Overdubbed words in R-Rated movies played on network TV

When an R-Rated movie is played on network or basic cable TV, who dubs over the swear words? Does the production company do it, or the network?

For example, Die Hard 2 was on WGN today and Bruce Willis said “Joke off” instead of “F*** off”. However, it sounded more like “JOKE… (off)”

If the production company does this, why don’t they either a) make it sound more like the actor, or b) not make it so dumb?

If the network does it, does the production company have any say in what the words are changed to?

Additionally, if the network does it, presumably there would be multiple versions of the same movie floating around… Does anyone know of any really funny changes in movies? For example, in MallRats, the phrase “a fat chronic blunt” was changed to “a fast karate punch!”

Usually the original actor dubs in the new dialog.

Sometimes two versions are shot. Two examples are 10 and Planes Trains and Automobiles

You sure about that? It seems to me that this is quite often not the case. Where did you hear that?

I remember when the HBO Original Movie about the Late-Night battle over Johnny Carson’s spot on the Tonight Show was shown on regular television. In one scene where Jay Leno’s manager is being a big bitch on the phone to an NBC exec, he yells “Oh yeah?! Well, thank you! Thank you and the horse you rode in on!!”

I guess they can get away with ridiculous dubs like that in a comedy. In and action flick it would break the mood.

Also, in “Pretty Woman”, when Vivian and Kit (Laura San Giacomo) are talking at the outdoor table, Kit says “Cinda-fuckin’-rella” in the theatrical version and just “Cindarella” in the TV version.

In both versions, she is filmed full-faced, so no dubbing was done; two takes were obviously done.

I saw Total Recall on network TV. In one scene, Arnold Schwarenegger is presented with a situation that he finds dubious and he says “Baloney.” This is when the camera is centered right on his face and you can clearly read his lips to say: “Bulls**t.” It was also Arnold’s voice. I doubt it’s too much of a big deal to have the actors use their own voices to dub for the network playing of the films.

The actor is the one that does the overdubs… I saw an interview on The Tonight Show or Late Night with Julia Roberts awhile ago and she said that she had just gotten back from the studio where she was doing overdubs for some film… I can’t remember which one… but she said that just about every actor has to do it while a film is in post-production.

My favorite was “slug in a ditch” for “son of a bitch”. It actually matched up really well with Emelio Estavez’s mouth in the TV broadcast of “Repo Man”.

…although the version of “Repo Man” I saw on TV fired off "Flippin’ " and “Flip you” so many times that it went from odd to annoying to detracting really fast.

(rant ON)

This “problem” of overdubbing swear words in movies to sanitise them for TV screening is only going to get worse, given the increasing frequency of use.

To me, it shows an appalling lack of talent amongst script writers. Vocabulary must be a very real problem for these unfortunate people. Drooping the magic F word continually does not make a bad script any better - it just makes it worse. The nett result is equivalent to a bad comedian attempting to get laughs by resorting to anglo-saxon swear words.

Perfomance and professionalism are completely diminished by such poor use of language.

(rant OFF)

It varies.

Sometimes, at the time they shoot the original scene, the actors do two versions.

In other cases, only one scene is shot, but later the original actors will record different versions of dialogue to be dubbed over the same scene - the lip synch may vary from passable to awful.

An in other cases, only one version is released by the studio, but the TV network get an actor in who does his best ‘approximation’ of the real actor’s voice, and who records the milder form of the dialgoue in those scenes where the original contains ‘bad’ words.

At least this was the case here in the UK until a few years ago. Now they don’t bother, and just show the ‘strong language’ versions without all this stupid tampering.

As has been stated, they’re generally done by the original actors during ADR (dialogue replacement) sessions, but occasionally the actor in question is not available, and there are deadlines to be met, so they get a sound-alike. Doing two versions on set, while it does happen, is pretty rare. Even on big-budget films, the schedules are just too tight to take the time to do another take for language. More often, they’ll do a version without nudity, and other things they can’t possibly replace in post that won’t play on television.

A television version is usually one of the delivery requirements a producer has to meet… the finaniceers want to know they can make as much money on the film as possible. Speaking from experience, I know that filmmakers usually really don’t care about tv versions, since that’s really not how they want people to see their films in the first place, and these parts of the ADR sessions are usually rushed through and not taken very seriously.

Speaking on behalf of those “unfortunate people”, I’ve gotta say, ‘oh, please’. While you’re right, using “bad” words doesn’t automatically make a script better, exactly how does it automatically make it worse, except in your puritinical mind? Like it or not, people really do use those words every day. Some groups more than others. And if I’m writing a scene with a bunch of, say, gangbangers for example, I’m not going to have one say “Gee whiz, that blasted gunshot sure stings like the devil!”

Funny, when I started reading that, I thought the rant was going to be in a different direction.

The “problem” of overdubbing swear words can easily be solved by simply not overdubbing. I have never in my more than forty years of life been able to understand why some people can have such a problem hearing simple words that we have to resort to hacking movies to pieces in order to protect such people. “Swear” words are a fact of life, people use them all the time in real life. If I’m watching a movie and some gang member or hardened criminal (or heck, even a cop on the street), gets angry and says, “No freakin’ way!”, that totally disrupts the movie; it’s unrealistic and comical. It is as stupid as the bad guy attacking the good guy by throwing a stuffed rabbit at him.

Movies have different versions and different scenes which obviously have to be made by the original actors. Many American movies have European versions which have more nudity and, obviously, they are not made later by other actors so, I assume, when the movie is being made, they do scenes for the different versions: Foreign, domestic, TV airplanes etc.

>> I have never in my more than forty years of life been able to understand why some people can have such a problem hearing simple words that we have to resort to hacking movies to pieces in order to protect such people.

While I agree with the sentiment that people should not be afraid of words (or nudity) I have to tell you something. I am in Madrid, Spain now, and TV here is so foul it is disgusting. Every program of interviews, games, whatever uses the foulest language as a matter of course. The worst sexual words, the worst religious profanity. Does it offend me? Only slightly. But do we really want that lind of language on TV all the time? IS it necessary?

I do think Americans are kind of childish about profanity and nudity but the other extreme is not pleasant. There is such a thing as good taste.

Sorry for a slight hijack, but you just reminded me of what happened some years ago on an independent regular TV network here which ran All That Jazz on a Sunday afternoon…with all the cuss words intact .
It didn’t bother me…I just couldn’t bleepin’ believe it.
Must have been one h*** of a programming glitch.


The version of “Mallrats” that runs on FX regularly is definitely not dubbed by the original actors. It was quite cheaply and badly done. Since “Jay” (Jason Mewes) has to be dubbed so much, it is mostly some studio clod doing his voice.

A bleeped version would be vasty superior in this case.

I remember when network TV first got the rights to air the profanity-laden (especially for its day) Smokey and the Bandit and introduced us all to the epithet “scum buzzard.”

Those were the days, boy.

Am I the only one who finds it odd that someone named sailor is bemoaning foul language? ;j

I remember watching Spaceballs when I was growing up. They swear twice in the movie, the version I saw had them bleeped out. I always thought it was a joke (the actors looked surprised to me after a beep came out of their mouths) until I saw the unbleeped version as a teenager :slight_smile:

“Mother F*cker” became “Mother Scratcher” in Breakfast Club. Yah, I know they used it in Raising Arizona, but in that movie, it was intended to stay that way.

Minor Hijack.

If an actor/actress were to have shot multiple versions of scenes
in which (s)he uses language, this could theoretically lead to
multiple versions of the movie being shown at the multiplex;
an R rating for the adults, and next door a PG-13 version for
the family.

Also, A DVD player with a V-chip would automatically play ONLY
the mild version, in case a child was home alone wathing your

Self-editing DVDs…I betcha they’re gonna be invented soon.

An interesting idea, but as I said earlier, there just isn’t time on a film set to do this. Even on huge budget films, they’re racing every day just to get the pages done. Having to do each potentially offensive scene multiple times (keeping in mind scenes aren’t shot from just one angle; you’ll have to do multiple versions for each camera set-up) would just be cost-prohibitive. Not to mention the added cost of extra prints…