We're looking at some examples of movies that were changed for their release in other countries - be it for cultural reasons or otherwise.
It comes off the back of the revelation that 'Fight Club', one of David Fincher's most iconic movies, had the ending changed for Chinese streaming service TenCent Video.
You don't see Edward Norton's narrator character holding hands with Helena Bonham Carter as skyscrapers fall all around them.
Rather, viewers se a title card that explains that Tyler Durden has his plan foiled by the authorities and those behind "Project Mayhem" were arrested.
The text adds that Tyler Durdenis sent to a "lunatic asylum receiving psychological treatment" after trial, before being later discharged in 2012.
So what other changes have been made to movies upon being released in different countries or territories? We kick things off with...
Iron Man 3
The Chinese version of 'Iron Man 3' includes scenes that weren't in the U.S. version. The character Dr. Wu (Wang Xueqi), who is introduced at the beginning, is expanded upon with additional scenes in the Chinese release. Dr. Wu’s nurse, played by Chinese actress Fan Bingbing, is introduced, while a new scene featuring Iron Man with middle school students can be seen in a news report. There's also product placement from Gu Li Duo, a very popular milk brand in China. Overall, about four minutes of footage was added to the Chinese version of the Marvel movie.
According to a number of sources, there was a big difference between the German version of 'Die Hard' and the one that essentially everyone else saw. Hans Gruber and his team of terrorists are initially masquerading as members of the Volks Frei Movement. As reported by the anchorwoman, they've been excommunicated from the group. However, when 'Die Hard' was released back in 1988, Germany was still under terrorist threat from domestic groups such as the Red Army Faction and the Baader-Meinhof Gang. Thus changes had to be made, and so the background of Alan Rickman and his gang was altered from being German terrorists going freelance for profit to members of the IRA who left to become mercenaries.
The Sound of Music
'The Sound of Music' was a success in almost every market across the globe upon its release but to this day hasn't proven popular in Germany - and that's hardly a surprise. The Nazi sub-plot in the feature was extremely unpopular in Germany. Reportedly, a different cut of the film was approved for release in Germany in which the third act - namely everything after the wedding - was removed (in which the Von Trapps plan their escape as the Nazis attempt to recruit the Captain). This version was choppy and somewhat incoherent, but didn't exist for very long as when the studio and director Robert Wise found out what had happened, they restored the original in theatres.
A Streetcar Named Desire
Many films have been censored and edited or outright banned ('The Life of Brian' and 'A Clockwork Orange' being some infamous examples) in Ireland, pretty much from the start of cinema to as recently as the 1980s (Kevin Rockett’s book on ‘Irish Film Censorship’ is the definitive look on the subject matter). One of the most famous examples of a movie being changed beyond recognition for its distribution in Ireland has to be ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’. Starring Marlon Brando and Vivien Leigh, anyone familiar with the Tennessee Williams play will know the movie was edited down from the original’s themes of homosexuality and assault in the first place. A whopping 27 cuts were made to the film altogether in its Irish release. The result was an entirely different story whereby a woman visits her sister and goes insane for no apparent reason.
The 1987 thriller starring Glenn Close and Michael Douglas had a very different original finale, which apparently only made its way to release in Japan. Close’s character Alex frames Dan (Douglas) for her murder and then kills herself in the original version. Instead, the version most audiences got saw Dan’s wife Beth prevail over Alex, as she shoots her in the chest as she emerges manic from the bath, and kills her (so it's more of an action set piece too). Glenn Close apparently hated this eventual ending, saying she had to shoot it 6 months after wrapping the movie and fought back against it for a fortnight. She knew the new ending would turn her character into a murdering psychopath. Well, that was the exact result.
Pride and Prejudice
In the original UK version of 2005’s Pride and Prejudice, the film ends with Mr Bennet (Donald Sutherland) grinning to herself after giving his daughter Elizabeth (Keira Knightley) his blessing to marry Mr Darcy (Matthew Macfadyen). It’s a sweet, tender, humourous moment. But of course it’s not romantic enough for the US – they need to see the big kiss. Thus, the American version includes another scene of Elizabeth and Darcy, now married, opening with a romantic exchange and ending with him kissing her all over her face and head, calling her “Mrs Darcy,” before a big smooch on the lips. UK audiences rejected the scene in screen tests deeming it “sexed-up” and “blasphemous” to the vision of author Jane Austen.
28 Days Later
The US and UK versions of 28 Days Later, starring Irish actor Cillian Murphy, also got different endings following test reactions with audiences. In an unusual twist, the US opted for the less “Hollywood”, optimistic version. In the UK, after nearly facing death, Jim, Selena and Hannah have gotten away with their lives and escape to a remote cottage. Upon hearing an aircraft, they unfurl a huge banner they’ve been working on and, presumably, are saved. In the American version, Selena and Hannah try as they might but fail to save Jim, who dies in a hospital bed, bringing the feature full circle as it was in a hospital where we first meet the character. This was the original ending in the script but director Danny Boyle changed the ending to an upbeat one, saying "We can't do this to people, because it was such a tough journey anyway."
When Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln opened internationally, there was concern that while majority of people outside of America would have heard of US President Abraham Lincoln, they might not know about the extent of his role in the Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation. Thus to appeal to foreign moviegoers, Spielberg and screenwriter Tony Kushner added a preamble. This contextulised the history of events to follow using title cards and black-and-white photos from 1865. In the Japanese version, Spielberg appeared on camera to address the audience before the preamble began. The American version simply opens directly on the scene where soldiers quote the Gettysburg Address to the president.
A couple of changes were made in 'Inside Out' according to different territories – for example, in the US, Canada and Russia, Riley’s dad daydreams about ice hockey, but in the rest of the world, he dreams about soccer. Moreover, in Japan, the food in the scene where baby Riley is trying broccoli for the first time is changed to green peppers, because kids like broccoli in Japan. The same goes for the pizza with broccoli scenes.
'Zootopia' is retitled to 'Zootropolis' in various regions, and the TV anchor characters also changes according to where the film was released, for example, in US and Canada the co-anchor was a bear; in Japan they get a tanuki and Australia gets a koala. Aside from 'Zootopia' and 'Inside Out', there are plenty of Disney and Pixar examples of edits being made for international audiences. In 'Toy Story 2', a speech given by Buzz has the backdrop of an American flag for the US, and of the globe for other regions. In 'Monsters University', there are cupcakes that read “Be My Pal” which are changed to smiley faces for international audiences.