Sony Backtracks On “Clean Version” Film Plan; DGA Keeping Eye Out Anyway

By Patrick Hipes, David Robb

Talladega Nights
Sony Pictures

UPDATED, Wednesday, 6:20 PM with DGA statement: After the DGA and some filmmakers came out against Sony Home Entertainment’s Clean Version initiative which basically removes profanity and violence from films so they can be shared with a wider, family audience, Sony’s division president Man Jit Singh put out this statement today to calm fears.

“Our directors are of paramount importance to us and we want to respect those relationships to the utmost. We believed we had obtained approvals from the filmmakers involved for use of their previously supervised television versions as a value added extra on sales of the full version. But if any of them are unhappy or have reconsidered, we will discontinue it for their films.”

Similar protests from filmmakers have taken place over the years with colorizing films and films edited for the airlines.

DGA Awards Winners List

The DGA later this evening was pleased with Sony’s pullback on the initiative, but said in a statement it wants the “cleaned” versions taken down pending approvals from directors.

“While we’re pleased that Sony is acknowledging its mistakes in this area, the DGA has notified Sony that it expects the immediate removal of all ‘clean’ versions of the affected films from availability until Sony secures permission from each and every director, and provides them with an opportunity to edit a version for release in new media – consistent with the DGA Agreement and the directors’ individual contracts,” the guild wrote. “These are hard-fought-for rights that protect a director’s work and vision, and are at the very heart of our craft and a thriving film industry. As we have throughout our history, we are committed to fighting the unauthorized editing of films.”

PREVIOUS, Tuesday, 7:45 PM: The DGA has come out against Sony’s recently announced Clean Version, an initiative launched last week that offers the edited broadcast or airline versions of 24 of the studio’s movies along with the uncut versions on sites like iTunes, Vudu and FandangoNow.

The guild today said the program violates the DGA’s contract with the studios.

“Directors have the right to edit their feature films for every non-theatrical platform, plain and simple. Taking a director’s edit for one platform, and then releasing it on another — without giving the director the opportunity to edit — violates our Agreement,” the DGA said.

It added: “Throughout the years, the DGA has achieved hard-fought creative rights gains protecting our members from such practices. As creators of their films, directors often dedicate years of hard work to realize their full vision, and they rightfully have a vested interest in protecting that work. We are committed to vigorously defending against the unauthorized alteration of films.”

The movies on the list include all of Sony’s Spider-Man titles (not the unreleased one), the original two Ghostbusters, two Grown Ups movies as well as Step Brothers and Talladega Nights: The Ballad Of Ricky Bobby, two movies produced by writer-director Judd Apatow.

Apatow was less formal in his reaction today to Sony’s plan, which removes some scenes of graphic violence, offensive language, sexual innuendo, gore and other “adult” content based on TV and airline standards. (Note: no clean version of Apatow tweet available):

Another Sony director, The Interview’s Seth Rogen, also came out against the plan last week:

Here is Sony’s promo for its Clean Version, with a list of the 24 films the studio said will grow.

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