Thursday, October 1, 2009

CleanFlix - The Business of Edited Films

How would you like to watch an edited version of Iron Man? Men in Black? Or Saving Private Ryan? Sex, violence, blood and gore, foul language -- all gone. Sanitized. Interesting !

This is the premise of the documentary CleanFlix recently shown the Toronto Filmfest. Here's the gist (bear in mind, this is a true story that is still rolling as of today) :

Utah as most everyone knows has the highest concentration of Latter Day Saints followers. Commonly known as Mormons, they are prohibited to watch R rated movies. Recognizing the need, an enterpreneur started editing Hollywood films (calling themselves CleanFlix) and sold them to the Mormon community.

This became big business in Utah that at one time, CleanFlix had 10 stores and 70 dealerships! The Mormons can now watch hit Hollywood films, business was good and everyone was happy. Hmm…not really everyone.

This editing business however, caught the attention of the Directors Guild of America (DGA) and a court case was filed by DGA against these editing entrepreneurs.

DGA : CleanFlix is not authorized to edit our films.

CleanFlix : Once I buy a DVD, I can do whatever I want to with it -- even if I make planes out of it. (meaning : I can edit it the way, I want)

DGA : You do not take a Picasso nude, edit and sell it.

CleanFlix : Hollywood is not losing money, as every film we edit - we buy legally. We do a buy-to-edit ratio of one is to one. We do not copy our edited films. (Easier said than done, as copying is so much easier than editing them one by one.)

Mormons : If there is a market for these edited films - why is Hollywood not editing their own films to sell?

Independent Observer : No matter how you curtail sex in films, we are sexual individuals per se. Sex in films has nothing to do with it.

Anyway, the court decided over the case and ordered CleanFlix and all other editing businesses to close down.

The plot thickens. Entrepreneur Danielle Thompson found a loophole with the case under the "educational" use of copyrighted material and continued selling edited films. He became the most successful distributor of edited films. The DGA - as powerful as they are, caught up with Thompson finally and again ordered him to close. End of story? No.

Succesful entrepreneur Thompson was charged with paying for sex with a 14 year old and for selling pornographic movies too!

Thus the movie ends, but the real story continues…Thompson is facing trial, the Mormons want edited movies, and the DGA maintains its position.

Do you want an edited version of this story?

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