The Kickstarter campaign to erase the rat from The Departed has been taken down due to a copyright claim from Warner Bros. The rat in question appears in the final shot of the 2006 multiple Oscar-winning film, and has long been a thorn in the side of many fans of both the film and Martin Scorsese for its perceived on-the-nose representation of criminal and political corruption.
Though The Departed afforded Scorsese his first ever Oscar, the rat’s inclusion in the film has recently gone from petty annoyance to the subject of a full-blown fundraising campaign to have it digitally erased. Brooklyn, NY resident Matt Sacks gained online attention last week after his successful Kickstarter campaign raised the $4,000 needed to have the rat professionally erased from The Departed’s final scene. Sacks’ plan was to create 50 “limited edition” Blu-Rays of the “fixed” film and send them out to anyone who donated $70 or more. He’d mentioned the possibility of being hit with a cease and desist order from Warner Bros., but as that had not yet occurred, Sacks was adamant about proceeding.
Since that time and the ensuing media attention that the fundraising efforts received, Warner Bros. has indeed come knocking. The Verge reports that the Kickstarter campaign has now been taken down as a result of Sacks being hit with a DCMA copyright claim from Warner. As was to be expected, the takedown request takes its aim at the clear copyright violation involved in duplicating and distributing copies of The Departed. According to the request:
“This campaign is to digitally remove a rat from the end of our motion picture, and is promising to distribute the edited footage upon completion, which violates our copyright in this film.”
At present, Sacks still hasn’t fully admitted defeat, however, having posted a statement on his Twitter account shortly after learning of the takedown notice. In the statement, Sacks acknowledges that he had “no choice” but to take down the Kickstarter campaign and that, “Although we live in an era when money and copyright laws allow corporations to stop a Kickstarter, nothing can stop ideas.” Sacks then goes on to declare his hope that having seen the demand for a rat-less version of The Departed, Warner Bros. will release a 4K Blu-Ray version of the film, this time with an alternate ending that omits the pesky rodent.
It’s quite safe to say that as far as Warner Bros. is considered, this matter is closed. A threat was perceived to their copyright of the film and they put an end to it. Sacks also joked on Twitter that if anyone has a workable prototype for rat-erasing glasses to let him know, but it’s clear that joking about the removal of the rat is a far as this strange campaign will get. A world where fans delete or alter disliked aspects of films is not an appealing one for cinephiles and like it or not, the rat at the end of Martin Scorsese’s The Departed is exactly where it’s supposed to be.