We continue our look at Harvey Weinstein (and to a lesser extent, his brother Bob) and his history with cutting, altering, or otherwise changing films that his companies distribute, with both good and bad results. Our first segment saw Weinstein engage in feuds with filmmakers like James Ivory, Bernardo Bertolucci, Jim Jarmusch, and Billy Bob Thornton. As you’ll see in today’s segment, the feuds were just getting started!
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James Mangold‘s Cop Land is cut by 8 minutes for its theatrical release on Weinstein’s recommendation. According to Down and Dirty Pictures, Weinstein even writes a happier ending for the film himself, but Mangold and star Robert De Niro refuse to film it. The 112 minute original cut is later released in 2004 as the “Director’s Cut.” The Director’s Cut has since been generally regarded as the superior version.
Miramax cuts the 1996 Japanese film Shall We Dance? from 136 to 119 minutes and adds voiceover narration for the 1997 U.S. release. It grosses $9.4 million at the U.S. box office and remains the highest grossing live-action Japanese film at the U.S. box office. The original version is unavailable in the U.S.
The 1994 British drama Great Moments in Aviation is finally released in the U.S. as Shades of Fear after Weinstein asks for a new ending for the U.S. release. Screenwriter Jeanette Winterson is unhappy with the new ending she has to write and later in the published edition of the script calls Weinstein, “a bully who knows the gentle touch” and calls the ending “the most expensive words I will ever write” because of how much she is paid to rewrite it.
Director Guillermo del Toro disowns his film Mimic after demands from both Bob and Harvey Weinstein distance the film from its original concept, including a happier ending when test audiences respond poorly to del Toro’s original. The 105 minute film is considered a failure after only grossing $25.5 million. In 2011, after increasing his profile as a visionary director, del Toro is allowed to release a 112 minute director’s cut on Blu-ray.
The U.S. subtitles of Jet Li‘s Fist of Legend are deliberately mistranslated to change the storyline.
Dimension releases the 1991 Jackie Chan film Armour of God II: Operation Condor as Operation Condor. It is dubbed in English, has a new score, and cut by 14 minutes. Paradoxically, months later Dimension releases the 1986 original, Armour of God, as Operation Condor 2, which is also dubbed in English and has a new score, and has been cut by 6 minutes.
Miramax releases a 95 minute version of Mark Christopher‘s 54 after heavy editing and adds voiceover narration written by a new writer. The film is a total flop at the box office, only grossing $16.8 million. A better-received 112 minute version is later released on DVD, though the packaging has nothing to indicate the extended length. In 2008, Christopher exhibits a version that is 45 minutes longer than the original release and contains numerous scenes of bisexuality that Miramax forced him to cut, which The Backlot proclaims is far superior.
The teen comedy The Hairy Bird is retitled Strike! in Canada and All I Wanna Do in the U.S. (it is only released in Australia under its original title) The U.S. version removes a few lines of sexual dialogue.
Miramax asks writer/director/star Christopher Scott Cherot to give his film Hav Plenty a happier ending. A compromise is reached when Cherot shoots a “one year later” epilogue. In an interview with IndieWire, Cherot says, “I would have been content leaving the film the way it was. They wanted an ending, so I gave them another version of it. I was willing to go along with changing the ending, as long as I was able to change it the way I wanted to change it. So I think it was 50/50. I think ‘I’ worked with Miramax to make it work.”
Writer/director/star Robert Benigni cuts 9 minutes from his 1997 film Life Is Beautiful and adds a voiceover for the 1998 U.S. release. Miramax also releases a dubbed version to U.S. theaters. The film is a tremendous success for Miramax, grossing $57.6 million in the U.S. (and over $200 million worldwide) and wins 3 Oscars.
After poor test screenings, a new ending for the Hope Davis romantic comedy Next Stop Wonderland is shot months after the film is completed. Nonetheless, the film flops at the box office, grossing only $3.4 million.
Though John Barry composed a score for Playing by Heart and his score is released on the film’s soundtrack, his score in the finished film is replaced by one by Christopher Young.
Shakespeare in Love is re-edited and has several reshoots only weeks before its scheduled release after numerous test screenings. The tinkering pays off because the film grosses nearly $300 million worldwide and wins seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, against the heavily favored Saving Private Ryan.
Miramax edits the profanity in the U.S. versions of UK-set movies Sliding Doors and The Very Thought of You to ensure PG-13 ratings for both films.
In a 2002 profile of director M. Night Shyamalan in Newsweek, it is revealed that after Shyamalan finished the cut of his second film Wide Awake in 1995, Harvey Weinstein demanded it be edited. Shyamalan was supported by the film’s star Rosie O’Donnell. According to O’Donnell, while on the phone with Weinstein to express her support of the director, “He started saying, ‘Who do you think you are? You’re just a f—ing talk-show host!’ He went off. I was stunned. I thought he knew that he acquired the films and that the other people were the artists. I didn’t think it was news to him. He said, ‘Like you would f—king know. You b—-! You c—!'” Shyamlan later disowns the released version, which doesn’t get into theaters until 1998. It eventually grosses only $282,175 from only 43 theaters.
Though John Ottman writes and records the score of Halloween H20: 20 Years Later, much of it is replaced in the final film by music from Scream, Scream 2, Mimic, and new material, all of which was composed by Marco Beltrami. A version broadcast on television features four minutes of extended and deleted scenes cut from the theatrical release (in addition to content cut for television), though this version remains unavailable on home video.
A character named Venus (played by Kidada Jones) is completely cut from the theatrical release of The Faculty despite appearing in trailers for the film.
Miramax was originally set to release Tim Blake Nelson‘s O, which set Shakespeare’s Othello in a modern-day private school, in April 1999. However, after the Columbine High School massacre Miramax cancels the release because the film’s ending involves a school shooting. Miramax repeatedly schedules and cancels release dates, which results in a lawsuit from producers. Miramax ends up selling the film’s distribution rights to Lions Gate, which finally releases the film in August 2001. The film underperforms, grossing only $19.2 million worldwide.
Though Kevin Smith‘s Dogma is originally set for a November 1998 release from Miramax, Disney grows concerned about the film’s religious content. Rather than demand cuts to the religious satire, Weinstein sells the film to Lions Gate, which releases it in November 1999. It ends up grossing $30.7 million in the U.S., more than Smith’s three previous films combined.
In the Australian drama Holy Smoke, a few seconds from the sex scene between Harvey Keitel and Kate Winslet are trimmed for the U.S. release.
Similar to Transpotting, the 2000 U.S. release of the 1999 UK film Human Traffic is partially redubbed to remove British slang.
A sex scene is cut from the UK comedy/drama Mansfield Park to get a PG rating in the U.S.
After director Hayao Miyazaki meets with Weinstein regarding releasing his 1999 film Princess Mononoke during which Weinstein suggests cuts for the American release, producer Toshio Suzuki sends Weinstein a samurai sword in the mail with a note saying “No cuts.” Nonetheless, fantasy author Neil Gaiman is brought in to change story material for the English dub.
Dimension Films demands substantial cuts, which the producers disagree with, to Highlander: Endgame that shortens the film to 87 minutes. The film fails, only grossing $15.8 million worldwide. The DVD release features a 101 minute “Producer’s Cut” that is far better received than the original release.
Though filmed in 1998, James Gray‘s The Yards is delayed in part to shoot a happier ending and is finally released in 2000. Along with the delay, the film is only released in 146 theaters and grosses less than $1 million. The “happier” ending is not included in the DVD “Director’s Cut.”
After their feud over Sling Blade, Weinstein promises director Billy Bob Thornton final cut on All the Pretty Horses only if the cut is under two hours. When Thornton’s initial cut is 3 hours 40 minutes, Miramax contractually forces him to release a 116 minute version, which includes rejecting the original score by Daniel Lanois for a new one by Marty Stuart. The film bombs at the box office (grossing only $15.5 million), and an extended cut has never been released in any form.
The U.S. version of the Italian film Malena is cut by 17 minutes to eliminate much of the nudity in order to get an R rating. It grosses $3.4 million from 117 theaters.
Weinstein originally serves as a producer on the James Ivory-Ismail Merchant production of The Golden Bowl, but is later removed when he sells the distribution rights back to Merchant-Ivory. Though Ivory contractually had final cut for the film if it was under 130 minutes, he was annoyed by Weinstein’s numerous suggestions on cutting star Uma Thurman‘s role. In the book James Ivory in Conversation, Ivory recalls, “The only change we made — or cut — was to remove his name from the credits.” He also says Weinstein is “unlovely in manner and speech, possessing no artistic talent of any kind.”
Dimension releases the 1992 Jackie Chan comedy Twin Dragons, which is dubbed in English and trimmed by 11 minutes.
The U.S. release of the UK horror film Tale of the Mummy is 88 minutes long, about 20-30 minutes shorter than the international release.
The ending of Scream 3 is reshot three months after the film wraps production because producers determine the original to be too complicated. It is not as successful at the box office as its predecessors, but still grosses $89.1 million in the U.S.
The “Director’s Cut” DVD version of Reindeer Games is 20 minutes longer and features more violent alternate footage than in the theatrically released film in some sequences. The original theatrical release is considered a failure, grossing $23.4 million.
Jackie Chan‘s Drunken Master II is retitled The Legend of Drunken Master, dubbed into English, and features a new score and sound effects for the U.S. release. However, the only scene cut from the film is the original finale, which ended the film with a joke about Chan’s character going blind from drinking too much. Dimension thought the joke to be in bad taste.
Several suggestive lines and a few seconds from a strip club scene are trimmed from the teen comedy Get Over It to ensure a PG-13 rating.
Miramax buys the U.S. rights for Thai movie Tears of the Black Tiger, and director Wisit Sasanatieng offers to cut the film himself if necessary. However, Miramax does the cuts in-house and changes the downbeat ending to a happier one. After screening this version at the 2002 Sundance Film Festival, Miramax shelves the film until the U.S. rights are later purchased by Magnolia Pictures in 2006, which releases the original cut in 2007. When Magnolia finally releases the film, Sasantaieng tells the San Francisco Bay Guardian, “I was furious at first because not only did they not show the movie as agreed, they edited the movie so that it does not represent what I had in mind. It was bad, and I have heard that this has been done to many movies. I know how all of the [other] directors feel even though we haven’t talked to each other.”
Miramax releases the 1993 Hong Kong film Iron Monkey starring Donnie Yen in the U.S. with a number of edits to the content, including controversially slowing down several fight sequences, purposely not translating the subtitles correctly to simplify the plot, and replacing the original score by Richard Yuen to one by James L. Venable to make it sound more like recent hit Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.
Just days before the release of the Meg Ryan/Hugh Jackman romantic comedy Kate & Leopold (and after the premiere), five minutes are cut, including a cameo by director James Mangold. Despite the cuts, the film performs way below expectations, only grossing $47.1 million in the U.S. The five minutes are later restored in the Director’s Cut on the DVD, which includes both versions.
After purchasing the U.S. rights to Kiyoshi Kurosawa‘s acclaimed horror film Pulse, Miramax does not release the film. It is not released in the U.S. until Magnolia Pictures releases it in 2005. A year later, The Weinstein Company/Dimension Films releases a U.S. remake that grosses $30 million worldwide and is followed by two direct-to-video sequels.
When Miramax releases the 2000 Danish comedy Italian for Beginners in the U.S., it is reedited and runs 112 minutes, 6 minutes shorter than the original version. Subsequent DVD versions run only 95 minutes.
According to WENN, Wesley Snipes is “left fuming after movie bosses insist he reshoot scenes for his new prison flick Undisputed.” The intention of Miramax is to broaden the film’s appeal to “white audiences” by making his character more sympathetic. The film underperforms anyway, grossing $12.8 million at the U.S. box office.
The Four Feathers is cut to receive a PG-13 rating instead of an R rating. Regardless, the film is a commercial failure, only grossing $18 million in the U.S.
After a test screening of Julie Taymor’s Frida in 2002, Weinstein allegedly argues with Taymor over the results and the cut of the film. An article in the December 16, 2002 edition of The New Yorker claims Taymor told Weinstein, “You are the most arrogant person I have ever met,” and in response he threatens to sell the film to HBO and threatens to beat up her longtime partner, Elliot Goldenthal. Weinstein later disputes this account, but does admit, “I was rude and impolite.” The article says that Weinstein suggests 9 and a half minutes of cuts from Frida, but Taymor only cuts 2 minutes. The article also claims producer Scott Rudin and Weinstein feud over the cut of The Hours, particularly over the Philip Glass score. Rudin makes several changes to the music, but no other cuts.
Director Martin Scorsese‘s initial cut of Gangs of New York runs 3 hours, 36 minutes and is delayed from its original December 21, 2001 release to December 20, 2002. During production there are many rumors of on-set problems between Scorsese and Weinstein, including pressure from Miramax leading Scorsese to cast Cameron Diaz in the lead female role instead of Sarah Polley. After a lengthy editing process, the film is cut by an hour. Since its release, Scorsese has declined to release an extended cut. In 2013, Weinstein claims Scorsese says he won’t release it because it would prove that he (Weinstein) is a genius at editing.
Miramax initially plans to release Roberto Benigni‘s Pinocchio with subtitles, but only weeks before its release decides to release an English dub version instead with familiar English-speaking actors. Ridiculed by critics, it only grosses $3.7 million in the U.S.
One of the musical numbers in Chicago, “Class,” was removed from the theatrical release. After the film wins six Oscars, including Best Picture, the film is re-released in theaters in July 2003 for eight weeks with “Class” added. With a $170.7 million U.S. box office, Chicago remains Miramax’s highest-grossing film. Subsequent home media releases feature the number as a deleted scene.
Miramax considers releasing The Quiet American straight-to-video because of concerns over its content. However, star Michael Caine convinces Weinstein to screen it at the 2002 Toronto International Film Festival, where it receives strong reviews. Miramax then releases the film in the U.S., and Caine is later nominated for an Oscar for his performance.
Numerous cuts were made and reshoots done to ensure the sci-fi film Imposter receives a PG-13 rating. Regardless, the film fails at the box office, only grossing $8.1 million worldwide. The R-rated Director’s Cut, which is 7 minutes longer, is later released on DVD.
The release of Halloween: Resurrection is delayed from its original September 21, 2001 release date in order to reshoot sequences. Workprint versions of the film in its original form exist, but are not commercially available.
The U.S. release of Jackie Chan‘s The Accidental Spy cuts 20 minutes from the film, which radically changes the plot.
The horror film They had several scenes cut after test screenings, including the original ending.
2003 sees the release of three of Miramax films that were previously delayed because of the 9/11 terrorist attacks:
1) Miramax cuts 15 seconds from the Gwyneth Paltrow movie View from the Top because the scene contains a character (portrayed by Mike Myers) joking about an airplane being taken over by terrorists. Additionally, the film’s U.S. release was delayed from December 2001 to March 2003 because it is airplane themed. It grosses $15.6 million in the U.S.
2) People I Know (starring Al Pacino), was delayed because it criticizes the New York City mayor . It is only released in eight theaters in the U.S. in April 2003, grossing $126,793.
3) Buffalo Soldiers (starring Joaquin Phoenix), which is a satire of the U.S. military, is released in July 2003 screens in only 24 theaters, grossing $354,421. The film originally screened at the 2001 Toronto International Film Festival on September 9, 2001.
Despite being the winning film on the second season of the reality series Project Greenlight, The Battle of Shaker Heights faces editing problems when test screenings go poorly. Miramax pressures directors Kyle Rankin and Efram Potelle to cut the film as a comedy, though the directors see it as a drama. Ultimately the film is cut and released as a comedy, and the film grosses $280,351 from 13 theaters.
Kill Bill is split into two films, Volume 1 (released October 10, 2003) and Volume 2 (released April 16, 2004). Reports suggest that it was a compromise between director Quentin Tarantino and Weinstein because it was unlikely Miramax would release a four-hour film, even one by studio favorite Tarantino. Of course, most analysts point out that means double the tickets sales, and the films do a combined gross of $136.3 million dollars. Worldwide the films do even better, with a combined take of over $300 million.
The U.S. release of the French-Canadian comedy The Barbarian Invasions is cut by 13 minutes. This 99 minute version is the only version available in the U.S. It grosses a respectable $8.5 million at the U.S. box office and goes on to win the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
The comedy My Boss’s Daughter is cut to ensure a PG-13 rating. The R-rated version, available on DVD, is 4 minutes longer and includes more vulgar jokes.
The “unrated” DVD version of Scary Movie 3 is a whopping 76 seconds longer than the original theatrical release.
The Terry Zwigoff comedy Bad Santa exists in several versions: the original theatrical release (91 minutes), the “unrated” Badder Santa version that Zwigoff was not involved in creating (98 minutes), and the Director’s Cut that Zwigoff originally wanted to be released (88 minutes). All three feature alternate footage and several storyline differences.
A year and a half after its initial scheduled U.S. release, Miramax finally releases the 2001 Hong Kong film Shaolin Soccer on DVD, but it is cut by 23 minutes. However, the DVD includes the original cut, making the whole purpose of creating the shorter version odd because the DVD has both.
Miramax delays the U.S. release of the 2002 Jet Li movie Hero six times as Weinstein decides how it should be released. It isn’t until Quentin Tarantino steps up and agrees to release the film under his “Quentin Tarantino Presents” banner that Weinstein agrees to release the film uncut in August 2004. However, the film was already cut by 20 minutes before its original international release on Weinstein’s recommendation. Regardless of the delay, it becomes the first foreign language film to open at #1 at the U.S. box office and eventually grosses $53 million in the U.S. alone.
Various scenes featuring Jennifer Lopez were cut from Kevin Smith‘s Jersey Girl after the tremendously bad publicity surrounding the previous Ben Affleck/Jennifer Lopez film, Gigli, which was one of the biggest box office bombs of all time. Miramax also delayed the film from its original Fall 2003 release date and removed Lopez from all marketing material. The constant references to the real-life couple in the tabloid media also led to audience backlash. Smith has since exhibited a 3 hour “Director’s Cut,” which he says he plans to release one day.
Though Miramax has the U.S. distribution rights to the widely acclaimed 2002 Hong Kong crime-thriller Infernal Affairs, it is only released in 5 theaters in the U.S. in 2004 and grosses just $169,659. Fans of the film are angered that the movie was virtually buried until an also-acclaimed American remake by Martin Scorsese, The Departed, is released in 2006 and brings a windfall of attention to the original.
After purchasing the U.S. distribution rights in 2002, Miramax/Dimension finally releases Spanish director Jaume Balagueró‘s horror film Darkness on Christmas Day, 2004. The U.S. release is cut substantially in order to ensure a PG-13 rating. The U.S. version runs 88 minutes, while the “Unrated” (i.e. international) version is 102 minutes. Both versions are released on the DVD. While the film grosses $22.2 million in the U.S., the timing of the theatrical release remains perplexing.
Our next segment of the timeline takes us through the present day and the soon-to-be-released films from The Weinstein Company. Again the Weinsteins have numerous successes both at the box office and with critics, but they manage to start new feuds with directors like Terry Gilliam and Luc Besson and fans of all types of genre films.