Posted on Tuesday, November 5th, 2013 by Angie Han
Not only do American audiences not know when we’ll get to see Bong Joon-ho‘s Snowpiercer, we don’t even know what form it’ll be in when we do. Back in August, word got out that U.S. distributor The Weinstein Company was cutting 20 minutes out of the film. Bong initially seemed pretty chill about the whole thing, but then other reports indicated that he was actually quite furious in private.
As of now, the struggle between Bong and the Weinsteins over the final cut is “still going on,” according to the director. And the director is willing to fight for his vision, claiming that his version has actually fared better with test audiences in the States than the Weinsteins’ shorter cut did. Hit the jump to see what he had to say.
Twitch brought up the question of the Weinstein edits in an interview with the director.
It’s still going on. Some aspects are a little bit exaggerated. Some people misunderstood that there already exists a North American version with 20 minutes cut out. But that kind of version doesn’t exist. Officially the negotiation is still going on, and I’m trying my best to keep my own version and also the CJ people (the Korean investors/distributors) are trying to confirm the release date, the marketing plan and many other things they are still negotiating and the funny thing is once there did exist a 20-minute cut-out version, a Weinstein version of Snowpiercer, they had a screening of that version in New Jersey in July. Then CJ did another test screening of my original version in LA with a normal American audience, and with my version the response was much higher than the scores from the Weinstein version.
It’s worth noting, though, that the Weinstein cut that played for test audiences probably won’t be the final edit, even if the distributors get their way. “We already have one fixed American version with 20 minutes cut out but that’s not the final version, we are still going through the process,” Bong explained.
As for what the Weinsteins find so objectionable about his movie to begin with, Bong’s response is simple: “They want a more speedy tempo.” Contrary to rumors, Bong says the Weinsteins have no problem with his film’s dark, disturbing content. “Oh they don’t care about that,” he said. “They think of Snowpiercer as an R-rated movie, so the violence and those kinds of matters are not a big issue. But it’s all a matter of duration, speed and tempo.”
While Bong obviously isn’t thrilled to have the Weinsteins tinkering with his work, he seems willing to cooperate within reason. Calling The Weinstein Company “really nice people,” Bong said, ”I’m not that kind of young, innocent film school student who is saying ‘Nobody can touch my movie!!’ I’m not like that, I can negotiate, but I really hope to protect and keep my vision.”
We haven’t seen either version of Snowpiercer yet, so we have to concede that the Weinsteins could be right. Maybe it really is so slow it needs fixing. That said, early buzz for Bong’s version of this movie has been fantastic, and if Bong’s comments about the test screenings are true, it seems the Weinstein cut isn’t quite as impressive.
Moreover, Snowpiercer probably has a limited audience anyway — it was never going to be the next The Avengers, even if Chris Evans is in it — and those who are inclined to seek it out are probably the kind of people who’d prefer to see Bong’s vision preserved. It’d be great if the Weinsteins would just leave well enough alone, but if that’s not a possibility we’ll just hope that Bong has enough influence to get the shorter version where he wants it to be. And that he’ll release a director’s cut on home video eventually.