Filmmaker Judd Apatow and the Directors Guild of America aren’t mincing words in their response to Sony Pictures’ plan to release clean versions of 24 of their PG-13 and R-rated movies. Apatow, of course, has well established himself as the king of raunchy film comedies over the past dozen years, having found success at the helm of such hit R-rated comedies as The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up, and Trainwreck.
Outside the scope of directing, Apatow has also produced the R-rated Step Brothers and PG-13-rated Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby – and both are on the list of sanitized films that Sony is planning on releasing on iTunes, Vudu, and FandangoNOW when a consumer purchases any of the movies in their original form. Also included in the “clean version” initiative are Sam Raimi and Marc Webb’s Spider-Man films, as well as Captain Phillips, Moneyball, Ghostbusters and Goosebumps.
And while the two-dozen “clean versions” of the Sony films are the versions that were edited before for presentation on airlines and broadcast television, the DGA said in a statement Tuesday (via Variety) that the studio’s initiative to distribute them through other means violates an agreement with the guild:
“Directors have the right to edit their feature films for every non-theatrical platform, plain and simple. Taking a director’s edit for one platform, and then releasing it on another — without giving the director the opportunity to edit — violates our Agreement. Throughout the years, the DGA has achieved hard-fought creative rights gains protecting our members from such practices. As creators of their films, directors often dedicate years of hard work to realize their full vision, and they rightfully have a vested interest in protecting that work. We are committed to vigorously defending against the unauthorized alteration of films.”
Apatow, on the other hand, wasn’t so subtle in his response to Sony’s plan, as demonstrated by his uncensored tweet Tuesday:
Considering how hard filmmakers fight to earn a desired rating for their film, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Apatow or actor/filmmaker Seth Rogen (who tweeted a protest after Sony announced its initiative last week) are upset about Sony’s plan. Censorship has always been big issue in the film community (or any artistic community, for that matter), so if a filmmaker like Apatow feels like he’s being cut out of the equation in any sort of way, he’s going to respond.
But since Apatow produced (and didn’t direct) Step Brothers and Talladega Nights, it appears that Sony only has an obligation to the films’ director, Adam McKay – at least according to a statement from Sony Home Entertainment President Man Jit Singh (via Variety):
“This is a pilot program, developed in response to specific consumer feedback, that offers viewers the option of watching an airline or TV version of certain movies when they purchase the original version. We discussed this program, and the use of these pre-existing versions, with each director or their representatives.”
As for McKay’s feelings about the matter, a representative of the director tells THR, “The Clean Version initiative is news to Adam McKay. He would not have agreed to this.”