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

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.”

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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