If you’ve ever watched a movie on an airplane, you’ve probably seen the message «This movie has been edited for content» pop up before playing it. Ever wondered what that means? Let’s find out.
There is no single standard
While many airlines display a «edited for content» warning before various films, there is no single standard that they must meet. It also depends on the source of the movie.
Major studios often release airplane cuts in their tentpole films, separate from the theatrical cuts that edit out references to terrorists, plane crashes, and the like; mostly content with no one wanting to see them rushing through the air at 4/5 the speed of sound in an aluminum tube. Airlines tend to avoid showing films where they are major plot points — this is not for you. Con — Con or Alive so for the most part, you won’t see much of a difference.
Where things get more interesting is when they go through an editing company that specializes in airplane films. James Durston, writing for CNN, interviewed Jovita Toh, CEO of Encore Inflight Limited. Toh claims that they edit films differently depending on which airline they are intended for. European airlines are very accepting of nudity and swearing, but tend to dislike overly violent or gory films. In the Middle East, it’s the other way around: their airlines require some sort of sexual content, or scrub bare skin without too much fear of violence. Some airlines based in Muslim countries even want to remove references to pigs and pork! Toha was also asked to remove the logos of competing airlines.
Since there are no basic laws to follow, it is up to the airlines themselves what will be shown. Sometimes different airlines end up with completely different abbreviations. Movie » Carol» a drama about a lesbian couple in the 50s, was edited to the point where the couple didn’t even kiss on Delta flights, but was fully edited on United or American Airlines.
They were probably not censored
Even though airlines censor films, they are probably not censored. For the most part, airlines don’t usually launch movies that they would have to remove too much content from; it is better to suggest other, less edited films instead.