By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated October 16, 2002 01:00 PM

With this week bringing news of another victim of the Maryland Beltway sniper, 20th Century Fox has decided to delay indefinitely the release of its new thriller “Phone Booth,” about a man caught in the crosshairs of a sniper.

Fox cited the current shooting spree in the Washington area as the basis for its decision, studio vice-president of corporate communications Florence Grace told CNN on Tuesday. The movie was originally due to open Nov. 15.

The studio had been contemplating delaying the release since late last week, with Grace confirming during the weekend that the studio was “evaluating the situation.”

The movie’s plot involves Farrell’s character innocently picking up a pay phone and finding himself trapped on the line by a sniper, played by Kiefer Sutherland. Joel Schumacher (“Bad Company”) directed it. Farrell, 26, was last seen this summer in the Tom Cruise-Steven Spielberg sci-fi thriller “Minority Report.”

The New York Times reports that the studio’s options include holding the release until sometime next year or sending it directly to home video. No determination of its future status has been announced.

Last year, Arnold Schwarzenegger found himself in a similar situation, when his “Collateral Damage” seemed inappropriate for release shortly after Sept. 11. The movie was finally released this past spring.