Survivors of 2004 tsunami left horrified after being 'ambushed' by trailer for movie about Boxing Day tragedyTrailer for The Impossible shown before The HobbitSurvivors' groups call for Odeon to issue warnings
The 2004 Boxing Day tsunami killed 230,000 people including 155 Brits
20:10 GMT, 25 December 2012
Survivors of the 2004 tsunami have been left 'in tears' as cinemas are screening the trailer for a movie about the disaster without warning.
The trailer for the film uses graphic imagery to re-tell the story of one family's fight for survival after the 98-foot-tidal wave hit Thailand on Boxing Day eight years ago.
The 2004 Boxing Day tsunami in the Indian Ocean killed 230,000 people, including 155 British citizens.
Traumatic: The trailer for new film The Impossible, starring Ewan McGregor is being shown in cinemas in the days before the eighth anniversary of the tragedy
The promotional video for The Impossible, starring Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts, is being screened without any prior notice
before fantasy fiction movie The Hobbit.
Now a tsunami survivors' group said they are
aware of survivors and grieving relatives who have been 'caught
out' by the trailer.
One incident saw a man who flew to Thailand to identify his sister-in-law following the 2004 tragedy being 'ambushed' by the trailer during a screening of The Hobbit at the Odeon in Maidenhead, Berkshire.
He said: 'On Boxing Day 2004 I got the
worst telephone call of my life from my brother in Thailand telling me
his wife had been killed when they were overwhelmed by the wave.
'I flew out immediately to bring him
home and help trace his wife. Only those who were there can understand
the trauma of it all.
'This time of year is terrible for my
brother, his wife's family and me because it brings back the memories
like it was yesterday.'
Haunting: Tsunami Survivors UK said the graphic imagery of the trailer brings back memories for those who were affected by the Boxing Day tsunami in 2004
The man, who wishes to remain anonymous,
added that his brother had been invited along to watch The Hobbit but
had thankfully declined.
'There were scenes of people drowning and bodies floating about and it brought it all back so hard.
'I could not believe a cinema chain could be so ignorant and crass as to show such a trailer without any prior warning.
The 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami was a result of an underwater earthquake off the coast of Sumatra, Indonesia.
Over 230,000 people died when the massive waves hit the coasts of the countries surrounding the Indian Ocean.
The worst hit countries were Indonesia, India, Thailand and Sri Lanka.
The tsunami hit many tourist resorts killing thousands of foreign nationals.
The highest death tolls for foreign nationalities were Sweden, 543 and Germany, 539.
'This was nothing more than an ambush in surround sound and 3D on a giant screen in front of me.
'I was furious and close to tears. It could not have been any more distressing.'
Tsunami survivor Steve Gill has not
personally been caught out by the trailer but said he knows of others in
his situation who has.
The 59-year-old who now works for Tsunami Support UK, was carried away by the wave while his teaching assistant wife Heather, 42, was killed during their holiday in Thailand.
He said: 'When you go to the cinema to watch a fantasy fiction film such The Hobbit, you do not expect to be dragged back to the worst day of your life.
'For survivors of the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami, The Impossible trailer and film is the antithesis of entertainment.
'You can't stop people making films about the disaster and people have a choice whether they go to see it.
'But cinemas should issue a warning prior to the trailer so people who are there for a form of escapism are not ambushed.'
Distress: Survivors and their relatives urge cinema's to issue a warning prior to the trailer so they are not 'ambushed'
Steve, from Portsmouth, Hampshire
added: 'The 2004 Boxing Day tsunami is the biggest natural disaster any
of us can remember and it directly affected 10,000 British people.
'Around 9,000 people returned to the
UK from affected areas having been there when the tsunami hit and 1,000
were injured or hospitalised.
'That is a large number of people who
would be very traumatised by what is a faithful rendition of the wave
hitting, especially so close to the anniversary.'
'One of our members went to a private screening of the film and was in floods of tears.
'He is very level-headed and not an emotional man but he could not control himself.'
Reality: The aftermath on one of the Phi Phi islands, Thailand, two days after the 2004 tsunami
The man forced to identify his sister-in-law after the disaster added that there ought to be a warning before the tsunami trailer.
'It was less than eight years ago and is almost on the anniversary. It is too raw a subject to ambush on anybody.
'Can you imagine what would have happened if my brother was sat next to me when that came on screen
'I genuinely fear that relatives and close friends of victims will find themselves in that position over Christmas and the New Year.'
He said his family has contacted the manager of the Maidenhead branch who said that Odeon had not realised the potential impact.
An Odeon spokesman said: 'All trailers are classified by the British Board of Film Classification before being shown on screen.
'Film fans expect a wide choice when they visit their local Odeon and we do our best to meet those expectations.
'In doing so, this may include films and trailers that unfortunately are not to everyone's personal taste as we consider the enjoyment of films to be subjective.
'We can only apologise for any offence caused on this occasion.'