Sony Won’t Release Clean Versions of Films if Directors Disapprove

Talladega Nights
Suzanne Hanover/Columbia/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock

UPDATED: After coming under fire, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has revised its “clean version” initiative that allowed viewers to screen edited versions of two dozen of the studio’s films. Sony now says it won’t sell such movies if directors object.

“Our directors are of paramount importance to us and we want to respect those relationships to the utmost,” said SPHE president Man Jit Singh in a statement on Wednesday. “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.”


Judd Apatow Donald Trump

Judd Apatow to Sony: ‘Shove the Clean Versions of Movies Up Your A–!’

Four hours after Sony’s announcement, the Directors Guild of America told Sony Pictures Home Entertainment that it’s required to obtain a director’s permission before it releases a “clean version” of a movie.

“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 DGA said.

“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,” the guild added.

The studio announced earlier this month that it was making the broadcast TV or airline versions of 24 movies available when a consumer purchased a film in its original form on iTunes, Vudu, and FandangoNOW. The Directors Guild of America said in a statement on Tuesday that Sony’s initiative was in violation of the guild’s master contract with the major studios.

Director Judd Apatow was among the filmmakers and actors, including Seth Rogen, who voiced outrage, declaring on Twitter: “This is absolute bulls— and Sony and Sony Pictures is gonna get hell for f—ing with our movies. Shove the clean versions up your a–es!”

For its part, Sony has asserted that the program’s offerings are pre-existing airline or TV versions of films, which were not edited specifically for this program and are not sold separately. The sanitized versions are available as extra features only when a customer buys the original theatrical version from one of the select digital retailers.

The films include all five versions of “Spider-Man,” along with “50 First Dates,” “Battle of the Year,” “Big Daddy,” “Captain Phillips,” “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” “Easy A,” “Elysium,” “Ghostbusters,” “Ghostbusters II,” “Goosebumps,” “Grown Ups,” “Grown Ups 2,” “Hancock,” “Inferno,” “Moneyball,” “Pixels,” “Step Brothers,” “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, “and “White House Down.”

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  1. Jerry says:

    These guys lost all credibility to object to the removal of “R-rated” content from their films when they already prepared versions appropriate for broadcast and airline use. They lose no money at all making the clean version of the movie available, in fact they make more money because people who would have avoided it altogether might now buy it and watch.

    If the integrity of their art is so important, why are they not objecting to what the cable networks such as TBS, POP, Lifetime, VH1, et al, do to their films. Constant commercials interrupted every ten minutes for a ten minute clip of the movie, of which the bottom third is unviewable because of popup ads, dropped frames to make it go faster, more scenes completely cut out so they can fit a 90 minute film into a three hour time slot with the requisite ads – and then when it is over they squish the credits so only with freeze frame and a magnifying glass could you ever determine any of the people who poured their lives into that precious work of art.

  2. James Chaisson says:

    This makes no sense. They already sell unrated versions, theatrical versions, extended versions, sell us the clean version. I’m happy to pay for the original version and get the clean as an extra or pay for the clean version separately. Just give us the option.

  3. David Webb says:

    What a missed opportunity, Sony! Doesn’t anyone remember CleanFlicks?

    It was a Mormon video rental store that edited movies to remove profanity, sexual content, blasphemy, and some violence from movies. They still paid Hollywood the same fees that larger outfits like Blockbuster were, but the Directors Guild objected to families watching clean versions of their movies.

    Clearly, studios know that there’s a huge market for these clean films. The DGA obviously doesn’t object to selling clean versions of their movies to airlines and broadcast TV, so why not the public? It’s instances like these that reassure the public that “Hollyweird” really is intent on saturating us with poisons like foul language, cheap sex, gruesome violence and their anti-religious bigotry.

    This has nothing to do with “artistic vision”, so what other explanation is there really?

  4. Heidi says:

    I’m pretty mad, I bought 50 First Dates yesterday and I was excited to watch it for family movie night tonight but the clean version was removed from the extras after I paid!! I now own a movie I don’t want in this edit. I’ll be contacting iTunes to get my money back. Come on, what is the big deal with letting people have a clean version? Stop trying to control what we watch! I believe in freedom of speech but don’t you believe we have the right to not hear some things? I was so excited and wanted to support these clean movies. Now I’m sad :(

  5. tlsnyder42 says:

    Sorry, but clean comedy is much funnier. And, frequent foul language (anything past 10-15 instances) is an example of bad writing. One of the funniest, greatest movies (in terms of art and entertainment) you’ll ever see is Chaplin’s MODERN TIMES, and there’s no foul language or lewd content in there at all!

  6. Roy Moosa says:

    Dear Sony,
    Sorry to see you back down. I for one am tired of directors and writers who think that the only adjective in the English language is FU**.

    Limited vocabulary and crude humor tend to make it less difficult to actually write something that has lasting value; something that people will watch, be inspired by, and remembered 75 years from.

    But then, maybe making a quick buck and being quickly forgotten is the goal?

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