We love talking science fiction here at GFR, and we love talking about science. What we’re a little less enthused about is detailing the shameful degradation of a director’s film by a distribution studio that had nothing to do with the making of said film. But now that it’s all over with, we are overwhelmingly excited to say Bong Joon-ho’s dystopian thriller Snowpiercer will be coming to American theaters in its original director’s cut, as the Weinstein Company has finally relented and apparently decided the midwest wasn’t too dumb to understand the complexities of Bong and co-screenwriter Kelly Masterson’s story, based on the French graphic novel of the same name. Of course, that’s if it even makes it to midwestern theaters.
Of course, this deal doesn’t just involve the Weinsteins stepping back and letting things go on as they should have from the beginning. When they acquired the film back at the American Film Market in 2012, it was based on the script and concept footage, with a wide release contractually decided upon. But instead of this wide release, TWC will go old school and initially only put the film in select theaters in bigger markets, with a roll-out planned for the following weeks. That’s sort of like saying the high-class people in the front of Snowpiercer‘s titular train get to see it first before it slowly makes its way to the dirty fascists in the rear. Okay, maybe it’s not like that at all.
This would be slightly worrisome behavior for an independent film without a lot of momentum going for it, but Snowpiercer already has international acclaim and has taken in over $110 million in foreign box office, including almost $60 million in Bong’s South Korean homeland. This is a movie that doesn’t need word of mouth to get the ball rolling. Or the bullet train in this case.
It’s hard to believe it’s been six months since this story first broke, and that it’s taken six months for TWC to understand their errors. They chopped a huge chunk of the film’s narrative out to keep it more action-heavy without as many socio-political implications, and they also wanted a ton of voiceover to keep the exposition coming ad nauseum. I wonder who had to explain the movie to them… In any case, all of their edits were hated on by audiences, cast members, and Bong himself. It’s nothing new for the Weinsteins to butcher a film as they see fit, but their ideas about this film were especially ostentatious. It got bad enough that picking up the uncut French Blu-ray was a more pleasing option than going to see the gutted version in theaters.
Frustration still lingers, as there are still no actual release dates set in stone, but it’s all about baby steps here. Stay tuned, and maybe we can all go out and watch this flick together one day, my treat. Oh wait, I think I’m busy that day.