Harvey Scissorhands strikes again

06 August, 2013 by Don Groves

Maverick US distributor/producer Harvey Weinstein is so notorious for cutting films that he acquires he earned the soubriquet Harvey Scissorhands.

So it’s not surprising that Weinstein is embroiled in another row, this time with Korean director Bong Joon-ho over his post-Apocalyptic sci-fi thriller Snowpiercer.

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The English-language film stars Chris Evans as the leader of a revolt on a train that carries the last survivors of the human race after an experiment to end global warming fails. The cast includes Song Kang-ho, Tilda Swinton, Ko Ah-sung, Jamie Bell, John Hurt, Ed Harris and. Octavia Spencer.

Bong’s 126 minute film opened in Korea on August 1, selling nearly 3.3 million tickets in the first five days for a gross of US$21.4 million.

The Weinstein Co. pre-bought the rights for the US, Canada, UK, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. It will be released in Oz by Roadshow Films.

The Hollywood Reporter hailed the film as an “ambitious piece with a universally comprehensible theme and accessible aesthetics… a unique vision of a despairing present channelled through a dystopian future.”

IF has learned that Weinstein is demanding Bong slash the running time by 20 minutes for the version to be released in TWC’s territories.

“TWC people have told Bong that their aim is to make sure the film ‘will be understood by audiences in Iowa … and Oklahoma,’" English writer and film festival programmer Tony Rayns told IF.

“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,” added Rayns, who attended the film’s premiere in Seoul and spoke with the filmmaker, whose credits include The Host and Memories of Murder.

According to Rayns, Bong said the cuts would eliminate much of the character detail, which would make the film seem more like an action movie. Weinstein is also adding opening and closing voice-overs.

“Nobody (least of all Bong himself) is optimistic that his rear-guard actions against the ‘Weinstein version’ will get his original version released in English-speaking territories, but I hope that Oz, like the UK, will fight the good fight to protest Weinstein’s cuts,” said Rayns.

“If the ‘Weinstein version’ flops in theatres, it may at least speed up release of what I'm sure Weinstein will call ‘the director's cut’ on Blu-ray and DVD.”

Weinstein earned his reputation after cutting films such as Shaolin Soccer, Hero and Princess Mononoke for US release. "I'm not cutting for fun," he once told journalist Ken Auletta. “I'm cutting for the shit to work. All my life I served one master: the film. I love movies."

TWC and Snowpiercer producer CJ Entertainment did not respond to emails seeking comment. Roadshow has not set a release date yet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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  • Geoff Gardner

    Bong Joon-ho is one of the modern masters of the cinema. Harvey Weinstein may have a track record of success but ultimately he is a buffoon. Film-makers who get into his clutches should beware of the possible consequences.

  • Kristin Thompson

    It doesn’t seem to occur to Weinstein that he’ll lose quite a few core fans, who will forgo the experience of seeing the film on the screen if it is cut. They will wait for the director’s cut domestic video or order a copy from a territory where the film was released intact. Maybe H. Weinstein thinks enough Midwestern hicks will be drawn in to offset the number who chose to avoid a butchered version, but maybe not. Why risk it for a film that’s a reasonable length compared to other big action films released this summer.

  • Diana

    Maybe this Okie can put this into words Mr. Weinstein can understand. I will NEVER pay to see a movie he has produced EVER!

  • James Weatherby

    Mr. Harvey Weinstein,

    Contrary to your popular belief that mid-westerners still hunt buffalo, kill indians, do nothing but farming and still ride horses, you ignorance and stupidity astound me…most of us occasionally go watch a movie. I myself see more than a dozen new films IN MY HOME TOWN, each summer at a Cinemark. ‘where we be gettin them movin pictures, ye sir!’ To think anyone in the mid-west couldn’t or wouldn’t understand the intrigue of a deep story or depth of a sophisticated plot is stemming from your own profiling perception of a stereotype that is non existent.
    I doubt it would make you feel good if i inserted a Jewish stereo-type comment in this response, but some of us are a little more polite than you seem to be.

  • Gerrit

    Dont cut SNOWPIERCER we are smart, and adults we can figure it out ourselves.

  • Judy

    Thanks for the info. Will be sure to put it on my list of movies not to see.

  • Zac Oldenburg

    The people who want to see this film want to see the original cut. Don’t chop it down, trust your audiences.

  • Valerie Stayton

    Unfortunately I can see where some of these stereotypes come from. I have talked to my husband and friends on numerous occasion asking, “Why do local reporters find the most uneducated person to interview when something is going on?”. It makes us all look like a bunch of idiots when they are always the ones on the news. Ugh!

  • Linda Hendricks

    Sorry to tell you, but living in one of those “backward” Midwestern states-I can tell you that we really know BS when we see it. It appears you have a good load of it. Ignorant and egotistical, prostituting your “art” for money. How quaint!

  • Olive

    Wow, to think I didn’t have any more reasons to not like Harvey Weinstein. Newsflash, there are a lot of people from states like Idaho and Oklahoma who are educated. Your ignorance is showing and really, it’s sickening. To think I was one of the many “mid-western” people (at least where I live) who was excited for the original cut. I heard so many wonderful things about it and I loved the international trailers that came out. Sadly, since I live in one of the territories where this cut will happen, I won’t be seeing it. I’m sad that I won’t be able to see what is probably a lovely film on the big screen, but if that film is being dumbdowned and butchered for a stupid reason, then I’m out.