The battle to release the uncut version of buzzy sci-fi indie Snowpiercer has been well documented, and with the film now blowing critics away in the U.S., director Bong Joon-Ho has opened up about the process.
If you’re unfamiliar, Snowpiercer is an ambitious sci-fi film by South Korean director Bong Joon-Ho that follows the last remnants of humanity as they barrel around the frozen Earth on a super-train. Joon-Ho’s original cut has been well received, but when the Weinstein Company picked it up for U.S. release, they asked for a tighter “action” cut. Cue battle.
Though a shorter version was made, it apparently didn’t test well, so the studio finally relented and allowed the original cut to hit theaters on a limited release, which is now underway. Not surprisingly, the film is a critical hit (we’ve seen it and can confirm it's fantastic), and now Joon-Ho has opened up to /Film about that tricky year the film spent in limbo before finally hitting U.S. screens:
“Throughout this long process, if you look at it from their point of view, it’s quite normal. It’s not that Snowpiercer was a special case for them. They do this kind of editing and reworking with other films and it’s a common practice. So, I understand.
But thankfully now in the U.S., as with all the other territories, it’s the Director’s Cut that’s going out, and I’m happy about that, and thankful. There was a 20-minute shortened version with just things here and there trimmed, and the results weren’t very good. So finally, The Weinstein Company accepted my cut of the film and granted it a limited release. But it’s a theatrical one, and the results are good.
As far as the voiceover, there was a voiceover in the original script, at the beginning and at the end. But during the shooting and editing process, I removed the voiceover because I felt that it was unnecessary and it didn’t really work. But of course, The Weinstein Company, they did suggest putting that back and also adding to it, just because the post-apocalyptic subject matter and the actual setup of the story were so unique that they felt that they needed more of an explanation for the audience, and also with the ending as well. But I never went ahead and did that.”
Considering how great this movie is unedited, we’re glad it finally worked out. Snowpiercer was definitely worth the wait.