Warner Bros. will edit several scenes from the pay-per-view
version of its movie, The Devil's Advocate, as part of a lawsuit settlement
brought against the studio. However, it will keep the controversial scenes in the
home-video version of the film.
At issue was a lawsuit filed by the Episcopal National
Cathedral and sculptor Frederick Hart, whose 'Ex Nihilo' sculpture (displayed at
the National Cathedral) depicts the creation of man, as told in Genesis. Hart was offended
because the sculpture appears in a crucial scene near the end of the movie, and it becomes
the centerpiece in demonic sex scenes and a suicide.
As part of the settlement, Warner said it would edit the
scene for PPV and premium versions, although it was unclear at press time how much of the
movie would be cut. According to published reports, the sculpture is on screen for
approximately 20 minutes.
The studio, however, does not have to recall the 425,000
home-video copies with the scene intact that hit video-store shelves for rental last
Tuesday. It will have to edit the film for video copies that are released for sales,
Prior to the settlement, Alexandria, Va., U.S. District
Court Judge T.S. Ellis III was prepared to rule on whether Warner would have to pull the
movie from the market days before its initial Feb. 17 release. Had the studio been forced
to pull the film, it may have affected its April 13 PPV-release date.
Representatives from Warner Bros. could not be reached for
comment by press time.
One cable-operator executive said he would have to see how
much of the PPV version was cut before he determines whether to carry the excised film.
'If it significantly alters the appeal of the movie
and gives home video a decided advantage, then I have to very seriously consider the value
of the film on PPV,' the executive said.
But Michael Klein, senior vice president of programming for
Viewer's Choice, said the changes won't affect the movie's plot.
'We haven't seen the changes, but all that it
will affect is one scene at the end of the film,' he said. 'It will not have any
effect on the story line.'
In the suit, Hart and the Protestant Episcopal Cathedral
Foundation, which share the copyright to 'Ex Nihilo,' accused Warner of using it
without permission. Warner responded that the sculpture in the movie is based on several
pieces of art, including 'Ex Nihilo' and Rodin's 'Gates of Hell in
Betsy Scala is senior editor for Video Business, a
sister publication to Multichannel News.