Re-edited film  

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"It may be said that [Radley] Metzger-the-distributor is as much an auteur as Metzger-the-director, since he would often spend months re-editing (and occasionally re-shooting) a foreign film for the American market." --"Aristocrat of the Erotic" (1973) by Richard Corliss.

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A re-edited film is a film that has been edited from the original theatrical release.


Types of re-editing

Films edited for format, length, and content.

  • Format: movie theaters typically show films in either a 1.85:1 aspect ratio or 2.40:1 aspect ratio. Television currently has two screen formats. There is the more standard 1.33:1 (or 4:3) aspect ratio, and the growing standard of 1.78:1 (or 16:9) aspect ratio.
  • Length: Films may be shortened for television broadcasting or for use on airlines. DVD releases of films may also contain longer cuts. In a growing trend, more and more films are being released in an Unrated cut of the film. Prior to when TV airings of the movie begins, a format screen appears reading, "The following film has been modified from its original version. It has been formatted to fit this screen and edited to run in the time alloted and for content(see below)". The end credits on TV airings of films are sometimes sped up to make time free for the next show or film to start.
  • Content: Some films have content deemed objectionable to "family audiences": sexual content, obscene language, and graphic violence. To make these films suitable for younger or more conservative audiences, or to apeal to advertisers when a film is shown on basic cable or broadcast TV, alternative versions are created with such content removed. Often, profanities are replaced with minced oaths. For example, in the edited version of Pulp Fiction, Samuel L. Jackson uses the minced oath "screw" instead of "fuck." The editing of these versions is performed by a censor and not the producer or director of the work. Two other examples would be in the edited version of Mrs. Doubtfire, when Daniel Hillard's mask is run over, he screams "Oh!", whereas in the original version, he screams, "Oh shit!" and in the 1987 comedy film, Planes, Trains & Automobiles, where Neal Page is at the Car Rental Agency, and says the word "fuck" 18 times and the car rental agent says to him, "You're fucked!" which is edited out on TV airings. Also, on TV airings of Disney's Atlantis: The Lost Empire, all scenes of Packard smoking a cigarette are cut and on airings of Disney's The Parent Trap, the scene where Hallie pierces Annie's ears is short, whereas in the original theatrical version, the "ear piercing" scene is longer. Annie's lines, "Marriage is supposed to be based on something more than just sex, right?" and "Oh my God! Oh my God!" are also cut. These films are typically presceded by the disclaimer, "This film has been modified from its original version. It has been formatted to fit this screen and edited for content."


The first theatrical film to be re-edited for television was the 1955 film The Seven Year Itch.

Re-edited films have existed for several decades for broadcast television and on airlines. Since the advent of VHS films being readily available in the mass consumer market, some consumer groups have asked films studios to make the airline version of films available for wide release.

Re-editing techniques

There are two main techniques for re-editing films:

Manual re-editing

Purchased film content is downloaded onto an editing work station hard drive and third-party editors manually re-edit the video and audio tracks, removing objectionable content. The re-edited version is then copied onto media (VHS or DVD) and made available for rental or purchase provided an original version has been purchased in correlation with the re-edited copy. Some manual re-edits are done by fans (see The Phantom Edit) to cut a film to their own -or their peers- specifications.

Although the recent court ruling prohibits business from manually re-editing commercial movies, the law still allows for individuals to self censor and edit their own movies for personal use.

Programmed re-editing

Programmed re-editing occurs when software (such as that employed in a DVD player) is used to skip portions of the video and/or audio content on-the-fly according to pre-programmed instruction sets which are knowingly used by the consumer.

History of manual re-editing

In response to consumer demand, families began to re-edit purchased VHS tapes literally by making cuts and splices to the tape. A hotbed for this activity has been Utah with its conservative yet entrepreneurial population. When Titanic was released on VHS, a video store owner in Utah began offering to re-edit purchased copies of the movie for a $5 service fee. The service became very popular. Before long, several video rental businesses purchased VHS tapes and had them re-edited for their rental club/co-op members to watch.

When DVD technology emerged, the re-editing industry began offering for sale or rental a disabled DVD accompanied by a re-edited version of the film on a coupled DVD-R. Several companies attempted this business. First, some tried to do it via physical brick and mortar stores, the most successful being the deal model and proprietary stores owned by CleanFlicks, Inc. of Utah. CleanFilms later became the largest and most successful company in the business by employing an online rental model (similar to Netflix) and avoiding any physical stores. CleanFlicks and CleanFilms were sued with several others and a federal judge in Colorado ruled that the companies were violating copyright. Those named in the lawsuit ceased renting and selling edited movies. The legal argument was that the editing resulted in a derivation on a fixed media. At all times, for instance, CleanFilms sold edited movies with a legitimately purchased original copy - the studios lost no money. Furthermore, every rented unit in edited format had a corresponding original copy that was purchased at retail. The judge ruled that the fixed media caused the violation. ClearPlay was not affected by this ruling.

The lawsuit started because a CleanFlicks franchisee in Colorado pre-emptively sued major directors. The franchisee feared the directors were going to sue because the DGA's website said as much. The Directors Guild of America and the Motion Picture Association of America counter-sued and also included several edited movie companies for copyright infringement and claims regarding derivative works. In 2006, Judge Richard P. Matsch of the United States District Court for the District of Colorado ruled that it was a copyright violation to distribute re-edited movies without the consent from the movie studios (key was the fixed media aspect of the businesses).

History of programmed re-editing

ClearPlay was sued by the DGA and MPAA, but the case was rendered moot by the The Family Entertainment and Copyright Act of 2005, which clarified that ClearPlay's filtering approach was legal and did not violate copyright law. As a result, ClearPlay has been able to offer its products to consumers in the U.S. while others have discontinued for legal reasons.

Another aspect of re-editing comes with consumer made edits, which are called fan edits (or fanedits). It is when consumers load the movies into their computers and use video editing software to produce mostly a version with changed content for their own entertainment. Fan edits are becoming more popular since they are spread over the internet.

Future of the industry

It is unclear where this industry is headed. There is demand for the product. An ABC News poll of 1,002 adults from across the nation found that almost 40% of Americans said they might rent re-edited films, while 51% of respondents said that re-editing should not be allowed (with a 3-point error margin).

Surprisingly, there are numerous companies continuing to sell edited movies on the Internet. A simple Google search for "edited movies" will list several purveyors. It seems the studio effort to stop this movement is not eliminating the availability of edited movies.

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Re-edited film" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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