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maryann johanson, ruining movies since 1997

question of the day: Did Peter Jackson just ruin ‘The Lovely Bones’ as a movie by giving in to test audience?

The Guardian is reporting that Peter Jackson has ramped up the violence in The Lovely Bones after test audiences demanded more blood:

Oscar-winning director Peter Jackson has revealed that he had to shoot new footage for The Lovely Bones after early test screening audiences complained that a death scene was not violent enough.

The film is based on Alice Sebold’s harrowing bestseller about how a murdered 14-year-old girl watches from heaven as her grieving family attempt to ensnare her killer.

Jackson told Reuters that he had returned to the editing room to “basically add more violence and suffering”. “[The audience] wanted far more violence,” he said. “They just weren’t satisfied.”

(The next paragraph in the Guardian piece includes a tidbit that could be considered a spoiler, so click through at your own risk.)

This bothers me a lot, for a lot of reasons. First, storytelling and moviemaking should not be conducted by consensus and certainly not by polling an audience to find out whether scene A or scene B is the one they want. (I know this happens all the time — it makes me angry all the time.) Two, this is not a story about violence, and while an audience may indeed have felt that the movie was not violent enough, well, that may have been the point. Was this audience failing to see the larger context of the film? Has Jackson failed to depict larger context?

We won’t know till we see the final film, but I can’t help but wonder: Did Peter Jackson just ruin The Lovely Bones as a movie by giving in to test audience?

What do you think?

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD, feel free to email me. Responses to this QOTD sent by email will be ignored; please post your responses here.)



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