Sony Won't Release Sanitized Movies if Directors Disapprove (Exclusive)

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'Step Brothers' (2008)

"Our directors are of paramount importance to us, and we want to respect those relationships to the utmost," the studio says.

After coming under fire from filmmakers, Sony is revisiting its controversial new home entertainment promotion offering sanitized versions of movies to the public at large.

The studio says it is touching base with each of the 18 directors whose films are included in the "Clean Version" initiative, whereby the airline and broadcast TV editions of a movie are being bundled with the original rated film.

"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," Sony Home Entertainment president Man Jit Singh said Wednesday in a statement provided to The Hollywood Reporter.

"But if any of them are unhappy or have reconsidered, we will discontinue it for their films," he continued.

Meanwhile, the DGA is looking into Clean Version to make sure it doesn't violate contractual agreements and now says in a statement that Sony has not gone far enough with its response. "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 statement reads. "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." 

Singh's comments came one day after THR reported that director Adam McKay was unaware that two of his films, Step Brothers and Talladega Nights, are part of the Clean Version program, which launched June 7. "The Clean Version initiative is news to Adam McKay. He would not have agreed to this," said a rep for the filmmaker.

In response, Singh initially said on Tuesday that the studio "discussed this program, and the use of these pre-existing versions, with each director or their representatives. This is a pilot program, developed in response to specific consumer feedback, that offers viewers the option of watching an airline or TV version of certain movies when they purchase the original version."

Judd Apatow, who doesn't have a film on the list, blasted Sony in a tweet soon after: "This is absolute bullshit and @sony and @SonyPictures is gonna get hell for F—ING with our movies. Shove the clean versions up your asses!"

Clean Version titles can be bought on several digital services, including iTunes. The Clean Version of McKay’s Step Brothers excludes 152 instances of bad language, 91 instances of sexual content and 22 instances of violence. Other bowdlerized titles include the Spider-Man series, Captain Phillips and even Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

June 14, 6:15 p.m. Updated with response from DGA.

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