Sony Pictures Home Entertainment caused a bit of a scene when it announced it was releasing “clean versions” of some of their most popular films, including all five of their Spider-Man already having kiddie versions. Now, after many directors have complained about their films being changed without their approval or control, the studio is stepping back. But one Spider-Man director is letting his films stay.
Earlier this month, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment launched Clean Version Movies, a website where parents could buy family-friendly versions of popular movies to watch with their kids, in addition to the original films. This meant removing graphic violence, offensive language, sexual innuendo, or other adult content. Some of the first 24 films included are the first two Ghostbusters films, Pixels, and all five of Sony’s Spider-Man films. More edited films were on the way.
The distributor claimed they talked it over with each director or their representatives, but several directors (like Adam McKay and Judd Apatow) spoke out against the website, saying they hadn’t signed off on their films being included. According to the Directors Guild of America, this violates a directors right to edit their own work for non-theatrical releases. So, Sony’s backtracking—at least for now.
“Our directors are of paramount importance to us and we want to respect those relationships to the utmost,” Man Jit Singh, president of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, said in a statement.
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment said they will allow any directors to withdraw their films from the website if they don’t approve, and would seek explicit permission from directors before adding their films in the future. The DGA says that’s not enough, and is asking for Sony to remove all the films from the website until they get permission from each director—as well as give them the opportunity to edit the films themselves.
The Amazing Spider-Man director Marc Webb told io9 that he was informed about the clean versions of his films, but thought they were specifically for airplane viewing. That said, he said he will not ask Sony to remove them from the website. We’ve also reached out to Spider-Man director Sam Raimi to see if he plans on taking any action.
Updated: Added response from Marc Webb, and clarified as Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.