‘Across the Spider-Verse’ Producers Phil Lord and Chris Miller Clarify Those Alternate Cuts Theories (Exclusive)

In a conversation with TheWrap, the duo squashes rumors that alternate versions of the sequel played in theaters

Spider-Man Across the Spider-Verse

After “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” was released on Digital last week, eagle-eyed fans started to notice what they thought were some striking differences between the version that was released in theaters this past June and what ended up on home video, largely owing to a Twitter user’s side-by-side videos. But as producers Phil Lord and Chris Miller explained to TheWrap, the version of the film used as a theatrical comparison point in the viral thread wasn’t actually a completed version of the Sony Pictures sequel but instead an international version that was turned over early.

“It’s a little bit overblown, but the main thing that happened was when we made the international version of the movie, it had to be done almost two months before the movie came out for translations. And there’s a French censor board that has to see the film as it is to decide what the rating of the film is that is used throughout Europe. And so, we had to turn it in by a date almost two months before the movie came out,” Miller explained during an interview about their new comedy “Strays.”

Lord continued: “And we were not allowed to change that version. But the other versions kept improving. And so when people compare it to the most frequently pirated versions [online], those are those first international ones. That was the version that some people who don’t go to the movie theater to see the movie saw and that’s the version of the movie they know the best.

“And so the remaining weeks [before release], Sony Pictures ImageWorks was like, ‘There’s a bunch of shots that we would love to keep working on and tweaking and things,’” Miller said. “And there was more sound editing that happened along the way. And so in the intervening weeks, we just kept working on the movie to make it, it was locked for length and whatnot, but there were little changes that were made to improve it along the way.”

“Yeah, it’s mostly improved effects shots and a couple of audio fixes, and a couple of things that we did for our own vanity here and there, but you can think of the digital and home video release as the posterity edition,” Lord said.

Lord and Miller asserted that, despite speculation, there were not multiple versions of the movie playing in theaters. Which makes sense considering that they’d have to get every version of the movie approved by the MPA, which seems like a headache. (Robert Zemeckis famously wanted to release two different cuts of his 2007 animated feature “Beowulf” – a PG-13 cut for general exhibition and an NC-17 cut for IMAX – but was told that two versions of the same movie couldn’t play at the same time.)

“No, that never happened. But we did think like, oh, there’s going to be this version that’s playing internationally, and then there’s going to be a domestic version and a posterity version, but it is a multiverse, so it’s alright,” Miller said.

“We’re not as clever as people gave us credit for that we would scheme to put different versions out,” Lord said.

One change was made to avoid a connection to a real-life tragedy. “There was a line that was different in the international version where Ben Riley said, ‘I’m putting you in a sleeper hold.’ And then in the intervening time there was Jordan Neely being put in a sleeper hold in the New York subway and we’re like, ‘You know what? That’s probably not something we want to be laughing about right this very second,’” Miller explained. “We asked Andy (Samberg) to change the line to a different line about his musculature. There are little things like that that happened along the way, but they were all things that either an artist or a sound person or the ImageWorks were like, ‘Hey, we can do better with this.’ And so we had a few weeks to improve it, and so we did.”

“Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” is available to purchase digitally wherever you buy movies. And “Strays” is in theaters on Friday.