If movie studios truly believed that the artistic integrity of their films was sacrosanct, they wouldn't allow for edited versions to be shown on television, aboard airplanes and in certain foreign countries. Any exception based on the viewing preferences of an audience, regardless of how much money was involved, would be an unacceptable compromise.
Of course, anyone who pays even the slightest bit of attention to Hollywood knows that argument is ridiculous. Even the most artistically inclined producers, for instance, play the ratings game.The Los Angeles Times recently reported on the allure of the PG-13 rating. More and more studios are aiming for that rating because it will attract 8- and 9-year-old children who think it is cool to attend a grown-up movie but whose parents won't let them see anything rated R. And those children are the ones who generally see a movie again and again - statistics show kids see movies at twice the rate of adults.
"The trick is to create a film that is smart or spectacular or even violent enough to attract adults - to push the ratings envelope, in the words of one executive - but still win a PG-13 rating," the Times story said. Find that formula, and chances are you have a blockbuster movie.
What? Profits take precedence over artistry? Most likely, that's the real reason why a gratuitous nude scene was thrown into the movie "Titanic." A simple PG rating just wouldn't have had the same allure. But that's also the reason why studios ought to drop their feigned indignation at efforts by private concerns in Utah that are sanitizing films.
One company in American Fork offers to snip "Titanic" into a PG film for $5. Paramount Pictures has threatened to sue. The American Fork Theater stopped showing an edited version of the same movie earlier this year, also after threats from Hollywood. Meanwhile, Utah Valley State College is showing edited versions of modern films, but it has obtained the films from a supplier who distributes the versions edited for airlines.
Copyright laws are important. Private companies should not presume to change the content of someone else's creations. But by now it ought to be abundantly clear to movie studios that a lucrative market exists for films that are free from gratuitous sex and vulgarities. The company that edits "Titanic" has gotten requests from as far away as Alaska, New York, Florida and Hawaii.
Let's drop the pretenses. Movie studios want to make money. They allow their products to be edited for certain audiences that wouldn't see them otherwise. Why, then, wouldn't they want to make even more money by allowing edited versions of films for people whose personal standards demand them?