[UPDATE: Warner Bros. has officially set Gangster Squad to hit theaters on January 11th, 2013.]

Warner Bros. has decided to cut an entire sequence from Gangster Squad, where mobster Mickey Cohen’s (Sean Penn) men attempt to gun down members of the LAPD at Grauman’s Chinese Theater. The gesture, in response to the Colorado massacre at a Dark Knight Rises midnight screening, has proven very divisive in the court of public opinion.

The debate rages on over whether trimming that fictional scene is appropriate or too drastic – especially given the context, as Gangster Squad is a dramatization of the real-life battle between LA police and Cohen’s criminal empire during the late 1940s. One thing is a given, though: the film won’t make its original September 2012 release date.

Studio heads are reportedly considering January 11th, 2013 to launch Gangster Squad in theaters, where it will face off against Hansel & Gretel Witch Hunters (starring Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton). THR says the studio first has to plan a new timeline for reshooting the aforementioned theater sequence, and then reschedule press for the film (both will be affected by cast availability).

Gangster Squad was previously being trumped-up as an awards contender, given the caliber of the ensemble cast and script by up-and-comer Will Beall – who’s since been entrusted to write the Justice League movie. If nothing else, the film’s initial September date gave it a fighting chance to replicate the box office success of, say, Ben Affleck’s crime drama/thriller The Town from two years back.

Sean Penn and Josh Brolin in 'Gangster Squad'

January isn’t the Hollywood dumping ground that it used to be, but even critically-lauded films released during that month struggle to maintain awards buzz (see: The Grey). If Gangster Squad does indeed end up being pushed back to January 2013, that means Warner Bros. is abandoning any Oscar hopes – and instead going for an early year hit, in the aftermath of the Winter Holiday Season.

There’s also the option of delaying Gangster Squad for about a year. Such a move would allow the film to avoid being rushed through a reshoot that could interfere with the quality of the final narrative – while still keeping its Oscar hopes alive. That’s assuming you’re not of the opinion that Gangster Squad should just be released this year, as planned and intact…

UPDATE: Gangster Squad is set to hit U.S. theaters on January 11th, 2013.

Source: THR