SNOWPIERCER Director Bong Joon-Ho: "We're Talking A Lot About Keeping The Original Cut."

It was intially reported back in August that film distributors over at The Weinstein Company were going to release a version of director Bong Joon-Ho's latest science fiction action epic, Snowpiercer, which would have twenty minutes of the film removed. The initial report from IF Magazine quoted writer and film festival programmer Tony Rayns who said "TWC people have told Bong that their aim is to make sure the film ‘will be understood by audiences in Iowa… and Oklahoma,’”, further adding that TWC's treatment of the film for the U.S., which would unnecessarily add opening and closing voice overs and remove a lot of the character development that was so elemental for the film's success, was also reflection on other English-speaking areas for which they pre-bought the rights to the film earlier on.

At this point, the film was already generating favorable reviews which only increased between its South Korean premiere, its record-breaking debut in France and the upward response from audiences in.  ever since, which may or may not have been an indicator that TWC might finally be changing its way of thinking. This week, The Hollywood Reporter now reports some positive news that considering all of the viewer feedback on the film, there is a BIG chance that TWC's version of Snowpiercer COULD grant English-language audiences in North America, the United Kingdom, Ireland, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand a chance to embrace Bong's unaltered vision of the film that is currently being shown elsewhere. The details of that report were made by Bong himself during his attendance at Marta Del Plata in Argentina wherin it was mentioned a prior trip to New York was spent in lengthy negotiations with The Weinstein Company on how to distribute the film to English territories. “I stayed in New York for two weeks before coming here to Mar del Plata, mostly because of this matter,” said Bong. “And the good news is that after all the speculation and comments about that 20-minute cut, and considering the original version that was released in Korea and France also will be released in Japan and Hong Kong, we have been talking a lot about keeping the original cut for the U.S. release, so what I can say is…have faith.”

The news also comes just after Bong was quoted in a recent interview with Twitchfilm's own James Marsh where it was revealed that Bong's cut of the film was already scoring higher this year for two American test audiences while negotiations were still on-going between TWC and Korean investor CJ. "...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." Bong said. "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..."

This probably won't signal a complete about-face for the way The Weinstein Company does its business. But it is early, and if anything, this should be a huge wake-up call for the company that has become nefarious for chopping up films to sell to English-speaking audiences who now seem ready to move forward and get over the need for detrimentally simplistic measures of film enjoyment.

The latest film that got the Weinstein treatment was Wong Kar Wai's highest grossing film to date, The Grandmaster, from which TWC's own rearrangememt involved trimming 22 minutes of the original Chinese release with Martin Scorsese and Samuel L. Jackson tacked on for what ended up only being a limited U.S. release, as opposed to the wider one it could have gotten. That particular film ended up with its own fair share of negative reviews, as well as other critical write-ups that were more of a mix of positive and defensive reflections of the film that probably didn't do much to extinguish anyone's dissent on a major level.

That said, we don't yet know if Snowpiercer will also get the nationwide release it deserves, and I'm no expert on theater releases. But if TWC knows what's good for itself on a business front, and if there is some serious money to be made in a movie that has proven consistently to perform well above average like Snowpiercer, then the film ought to make its way to more than just a few arthouse theaters this time around. It just seems like the much more clearer and logical choice.

We need a release date already.

The Marta Del Plata film festival closes this Sunday.

With further plans to release the film in Latin America, Snowpiercer is set to release in Hong Kong next week, followed by Taiwan on December 6, 2013, Estonia on December 20, 2013 , and next year in Japan (trailer below), Sweden and Greece on February 7, 14 and 20, and just two months prior to the wide release of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, starring Snowpiercer lead actor Chris Evans, and also...Samuel L. Jackson!

Hm. Would you look at that! :-)


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