comment about Duncan on Friday.
John Cooper, Sundance ’s festival director reiterated last month that the January event is committed to creating a safe, inclusive environment for filmmakers and audiences. “What Sundance has done is try to create a culture of inclusion and creativity together,” he said. “We do not believe that we participate in or condone a culture that would contribute to crime and harassment. In fact, quite the opposite.”