Violent films made over for family-centric networks
Who knew a gory sci-fi thriller like “Alien” could be so family friendly?ComStar Media founder Robert A. Schuller is betting that Christian auds will think so. The founding pastor of Crystal Cathedral recently negotiated the first-ever rights for G-rated versions of such R-rated films as “Predator,” “Braveheart” and Ridley Scott’s chest-bursting opus “Alien.” Studio-edited versions of assorted R-rated pics, some of which date back to the late 1960s, began airing last month on Schuller’s faith-centric AmericanLife TV and FamilyNet Television as part of a block of programming dubbed Family Night TV. But what remains of a film like the violence-soaked “Predator” after being sanitized to G-rated status? The Arnold Schwarzenegger starrer features such vivid scenes a mercenary skinned and hung out for display. “There’s still a movie there,” says Schuller, who runs the Christian media network with his son-in-law, Chris Wyatt. “Some scenes are deleted. Actors already read clean lines back when the film was originally made. All of the CGI can be amended. In the G version, there is no gratuitous violence.” In the case of the vigilante thriller “The Star Chamber,” two violent scenes were affected. One was removed altogether and one was made significantly less graphic thanks to alternate footage. But does Schuller, who is also a bestselling author, see any contradiction between the films’ original violence and Christian values? “Not really. These are still movies that our viewers would respond to,” says Schuller of the audience of the two networks, whose reach is some 40 million. “We want to air movies that have a positive message that portray families in a positive way. ‘Pulp Fiction’ is not a film we would want to air.” Still, not every filmmaker wants to see a squeaky-clean version of their R-rated masterpieces. Steven Spielberg, George Lucas and James Cameron are among a handful of directors who will not allow their films to be modified. ‘I don’t think there will be a G-rated version of ‘Avatar’ anytime soon,” notes Wyatt.
Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more