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Uproar puts brakes on "Fast & Furious" promo

Vin Diesel and Jason Statham in a still from "Fast & Furious 7"
Vin Diesel and Jason Statham in a still from "Fast & Furious 7". UNIVERSAL PICTURES

Uproar puts brakes on "Fast & Furious" promo

A local theatre chain has been forced to slam the brakes on a promotion for upcoming action blockbuster Fast & Furious 7 that seemingly encouraged participants to break the speed limit and potentially put their own lives at risk.

Legend Cinemas launched the competition ahead of the film’s April 13 release in Cambodia, encouraging entrants to post a photo to the company’s Facebook page of their speedometers hitting breakneck speeds.

Participants were to include the line “I’m the fastest like #Fast&Furious7, will arrive soon at #LegendCinemas”, and stick a piece of paper reading “#Let’sGoLegend” next to the speedometer.

On average, six people die every day on Cambodia’s roads, according to road-safety specialist Chariya Ear, who expressed strong disapproval of the competition.

An advertisement that appeared on Legend Cinemas' Facebook page earlier today.
An advertisement that appeared on Legend Cinemas' Facebook page earlier today.

“The company is encouraging people to do something very dangerous,” Ear said. “They become part of the problem when they encourage people to do that.”

The competition – for which organisers had claimed no responsibility for entrants’ safety when it was originally posted – was cancelled amid a backlash on Facebook within a day of its launch on Wednesday.

A representative of Legend Cinemas was not available for comment on Thursday, but a message on the company's Facebook page reads: “We do apologize for our Fast & Furious competition 1. It was a shame that we made it happen. Hope you do not mind and still support Legend Cinemas.”

While many Facebook users expressed outrage at the recklessness of the idea, others were quick to accept the apology. Despite the cancellation, some apparently continued to take on the challenge, with one user posting a picture this evening of a speedometer hitting 145 km/h.

The competition drew consternation from authorities for its encouragement of dangerous and illegal behavior.

"Their competition is not right. It's at odds with the traffic laws," said Phnom Penh’s traffic police chief Chev Hak.

Hak highlighted the speed limits of 40 km/h in urban areas and 80 km/h elsewhere.

"They should not encourage their cinemas' fan to drive fast like this. It's encouraging them to break the law," Hak told the Post.

Meanwhile. the deputy director of the Interior Ministry’s Department of Public Order, Luy Chhin, underscored the tragic effects driving over the speed limit has in Cambodia.

“Speeding is the primary cause of deadly traffic accidents,” Chhin said.

More than half of the 2,000 deaths on Cambodia’s roads each year are directly attributed to speeding.

Fast & Furious 7, billed as Furious 7 in the US, was originally due for release in summer 2014. The film was delayed for script re-writes after one of its stars, Paul Walker, died when a Porsche in which he was a passenger slammed into a concrete lamp post and two trees. Police said it was travelling at dangerously high speeds.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY CHHAY CHANNYDA

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