The Mormon Cut: Will Movie Studios Start Releasing Edited Versions?

LDS Entertainment Standards

It has been prophesied that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will fill the earth, and I believe it.

As the Church grows, I predict (or hope for) some cultural trends. These cultural changes aren’t super important, but they will be nice or convenient or fun. They’re also not doctrine or prophesy; they’re just my opinion. One of these changes I look forward to is edited versions of movies released by the major studios.

There’s a great demand in the LDS community for “edited” versions of R-rated and even some PG-13 rated movies.  I imagine people would also be very responsive to edited versions of some cable shows too. Now, some movies aren’t conducive to this, because they’d be about 5 minutes long. But other movies are 99% up to LDS standards, and they have just a scene or two that are a little too crude, violent, or sexual for the faithful member of The Church of Jesus Christ.

Edited versions of movies for mormons!
The Mormon Ad “It’s great except for…” features a delicious ice cream sundae with a gross bug right in the middle. This is how many Mormons feel about movies with just a few parts that are inappropriate according to their standards.

Remember Clean Flix? They were a company in Utah that sold edited versions of movies. The popularity of Clean Flix among Mormons shows the demand for edited movies. This demand will only increase as the Church grows. Clean Flix isn’t around anymore, at least not in the same capacity. After a lengthy copyright battle in court, Clean Flix was shut down, because it was ruled that the editing was causing “irreparable injury to the creative artistic expression in the copyrighted movies.”

I don’t see this ruling changing anytime soon, but I think studios will start releasing 2 versions of some movies. It’s good business, as the demand grows. If done right, it can be good art too. A studio might feel better about edited movies if they were in charge of the editing, and making both an R version and a PG-13 version was the plan from the beginning. The studio could do the editing their way, so that the artistic expression isn’t compromised. They could shoot an alternate version of a scene, and then there wouldn’t be choppy editing that damages the artistic expression.

Of course, there will be certain directors, studios, or stars who feel like Mozart in the movie Amadeus when it’s suggested his Opera has “too many notes”. I even understand where they are coming from, and I respect their right to refuse to change their art. I imagine that to these artists, people who want edited movies seem a little like the artless Emperor Joseph II.

It may be true that editing a movie damages the authenticity or artistic value of a film. For example, imagine an inspiring movie about a person who grows up in a rough neighborhood, and overcomes the odds. If some of the R-rated content is edited, it may truly become a less realistic portrayal of the character. Mormons do realize this, but the standard of avoiding graphic R-rated content is more important than getting the full undiluted experience of the portrayed character. While some artists can’t understand this, some can and will, in my opinion.

I think that eventually a lot of directors, studios, and stars won’t have a problem with an edited version of many movies if the demand is there. Currently, studios sometimes release more than one version of a movie, especially when the movie is released to DVD or online sales. The second version of these movies sometimes includes an alternate ending or extended scenes. (Sometimes the second version is more graphic than the theater version, but I haven’t heard of a second version of a movie that is less graphic than the original yet. There might be a few, but I haven’t heard of them, and it’s not the general practice.)

The only place to legally see edited versions of movies is when the major TV networks show them. You have to wait for the movie to show up on a channel that doesn’t broadcast certain content, especially during prime-time hours. I frequently don’t realize they’re showing until they’re halfway done, or I miss the broadcast all together.  It would be nice to be able to just buy the edited version, instead of waiting for it to be broadcast on TV.

I think studios will consider making a less graphic version of some movies as the demand for it increases. And I believe the demand will be there, because Church growth will keep increasing. If studios do start releasing an edited version, they’ll be getting more of my money, because I love a good movie!