The Weinstein Company Has Finally Decided the Extent to Which They're Screwing Over 'Snowpiercer'
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The Weinstein Company Has Finally Decided the Extent to Which They're Screwing Over 'Snowpiercer'

By Rebecca Pahle | Trade News | February 7, 2014 | Comments ()

tilda snowpiercer.jpg

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.

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • flojnl

    I saw Snowpiercer when it was released in France a few months ago and it was glorious. Fun, dark, weird, absurd and beautiful to look at. I'm glad Weinstein didn't get to touch that gem so you can all enjoy every second of it.

  • Fabius_Maximus

    Jaysus, they couldn't have fucked up the starting dates more. It's coming out on 3rd of April in Germany.

  • profession: none, or starlet

    I saw the trailer for this in Bangkok (where I'm pretty sure it's already out) and immediately really really really wanted to see it.

  • cox

    i was very fortunate to see the film in its original run in Korea. i have to say, it was one of my favorite, and most profound movie going experiences. im glad at least some of you will get to see it.

    also, this movie has no 16 minutes to cut. it even doesnt have 2. its tightly written and plotted. tightly packed, non-stop, profound, action. i cant possibly imagine what could offend that bloviated jackass in the story.

  • googergieger

    Song Kang Ho is probably the best thing about this movie from an acting standard. Guy is the best living actor today. I trust Bong as a director, so I reckon he'll use him the right way and won't just over do it with the American/English speaking actors just because they speak English.

  • BlackRabbit

    I STILL think it's a silly name for a movie, but I will defend to the death anyone's right to see the full film if they so desire.

  • emmalita

    Koko Temur saw this months ago in South Korea and loved it. Since them I've been dying by centimeters, dying I tell you, to see Snowpiercer. But I vowed that I would boycott if HW trimmed even a minute from the movie. I would wait until the inevitable international version or director's cut came out. Can't wait to see it, I am willing to drive hundreds of miles.

  • Uriah_Creep

    Agreed. Also, whatever happened to Koko, or, for that matter, our friend Maguita? I haven't seen anything from her in quite some time.

  • cox

    Im back under new name, thanks for remembering me, Uriah! got kinda misty eyed right now.
    i missed you guys too.

    and i cant possibly stress of how much i loved that movie. go, all of you. its imaginative and scary and heart breaking and smart and pretty and absolutely unique.

  • Uriah_Creep

    How could I forget you, we got fake-internet married here some time ago. I was afraid you had fake-internet divorced me! Welcome back. Now we just need to lure Maguita back.

  • cox

    NEVER. I stick by those i love!

  • emmalita

    They are taking breaks and may or may not be back. I miss them both terribly.

  • Yeah, I kinda do too. Hopefully they come back.

  • cox

    well, you are in luck!
    (artist previously known as koko temur)

  • kinoumenthe

    There was an exhibition of the original Transperceneige (Snowpiercer) comics and art work for the movie at the International Comic Festival in Angoulême last week-end. I was there. It looked like this :
    It's very strange that I never read the original comic since it was pre-published in a magazine that I was reading at the time. The film just came out last week here, but I haven't seen it yet. So to compensate, I've been reading the comics. The first one is from 1984 and it's a complete story. The two next one are a follow up on a second train (well… not exactly…), and were made in 1999 and 2000 with the same scenarist but a different artist.

    Seeing the trailer for the movie, I think they used the bones of the original comics and also bits from the following ones.

  • Ryan Ambrose

    A suit recutting a Wong Kar Wai film should be considered a crime equivalent of defacing a Rembrandt painting so it could fit the frame.

    Fuck you very much, Harvey.

  • Irina

    "That’s 17 minutes shorter than Man of Steel (and 126 minutes longer than Man of Steel should have been)."
    Golf clap.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    Earlier today, when I was reading about hateful stares and comments regarding something as benign as short hair on a woman, I thought to myself, self, don't be too city snobbish, but thank your lucky stars you live here instead of in a place where the strangers bother to voice their judgment of your hair/outfit, and that judgment actually has weight.

    But now with this news....flyover states drool, city rules. I'll send you a postcard from the the-a-tuh.

  • 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.

    Wow. Sounds like you are Pajiban after all.

    That said, if Atlanta isn't on the list, I will cut somebody.

  • snrp

    I don't really have anything to add: The Host was amazing, I'd rather have the better version released on a smaller scale than see a cut version that the director's practically disavowing, Silver Linings playbook was overrated. You can come sit over here by me, Rebecca.

  • Claus

    So, pardon my ignorance, but until very recently I've only ever lived in the sticks. Does Phoenix count as a major city as far as limited releases go? In other words, do I have a prayer of being able to see this without driving to LA?

  • iamahammerheadshark

    It's weird how they distinguish "major city". Sometimes in states, that means they will actually play a film in the largest college town instead of the largest city because art house releases often do better in those areas. Or, they'll make a deal with a theater chain like the Veronica Mars movie and it will get released in only major cities with that chain. You'll just have to wait and see unfortunately!

  • TK

    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.

    [nods approvingly]

  • TherecanbeonlyoneAdmin

    I hope Weinstein gets a hold of you AND Rebecca and makes some cuts.

  • Have you seen some of the comment threads we wade through on our articles only to post the next day? Weinstein better bring a blowtorch, because a sword's not getting through a Pajiba writer's skin.

  • Boo_Radley

    So they don't think it will play in America, therefore they're only showing it in a limited number of theaters? A self-fulfilling prophecy if I ever heard one.

  • The fuck does that fat fuck Weinstein think he knows about "audiences in Iowa...and Oklahoma"? Has Weinstein ever been anywhere NEAR those places? Anywhere near anyone LIVING in those places?
    Stupid fuck.

  • JK

    I really wonder if this whole thing wasn't just for publicity. It's the sort of thing Weinstein would do (and basically did with The Butler over the name fight).

  • Fabius_Maximus

    So, that's why The Grandmaster felt weird. Bastards!

  • Haystacks

    I hate this dumbed down for middle America crap. People will rise to the occasion when you let them. There are plenty of morons in the east coast, the bible belt does not have exclusive rights to "ignorant" or "uneducated"- those are equal opportunity labels.

  • AudioSuede

    People acting like complicated sci-fi won't work in middle America forget that Looper, one of the most convoluted sci-fi movies in the last few years, was set in fucking KANSAS, and it did perfectly fine. I'm from Minnesota, and I live in DC, and I can tell you, there are as many if not more morons that I've met on the East Coast.

  • manting

    Looper was convoluted? I knew the kid was the kingpin five minutes after they introduced him. 12 monkeys on the other hand - that's how you do time travel with a twist.
    As for morons , yes they are everywhere but there does seem to be an especially high concentration of them in Texas. In fact the entire state except Austin. I actually read an article recently that combines % of adults with high school diplomas, % of adults with college degree, median adult income, and % of adults that live below the poverty line. 8 out of the top ten best in the U.S. are northeastern states (the outliers being Colorado and Minnosota) and the 10 worst are all southern or mid western states except W Virginia. So its kinda true?

  • Alicia

    12 monkeys on the other hand - that's how you do time travel with a twist.

    Oh, you mean the sinister scientist being creepy at every opportunity is not a transparent bad guy?

  • manting

    That isnt the twist. The twist is Bruce Willis witnessing his own death but as a child. Though I will say the "sinister scientist" is in the movie for a total of 5 minutes screen time before the end and was played by a actor who was relatively unknown at the time. So, if you knew he would bring about the apocalypse by virus then Bravo, you would be the first person Ive met who figured it out.

  • Alicia

    1) Yes, it was a twist. They built up Brad Pitt and company as the main terrorists, and then in the airport scene they change course.
    2) "Relatively unknown at the time"? - Kind of like Brad Pitt? This was near the start of his career, and he wasn't a leading man at the time. Or, better yet, like Madeleine Stowe.

    Why does an actor being "relatively unknown" have anything to do with how you watch a movie?

  • manting

    the twist of the film is not who starts the virus. It is that Bruce Willis, as a young boy, is at the airport and he sees himself get killed. The boy Bruce Willis does not know this, but the death in the airport haunts him his entire life, right up until he is the one killed in the airport and he sees himself, as a boy, watching.

    An actor being relatively unknown makes a difference in a movie. When you see a well known actor appear in a film very, very, rarely are they going to only get 5 minutes screen time or play an insignificant role. You usually can expect them to be in he movie a lot and be key to the plot. A good example of this rule being inverted (in a bad movie) is Deep Blue Sea. When Samuel L Jackson appears and gives his speech it is a surprise when he is eaten immediately. This is done as a way to trick the audience who thinks he will be in the rest of the film based on his star power and the director is using this rule of film to trick the audience.

    I think this movie is Brad Pitts finest work but he was already hugely famous at this point having starred in Seven, Thelma and Louise, A River Runs through It, True Romance, Interview with a Vampire and several othe films.
    Madeline Stowe had also already starred in several movies before 12 monkeys as well, such as The Last of the Mohicans (amazing movie), Stakeout, Short Cuts, and Bad Girls.

  • Less Lee Moore

    David Morse was not "relatively unknown at the time." He was a major part of the show St. Elsewhere in the '80s. The twist you mention was not a surprise to those who saw the movie upon which 12 Monkeys was based, Chris Marker's La Jetee.

  • manting

    yes I saw La Jetee in film class but how many people who saw 12 Monkeys saw it? Its a great twist in both films. As for David Morse yes he was on St Elsewhere but 12 monkeys was filmed like 10 years after that had ended. What did he do between the two? Nothing. So yes he was relatively unknown at the time and I also believe he had done little or no film work worth mentioning before 12 Monkeys. Hence "relatively" unknown. Also the David Morse character does not appear in La Jetee but of course the Bruce Willis character does.

  • iamahammerheadshark

    I'm guessing you don't understand the correlation between graduation rates and low income families? And you're also ignorant of the cycle of institutional poverty of the south and higher concentration of low income families in those states? But by all means, paint the region as full of morons because you read an article one time that made you feel good about living in the northeast.

  • manting

    I actually lived in New Orleans, Atlanta, and Athens Ga. I have traveled throughout most of the south (Mississippi is the worst place ive ever been) and spent much of my youth there including part of grade school, all of high school, and college. But by all means talk out of your ass.
    How did I finish my above statement? Did I write that all southerners are morons? No, I wrote "So its kinda true?" I would guess you are from one of the states that rated poorly in the article due to your inability to read and your lack of understanding of what a question mark means. Good Day sir.

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