Family-Friendly Titanic Irks Hollywood
January 11, 1999
The week after the R-rated Titanic video went on sale, customers lined up outside Don and Carol Biesinger's Sunrise Family Video store in American Fork, Utah. Their store offered a service found nowhere else: cutting the sex scenes from the biggest-grossing motion picture of all time.
Customers buy the videos and indicate which scenes they want cut. Most pick the scenes in which Kate Winslet's Rose sheds her robe to be sketched by Leonardo DiCaprio's Jack and the couple engaged in sexual relations in the back seat of a car. The scenes slice about two minutes from the film's more than three-hour length.
The wave of requests—4,000 so far—have come from as far away as Germany and South Africa. An average of 30 new requests arrive each day for the $5 clip job. The Biesingers have hired six more editors and a shipping clerk to keep up with the demand.
"The general public is so disillusioned," says Biesinger, 54. He and his wife have been editing sex and violence from videos such as Jerry Maguire and Air Force One since 1996. "They get tired of some of the garbage put out by Hollywood. We could do something about it."
But Paramount, which released the film, says the Biesingers are heading for an iceberg by infringing on the motion picture's copyright. "We're not doing anything the customer doesn't ask for," Biesinger counters. "They own the tape. We provide the service."
Customers cannot purchase or rent Titanic—the original or edited version—at Sunrise Family Video, which stocks only classics and family-friendly films with PG-13, PG, or G ratings.
"We're not fanatics," says Biesinger, a Mormon. "But we'd like to see more family-oriented movies coming out of Hollywood. They're missing the whole market."