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The Story Behind The Controversial "Pride" DVD Cover

The words "lesbians and gays" that appear in the official description and art are nowhere to be seen on the American version, but a source close to the situation says CBS Films and Sony Home Entertainment are working together to find out the source of the change.

Posted on January 5, 2015, at 4:51 p.m. ET

The original artwork for Pride
Sony Pictures via Nicola Dove / CBS Films

The original artwork for Pride

The back of the U.S. DVD box for Pride
Sony Pictures via Nicola Dove / CBS Films

The back of the U.S. DVD box for Pride

Pride ended 2014 on a high note — with a Golden Globe nomination for Best Comedy or Musical — but it's starting 2015 with a bit of controversy. The British movie, which tells the true story about a group of LGBT activists who helped a group of striking miners in 1984, was released in the U.S. on DVD on Dec. 23, and, as Pink News first noticed, the synopsis on the back of the DVD has been altered from the one on the movie's official site and press release, seemingly in an effort to downplay the LGBT themes. Also, a banner in the original art for Pride that read "Lesbians & gays support the miners" has been removed from the image on the U.S. DVD box entirely.

The original synopsis reads: "Pride is inspired by an extraordinary true story. It's the summer of 1984, Margaret Thatcher is in power and the National Union of Mineworkers is on strike, prompting a London-based group of gay and lesbian activists to raise money to support the strikers' families. Initially rebuffed by the Union, the group identifies a tiny mining village in Wales and sets off to make their donation in person. As the strike drags on, the two groups discover that standing together makes for the strongest union of all."

And the synopsis on the U.S. DVD box reads: "Pride is inspired by an extraordinary true story. It's the summer of 1984 and much of blue-collar Great Britain is on strike. For one tiny Welsh village, the strike brings unexpected visitors — a group of London-based activists who decide to raise money to support the strikers' families and want to make their donation in person. In this feel-good, heartwarming comedy, two groups seemingly from worlds apart, discover that standing together makes for the strongest union of all."

The latter refers to the group as "London-based activists" rather than the original synopsis's "London-based group of gay and lesbian activists."

Nicola Dove / CBS Films

However, a source close to the situation told BuzzFeed News this was not an intentional move by CBS Films, which acquired the U.S. distribution rights for Pride in July 2014 and embraced the LGBT themes. The DVD distribution rights, however, were outsourced to Sony Home Entertainment, and the source told BuzzFeed News that CBS Films had no control over or knowledge of the alterations to the DVD boxes, and those at the studio are unclear as to who made the changes. The source said Sony and CBS Films are working together to find out who altered the language and the artwork, and why. Though the DVD isn't being recalled, the source said the studio and Sony plan to ensure that anywhere the synopsis appears online, it is the original version and not the one on the U.S. DVD.

Pride was promoted with a heavily LGBT-centric campaign at the Cannes Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival, and in advance of CBS Films' Sept. 26, 2014, release in the U.S. The header image on the film's official website still includes the banner that is omitted from the U.S. DVD cover.

At the time of publication, CBS Films declined to comment to BuzzFeed News and request for comment from Sony had not been answered.

Matthew Warchus, who directed Pride, issued the following statement to BuzzFeed News about the DVD packaging.

"Pride is a film which plays incredibly well to a global mainstream audience of any political or sexual persuasion. It’s a film about two groups of people forming an unlikely alliance and fighting each others’ corners rather than just their own. It is probably one of the most political films ever to hit the mainstream and it is certainly one of the most loved films of the year (even by people who hate politics). I don’t consider it a ‘Gay Film’ or a ‘Straight Film’. I’m not interested in those labels. It is an honest film about compassion, tolerance, and courage.

Marketing Pride has proved an interesting challenge from day one, and there are many people in the mainstream who have yet to see the film. My guess is some of those people are imagining that the film is maybe ‘too political’ for them, and some others are imagining it could possibly be ‘too gay’. As it happens, these concerns completely evaporate in the presence of the movie itself, but they are important when attempting to manage potential audience perceptions through marketing. Since the day I first read the script I have felt passionately that this film, of all films, deserves to find a fully diverse audience, from all walks of life. Indeed its’ very meaning and message is diminished the more ‘niche’ it becomes. I look forward to living in a world where these kinds of marketing negotiations are neither valid nor necessary — but we're not there yet. In a sense, that's why I made the film.

For these reasons I don’t automatically condemn any attempt to prevent the movie being misunderstood as an exclusively “Gay Film”. I certainly don’t regard such attempts as homophobic."

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