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American Distributors Hold Up Release of Award-Winning “Snowpiercer”

BY Joan MacDonald | Dec 18, 2013 11:25 AM EST


The U.S. release of Bong Joon Ho's film "Snowpiercer," which was a success in Korea and France and won several film festival awards, has been delayed due to negotiations between the distributors and the director.

The Weinstein Brothers, who have distribution rights in the U.S., reportedly want to cut 25 minutes out of the 126-minute film. They also want to hire science fiction writer Neil Gaiman to write voiceovers to explain the character development that would be cut, said a recent article on the independent film site Indie Wire.

Bong Joon Ho has previously denied reports of drastic cuts but said he was editing the film for the U.S. market.

The sci-fi thriller "Snowpiercer" takes place in the future when attempts to forestall global warming plunge the world into an extreme ice age. The only people that remain ride around their frozen world in a train, which is broken into compartments that are assigned by class. The inevitable rebellion among the have-nots on the train could risk the survival of the human race.

"It's a universal issue facing all of mankind, the endless conflict between the haves and the have-nots," said Bong. "No matter what country you live in, it's a matter that concerns us all."

The original cut of the film was highly praised but according to Indie Wire, the American distributors want to simplify the movie and make it more like other sci-fi thrillers such as "Blade Runner." They are not convinced that mainstream America will react positively to" Snowpiercer."

Both the distributors and the director are running test screenings of the film to see how audiences react. So far, the original director's version is getting a better response from audiences.

So far, the film has been released in 167 countries, attracting attention in such international papers as Variety, The Wall Street Journal and the Hollywood Reporter. The film will next be shown at the Berlin Film Festival with the director and cast attending.

The international cast of stars includes Korean actors Song Kang Ho, who appears in the award-winning film "The Face Reader," and child actress Go Ah Sung. Both actors starred in Bong's earlier horror film, "The Host."

The Hollywood stars are Chris Evans, who starred in "Captain America," Ed Harris of "The Truman Show," John Hurt of "Harry Potter," Jamie Bell of "Billy Elliott," and Tilda Swinton, who was in "Moonrise Kingdom" and "The Chronicles of Narnia."

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