Kickstarter has exterminated a campaign to exterminate the infamous rat from the end of The Departed after Warner Bros. filed a DMCA copyright takedown request, the Verge reported on Monday.
The campaign, started by director Adam Sacks, was spurred by allegedly widespread distaste at the ending of Martin Scorcese’s Oscar-winning 2006 gangster drama, in which after a long string of murders, betrayals, and double-crosses, a rat scurries across the screen. Sacks wrote on Kickstarter that it always bugged him “that a movie as good as The Departed has such a cheesy ending, and I recently realised it could be fixed by digitally erasing the rat from the last shot.”
To do this, Sacks sought to use Kickstarter to crowdfund a bizarrely intricate, $4,000 budget, in which he would acquire a copy of the film on Blu-ray, rip it, hire a visual effects artist to remove the rat, print it on 35mm film, and then re-scan that film and hire a paid intern to burn it back onto new Blu-ray discs. For backers who contributed at least $70 towards the project, earning one of “50 limited edition copies” without the rat, Sacks said he would “buy you a legal Blu-ray of The Departed, throw that disc away, replace it with my superior version, and mail it to you.”
As the Verge noted, the campaign easily hit the $4,000 mark last week.
In Sacks’ (almost certainly tongue-in-cheek) telling, somehow none of this “technically” violated copyrights on the film. Unfortunately, Warner Bros. did not agree, according to a DMCA takedown notice that now shows in place of the Kickstarter campaign:
This campaign is to digitally remove a rat from the end of our motion picture, and is promising to distribute the edited footage upon completion, which violates our copyright in this film.
Suffice it to say that absolutely nothing at all about this is surprising on any level! Sacks seems to agree, writing on a Twitter account created to promote the campaign that Kickstarter had “no choice” but to comply.
“As this project comes to a close, I’d like to thank everyone who supported my dream and everyone who called me an idiot,” Sacks added. “Without all of your help, this story would not have reached national publications and triggered a Warner Brothers google alert.”
— Eric Cunningham (@EricCunningham) February 25, 2019
Congrats indeed to you all.
Anyhow, if you want to watch the ending of The Departed without the heavy-handed rodent, motion graphics artist and videogame developer Mark LaCroix has already done that in what he described to Gizmodo as a “knowingly fruitless protest effort to prevent people from giving money to the campaign.” [The Verge]