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A Bad Day For Die Hard?

Friday 15 February 2013, 09:56

Mark Kermode Mark Kermode

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The latest instalment in the apparently endless Die Hard franchise is released this week. The distributors have cut the film to achieve a 12 certificate - but who is this really benefitting?

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    Comment number 1.

    this is all wrong..and again its all down to money, in both trying to increase box office and 'harder cut' dvd sales. But more importantly, the question should be asked - is this type of film really suitable for under 12's? maybe the BBFC should tell the distributers that it has to be a 15

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    Comment number 2.

    Why is Mark wearing Bane's jacket?

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    Comment number 3.

    I agree with stevie7771, it's all down to money by the cynical accounting end of the film making process. Not sure that the BBFC can do anything to change the way the system is being manipulated. They are there to advise and guide, not censor.
    It's not helped by parents who take children to see films that are probably not suitable for their age. But the parents want to see the film, kids are taken along - what child will say to Mum or Dad "No, it's not a good film for me to see, I'm not going". I wonder if the family buy the "15" rated DVD and let the children watch that. My suspicion is they do. Would the BBFC fund some research to see if this was happening and would there be an opportunity to say if you've made a film with a "12" certificate it cannot then be remade into a "15" DVD/Blu Ray? Would that be practical or enforceable?
    So, for now, the money keeps pouring in and the film company are happy bunnies and we'll get "Die Hard: I'm going to kill all your family including your mum, dad, aunties and uncles and the cousins of your second cousins". (Title suggested by my hubby!). I'll give it a miss, ta!

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    Comment number 4.

    Maybe we need a rating system similar to the states? Their R rating allows for kids to go see the flick as long as they are accompanied by an adult; surely this would help to curb this issue?

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    Comment number 5.

    This is benefitting me because I can pack my 13 year old son off to see it with his mates and I don't have to go and endure what is clearly a monstrous pile of

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    Comment number 6.

    The good doctors argument only stands up if the 15 cut is a improvement on the 12a cut. Is little more swearing and a little more violence is not going to make taken 2 or AGDTDH any good, I doubt it. I know they are doing to make more money but is allowing more people to see a film a bad thing? Maybe if they released the 12a cut on dvd and and extend 15 cut you would be more happy (and they studio would make even more money). I don't find that if a film dose something that will increase it box offices a valid criticize of a film as all films are there to make money in return for entertaining, informing and/or emoting us for a few hours. If you don't think they you would enjoy it because 12a is too soft they don't hand over your money to them. I find it very elites to say that your enjoyment is more important that the enjoyment of under 15 year old especially if your not going to enjoy the film in both cut.

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    Comment number 7.

    I don't really see a problem with this. The film is clearly a disposable action film as far as the studios are concerned (and judging by Bruce Willis' appearance on The One Show (The One Show!!!) it's clearly a money-spinner for him), so they try to maximise their profits, as you say, by diluting the content to allow for teenagers to see it during half term. Then if you are truly desperate to see the full length version, you can purchase the DVD when it comes out. Cynical? Yes, but how many people here are going to actually make a point of seeing Die Hard 5 this weekend? You might have a point if it was something like Lincoln, or Life of Pi this was happening to, but for a run of the mill actioner I don't really see it being a problem. You could point out that the studios are shooting themselves in the foot long term, in that in 25 years time, I doubt people will still be buying Die Hard 5, they way the do the original.

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    Comment number 8.

    Oh, how long I've waited for the good doctor to cover this issue in the film industry at the moment. Yes, I whole-heartedly agree Dr. K, US movie studios seem to obsessed nowadays with editing down their films to 12A (or PG-13 in America).
    Die Hard 5 isn't the only action film to have suffered this fate, I remember when Expendables 2 was threatened with a 12A/PG-13 rating when Chuck Norris, a devout Creationist was angered by the bad language and violence in the film, and only agreed to star in the film if cuts were made. Lionsgate couldn't be happier, and they were made. It was only later that Sly Stallone intervened and the R/15 rating was brought back. Whether you like Expendables 2 or not (I personally did), it's still a classic example of studios (or in this case an actor as well) wanting to maximise profits in order to remove the threat of offending Christians.

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    Comment number 9.

    All that needs to happen is the BBFC to bring in a 15A rating. It would be the equivalent of an R in the States and would mean no cuts to any film. Problem solved. Why this hasn't happened years ago I do not know.

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    Comment number 10.

    I blame the melon farmers, increasing the prices of their crops so that unscrupulous distributors are forced to dilute their product with horse _ _ _ _! Ooops, wrong story.

    Multiple versions for market and/or censor reasons is nothing new, viz "the continental version", soft vs. hardcore. Even Laurel and Hardy would film scenes over uttering lines transliterated from other languages.

    You really are touching on a few issues -- The home viewing experience is getting better with better home viewing technology, whilst the cinema viewing experience is degraded by varying quality of presentation and milieu in cinemas (which, as you've continually tried, need to be held to a higher standard). A symptom of the change in viewing habits is the distributors gaming the rating system both to have a larger cinema audience, and an inherent extra for the home release which may incur otherwise missed second viewings, just to see the "whole" film. Also, it's not that no one "cares" about ratings for home release, but they are unlikely to be enforced, and that makes it completely by the by from the distributors point of view.

    Without being cynical or pretentious, it would be fair to assume that very few of the films that we should care about will be subjected to this sort of runaround, depending on (to oversimplify) the director's rights to final cut (or even the producers integrity with both the artists and the distributors). This is why your instinct in your blog here is not to be fussed if the the victim of the chop is Die Hard Number x. Perhaps we need a new term for this, it isn't censorship, it's cosmetically reversible circumcision.

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    Comment number 11.

    How did this happen? my dear Mark, it's the intellectual and cultural bankruptcy of Hollywood that pushes the studios to these extremes. If they had good ideas for good films they'd be glad to show them to us at the cinema. As it stands, the consumer is viewed as a cashbag that will buy anything and potentially buy 10 times the same film just because there are either some extras on the DVD or because they are hoping for an extended cut that, in the end, turns out to be only 5 minutes longer. If the consumers don't get outraged over their own exploitation why should the studios and distributors change their approach?

    Film studios aim much more than ever before for the very young and so who cares about making intelligent, grown-up cinema? In the US there is always a panic among producers whenever a film gets a R rating. That tells you something about their priorities: it's the money Lebowski. You make more money if the kids can come to see the film so they are aiming for a lower rating and in the US the MPAA is much more forgiving on big studio products than little arthouse films when it comes to both sex, language and violence. When essentially any way to make money is fair an acceptable some people will turn cinema into a carnival circus for little children. Also, you can make people pay 5 times for a product: once for the theatrical cut in cinemas, once for the theatrical cut on DVD, once for the theatrical cut on Blu ray, once for the extended cut on DVD and once for the extended cut on Blu ray because higher definition apparently makes all the difference and people buy into it like sheep.

    The fact that the home experience has become such a big part of the market has to do with the idea that internet and technology have made films, music, etc; much mroe readily and immediately available and people go on the Internet to listen to the music they want or watch the films they want as soon as possible. The home experience is part of the desire for immediate gratification of the consumer's desire for "more stuff more quickly" (which is no way to live). At home you are potentially the king of your own territory so noone's going to kick your seat, ore eat noisy popcorn, whereas people increasingly behave in cinemas like they would at home, so the people annoyed by this would probably stay away from cinemas but companies still need to cater to them to make a quick buck.

    To sum up: It's infantilization on Monday, overpriced tickets on Tuesday, digital projection failures on Wednesday, fired projectionists on Thursday, blockbusters in all screenings on Friday, 3D and 48fps on Saturday, cultural death and spiritual void on Sunday. Cinemas' glorious future...

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    Comment number 12.

    not enough adults like going to the cinema? so it's the kids version? so when they buy the bluray adults get the film?

    just a guess

    not that i care about die hard 5

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    Comment number 13.

    What we've got here is clearly a knock-on effect from the influences of the MPAA and the likes of Walmart.

    Being that an NC-17 certificate in the states is a box office and dvd sale death knell as theatres won't screen it and stores won't sell it; film makers in the US have, for years, diluted their work to an R rating in order to maintain commercial viability.

    Now, where this practice in the past, whilst repulsive, had redemptive value by allowing many auteurs to actually have a successful career, we now have the studios replicating the process for lower ratings to increase market size for no reason other than pure profit.
    After seeing the benefits of sanitization on their own shores the studios are now gaming the BBFC and other ratings bodies, finding out what needs to be lessened or removed and doing so to maximize their financial gain on a country by country basis.

    Someone above suggested changing the rating system to be more akin to the US; what do you think the introduction of the 12 and the 12A rating were? They were brought in to bridge the gap that used to exist and it's now being exploited to maximize the audience and therefore the profits. If we accommodated them more they would still game the system to increase profits and we would still be the ones ultimately losing out...

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    Comment number 14.

    Maybe the whole idea of the bbfc giving advice on what to cut to get a 12A should be abandoned. From what I understand the bbfc is government run, (I'm not from Britain, so correct me if wrong) they should be therefore answerable to the viewers not the distributors.

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    Comment number 15.

    Yes, it is wrong but the studios and distributors have found a profitable loophole to exploit and I do not see a viable way of stopping this unless either (a) directors assert their artistic control over the finished product or (b) distributors release two versions of the same film to the multi-screens. They have done that before with 2D and 3D and different frame rates etc, so that should not be too hard to achieve. Although I am not a huge fan of gore or foul language, I'd go to the higher rating just to avoid the youngsters and their phones.

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    Comment number 16.

    This is obviously down to box-office, that isn't even an argument. The real issue is classification and it needs to be changed in the UK with "12"s & "12A"s the big issue. What is being allowed into 12's these days is frankly shocking and I hold the BBFC responsible. I'm a horror fan, actually rarely frightened by examples of that genre, but even I could see the creeping terror and full-on horror visuals of The Woman In Black should never have been allowed near kids as young as twelve.

    So, to balance the issue and make everyone a winner (parents, BBFC, distributors), maybe we should have a return to the old "AA" rating - suitable for 14-yr-olds and over. It would replace the "15", allowing more reasonably mature kids into the cinema, while keeping the "12" for much softer material and its target market of vulnerable and impressionable pre-teens. As research suggests, the main target demographic is 14-34, so why not give the distributors what they want? They know they're missing out on millions of dollars from a "15", so are forced to compromise and do a deal with the BBFC, meaning the film that was originally written, filmed and edited isn't the film that gets seen in the cinema. Well, what's the point in that? If that's the future, we may as well go back to the Hays Code scenario of submitting scripts for approval before principal photography even starts.

    U
    PG
    12
    14
    18

    Whether I'm right or wrong, something needs to be done about the way the BBFC and distributors are conspiring to allow 12-yr-olds into films that were never meant to be seen by 12-yr-olds in the first place, and the BBFC need to get their act together and sort this mess out.

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    Comment number 17.

    Living in Ireland it's unclear which version we are getting. I've contacted our local censors and they promptly responded that they only had one version submitted and they gave it a 15A (similar to 12A) with no cuts and suggested I contact Fox directly. I've contacted Fox with no answer yet.

    I'm not going to see the cut version. It's insulting to see entertainment for adults trimmed down so that it's suitable for 8 year olds to watch.

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    Comment number 18.

    What really annoys me about what the studios are doing is that not only are they practicing censorship of their product for profit, but, in the case of the Die Hard franchise, they are destroying the very foundations of how this franchise first became embraced by the film going public in the first place. Sadly Die Hard has had a rough ride, even though part's 1 and 2 are still rated '18', Die Hard With A Vengeance was cut by some 12 seconds to achieve a '15' certificate, so this practice of studios censoring for profit is not a new thing, but in the last few years it has gotten far worse and the only way to stop it is simply to create an alternative rating, some posters have suggested a '15A' rating, and this maybe the way forward. Either that or let the filmmakers stand up and fight. Its a shame that '15' and '18' have become the kiss of death for studios.

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    Comment number 19.

    where will it end? the devils re-released in cinemas rated 12A! Its been happening for a long time, which bladerunner version was the best, the origional cinema release or one of the numerous re cuts? nearly all dvds have deleted scenes or extended editions these days and studios are obviously targeting the dvd market as the main money maker the cinema has/or has become a glorified marketing tool for the dvd. I don't want to see a glorified advert when i go to the cinema i want to see the directors full vision of the film on the big screen!

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    Comment number 20.

    I agree with everything that Mark has said. How did we get here? Simple $$. The solution is simple, if the distributor really wants to maximise profit then release the softer cut for the tweenies, but also release the full theatrical cut as the production team intended at the same time.

    The teens are happy, parents are happier (if they even cared to begin with) and those who want to see the full Hardness of Die Hard 5 don't have to skip and wait for the home release.

 

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