'Django Unchained' Premiere Canceled After Sandy Hook School Shootings

Filmmaker Quentin Tarantino Defends Violence in New Movie Starring Jamie Foxx, Kerry Washington

The L.A. premiere of the new western movie "Django Unchained" directed by Quentin Tarantino has been called off following last Friday's mass shooting at Newport, Connecticut.

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the tragedy in Newtown, CT and in this time of national mourning we have decided to forgo our scheduled event. However, we will be holding a private screening for the cast and crew and their friends and families," a spokesperson for The Weinstein Company said in a statement.

The Dec. 14 tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown occurred when a 20-year-old gunman fatally shot his mother before driving to the school and massacring 26 young children and staff members, before taking his own life.

Paramount Pictures, "Django Unchained's" production company, added that the premiere had been canceled "out of honor and respect for the families of the victims."

"Django," starring Jamie Foxx, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerry Washington and Samuel L. Jackson, tells the story of a freed slave in American's South who travels across the country alongside a bounty hunter. Critics have already warned that the movie has many violent scenes, which comes hardly as a surprise considering that Tarantino has directed some of the bloodiest movies shown in American movie theaters during his career, including "Kill Bill", "Inglorious Basterds", and "Death Proof".

While U.S. gun sales have actually been reaching record heights following Friday's tragedy, several TV episodes and shows featuring heavy violence have been pulled off air, including shows from "Family Guy", "American Dad" and "The Cleveland Show". The U.S. reality hit series "American Guns" was canceled by the Discovery Channel in wake of the shooting as well.

Tarantino has said that "tragedies happen" and that blame should fall squarely on those responsible for the crimes. He has said that he is fed up with constantly having to defend his movies from critics who say they are too violent.

"I just think, you know, there's violence in the world, tragedies happen, blame the playmakers. It's a Western. Give me a break," Tarantino said of "Django Unchained".

The film's main star, Foxx, has said, however, that filmmakers cannot deny that their works have the power to influence people.

"We cannot turn our back and say that violence in films or anything that we do doesn't have a sort of influence," Foxx has said, according to CBS News. "It does."

"I do think that it's important when we have the opportunity to talk about violence and not just kind of have it as entertainment, but connect it to the wrongs, the injustices, the social ills," added Foxx's co-star Kerry Washington.

"Django Unchained" is still scheduled for a Dec. 25 worldwide release.