We finish 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 previous segment saw Weinstein engage in feuds with filmmakers like James Mangold, Guillermo del Toro, James Gray, Julie Taymor, Martin Scorsese, and others. As you’ll see in today’s final segment, it appears that Weinstein has no intention of changing his heavy-handed demands (also, check out Part One here).
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Director Terry Gilliam has numerous on-set clashes with Bob and Harvey Weinstein while making The Brothers Grimm, including their refusal to allow Matt Damon wear a prosthetic nose, refusal to cast Samantha Morton in the lead (the Weinsteins choose Lena Headey), and replacing Gilliam’s chosen cinematographer, Nicola Percorini, with Newton Thomas Sigel after a few weeks of shooting. At one point, the film is shut down for almost two weeks so Gilliam and the Weinsteins can work out their differences. The film is delayed four times from its original November 2004 release to August 26, 2005, and the Weinsteins eventually agree to allow Gilliam to release his cut (of course, with so many changes during the production it is hardly what Gilliam intended). Gilliam later tells Senses of Cinema, “They created a situation at the beginning of the film that was very unpleasant. And so I started working in not the happiest of moods. And they were still determined to control me. And when they didn’t allow me to cast who I wanted, I was getting more and more upset. I don’t like this. And by the time Matt’s nose came up, that was it: I just didn’t want to make the movie. I went to work on the first day of shooting and I just wanted to go home… it’s not the film they wanted and it’s not quite the film I wanted. It’s the film that is a result of two people, or two groups of people, who aren’t working well together… They kept saying they wanted a Terry Gilliam movie. But they really wanted a Terry Gilliam movie with their involvement… Marty [Scorsese] said almost the exact same quote I said, without us knowing it: ‘They took the joy out of filmmaking.’ There’s just something about them, because they want to be filmmakers. But they’re not filmmakers! They’re great salesmen, they’re great marketing people. They’re fantastic! But they want to put their fingerprints on it so they can say it’s their film. And if you’re working with people like Marty and me, you just can’t do that. It doesn’t work.” The film ultimately grosses $105 million worldwide, but is still considered a disappointment.
Production on Wes Craven‘s Cursed was postponed for over a year and led to numerous actors — including some who had already filmed scenes — being dropped from the film or replaced. As with other Miramax horror releases, cuts were made to Cursed in order to ensure a PG-13 rating (the R-rated/”uncut” version is still released in most parts of Canada). When released on DVD, the uncut version, which is two minutes longer, was made available as a separate release. Craven later tells the New York Post, “I’m very disappointed with Cursed. The contract called for us to make an R-rated film. We did. It was a very difficult process. Then it was basically taken away from us and cut to PG-13 and ruined. It was two years of very difficult work and almost 100 days of shooting of various versions. Then at the very end, it was chopped up and the studio thought they could make more with a PG-13 movie, and trashed it. We were writing while we were shooting. It wasn’t ready to film. We rewrote, recast and had two major reshoots. It went on and on and on… After a while, I regretted it was called Cursed because it was Cursed. It was just chopped up, and it was awful. I thought it was completely disrespectful, and it hurt them (the studio) too, and it was like they shot themselves in the foot with a shotgun. Not a nice thing.” The film does poorly, only grossing $29.6 million worldwide on a $38 million budget.
The Weinstein Company was the original U.S. distributor for the 2005 Chinese epic The Promise, and Weinstein trims 25 minutes from the film and renames it Master of the Crimson Armor, but never releases it. The film is eventually sold to Warner Independent Pictures, which releases it cut by 19 minutes in 2006 under its original title.
Though shot in 2002 and originally scheduled for a 2003 theatrical release, the war movie The Great Raid is not released until August 2005 as one of the final Miramax releases overseen by the Weinstein brothers. The film bombs spectacularly, only making $10.8 million worldwide on an $80 million budget. Similarly, the Nick Cannon comedy Underclassman is finally released after originally being scheduled for a 2004 release. It grosses less than $6 million.
Another long-delayed Miramax release that is essentially pushed out of the door before the Weinsteins leave Miramax is An Unfinished Life, starring Jennifer Lopez, Robert Redford, and Morgan Freeman. Though shot in Spring 2003, the drama sat on the shelf for over a year, during which the score by Christopher Young is rejected and replaced by one by Deborah Lurie. The film receives a small release and only grosses $8.6 million in the U.S. in just 753 theaters. At the New York premiere, Miramax executive Meryl Poster told Variety, “People kept saying ‘Why did it take so long? Why are they holding it back?’ Perhaps people think there’s something off because it’s coming out now, when the Weinsteins are leaving (Miramax). But it’s just getting pushed together with a lot of other movies. It should be able to stand on its own, and, in any other time period with Miramax, it would have stood on its own.”
Planned action sequences for the Dimenson Films action/horror film Feast are cut by the Weinsteins because of the expense. The script was the winning script of the third season of Project Greenlight. The finished film is not released in U.S. theaters until September 22, 2006 (grossing $56,131 from only 146 theaters), and is released on DVD a month later. It was followed by two direct-to-DVD sequels.
Despite purchasing the U.S. distribution rights to the Spanish horror film Los Sin Nombre, Miramax does not release the film (retitled Nameless) until a direct-to-video release in 2005.
5 minutes were trimmed from the Australian horror film Wolf Creek before its U.S. release. Both the theatrical and “uncut” versions are available on DVD.
From September 2005 on, aside from co-productions with The Weinstein Company, the Weinstein brothers are no longer involved with Miramax.
The U.S. release of the British-French animated film The Magic Roundabout is renamed Doogal and redubbed with voices of well-known American comedians instead of the original voice cast (except for Kylie Minogue and Ian McKellen). The U.S. release also adds voiceover narration by Judi Dench, cuts a 5 minute dream sequence, and had new “jokes” added involving farting and The Lord of the Rings. While the original release receives favorable praise abroad, Doogal is hated by American critics and only grosses $7.4 million in the U.S.
The Weinstein Company makes so many changes to the U.S. release of Tony Jaa‘s Tom-Yum-Goong (retitled The Protector) that outcry leads to the original being released in a DVD two pack with the U.S. edit. The U.S. edit cuts nearly half an hour from the film, adds a new score by RZA, and has storyline changes imposed through the dubbing. The U.S. version runs just 81 minutes, while the full version is 109 minutes.
The “unrated” DVD version of Scary Movie 4 is 6 minutes longer than the theatrical release.
The horror film Black Christmas is cut to ensure an R rating. The “unrated” version available on DVD is 8 minutes longer.
Similarly to its handling of Doogal, The Weinstein Company makes numerous edits to the animated film Arthur and the Invisibles for the U.S. release, cutting nine minutes from the film, including a major storyline. The U.S. release only grosses $15.1 million in theaters, while the film makes $92.8 million in other countries. Director Luc Besson later says to SuicideGirls, “I’ve worked in the movie business for 30 years now and for each film I work 40 different distributors around the world. [The Weinstein Company] was the worst I have worked with in my entire life, in any country. I think this is the essence of all the problems. Why the critics didn’t like Arthur was because they changed so much of the film and tried to pretend the film was American. The critics aren’t stupid. They watched the film, they vaguely smell American but they can feel the film is forced for an American audience. The film is European. It’s made by a Frenchman. This was the only country where the film was changed. The rest of the world has the same film as France.” (However, this is inaccurate — the UK also had the cut version because the Weinsteins had the distribution rights for the UK, too).
After the Robert Rodriguez/Quentin Tarantino double feature Grindhouse underwhelms at the U.S. box office, the over three-hour film is split into two separate releases in most international markets. The runtime of the entire U.S. presentation is 191 minutes. However, the international separate releases are significantly longer, and even longer versions are later released in all markets on DVD. The extended version of Rodriguez’s Planet Terror released on DVD is 109 minutes (the international theatrical release is 106 minutes) while the extended version of Tarantino’s Death Proof is 121 minutes (the international theatrical release is 114 minutes). Tarantino also screens a 127 minute Death Proof at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival. Despite the extended lengths of the separate features, many fans outside of the U.S. see the “split” in their countries as making them pay twice for something those in the U.S. only had to pay once for.
Curiously, the editing of the Zach Braff/Amanda Peet/Jason Bateman comedy The Ex perplexes critics when the unrated edition on DVD is only 84 minutes and removes a major plot point in the original theatrical release, which runs 89 minutes. Regardless, the film grosses only $3.1 million in U.S. theaters.
The “unrated director’s cut” (121 minutes) of Rob Zombie‘s Halloween is released as a two-pack with the original theatrical release (109 minutes).
Though originally filmed in 2002, the Christina Ricci horror film The Gathering is finally released in the U.S. direct-to-video in January 2007. A “Director’s Cut” that airs on German TV in 2005 is 10 minutes longer.
The ending of the Stephen King adaptation 1408 is reshot because of poor response from test screenings. The original ending is restored on the Blu-ray release as a Director’s Cut, which is also 8 minutes longer.
Director Frank Darabont intends The Mist to be screened in black and white. While that idea is overruled by producers, the 2-disc DVD has an option to watch the film in black and white.
After test screenings of Killshot, the Weinstein Company cuts numerous scenes, including the entire performance of Johnny Knoxville as a corrupt deputy U.S. marshal. The film is eventually only released in 5 U.S. theaters and grosses $18,643.
According to Variety, Producer Scott Rudin not only leaves the production of The Reader, but he decides to strip his name from the credits of the film because he believes it is wrong to rush the film just to campaign for Oscar recognition for Kate Winslet when she is also being considered for Revolutionary Road. Despite having final cut, director Stephen Daldry is pressured to make changes to The Reader by Weinstein. One way Weinstein tries to do this is by trying to push Daldry to release the film earlier than planned — Fall 2008. After significant behind-the-scenes fighting, the two sides compromise on a December 10, 2008 release. The film grosses $108.9 million worldwide and is eventually nominated for five Oscars, with Kate Winslet winning Best Actress.
The Weinstein Company purchased the distribution rights for Fanboys, a black comedy directed by Kyle Newman about a group of friends committed to seeing Star Wars: Episode I before their friend dies of cancer, in 2006. In summer 2007, Weinstein requests reshoots in order to eliminate the cancer subplot. A new director, Steven Brill, is hired to direct the reshoots. Fan outcry results in the cancer plot remaining in the film. Though originally set for a 2007 release, the film is pushed first November 26, 2008, then to February 6, 2009 for a limited release. Newman was given back control of the film, but only had 36 hours to produce his final cut (which contains footage filmed by both him and Brill), which was finally released to 45 U.S. theaters, grossing $688,529. On the issues around the release, Newman later says to Blastr, “Honestly, on their end, they’re just trying to take a movie that has a fan base and has a following and tap into it on a wider level. They were saying, ‘Maybe if we try this it will make it bigger and broader and more successful.’ It wasn’t necessarily the best step, and I think they discovered that, but ultimately it was within their rights to go and do that. They own it. We were adamant, but you can’t overstep your bounds as a filmmaker. It might be a different world if I were a studio head. It’d be my right to say, ‘Well, I’m spending the money. How can I make this the most successful and best thing?’ It wasn’t done with an intentional disrespect to the community. It was just trying to make it bigger and better.”
The release of Wayne Kramer‘s Crossing Over is plagued with problems. Though the movie was shot in 2007, it is not released until 2009. First, complaints about a scene featuring an Iranian “honor killing,” cause the film to be reedited to change the scene to an accidental murder, and scenes featuring Sean Penn as an immigration cop investigating the killing are cut entirely. Second, though the director’s cut is 140 minutes, Weinstein threatens to release the film direct-to-DVD if it is not under two hours. Though the film is released at 112 minutes, it is only released in 42 theaters and only grosses $455,654 in the U.S. Hollywood Elsewhere calls the experience “horrific” for Kramer, who has no input on the final cut.
The Wrap claims that Weinstein Company wanted Quentin Tarantino to cut Inglourious Basterds by 40 minutes, though these reports are denied and never confirmed. The film is released at 153 minutes.
The “unrated” version of Superhero Movie is 6 minutes longer than the theatrical release.
An early poster for A Single Man features Colin Firth and Julianne Moore in bed together, despite the fact that Firth’s character in the film is gay. The poster is quickly retracted. The trailer is also criticized for “downplaying” Firth’s character’s sexual orientation.
Writer/producer/star Ice Cube claims in an interview with the A.V. Club that his film Janky Promoters was released before by The Weinstein Company before it was even finished. He explains, “The Weinsteins fucked me. [Laughs.] Yeah, basically, they fucked me. They was runnin’ through financial problems, so they couldn’t put the movie out on wide release. And they told us we could sell the movie to another company, give them their money back—I had money tied in that movie—and then release it wide. While we were making the deal over here, they put it out on DVD over there. And I found out because somebody told me, “I just got the DVD for Janky Promoters.” I went through the roof… It was the shadiest shit that ever happened to me in the movie business… We still had a few days of reshoots we had to do to shore up the end. It had a lot of loose ends. The music wasn’t right. And they just basically snuck over here, edited it, finished it, and put it out. It was like crackhead shit. Stealing the microwave out your grandmamma’s house and selling it on the street. [Laughs.] So you know, I learned a lesson. But that’s what happened with that movie. That movie would’ve made money. People would’ve went to go see it. They just tanked it.”
Similar to the first film, Rob Zombie‘s Halloween 2 is released on DVD as a two-pack with the “unrated director’s cut” (119 minutes) and the original theatrical release (105 minutes).
Derek Cianfrance‘s Blue Valentine is given an NC-17 rating by the MPAA because of sexual content. Like Miramax did with Clerks sixteen years earlier, instead of editing it the Weinstein Company successfully appeals the NC-17 rating and it is released with an R rating without any cuts. The low-budget film grosses $12 million worldwide, and star Michelle Williams is nominated for an Oscar.
The Weinstein Company purchases the theatrical rights to Dirty Girl, a coming of age dramedy starring Juno Temple. 19 minutes are trimmed from the film, but when it is finally released on October 7, 2011 it plays in only 10 U.S. theaters, grossing $55,125.
The original 2010 release of The King’s Speech is given an R rating by the MPAA (and a 15 certificate by the British Board of Film Classification) based on one scene involving repeated profanity. Though the BBFC eventually lowers its rating to 12A after criticism from director Tom Hooper, the MPAA sticks with its R rating. After the film wins four Oscars, including Best Picture, the Weinstein Company prepares a PG-13 version of the film for U.S. theaters which mutes the profanity to replace the R rated film beginning April 1. This decision is criticized by Hooper, who tells Entertainment Weekly, “I wouldn’t support cutting the film in any way… I’m not going to cut the film.” The re-release grosses an extra $3.3 million in its 11-week run. The PG-13 version has not been made available on home media.
Dimension rushes a ninth Hellraiser movie into production, Hellraiser: Revelations, in order to retain the rights to the franchise. Doug Bradley declines to star as Pinhead, making it the first Hellraiser film to not have him in the role. He states to Dread Central that his reasons for bowing out as, “The miniscule shooting schedule is more than matched by the budget… One way or another, this does not seem to me to represent a serious attempt to revive the Hellraiser franchise.” Series creator Clive Barker is offended that his name is included in promotional material, and says on his Twitter, “I have NOTHING to do with the fuckin’ thing. If they claim its from the mind of Clive Barker, it’s a lie. It’s not even from my butt-hole.” The film is shot in fourteen days days on a reported $300,000 budget, released in a single theater in California on March 18, and released on DVD on October 18.
The international production Miral is given an R rating by the MPAA, but The Weinstein Company appeals the decision and the film is later given a PG-13 rating.
The Weinstein Company backs a campaign to have the MPAA rating of its documentary Bully changed from R (for language) to PG-13 in order to allow children under 17 (whom the documentary is intended for) to see it. When the MPAA refuses, The Weinstein Company releases it unrated even though most theater chains will not screen unrated movies. A week after its initial release, the MPAA gives a PG-13 rating to a version that removes much of the profanity and that version is re-released a week later. Despite the immense publicity and subsequent PG-13 release, the combined grosses of both versions are under $4 million.
In 2010, the horror/comedy Piranha 3D is a surprise box office and critical hit, grossing $83.2 million worldwide. A sequel entitled Piranha 3DD is rushed into production. The sequel was originally scheduled for a November 2011 release, but is delayed until May 2012 in the UK and June 2012 in the U.S. However, Piranha 3DD does poorly with critics and at the U.S. box office and is only released to 86 theaters (the original screened in nearly 2500). While it is also released to VOD, that removes the 3D gimmick that helped fuel the box office of the first film. The sequel ultimately grosses $8.5 million worldwide, but only had a $5 million budget.
The Sean Penn dramedy This Must Be The Place is cut by 7 minutes after it screens at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival before its October 2012 U.S. release. It is eventually only released in 15 U.S. theaters and only grosses $143,979.
Though filmed in 2009 and released internationally in 2010, the Julianne Moore movie Shelter is not released in the U.S. until March 2013 on video-on-demand as 6 Souls and is followed by a release the next month in only 54 U.S. theaters. It receives horrid critical reviews.
The Chinese release of Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained is delayed until May 12, 2013 and trimmed in order to eliminate much of the gore.
The Weinstein Company originally buys the U.S. distribution rights to the Amber Heard film All the Boys Love Mandy Lane in 2006. However, the company later sells the rights to another distributor that later goes out of business. Though it receives an international release in some countries, The Weinstein Company reacquires the U.S. rights in 2013 and releases it on VOD in September and in U.S. theaters a month later.
Hong Kong director Wong Kar-wai‘s The Grandmaster is cut by 22 minutes for its U.S. release, with the international release running 130 minutes and the U.S. release running 108 minutes. The U.S. edit removes historical references unfamiliar to U.S. audiences, and the film adds intertitles to provide context to some situations. It also even includes scenes that are absent from the 130 minute version. When Weinstein presents his cut of the film at the London Film Festival, Screen Daily reports that he is asked about cutting the film. His response is, “We tried to keep it as chronologically as we could and at the end of the day, who gives a shit?”
The “Unrated” DVD release of Scary Movie 5 is 2 minutes longer than the original theatrical release.
The earthquake horror movie Aftershock (produced by and starring Eli Roth) is edited to avoid an NC-17 rating.
The Weinstein Company releases a documentary about author J.D. Salinger titled Salinger on September 6, 2013 in 4 theaters in New York and Los Angeles. After mostly negative reviews, Weinstein announces that director Shane Salerno would release a new “special edition” of the documentary on September 20 as the film is released in more theaters. According to The Hollywood Reporter, 13 minutes were cut from the initial release and 8 minutes were added. Changes include removing reenactments and music cues. The film grosses just $583,633 in the U.S. despite a heavy marketing campaign.
Philomena is initially given an R rating by the MPAA, but The Weinstein Company appeals the decision with a video of star Judi Dench (reprising her M character from the James Bond films) criticizing the MPAA. The film is later given a PG-13 rating. Later, when New York Post critic Kyle Smith is one of the few critics to give the film a negative review, Weinstein takes out a full-page ad in the New York Times attacking Smith.
Though August: Osage County is an adaptation of an acclaimed Tracy Letts play, director John Wells admits to the L.A. Times that the ending that premiered with the film at the Toronto International Film Festival differs from that of the play and that that it was changed by Weinstein after poor response from test audiences. Critics who have seen the film have heavily criticized the tacked-on “hopeful” ending (including myself).
After being delayed from its initial November 2013 release date to March 2014, in January the Nicole Kidman film Grace Kelly biopic Grace of Monaco is pushed back again as the opening film at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival. However, the delays also have to do with Weinstein clashing with director Olivier Dahan over the final cut of the film. In October 2013, Dahan told a French newspaper: “It’s right to struggle, but when you confront an American distributor like Weinstein, not to name names, there is not much you can do. Either you say, ‘Go figure it out with your pile of shit’ or you brace yourself so the blackmail isn’t as violent … If I don’t sign, that’s where the out-and-out blackmail starts, but I could go that far. There are two versions of the film for now: mine and his … which I find catastrophic.” It is not known which version will be the final release.
Though not yet released, The Weinstein Company has announced that it will trim about 20 minutes from South Korean director Bong Joon-ho‘s sci-fi thriller Snowpiercer despite worldwide critical acclaim. According to film critic 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.” Though the director has been open to the Weinstein’s cuts, he revealed in an interview with Twitch that The Weinstein Company did test screenings of both versions of the film in the U.S. and “with my version the response was much higher than the scores from the Weinstein version.” Later, in a conversation with The Hollywood Reporter, Bong says, “We have been talking a lot about keeping the original cut for the U.S. release, so what I can say is…have faith.” Nonetheless, BFI Film reports that the Weinsteins held Snowpiercer back from U.S. festivals because they were trying to convince Bong to cut the film and add a voiceover narration written by Neil Gaiman (who did the rewrites for the American version of Miramax’s Princess Mononoke). The film is not yet scheduled for its U.S. release.
Keep your eye on these segments for updates and additions!