— Vladimir Putin is
having a tough time staying in the movies. Actually, it is not the Russian president
himself. It’s his film character.

At least two films
have nixed his appearance on the silver screen. They are “Red Sparrow,” a highly
anticipated Hollywood film starring Jennifer Lawrence, and “Kursk,” a European

“Sparrow” is based
on former CIA operative-turned-novelist Jason Matthews’ book of the same title
chronicling the adventures of a Russian ballerina seductress recruited to
enlist a CIA agent, played by Joel Edgerton.

The film was shot
in Budapest and is currently in post-production. It is scheduled to be released
March 2, 2018.

So, what happened
to President Putin when the novel was turned into a movie script? As they say
in the movie business, the Russian leader landed on the cutting room floor.

There are all
kinds of explanations and theories for this. The book was bought by 20th Century
Fox Film in 2013, which intended to turn it into a major screen event. To that
end, they signed on Lawrence.

But for some
reason, the story line was switched from modern-day Russia to 1970s Budapest,
sans Putin. Soon after, its director was replaced and the story was returned to
present day. But the Russian president’s character was not restored.

Studio insiders
are attributing the decision to “creative forces.”

Filmmakers are
always on the lookout to cash in on news events, and Putin has certainly been
in the headlines every day lately. For that reason alone, the exclusion of the
Putin character does not make sense. A film trade publication speculated that
Fox Film feared that this episode might result in a retaliatory Russian hack.

Studio executives
remember how Sony Pictures was attacked by hackers after the release of “The
Interview,” a spoof about the North Korean dictator.

But Putin isn’t
only being axed in Hollywood. His film character met the same fate in
EuropeCorps’ “Kursk,” a true account of a Russian submarine that sank in the
Barents Sea in 2000.

Both movie
companies had no comment on the controversy, other than Fox commenting that the
Putin segment was never in the script.

Meanwhile, the
Putin character might have a better shot at stardom when Matthews’ next novel
“The Kremlin’s Candidate,” due Feb. 13, 2018, gets picked up for the big