A movie store catering to a family oriented clientele opened for business Tuesday with a special: For $5, editors would splice controversial scenes from video versions of "Titanic."
At closing, stacks of tapes enveloped in covers featuring airbrushed photographs of Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet lined shelves of Sunrise Family Video's basement shop on 100 East in American Fork."It's been pretty brisk business," said Carol Biesinger, who owns the store with husband, Don. "That's what our customers want."
Copies of James Cameron's epic tale of the doomed cruise ship went on sale at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday in each U.S. time zone. Paramount Home Video has shipped more than 20 million copies to stores nationwide.
Early estimates indicated the three-hour-plus box office champion, which is still playing in some theaters, would sink Disney's "The Lion King" as the best-selling home video.
Biesinger, whose shop eschews renting movies that aren't rated G, PG or PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association, said she will cut the "two most controversial" scenes in the movie for $5. Additional edits cost $3.
The two scenes involve brief frontal nudity and a steamy lovefest between Rose and Jack, played by Winslet and DiCaprio. "Those two scenes, those are the ones most asked about," she said.
In August, owners of nearby Towne Cinemas incurred the wrath of Hollywood studios after they chopped the same sexually charged scenes from the Academy Award-winning film. The Utah County theater does not book R-rated movies.
As word spread about the edited version, Paramount yanked the film and threatened to blackball Towne Cinemas from its distribution list. Columbia and Warner Bros. followed suit.
Studios require films to be shown as intended by the director and producers.
In the fallout, Brigham Young University announced the school's theater would discontinue its practice of showing edited versions of films and instead show movies that, unedited, do not warrant an R rating. The school is owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which encourages its members to avoid R-rated movies.
Biesinger said Sunrise Video does not sell edited versions of "Titanic" to avoid raising questions about copyright and First Amendment violations.
But legal counsel has advised the Biesingers that owners of personal copies of the tape have the right to do what they wish with their property.
"If you own it, you can watch is upside down, in reverse, anyway you want to," she said.
A Paramount press spokeswoman said Wednesday that studio officials will discuss the editing practice and deliberate their legal options.
Mark Waite bought his copy at noon Tuesday and drove to Sunrise Video to request a selective edit. About 20 people were ahead of him in line, he said.
"I think it is great. Hopefully, the ACLU or Hollywood won't get on a soapbox," Waite said. "The way I look at it is that it's my movie, and I can do what I want with it in my own home."