In a rare switch, two versions of the Joseph Gordon-Levitt time-travel film “Looper” will be released—with the longer, more Shanghai-centric edition coming out in Chinese theaters.
The film, due out stateside from Sony Pictures on Sept. 28, had already undergone a transformation to appeal to Chinese financiers.
Originally set partly in Paris, the script’s international location was changed to Shanghai after financier Endgame Entertainment brought on Chinese entity DMG to back the film.
But now some of the scenes shot as part of the China deal won’t make the film’s Western release. According to two people involved with the production who were not authorized to talk about it publicly, those moments ended up on the cutting-room floor in the English-language version. But the footage, which showcases Shanghai streets and landmarks, is being added back into the Chinese version at the request of financiers from the country.
The scenes, mainly exposition about how Gordon-Levitt’s character took a downward spiral, did not test well with American audiences, who felt it upset the film’s pacing. “But the Chinese didn’t care about pacing, and they wanted the [China-set] scenes in, so we said OK,” said one of the two people involved with the film. (Some other Chinese scenes do wind up in the Western version.)
A representative for Endgame and a Sony spokesman declined to comment.