To revive its flagging movie business, one Hollywood studio is censoring its films

Sony is cleaning up the Ghostbusters’s language.
Sony is cleaning up the Ghostbusters’s language.
Image: AP Photo
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Sony is slashing the blood, sex, violence, and cuss words from some of its biggest titles.

With fewer people buying DVDs and Blu-rays, business that gives movies a long and lucrative lifespan, Sony Pictures is releasing its films online—stripped of “graphic violence, offensive language, sexual innuendo, and other adult content”—to open them up to wider audiences.

These are the same cleaned-up copies that are played on broadcast TV and airplanes.

Sony is doing this for 24 titles to start, including the original Ghostbusters, Step Brothers, and the Spider-Man films. These family-friendly versions are being included for free with the theatrical editions that are sold on the digital platforms iTunes, Vudu, and FandangoNOW.

Sony has taken a huge hit this year. In January, the Hollywood studio took the rare step of writing down nearly $1 billion against its entire movie division, mainly due to a downturn in the DVD business (paywall) that lowered its outlook on the future profitability of its films. The studio’s longtime CEO Michael Lynton also stepped down in January.

The size of the US home-entertainment market, which includes physical and digital sales and rentals of movies, TV shows, and other videos, has remained relatively stable at around $18 billion over the last few years, according to data from the Digital Entertainment Group.

But DVD and Blu-ray sales have fallen dramatically. In 2016, subscription-streaming services like Netflix and Hulu overtook discs to become the primary driver of home-entertainment in the country.

Sony’s efforts give it a chance to reach more families, especially kids, who have more time to watch movies and tend to view their favorites over and over again.

Still, actor and writer Seth Rogen, who worked with Sony on Sausage Party and The Interview, declared his displeasure for the censored cuts.

Rogen’s movies are not among the 24 that have been edited by Sony. Most of those on the list contain only mild adult content, like Sam Raimi’s 2002 Spider-Man, which was deemed by the Motion Picture Association of America as inappropriate for children under the age of 13 because of its “stylized violence and action.”

Here’s the full list of titles for which “clean versions” are currently available:

  • 50 First Dates
  • The Amazing Spider-Man
  • The Amazing Spider-Man 2
  • Battle of the Year
  • Big Daddy
  • Captain Phillips
  • Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
  • Easy A
  • Elysium
  • Ghostbusters (1984)
  • Ghostbusters II
  • Goosebumps
  • Grown Ups
  • Grown Ups 2
  • Hancock
  • Inferno
  • Moneyball
  • Pixels
  • Spider-Man (2002)
  • Spider-Man 2
  • Spider-Man 3
  • Step Brothers
  • Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby
  • White House Down