These days, it’s common practice. A comedy is released in theaters and, a few months later, is released on Blu-ray and DVD with an Unrated cut. The film has a few extra minutes that make it seem way more outrageous and exciting than the version you saw in theaters and hopefully we all double dip. Todd Phillips, the director of Old School, Road Trip and The Hangover, is well aware of this practice as it’s happened on several of his films and he’s not having it anymore. In a discussion at South by Southwest, Phillips, who is getting ready to release The Hangover Part II, accused Warner Brothers of violating Director’s Guild of America rules with their release of an unauthorized, unrated version of The Hangover on DVD. Read his comments and more after the break.

Phillips was talking to Movieline’s Elvis Mitchell when the issue came up:

That’s something I have to take up with the DGA. Warner Bros., they’ll make your movie; your movie does well, and they want to create an unrated version, which is entirely against DGA rules because it’s not your cut. And they can’t call it the ‘Director’s Cut’ — they’ll call it ‘Unrated’ or some ridiculous term. Really all it is, is about seven minutes of footage that you cut out of the movie for a reason.

According to Phillips, that will not be happening for his next film, The Hangover Part II:

That won’t happen on Hangover 2.  The truth is that the unrated DVD, I probably could have killed, and they explained to me why they wanted to do it and what it meant as a marketing device. The fact that it ended up on HBO… was an incredibly large f*ck-up. That shouldn’t have happened. So that’s not going to happen again.

It makes perfect sense that Phillips, or any director, would be upset that a movie studio would release a version of their movie, with their name attached, that’s not their version of the movie. You spend a lot of time nipping and tucking a film so that it works just right and while most directors are okay with putting deleted footage in a separate place, it’s with their approval. Phillips makes it sound like he had absolutely no say in the matter.

Here’s the thing – both Old School and Road Trip had Unrated cuts come out on DVD. Why does he have a problem now? Is this just the culmination of being screwed over several times? Also, Warner Brothers has a lot invested with Phillips with The Hangover Part II being released, why bite the hand that feeds you and air this dirty laundry in public?

Phillips is obviously a talented and passionate guy who probably needs a bit more of a filter, but the fact that he doesn’t have one makes him much more real. This will surely all get worked out but it does raise some great questions of authorship and ownership. Warner Brothers is paying a lot of money for your movie. Do they have the right to add footage they paid for in order to make more money?

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