Sony announced today that they will begin a new initiative, offering ‘clean’ versions of some of the titles. Clean versions I hear you ask? Here’s whats happening: Sony are editing (initially) 24 titles to be more ‘family friendly’, offering up these new versions as bonus features on the digital copies of their films from iTunes, VUDU and FandangoNow. The initial listing of titles includes:
- 50 First Dates
- Battle Of The Year
- Big Daddy
- Captain Phillips
- Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon
- Easy A
- Ghostbusters II
- Grown Ups
- Grown Ups 2
- Spider-Man 2
- Spider-Man 3
- The Amazing Spider-Man
- The Amazing Spider-Man 2
- Step Brothers
- Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby
- White House Down
And as an exclusive, check out this clip from the Clean Version of Captain Phillips:
No, of course that isn’t legit – but can you imagine a clean version of Captain Phillips!? It’s insane to think you could cut it down to be family friendly, and have the film still convey the same tense, claustrophobic atmosphere.
As a film fan, I pray that this is an exercise that fails miserably. The idea that a studio could cut down a film, to make it more family friendly, isn’t new. Sure, TV edits were common in the 80’s/90’s, but haven’t we moved on from this? The idea that studios can cut down an artist’s work to produce a family friendly version is an absurd idea that sets a dangerous precedent. A director makes many choices throughout the production of a film – violence, language, and sex aren’t used by filmmakers (usually) for gratuitous sake – but rather as an extension of characters and motives.
To take this control away from the director and allow the studio to determine what works best for an audience is a real kick in the teeth. Does the nanny state mentality the world is currently dealing with need to cross over into Hollywood? Sure, it’s easy enough for the studio to make cuts, but at what expense? Can you imagine Step Brothers without its language or adult themes? Elysium without its violence? Hancock, the drunken Superhero film…. on second thought, go for your life with Hancock.For me, part of the magic of film was growing into films you weren’t allowed to watch – or even sneakily viewing things on the no-no list. I remember fondly being able to finally see Jurassic Park, or Terminator 2. As a father, I’m learning about censorship on a daily basis; what’s appropriate for kids and what’s not. I’m always disappointed when I come across a film I really want to show my daughter but know that it isn’t appropriate for her age. With that though, comes a sense of excitement and anticipation for the time when we can watch these films, the way they are meant to be seen.
This is the film equivalent of covering all the naked parts of people in artworks when a school group visits the art gallery. How in 30 years, have we gone from PG films where people rip their faces off (looking at your Poltergeist), to a ten-minute edit of Step Brothers whereby the only sequence left is Will Ferrell singing Nessun Dorma? Between this, and the news a few months back of some US theatres installing jungle gyms into the cinema to keep kids happy, 2017 isn’t looking great for fans of film as a medium. We can only hope that this initiative fails and is abandoned after these initial 24 films. If we can’t watch Will Ferrell teabag a drum set, then what’s the point of it all?
What do you think about these clean versions? Should studios be able to tamper with films post release? Will anybody watch these anyway? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!
For more information on Sony’s Clean Version initiative visit http://www.cleanversionmovies.com/