Judging by audience reactions, one of the funniest films at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival wasn’t even a film at all — it was a commercial for United Airlines’ new Polaris business class. (See the 30-second spot above.) And as a result, United and Tribeca decided to yank that commercial out of its spot preceding all of the festival’s public screenings, TheWrap has learned.
The airline, now best known for forcibly removing and bloodying a paying passenger to make room for some of its employees, is a longtime cosponsor of the annual film festival in New York, and the official airline for flying in filmmakers and guests. But the short trailer promoting the virtues of its new lie-flat business class product, which does not mention the United name until the end, drew derisive laughter at some screenings and milder chuckles at others.
That led Tribeca and United to make the joint decision to pull the commercial from screenings as of Saturday, a source close to the festival told TheWrap, to avoid it distracting from the festival’s films. The Tribeca Film Festival runs from April 19-30.
Last week, in the wake of the seat-removal incident, United announced that CEO Oscar Munoz would not be assuming the role of chairman next year as originally planned. Munoz was criticized for his handling of the situation, with some of his early statements, where he talked about “re-accommodating” passengers, blasted as tone-deaf.
Steve Pond contributed to this article.