Weinstein is Cutting 20 Minutes Out of 'Snowpiercer' for US Release?!
Say it ain't so! Not again. Not this treatment for a film that is already an international hit and looks like it might be a sci-fi/post-apocalyptic masterpiece. We have been waiting patiently for The Weinstein Company, who has US rights to release Joon-ho Bong's film Snowpiercer, to set an official US opening since their original memos said "Summer 2013." Despite a bevy of trailers, summer 2013 is almost over and we haven't heard a word yet. As expected, this means there is bad news. Twitch has discovered that apparently Harvey Weinstein, also known as "Harvey Scissorhands" for his serial desire to unnecessarily trim films for release, wants to cut out 20 minutes for the US debut of Snowpiercer. I can't help exclaiming: what the fuck?! Why?!
The buzz amongst my colleagues recently was that Snowpiercer, which hit Korean cinemas a few weeks ago, would be delayed until 2014 in the US. We haven't heard any confirmation since but that's likely the case. However, hearing this news about the delay being connected with a new cut of the movie is about as bad as it can get. Especially because of the details surrounding why Harvey wants to cut a full 20 minutes out of the ice age ensemble action drama: "According to film critic and programmer Tony Rayns 'TWC people have told Bong that their aim is to make sure the film "will be understood by audiences in Iowa … and Oklahoma."' " As they point out, TWC thinks "the American mid-west is too stupid for Snowpiercer". Wow.
Rayns continued, "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." The film critic attended the July 29th Seoul premiere of the film, and after speaking with Bong, revealed that most of the cuts would come in the form of character detail, effectively turning this rich Sci-Fi thriller into a straightforward action film. Adding further insult to injury, voiceovers will now be added to the opening and closing of the film.
This is appalling. Not only is it offensive to mid-west moviegoers that Harvey believes a movie is "too smart" for them and must be trimmed so they can "understand" it, but as Rayns says, it's even more ridiculous to alter artistic content just because a smaller demographic might "understand" it better. If Harvey were standing behind me right now, he would probably argue that it's not a "small" demographic, and they would rather reach these people and make money from them. But why does that mean the movie has to be dumbed down? If anything, this summer's mediocre box office results have shown that moviegoers are hungrier for more original, more invigorating, more challenging content that isn't dumbed down and filled with cliches.
The reason this is really stinging me is that I'm a big fan of Joon-ho Bong, I trust his filmmaking, and this is his first English-language feature. It's not hard a hard story to follow because it is essentially about an uprising of impoverished citizens on a massive train ruled by a tyranny. In fact, that plot mirrors our real world and this situation almost perfectly, so much so that maybe we need to orchestrate and uprising against Harvey like they do in the movie. Rayns makes me concerned about how much will be missing after the cut: "It is a very dark film, which may explain why the demanded cuts are so significant. If they happen where I think they will, much of what makes this film so special will be lost." So sad to hear.
Aside from reporting on this horrible news (and linking back to all the trailers so far), I don't know what else to say or do to make a difference. I would love to arrange an uprising against Harvey and demand for the original cut to be released, but it's so unlikely that will happen I'm not sure it's even worth trying. Which is how hopeless moviegoers feel in this situation. I've been excited for Joon-ho Bong's Snowpiercer (starring Chris Evans, Jamie Bell, Tilda Swinton, John Hurt) for many years. I want to see the movie that Joon-ho Bong made, all 126 minutes of it, without any of Harvey's cuts. That's the movie that is already a huge hit in Korean, that's the movie that has earned copious buzz so far, that's the movie all audiences deserve to see.
Reader Feedback - 29 Comments
Well time to get my import in line because I will not see a film butchered for financial reasons. Take not TWC... you ruin the films you buy from other markets.
Kento on Aug 6, 2013
Linkfx on Aug 6, 2013
exactly right . Vote with your wallet , and don't go . I'm sure this is done on a regular basis ( like we all think there's more of a ninja fight scene for The Wolverine ) but the stated reason is insulting enough to make it boycottable . . Besides what about the people in the other 48 states ( like me ) ? or at least the coasts who by inference must be seen as intellectual enough to understand it ? The Korean distributor can make a mint selling the true copies online ....
Dominic on Aug 7, 2013
This is beyond stupid. And let's be honest, the "intended audience" that they want these theoretical dollars from isn't going to see this film regardless. This is about as smart as releasing Grindhouse on easter weekend and being surprised when it flopped.
Matt Stuertz on Aug 6, 2013
Voice overs...will be added...*eye twitch* I hope they all pull a Harrison Ford and intentionally make the voice overs as terrible as possible. Great header image by the way, Alex
axalon on Aug 6, 2013
Yeah, I'll be avoiding this cut of the film. I'm really excited to see the full cut as soon as it's available.
Jertown on Aug 6, 2013
That sucks. TWC will not get my money. I'll buy mine from Korea and watch it it region free and uncut.
mooreworthy on Aug 6, 2013
Nielsen700 on Aug 6, 2013
So now that he has ruined the Oscars for everybody, he's moving on to ruin genre films as well? He should be sent to producer's prison for this! Also, this might just be a strange plot to get everybody talking about the film, though if you say the buzz is already good, what need is there for that?
DavideCoppola on Aug 6, 2013
Well that's understandable in a sort of way. The International audience does react differently in terms to an US audience. Not all terms within film making are considered the same. 20 minutes may be a lot but in reason if it was to make the subject of the film more cinematic worthy and to a standard length. Reason why International films like The Raid didn't get cut down is because it was pure action. Just pure stellar action. We reacted as audience here to the shear brutality of the film. We sort of set another standard forthcoming on how we see an international film as. The US market and the International market has different standards and critics in mind. As much as I want to see the original cut in mind.
Charlie Hard on Aug 6, 2013
I believe the problem is that the 106 minute cut will also be released to other English speaking territories, not just the US. As an Australian, I feel somewhat insulted that a cut purpose made for the US will be forced upon us. As a film watcher, I am somewhat insulted that 20 minutes will be cut because of a perceived inability for the film to resonate with US audiences. It seems unfair to hold the US to a lower standard. However, I will have to temper my argument by saying I have not seen the original cut and there's no telling how either cut will play.
hiverious on Aug 6, 2013
There is an old saying: "You can shake a film, and 10 minutes will fall out"...that doesn't necessarily mean cutting 20 minutes is the right thing to do, especially if it's plot/character depth that could help...but still.
Chris Groves on Aug 6, 2013
Finally got to see this here in Korea and it was da bomb!!! Loved It! Korean Cinema forever!
DAVIDPD on Aug 6, 2013
In this pathetic effort to gain business, they've lost mine and presumably the business of many others. They do the same thing when they give decent, adult movies PG13 ratings. Do they even consider what they're losing? The system needs work. I'll wait for the DVD.
Jonathan on Aug 6, 2013
When situations like these happen, I'm always curious how the actors feel about it? That they put in that extra time and effort for it to get wasted. Kind of like the movie shooting scene in Gangster Squad (though that's a totally different reason, but still something I wondered how all the actors felt about)?
JBrotsis on Aug 6, 2013
Oh man that's why I pirate a shit load of movies although I can afford to see as many movies as I like at the cinema! Im tired of supporting fat greedy hacks and execs like Harvey Weingard. A lot of studio suits only see numbers, nothing more nothing less and many times interfere in everything during and after a production of a movie and quite often it ends with them fucking up the movie. Way to go Weinfuck, declaring all mid-western Americans as stupid, (and I am even not an American Im from Switzerland) you greedy KHAZEER!
Really? on Aug 6, 2013
Thank god im in korea. Now i have something to do this weekend.
David Mayle on Aug 6, 2013
Actually, it works for me. I was iffy on the movie and chalked it up to over hype of an indie/concept film. Now that Harvey want's to chop it... well damn... it must be worth seeing!
Akirakorn on Aug 6, 2013
Intro voice-overs explaining the story are an instant red flag. If you need to tell the audience what's happening from minute one, your script needs more work.
cobrazombie on Aug 7, 2013
Or a muppet cut all the exposition out of your movie...
El_MUERkO on Aug 7, 2013
I watch allot of Korean movies and I know one thing for sure:they can make great movies! This only feeds the prejudice that Americans are dumb and nitwits saluting to there flag. I am from the Netherlands by the way and we smoke pot everyday and go to red-light district when we have money and abortion we do on the kitchen table! Hahaha noop! Harvey Weinstein is a prejudice redneck who only thinks about the money!
Avi on Aug 7, 2013
WTF!!! Is it happening?
Really? on Aug 7, 2013
Looks like I'll be waiting for the leaked Korean version. Shame too because I would have loved to see this in the theater.
MattPeloquin on Aug 7, 2013
Is Harvey Weinstein implying that Korean audiences are much smarter than American ones? So Koreans can not only watch a longer movie, but also one that's mostly in a foreign language. Meanwhile, Americans can barely sit through 2+ hours of a movie in their own native tongue? The Weinsteins have a reputation for either butchering Asian movies or pointlessly shelving them indefinitely. I think they have some kind of grudge against Asian cinema, and always want to make sure that they're second banana to Hollywood. Therefore, they take Asia's best works and either bury them or desecrate them.
Baakus on Aug 16, 2013
WOW. I'm a white kid from Iowa. I grew up watching a lot of korean cinema and consuming japanese manga and anime. I even SPEAK KOREAN now. They are SERIOUSLY underestimating us Iowans!
jrs505050 on Aug 22, 2013
So it's great to know that he doesn't believe anyone in the midwest is college educated. I'd MUCH rather see a movie whose focus is a little more cerebral; I'm not big on action without content. If Snowpiercer does, in fact, get cut for the US market, I'll be picking up an import for sure. I've been looking forward to this film for way too long to see a shoddy, dumbed-down version just because Weinstein thinks we're too stupid to understand the subtle nuances involved in character development and class segregation. *rolls eyes* (And by the way, I'm from Kansas...)
Xalun K on Sep 9, 2013
They are cutting it because it sucked that bad. They were singing a song for like 5 minutes in one scene with those annoying kids. Terrible movie.
Chris Flowers on Oct 8, 2013
The best thing to do would be to cut out the entire movie. It sucks.
Stian Hansen on Apr 9, 2014
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