Dove Foundation Awards New Line Cinema’s Edited Movies their Seal of Approval.

May 2001, Grand Rapids, Mich. (EP) — There’s good news for every movie fan who’s ever watched a film with one or two offensive elements and thought, “Why’d they put that in there?” The Dove Foundation, an advocacy group for wholesome family entertainment, has formed a partnership with New Line Cinema to produce family-friendly version s of major Hollywood films. The first Dove “Family-Edited” titles will be available through retailers April 24.

“They’ve taken out all objectionable content,” explains Dick Rolfe, Chairman of The Dove Foundation. “Any nudity, explicit sexual references, all profanity — any profane references to God or Jesus.”

Are the movies watchable after all offensive content has been excised? “Actually, you don’t notice it,” insists Rolfe. “One redeeming factor about these is that the edits are often directed by the film’s director, so they’re very clean and smooth. Sometimes they’re actually double-scripted, and alternate footage is used.”

Cleaned-up versions of studio films are nothing new. Airlines that feature in-flight movies have had access to such films for years — versions edited to be acceptable for a general audience. Television also edits films, both for content and length.

What’s new is that these edited versions are being offered for sale to the general public. Each will carry the Dove “Family-Edited” seal of approval on its spine and face. “New Line has begun releasing the airline versions,” explains Rolfe. “They submitted to us several airline versions, and of those they submitted we approved four.”

An edited version of “The Mask” starring Jim Carrey was released last year as a test. It did respectable numbers with virtually no publicity. New releases in the Dove-edited line include “The Bachelor,” “Blast from the Past,” and “Lost in Space.” If these are successful, others will follow.

“Nothing speaks louder than the pocketbook,” says Rolfe. “I would encourage people to buy them, to use them, to give them as gifts. Demand is what will speak louder than anything. If the shelves are cleared off, then I think we have an opportunity to change the face of marketing practices in the home video industry.”

For now only videos are available, but Rolfe is intrigued with the possibilities inherent in DVDs. Most DVD players include a control feature that allows parents to limit the ratings of movies that can be viewed. In theory, a DVD move could ship with more than one rating, with the appropriately rated version showing by default in a player that’s had a limit set.

Some film aficionados complain that family-friendly editing compromises the artistic integrity of a movie. However, Rolfe notes that movies are already edited for airlines and broadcasters. “The whole ‘artistic integrity’ argument is a weak one, considering that for the right amount of money even some of the purists will edit their movies.”

The debut of Dove-edited versions of films is the realization of a long-standing dream for Rolfe, who began talking with studios about the concept nearly a decade ago. At the time, video sales were so lucrative that studios saw little need to change their practices. Now that video sales have leveled off, studios are looking twice at a project that could broaden a film’s appeal to include a new audience. “It should be profitable because the product is already in the can, so to speak,” Rolfe explains. “The only thing necessary is to release it to the general public, so it’s just a matter of packaging and promotion.”