Chappie, an R-rated science-fiction film directed by Neill Blomkamp (of District 9 and Elysium fame), has been out in U.S. theaters for over a month now, but it still hasn’t been released in Japan due to the time it takes to be translated and dubbed.

During that time a storm has been brewing over the film, starting a few days ago when Sony Pictures Japan released a controversial statement: the movie will be censored and edited down to a PG-12 rating.

Japanese netizens who were looking forward to the film are upset over the watered-down version they will be getting, and even though Sony claims to have the support of the director, Neill Blomkamp himself insists he knew nothing about any such cuts.

If you haven’t heard of Chappie, here’s the trailer for your viewing pleasure. With a title like “Chappie” it may sound like a silly little movie about a robot with emotions, but after watching the trailer you’ll see it’s just a bit grittier than that.

Whether or not the movie is your cup of tea is up to you of course, but Japanese people who were looking forward to the film were rightfully expecting to see the same film that the rest of the world got.

However, it doesn’t look like that’s going to be the case. It all started when Sony Pictures Japan tweeted this: (translation below)

“Thank you for your questions regarding the film Chappie.

In order to ensure that the film reaches as wide an audience as possible, we will be releasing it in Japan with the ‘PG-12’ rating. This is a decision that was reached jointly with our offices in the U.S., the Motion Picture Code of Ethics Committee (MPCEC), and has the approval of the film’s director, ensuring that the integrity of the picture will not be compromised.

Please understand that we cannot disclose the opinions of the MPCEC, nor any of the changes made to the film. We will also be unable to respond to any individual questions related to this matter.

There are no plans for an uncut version to be shown in Japan.

Thank you very much for your understanding, and we hope you enjoy the film.”

The MPCEC is the Japanese version of the MPAA in the U.S. It’s responsible for assigning movie ratings, and for requiring cuts in order to receive certain ratings. The MPCEC currently has four ratings for movies in Japan:

G: Anyone’s welcome. Hooray!
PG-12: Parents are advised to accompany children under the age of 12.
R-15: Only persons aged 15 and older allowed.
R-18: Only persons aged 18 and older allowed.

So if we’re keeping all of the ratings straight, what was originally an R-rated movie in the U.S. (R-18 equivalent) has now been cut down to what is basically a slightly cheeky film that’s suitable for both adults and older kids. And despite Sony’s insistence to the contrary, the film’s director seems to have not been a part of the discussion in this decision, as can be seen in his tweeted responses to a Japanese fan:

With both the controversy of the cuts and the director being kept in the dark about them, Japanese netizens had lots to tweet about:

▼ “So basically they just said: ‘We don’t give a crap about you.’ Thanks Sony!”

▼ “Are they idiots? I was looking forward to this, but now I’m definitely not going.”

▼ “I’ve been waiting for the release, but I’m very disappointed by this. No way I’m going!”

▼ “I wouldn’t be surprised if they just get some stupid flavor-of-the-month comic actor to do Chappie’s voice. It’s all a part of their plan to somehow benefit from enraging their fans as much as possible.”

The backlash against the changes is so great that a petition has been created calling for the film’s more violent scenes not to be cut:

▼ Even Chappie himself seems to have signed it, so it has some official support.

Unfortunately, no matter how many signatures the petition gets, the odds that anything will change are very small. Japanese fans of the film will just have to wait until it is released on DVD/Blu-ray to see the director’s true vision. Let’s just hope that the home-releases don’t get the same cuts too, or else we’re going to see a whole lot of imported movies make their way into Japan.

Source: Twitter via My Game News Flash
Featured/top image: Twitter
[ Read in Japanese ]