‘Snowpiercer‘, a post-apocalyptic sci-fi film based on a French graphic novel entitled ‘Le Transperceneige’ just opened in director Bong Joon-ho’s native Korea where it raked in $21.4 million in five days, qualifying it as a solid hit, with strong reviews. Unfortunately, the English-language film’s distribution rights to most English-speaking regions (US, Canada, the UK, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa) are owned by The Weinstein Co. (TWC), and that’s were problems arise.
See, TWC is headed by the infamous Harvey Weinstein, who over the years has earned the nickname “Harvey Scissorhands” after insisting on recutting other foreign imports for US audiences such as ‘Hero’ and Princess Mononoke’. He wants the English speaking version of ‘Snowpiecer’ cut by about 20 minutes. The film runs 126 minutes, which at this point is fairly average and those that have seen it insists that it isn’t bloated or unwieldy. What Weinstein is demanding be slashed are character moments that further embellish the people that inhabit the film, in an effort to make it flow more like a traditional action movie.
It’s gained some good reviews with The Hollywood Reporter describing the film as an “ambitious piece with a universally comprehensible theme and accessible aesthetics… a unique vision of a despairing present channeled through a dystopian future.”
The film depicts a world where a failed experiment to end global warming encased the world in ice, killing all but a few survivors who live on a large train powered by a perpetual-motion engine. The train has been divided into a caste system with the wealthy dwelling in the front and the poor relegated to the back. An uprising emerges with Chris Evans playing the rebel leader. The cast also includes Korean actor Song Kang-ho (who gets top billing in his home country), Tilda Swinton, Ko Ah-sung, Jamie Bell, John Hurt, Ed Harris and Octavia Spencer.
English writer and film festival programmer Tony Rayns told Austrailian site IF.com, “TWC people have told Bong that their aim is to make sure the film ‘will be understood by audiences in Iowa … and Oklahoma. Leaving aside the issue of what Weinstein thinks of its audience, it seems to say the least anomalous that the rest of the English-speaking world has to be dragged down to the presumed level of American mid-west hicks.”
Rayns confirmed that it was the character detail elements that TWC wanted cut, in addition to adding opening and closing narration, presumably just in case American audiences are STILL too stupid to understand what they are about to watch/just watched.
The UK for one is not happy, but Rayns admits that not even Bong Joon-ho has any doubt that the dumbed-down “American version” will be the same one inflicted on the rest of the English-speaking world. “Nobody (least of all Bong himself) is optimistic that his rear-guard actions against the ‘Weinstein version’ will get his original version released in English-speaking territories, but I hope that [Australia], like the UK, will fight the good fight to protest Weinstein’s cuts.”
The one spark of optimism he shares is “If the ‘Weinstein version’ flops in theatres, it may at least speed up release of what I’m sure Weinstein will call ‘the director’s cut’ on Blu-ray and DVD.”
As of yet, though, probably due to the demanded edits, the film has no release date in the Weinstein’s territories, but most likely will not see release until next year. (That’s 2014, for those of you that live in Iowa, Oklahoma, etc.)
What do you think? Would you rather see a shorter, more action-packed movie? Or a longer movie that may potentially be bleaker or drag a bit more? Will you check out ‘Snowpiercer‘ in theaters or wait for the director’s cut to hit DVD/BluRay? If you’re not too stupid, leave a comment below!