The Weinstein Company Has Finally Decided the Extent to Which They're Screwing Over 'Snowpiercer'
In case you’ve not been following the saga that is machete enthusiast The Weinstein Company trying to wield its blade at Snowpiercer, here’s the skinny: It’s the English-langauge debut of Bong-Joon ho, who’s done a lot of really well-regarded South Korean films, including one called The Host that has a frog monster instead of a glowing-eyed Saoirse Ronan. (Also: Bong-Jon ho’s The Host is good.)
For Snowpiercer the director has assembled an unfairly amazing cast: Chris Evans. Tilda Swinton. Ed Harris. Octavia Spencer. And that’s like half the big names in this movie. It’s also a dystopia sci-fi flick set on a train. Seriously, I’ve been losing my shit about this movie for over a year. But despite the fact that it smashed the record for opening weekend admissions when it came out in South Korea, it has yet to receive a US release date. And that’s because distributor The Weinstein Company was being—you’ll have to excuse me, because I’m about to use a technical movie term—a buttface.
TWC, led as always by the iron fist of Harvey Weinstein, wanted to cut 20 minutes of the film for an American release so it “will be understood by audiences in Iowa… and Oklahoma.” It’s far from the first time TWC has attempted such malarkey. They’re more infamous for popping up around awards season like a kraken from the depths, wielding their connections and pocketbooks to help undeserving films clinch Oscar victory. Looking at you, The King’s Speech and Silver Linings Playbook. Staring right at you with uncomfortable intensity. But they’re also big fans of securing foreign (though only kinda-foreign in the case of Snowpiercer, since part of it is in English) films and lopping off a few limbs to make them more commercially acceptable to American audiences, because we’re all scared and confused by things like sub-plots and character development.
(There’s a fun story where one of the producers of Princess Mononoke sent Harvey Weinstein a samurai sword with a note saying “No cuts” to warn him not to lay his paws on Hayao Miyazaki’s masterpiece. “I did go to New York to meet this man, this Harvey Weinstein,” says Miyazaki himself, displaying appropriate disdain, “and I was bombarded with this aggressive attack, all these demands for cuts. I defeated him.”)
Apparently Bong-Joon ho stood his ground as well, though it’s unknown whether any samurai swords were involved. Maybe he sent Captain America to glare at Harvey. Regardless, after months of The Weinstein Company demanding cuts and the director claiming American test audiences like his version better, phhhhbbbbt, an agreement has been reached: The full version will screen in the US, but only in limited release.
Part of me feels bad for my American cinemaphile brethren who don’t live in a major city, because they’ll probably have to wait until the DVD comes out to see what is sure to prove itself the preeminent film in the post-apocalypse train subgenre. A larger part of me is happy that I’ll get to see the full film, hopefully not too long for now, and is uncaring about the difficulties of others. I’ve been here for a week now, Pajiba. It’s high time you learned what kind of person I am.
You wanna know the kicker? The turdlet on top of the shit sandwich that was TWC wanting to cut Snowpiercer? The original cut is 126 minutes, which isn’t exactly long by the standards of today’s blockbusters. That’s 17 minutes shorter than Man of Steel (and 126 minutes longer than Man of Steel should have been).
But at least it escaped the Weinstein gauntlet relatively unscathed. Let’s light a candle for last year’s The Grandmaster, directed by Wong Kar Wai, which was not so lucky.
Rebecca Pahle is an associate editor at The Mary Sue, where she works in as much coverage of indie sci-fi as she possibly can.