We've covered Mathieu Kassovitz' upcoming big budget sci fi epic Babylon AD extensively over the last while, drawn first by the fact that Kassovitz remains an intriguing, albeit very inconsistent, director, then by the strong international cast that includes Michelle Yeoh, then by star Vin Diesel's reported misbehavior on set. Regular reader Mary tipped us off back in November that the film was being prepared in two distinct versions - Kassovitz' intended, longer cut for mainland European release and a Fox-mandated shorter version for release in the rest of the world. At the time of that report, word was that the full version would run two hours and forty minutes - for the math impaired that's one hundred and sixty minutes - but no details were known about the shorter Fox version. Well, no more.
The Fox version has been submitted to the UK's BBFC for certification and the version turned in there ran a mere ninety minutes, meaning if that hundred and sixty minute number is accurate Fox have cut a full seventy minutes - nearly half the run time - from Kassovitz' picture. Even worse, the BBFC have rated the film 12A, which is the equivalent of a soft PG-13 in the US - many PG-13 films are rated 15 in the UK - meaning there can't be much action or violence left in the picture whatsoever. With some directors this wouldn't be an issue but Kassovitz is the man who made La Haine and Crimson Rivers and there's absolutely no way he set out to make a PG-13 rated action picture, no way at all. Sigh.
** UPDATE **
Thanks again to regular reader Mary for updated information on this. The stated hundred and sixty minute run time came from statements made by star Michelle Yeoh a few months back. More recently Kassovitz has been quoted saying that his version of the film runs and hour and forty five minutes, for a total one hundred and five minute run time. Whether Yeoh had her details wrong or Kassovitz did some cutting of his own in the mean time is not clear but if this time is correct then the Fox version trims only fifteen minutes from the KAssovitz cut rather than seventy, which is still significant but not on the same scale.