Below you will find our post in its entirety. This post was sent to 'Hatchet 2' director Adam Green prior to us publishing it so that he could respond, which he did. We thought the best way for you to understand Adam's side of the story was to read his response in full -- the way he intended it to be read -- instead of breaking it up point by point. So, first, our post, then below it you will find Green's lengthy response.
Movie director Adam Green woke up this morning to find that his movie, 'Hatchet 2,' had mysteriously vanished. No witnesses are on record, and the apparently silent cull of his latest project is now the subject of intense speculation. The stunned helmer commented, "We woke up this morning and the movie was gone." So whodunnit? Green's grisly opus -- eagerly anticipated by fans -- had been spirited away from 68 theaters overnight. The prime suspects, cinema chain AMC, pleaded guilty -- but a whiff of conspiracy surrounds their bureaucratic butchery of this hapless B movie.
Set in the ethereal dreamscape of the Louisiana bayou, star Kane Hodder returns as murderous antagonist Victor Crowley in the film. This time round, it's hunter hunted -- as heroine Marybeth returns to the swamps in pursuit of Crowley and vengeance for her slain family. Unsurprisingly, the gore is frequently amped up to 11 -- and with a tagline that reads "Hold on to all your pieces," that's hardly a surprise.
AMC had been screening the savage sequel without an MPAA rating -- a move which had attracted criticism from several sources. Rather than accept the commercial kiss of death bestowed by an NC-17 rating, Dark Sky Films and the filmmaker took the singular step of releasing it without classification. This is a common tactic on the DVD market, but a bold jilting of cinematic convention. Could the moralistic barrage have unnerved cinema bosses? In a written statement, a spokesman maintained that the bottom line was, well, the bottom line: "At AMC theaters, we review all films in all of our theaters every week and then make our business decisions based on their performance." Given that the film had only been on exhibition for a few days (since Oct 1) what other factors could have contributed to this sudden volt-face?
Several sources have suggested that AMC's step down is a quiet victory for censorship and the dark forces of the MPAA. Green's outspoken criticism of the organization -- which horror fans often hold responsible for restraining the parameters of the genre -- has probably endeared him to few within its ranks. "[The MPAA] are a very big and powerful -- even though they're evil -- organization," Green said. In interviews to publicize the first 'Hatchet,' the director unleashed a vituperative broadside against the institution, which he also considers biased against minnows in a multi-million dollar marketplace. He's certainly never hesitated to play the victim card, boldly proclaiming, " ... They hate independent movies." Or perhaps horror pictures in particular? Green clearly feels mistreated by the organization, which he believes has applied a rash censure to stylized, OTT bloodletting clearly aimed at a dedicated audience. Green's hardcore fanbase -- often proclaiming their loyalty with a "Hatchet Army" t-shirt -- will clearly be incensed at the move.
The director, however, has high hopes for the movie in the DVD afterlife, where fanboy resurrection may await. "The good thing is that the biggest audience for this movie -- because it was for the first one -- is going to with on demand and DVD," he opined. With leagues of loyal supporters, 'Hatchet 2' should certainly find an appreciative audience (eventually). But with Green's rhetoric fanning the flames of controversy, it'll be interesting to see if this leads to any scrutiny of the MPAA's commercial stranglehold. 'Hatchet 2' may be a cinematic corpse, but like Crowley himself it looks like the sequel will certainly be back to haunt us.
Cinematical reached out to Green to get his side of the story, and here's what he had to say ...
"I first heard of Toronto and Montreal pulling the film via Canadian fans on Twitter on Saturday morning saying that the movie was pulled without reason and they wanted to know where it went. If you look at my twitter you'll see that I mentioned "Hearing the film has been pulled from Montreal and Toronto- but don't hate the theaters, they tried." Which leads me to believe that after Friday the movie was yes, gone. Calling the theaters can confirm that.
I've also stressed time and time again how grateful I am to AMC for even taking an unrated film on in the first place and that I more than understand the delicate position of it, but again, people are so quick to jump on them for pulling it that they don't see the merit in what they actually tried to do. How the decision was made to pull the film early, no one will ever know.
Unfortunately every interview I did seemed to only focus on anything negative I've said about indie experiences with the MPAA in this genre, but not my entire point which was that we should be held to the same standards as the studio films. HATCHET or HATCHET 2 are not nearly as offensive or violent as some of the larger fare that has made it by to theaters with an R, mainly because the tone of these films is comedic and nothing within them is realistic or can even be taken seriously at all. In every interview I've asked that all films be treated the same (how is it OK for a scene depicting rape in front of an infant, animal violence, and realistic pain and suffering to get an R but a swamp ghost with a gas powered belt sander killing a comedian in a Monty Python-esque way an NC-17?) but no one ever reports that aspect. It's always "Adam Green hates the MPAA." I merely stood up for myself this time by not castrating the punchlines from my film (which I would have had to do to get an R and which I had to do with HATCHET 1) and had a DISTRIBUTOR that chose to try something different and keep the movie in tact and go unrated.
When asked "why the film was unrated" (which, let's face it- was the big angle every journalist wanted to know about as an unrated theatrical release in a major chain is so uncommon) I described my dealings with the ratings board and always expressed my excitement to have a horror film put out in major theaters without being "altered" by an arbitrary decision that seems to favor torture and realistic violence and rape over fantastical gore. I merely stood up for myself this time, said what I think about how unfairly I FEEL (never how AMC feels- they're just the exhibitor and they had NOTHING to do with my feelings towards the system or Dark Sky's decision to go unrated) the ratings board can be. But somehow, none of that ever gets printed. In some cases my words were abbreviated to appear as if because AMC supported the film and was allowing it to screen unrated that THEY had made that decision, but anyone who knows anything about how exhibition works knows that the theaters don't choose or guide on a film's rating. That's between the MPAA and the film's producers and distributor. Everything I ever heard from the AMC camp was just how much they liked the movie and that they were excited to be playing it- never once anything about their stance on the ratings board.
The sad truth of the matter is that no one at Dark Sky has been able to tell me the exact reasons behind why the film was pulled (they have not gotten a clear explanation whatsoever) and I only know what I am hearing from the public on Twitter and AMC's response to the press of "we base our decisions on performance" which does not add up given that we know of at least two theaters that had pulled the film after just 24 hours and given the grand scheme of things, other genre titles performed worse per screen, even though they had bigger budgets and traditional spends on marketing campaigns as opposed to ours.
All signs would point to AMC being unhappy with how vocal I was about the MPAA and not wanting to deal with the controversy- which if the case, is their given right. Had the film grossed millions, maybe it would be a different story with them, but given the size of our release and the nature of what this is, all we ever could have hoped for was a few grand per screen in a realistic scenario. But to suggest that Dark Sky would spend the money they did creating prints, posters, traveling cast for appearances, hiring PR firms to promote the film, and all of the other very costly things that go into making and distributing a theatrical film (even without TV commercials and the big stuff- it ain't cheap!) only to pull the film themselves after just 3 days... is preposterous.
At this time I have not heard a word about releasing it at a later date with a rating and would highly doubt that is the plan. They'll most likely just do the traditional ON-DEMAND, DVD, and other retail formats which is where films like this and of this size really make their money anyway. But I don't make those calls. I just make the movies.
I still stand by the fact that AMC was nothing but generous and filmmaker friendly to even try to do a release like this and that at the end of the day I am happy to see how so many movie goers walked out of HATCHET 2 smiling, happy, and wondering what the big deal was that the movie had to be UNRATED and not R like the other stuff that is similar (if not worse) in terms of violence. I got to see it 3 times this past weekend with a regular paying audience that was quite full and very, very rowdy. Laughing, cheering, clapping... like what my cast and crew intended.
It saddens me to see the knee jerk reaction of people trying to point the finger at AMC when I have nothing but the upmost respect and love for that chain. We made a small piece of history this weekend and everyone I ever had personal contact with there was always gracious and supportive not just of me and this film, but of independent cinema. It absolutely breaks my heart that all of that good will has resulted in what's gone on this weekend and now the movie making history for being "pulled". I can't control what anyone thinks or says, but I hope that anyone who hears about this takes less time to point fingers and more time to ponder the system and how it operates. I know I'm not alone when I say it's time for a change. In this case, in my personal case with the HATCHET series, I feel like I was being held to a different standard in comparison to the bigger studio films and in all of this I can't help but feel that they just had the wrong guy.
Is it exciting to be breaking the mold and to see what's gone on? Maybe it would be if it were someone else's movie as I'd be cheering them on, too. But all of this controversy and finger pointing over a small little slasher movie that is nothing but fun? It shouldn't have had to be like this."