As Showtime decides how Dexter should end, Harvey Scissorhands has taken another victim in Bong Joon-ho’s Snowpiercer.
WARNING: HERE BE SPOILERS
There I sat. Pillows had been plumped, bottle of ice cold Mixed Fruit Kopparberg made its journey from the fridge to the living room table. Two months of watching back-to-back episodes of Dexter every night before bed had led to this very moment: the finale. I had already been a little disappointed that the final season never led to that moment where the Miami Metro Police Department would be hot on Dexter’s tail, but that didn’t matter in this moment. Like all fans of a TV series, I was anticipating what the end had in store for one of my favourite fictional antiheroes. 55 minutes later, and that high level of anticipation led to a feeling of disappointment. This was not the ending I had hoped for.
It is the writing team that created Dexter, so surely those writers would know what was best for the show
It also wasn’t the ending the writers wanted. Dexter ended with foul-mouthed cop Deborah passing away, and as a result of blaming himself for her death, Dexter dropped his plans of spending the rest of his life with Hannah and Harrison. Instead, he decided to drive into the eye of a hurricane. Somehow, and I really don’t know how, Dexter survived, living out the remainder of his life as a lumberjack. According to producer John Goldwyn, however, the writers had an alternate ending, one which would have lead to Dexter’s death. This was not plausible, as TV network Showtime were clear that killing Dexter in the final season was not an option.
But this begs the question of whether producers/networks should have such significant input into the creative side of a TV show or film. It is the writing team that created the characters on Dexter, characters that established a strong connection with the show’s audience, so surely those writers would know what was best for the show. It was the writing team that kept the series going for further seasons, generating interesting stories that developed characters, as the series continued.
In Dexter’s case it is unfortunate (I can’t emphasise the word unfortunate enough) that the show fell victim to the power of money. Sure, in most cases a TV network wouldn’t interfere with the writing process, but it is the networks that will always have the last say. If it wasn’t for Showtime investing heavily in the show (Michael C Hall’s contract was an estimated $20 million for the last two seasons), Dexter would not exist.
Harvey Weinstein has a history of re-cutting films for America – he’s introduced Hero and Princess Mononoke to his ER in the past
And it isn’t just Dexter that has producers lending their creative input. Korean director Bong Joon-ho fell victim to the vicious life of the studio cutting room recently, when learning that the Weinstein Company had cut as much as 20 minutes from his movie Snowpiercer. A furious Joon-ho believes that the film distributed to the English-language territories will be a lot different to the original, as the Weinstein Company has maintained the right of final cut in the UK, US and Australia.
Harvey Weinstein has a history of re-cutting Asian films for American audiences (he is the man dubbed ‘Harvey Scissorhands’) – he’s also introduced Shaolin Soccer, Hero and Princess Mononoke to his ER in the past. Bong Joon-ho’s anger is well understandable, as the director’s original cut of Snowpiercer opened to rave reviews, earned $61.5 million at the box office in South Korea and was seen by an estimated 9.8 million people, a little under a quarter of the country’s population. Then again, when you sell the final cut rights to a man known in the industry as Harvey Scissorhands, do you really have the right to be shocked or angry?
It is not all doom and gloom when it comes to the higher authority stamping their mark on an investment. Back in 2007, Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez teamed up to release a double feature, essentially rewarding audiences to two films in one sitting. Tarantino’s Death Proof and Rodriguez’s Planet Terror were not the worst films when it came to quality, but together as a double feature – entitled Grindhouse – they bombed on release.
One of the reasons for Grindhouse’s failure was the fact that the audience didn’t want to sit through two films at once, whilst critics also believed that the adverts failed to mention the stars (Kurt Russell, Rose McGowan) each film had to offer, failing to attract a bigger audience. Steering away from any marketing mess-ups that failed to bring in a mass audience, it was then up to Dimension Films to step in.
The production company decided to release the two movies independently, granting audiences what they wanted and not neglecting the fact that they were, essentially, two good quality films by two very well known directors. As it turns out, Dimension Films is a production and distribution studio founded by Bob Weinstein, formally owned by Miramax but now The Weinstein Company. Maybe Harvey Scissorhands and studio intervention isn’t always all that bad.
Featured image: Showtime
Inset images: Showtime; The Weinstein Company