Over the past several months, there’s been controversy regarding the North American cut of Bong Joon-ho‘s Snowpiercer. The post-apocalyptic action-drama has been a hit in his native South Korea, but The Weinstein Company wants to remove 20-minutes to make the movie more palatable to U.S. audiences. Bong’s response has ranged from restrained to furious regarding the cuts, but either way, there’s definitely some ongoing conflict behind-the-scenes. We originally reported that the cuts Harvey Weinstein wanted would play up the action and add opening and closing voiceovers. Bong has now clarified the nature of the cuts, and why his version may have the edge.
Hit the jump for more. Snowpiercer stars Chris Evans, Tilda Swinton, John Hurt, Jamie Bell, Ed Harris, Alison Pill, Ewen Bremner, Octavia Spencer, Kang-ho Song, and Ko Asung.
In an interview with Twitch, Bong explained where he and The Weinstein Company were at in the editing process:
I’d like to ask you about TWC and what’s going on regarding recutting the film.
Bong Joon-ho – 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.
So there was already a TWC version back in July?
Yes, for test screenings. So 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.
At first glance, that’s a bit confusing: A version with 20 minutes cut out doesn’t exist…except The Weinstein Company has an American version with 20 minutes cut out. I assume what Bong means is that some people are assuming there’s an alternate cut that’s ready to go, but that’s not the case. Weinstein’s version with 20 minutes removed is only for test screenings and not a final cut. I’m glad Bong’s version tested higher (or at least so he says; it behooves him to make that statement part of the public record). I also like that he basically says people in New Jersey aren’t a normal American audience.
Bong also says the cuts are to give the movie “a more speedy tempo”, which is similar to what we heard when the controversy first emerged: the cuts “would make the film seem more like an action movie.”
The South Korean director notes that this is the first time he’s ever had to deal with this kind of interference, but hopes they “can reach a good conclusion.”