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Universal Studios Offers Edited Family Friendly MOD DVDs
December 15, 2011

I was surprised today to stumble across 10 listings on Amazon for Universal Studios movies on DVD listed specifically as “Family Friendly Versions”. The DVDs are all manufactured on demand (created only when ordered) and listed at $14.98 each. Titles include The Hulk, The Mummy, Bruce Almighty, Mamma Mia! (the Abba musical), and the cheerleader flick Bring It On.

I’m very curious as to what material needed to be removed from these particular films to make them “family friendly” — language? sexual innuendo? violence? (doubt it, they never worry about that) — but there are no specifics available. When you’re talking about “objectionable content”, I always wonder, “objectionable to whom?”

This case is even more interesting to me when I note that over the past five years, studios have taken legal action to shut down third-party companies that were offering these kinds of edited films. To see a studio doing its own product… on the one hand, there’s clearly some kind of desire for it, but on the other, if you think your movie is too violent or sexy or foul-mouthed, why did you release it that way in the first place?

I couldn’t find any kind of product line announcement or press release on this effort, so if you know anything about it, I’d love to find out more.

2 Responses  
Jer writes:  

To see a studio doing its own product… on the one hand, there’s clearly some kind of desire for it, but on the other, if you think your movie is too violent or sexy or foul-mouthed, why did you release it that way in the first place?

Money. If they can get more money by cutting out some of the sex and/or violence to widen the appeal, they’ll do it. Hell they also offer “DVD only” releases where they add more sex and/or violence to some movies (mostly putting back in stuff that they had to cut in order to get the MPAA rating they wanted). The cuts of a film they can offer the wider the potential customer-base for their product – and at that level it’s all about moving product not creating entertainment (let alone any thought about art).

It doesn’t seem that much different from having an “edited for broadcast television” version of the film, except that they’re offering it for direct sale to viewers instead of to networks. In fact, I wonder how many of these are special edits for family viewing, and how many of them are actually potential/actual broadcast network edits that have been slapped onto the disc for sale?

(And actually now that I think about it, studios do this ALL the time. The entire MPAA rating process is all about finding that sweet spot for films and cutting enough material to drop your movie from an R rating to a PG-13 rating. This really isn’t all that different, except that you’re doing it to get at a narrower audience rather than at a wider one.)

 
Johanna writes:  

The airplane versions might also be a source for these versions. Hard to tell without more information being available on what’s been cut. Good analysis you posted, thanks.

 

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