June 15th, 2017 – Sony Pictures is walking back its plan to release clean versions of certain PG-13 and R-rated films after protests from prominent directors. The “Clean Version Initiative” was introduced earlier this month and would let customers buy an edited, sanitized version once they had already paid for the original cut.
Sony framed the initiative around the pre-existing versions that are air on television and airlines; they specified that these aren’t additional edited versions and that they aren’t sold separate from the original release.
That rationale wasn’t good enough for Sony directors Judd Apatow, Seth Rogen and Adam McKay, who all released statements in varying forms of cleanliness.
“The Clean Version initiative is news to Adam McKay. He would not have agreed to this,” a representative for McKay told The Hollywood Reporter.
The clean versions omit profanity, sexual references/acts, and violence. McKay’s Step Brothers and Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby are among 24 films Sony had initially targeted.
The clean version of Step Brothers cuts 152 uses of bad language, 91 instances of sexual content and 22 clips of violence.
Originally Sony Home Entertainment president Man Jit Singh said that all directors helming films with clean versions had been informed.
“We discussed this program, and the use of these pre-existing versions, with each director or their representatives. This is a pilot program, developed in response to specific consumer feedback, that offers viewers the option of watching an airline or TV version of certain movies when they purchase the original version,” he said.
“Our directors are of paramount importance to us and we want to respect those relationships to the utmost. We believed we had obtained approvals from the filmmakers involved for use of their previously supervised television versions as a value added extra on sales of the full version. But if any of them are unhappy or have reconsidered, we will discontinue it for their films.”
The DGA plans to continue to fight for directors who spent years working toward their vision and protecting their end product.
“While we’re pleased that Sony is acknowledging its mistakes in this area, the DGA has notified Sony that it expects the immediate removal of all ‘clean’ versions of the affected films from availability until Sony secures permission from each and every director, and provides them with an opportunity to edit a version for release in new media – consistent with the DGA Agreement and the directors’ individual contracts,” they said in a statement.
“These are hard-fought-for rights that protect a director’s work and vision, and are at the very heart of our craft and a thriving film industry. As we have throughout our history, we are committed to fighting the unauthorised editing of films.”
If the following films are among your favorites, it’ll be up to the directors to defend content that some believe crosses the line of clean: all five versions of Spider-Man, 50 First Dates, Battle of the Year, Big Daddy, Captain Phillips, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Easy A, Elysium, Ghostbusters, Ghostbusters II, Goosebumps, Grown Ups, Grown Ups 2, Hancock, Inferno, Moneyball, Pixels, Step Brothers, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, and White House Down.
Do you think Sony should make “clean versions” of films available? Does this infringe upon directors’ vision and work? Give us your thoughts!