The Watch is an science fiction comedy film directed by Akiva Schaffer set for release on July 27th, 2012. It was originally titled "Neighborhood Watch", but Fox changed the name for marketing purposes, in order to disassociate the film from the George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin case in Florida.
The film follows Evan (Stiller), Bob (Vaughn), Franklin (Hill), and Jamarcus (Ayoade), a group of friends who form a suburban neighborhood watch group and use it as a front to get away from their families. However, when they accidentally uncover an alien plot that threatens the world, they are forced into action.
- Ben Stiller as Evan Trautwig, a Costco manager and new suburban resident who forms a neighborhood watch after his friend is murdered.
- Vince Vaughn as Bob Finnerty, a resident who uses the watch to spy on his teenage daughter's dating life.
- Jonah Hill as Franklin
- Richard Ayoade as Jamarcus
- Rosemarie DeWitt as Evan's wife, who forces them to move to the suburbs.
- Nicholas Braun
- Will Forte as Sergeant Bressman
- Erin Moriarty as Chelsea, Bob's daughter.
- Billy Crudup
- Doug Jones as the main alien villain.
Originally the film was called The Neighborhood Watch. It's marketing campaign began on February 29, 2012, with the release of a teaser poster, trailer and the unveiling of the film's website, jointhewatch.com. On March 27, 2012, it was reported that 20th Century Fox had the poster and trailer removed from Florida theaters in response to the increasing controversy concerning the February shooting death of Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida by neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman. The trailer featured Hill, imitating a gun with his hand to pretend to shoot at teenagers, while the poster featured a bullet-ridden, alien-themed neighborhood watch sign. According to insiders, Fox intended to move into the next phase of the marketing campaign as soon as possible, focusing on the film's science-fiction aspect, while replacing the previous posters with images of the cast. Fox maintained that the July 27, 2012, release date would remain unchanged by the Martin case or the marketing changes.
In a statement about the changes, Fox said: "We are very sensitive to the Trayvon Martin case, but our film is a broad alien-invasion comedy and bears absolutely no relation to the tragic events in Florida… these initial marketing materials were released before this incident ever came to light. The teaser materials were part of an early phase of our marketing and were never planned for long-term use." The new alien-focused campaign began on May 4, 2012, with the release of a new trailer, coinciding with Fox changing the film's name to The Watch, to further distance the film from the Martin case.