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Chris McKittrick

Chris McKittrick is the Assistant Editor of Movie Buzzers

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7 Comments

  1. 1

    GM52246

    I feel like it would’ve been more helpful to split this list into “good” and “bad” categories; the bad edits are things the Weinsteins clearly should not have done, but Shakespeare in Love, Chicago, and the Kill Bill duology are clear examples of their editing *working*; most Miyazaki fans are also big Neil Gaiman fans (including me), and I’ve never heard anyone object to him writing the American voiceover script.

    This list conflates serious mangling of films that harmed the films with normal practices that *every* studio engages in (replacement of scores, editing films to get PG-13 instead of Rs, editing films so they run under 120 minutes, simplifying subtitles for American audiences), minor editing changes that arguably didn’t hurt the film in question at all, and, in one case, a distribution change that demonstrated *support* for the film against corporate interference from Miramax’s parent company (selling “Dogma” to Lions’ Gate so it could have a theatrical release/audience).

    I’m not a Weinstein fanboy (full disclosure: I worked as a P.A. on a Mirimax movie, and it was a positive experience, but my hiring was due to the production office) and have read “Down & Dirty Pictures.” But here’s what I’d restrict the ‘bad list’ to:

    * Cop Land, attempt to force happy ending;
    * Mimic recut;
    * Wide Awake mangling
    * 54 mangling, removal of bi sex scenes;
    * O
    * The Yards: attempt to force happy ending and failure to release wider
    * All the Pretty Horses, failure to at least test a 3-hour version and forcible manging
    * Tears of the Black Tiger ending change
    * Forcing Cameron Diaz into Gangs of NY over Sarah Polley, failure to test a 3-hr version (argument for a 3-hr version bolstered by success of Wolf of Wall Street)

    And in the maybe categories, Imposter and Battle of Shaker Heights.

    Those are plenty bad.

    Releasing foreign films & indie films theatrically is a complicated beast. The Weinsteins have sometimes been way too aggressive in cutting things out of sheer commercial desire with no respect for their collaborators… but throwing together a list that includes practices which all studios do as if the Weinsteins are unique undermines discussion of the times when they go too far.

    Reply
    1. 1.1

      Chris McKittrick

      GM52246,

      Thanks for adding your perspective. As I started researching these lists, I decided to list any and all edits to a Miramax/TWC movie for the sake of making the list as complete as possible. I’m aware that every studio tinkers with elements of their films, but I wanted to present a list as complete as possible.

      As you mentioned, I wanted to make sure I mentioned the “good” — such as the example of Dogma. I know the Weinsteins are often demonized, so I wanted to provide context to show that not EVERY change made to their releases has been a bad decision. Frankly, there are dozens of indie and foreign movies we would’ve never heard of in the 1990s if it weren’t for the Weinsteins and I attempted to detail that in my intro to Part 1. For example, Cinema Paradiso — one of the most beloved films of the 1990s — would’ve been a much poorer film without Harvey Weinstein.

      While I definitely agree with everything on your “bad list” being the worst of the worst, I felt that those are examples you can find in most articles about the Weinsteins’ editing practices. Therefore I wanted to go further with my lists — which is why it ended up this massive three-part project that covered as much ground as possible, both good and bad. I figured I would leave it up to readers like you to judge what was a good or bad change, and provided the filmmakers’ own thoughts whenever possible.

      Thanks for your input!

      P.S. I couldn’t agree with you more about a 3 hour cut of Gangs of New York. It’s a shame that Scorsese seems to have no interest in releasing one, but perhaps he doesn’t want to revisit an obviously difficult creative period.

      Reply
      1. 1.1.1

        GM52246

        Ah,. okay. Gotcha. That makes sense, then. Yeah, it’s tough because Weinstein is one of the very few people (along with Ted Hope) with a genuine passion for independent film who also knows how to make a buck, and it seems like those two sides of him are frequently at war.

        Reply
  2. 2

    ValentineNick

    A nice series of articles on Weinstein.

    Sony Classics/Sony/Columbia/Tri-Star has had some problems with it’s treatment of International, mainly Asian films. But nothing to Harvey’s.

    I remember they bought up some Jet Li movies.
    New Legend of Shaolin, High Risk and Hitman and all changed them for American release with changed scores and editing.

    Most of the Godzilla movies for years til this recent Blu-Ray release suffered from only having a English Dubbed audio option and lacking some of them English Ending credits that got trimmed.
    Even when they finally did release the few with subtitles and the original language well they provided mostly sorry translations mostly copied from the dubbing.

    Other minor things amid the Sony Classics lines like the mishandling of Takeshi Kitano’s Brother, which is partially the MPAA’s fault due to their strict censorship of the movie, but no uncensored DVD has seen light in the US.
    Also, House of Flying Dagger’s editing for a PG-13 rating as well, even up to the recent changing of The Raid’s name, score and editing of the violence. Though again most of that probably has to do with the MPAA.

    Reply
    1. 2.1

      Chris McKittrick

      Thanks for reading! While it’s understandable why a studio might consider “localizing” a movie (or making cuts for the MPAA), some of the changes, like the ones you listed, are head-scratchers, right?

      Reply
  3. 3

    sean

    I love this series of articles, but I want to add some info (or even — sorry! — correct one or two things):

    The extended/director’s cut of “All The Pretty Horses” — supposedly part of why this can’t be released is that Lanois won’t let them use the rejected score. (I imagine that the almost entire lack of interest in such a release doesn’t help, though I for one would LOVE to see it.)

    Kate & Leopold – I feel like it is worth noting that the changes that were made at the last minute were to remove a plot incident that essentially revolved around time-travel related incest. If only because, how often do you get to write that sentence?

    Kill Bill had some minor changes done to get the R-rating. Some shots were trimmed and the whole sequence was made black and white. The unrated “Whole Bloody Affair” version has screened but never been released.

    Bad Santa is more complicated than you make it sound. The only cut that Zwigoff was involved in at all was the “director’s cut”, but it is not really accurate to say that it was the version he intended to release in theaters. He was fired either during or shortly after production, and the film was completed, including reshoots, without his involvement, or the involvement of the Coen brothers. [One of them supposedly said, regarding how ‘Bad Santa’ was treated, “This is why we never made any movies with the Weinsteins.”] Zwigoff was apparently especially furious that Miramax added a scene where the three leads practice boxing and wind up punching each other in the balls, as that was very far removed from his original vision. Several years later, Zwigoff was given the chance to cut the film into what he would’ve done, but without the ability to reshoot or even do ADR, and with a music budget that would only allow for public domain standards, it is still somewhat compromised from his intentions.

    Regarding Scorsese, I have no proof of this, but I have always suspected that both he and Terry Gilliam are trapped — they don’t want to admit that they would release a non-director’s cut without a huge public fight, so they instead maintain the pretense that the compromised released versions of their films *are* their intended cuts.

    Reply
    1. 3.1

      Chris McKittrick

      Again, THANK YOU so much for your input and additional details on these films. This helps our readers get a deeper understanding of these stories.

      And yes, I’ve also suspected that Scorsese simply has gone along with the released version of GANGS OF NEW YORK being “his” cut to avoid a public spat he doesn’t need. Plus, Miramax was distributing his next film, THE AVIATOR, and I believe those deals were already set up. I think it’s telling that he has since never worked with the Weinsteins again….

      Reply

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