Airlines Embrace 'Edgy' Entertainment

It seems that airlines are starting to embrace “edgier” entertainment…and by “edgy” we think they mean, “not a veritable smorgasbord of only the most mind-numbingly horrific crap available.” From the Denver Post:

Since September, United has loosened its restrictions on what types of movies can be shown on jets equipped with overhead screens, which all passengers can see. When the airline played “Little Miss Sunshine” in the fall, an R movie with some ear-curling rants by Alan Arkin, “We got a tremendous amount of positive feedback,” Kovick said.

“We’ve found out that what customers want to see is not just the blockbusters but also good films they haven’t had a chance to see yet,” he said. “We’re not afraid to look at some movies that our competitors wouldn’t.”

What? Play halfway decent movies on the airplane? Why is this only occurring to them now… in the year 2007?

How many times have you had a conversation with someone where you ‘ve announced, “Lady in the Water was the worst movie I have ever seen!” only to be met with confused stares and had to explain, “Oh I didn’t mean to see it, I saw it on an airplane. It was an accident.” —MEGHANN MARCO

Airlines add edgier movies, TV options [Denver Post]
(Photo: JohnKit)

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  1. Omni Consumer Products says:

    I was on a United flight this December and watched THE QUEEN, and I thought to myself, “this is the best airplane movie I’ve ever seen.”

  2. WindowSeat says:

    I was subjected to Dirty Dancing II:Havana Nights on three Lufthansa flights. Things are looking up. Oh except for the episode of Joey on Delta last year..sheesh.

  3. bambino says:

    Count me in the prude group of not wanting to see R movies on airlines. Sorry, but if I want to see an ‘edgy’ movie, I’d rather go down to the local indie screen than sit next to my grandmother explaining what a ‘douchebag’ is.

  4. acambras says:

    A little OT, but…

    In Mexico the long-distance motorcoaches are pretty nice. It’s more pleasant than Greyhound. And they play a movie during the trip. Last time I got to watch the Spanish-dubbed version of “Kangaroo Jack.”

    Good times…

  5. TedSez says:

    Considering that most airlines now show movies on tiny TV screens set at a distance or angle where half the passengers can barely see them, it’s not surprising that they’re focusing on independent films in which the dialogue is more important than the imagery.

  6. MattyMatt says:

    As a matter of fact, I saw “Little Miss Sunshine” on a flight back in December. As I recall, the word “fag” was redubbed with “oddball.”

  7. critical_matt says:

    Gads, I think I’m in the prude crowd now. I have a 4 yr old and 3 yr old who imitate EVERYTHING. We have very specific rules when they get to watch TV. I’d hate to be on a plane that decided something edgy or violent would be a good idea. I may love it, but I sure wouldn’t want my kids to watch it.

  8. formergr says:

    @Omni Consumer Products: It may have been fixed by now, but United and a bunch of other airlines who purchased their copies of The Queen from a particular distributor had to publicly respond to a barrage of passenger complaints because all uses of word “God” in the movie were bleeped out. As in, “*Bleep* save the Queen.”

    It turns out the software the distributor used to edit out inappropriate language was programmed incorrectly– it should have just bleeped out “God” when it was followed by “damn”.

    I’m all for expanding the movie selection, and being a freq United flyer I’ve definitely noticed an improvement recently. For a while there they were cycling through the atrocious “Never Been Kissed” with Drew Barrymore every 9 months or so, as recently as last year (seriously, that movie is now 8 years old).

  9. formergr says:

    @critical_matt: To the self-labeled prudes that are posting here, isn’t there always the option of not watching (or telling your children not to watch)? Since you have to plug in headphones to see/hear the meeting, you’re not being exposed without choice to it. And if you’re worried about keeping the kids entertained, there’s always a portable DVD player or books as an option…

    It just seems like it’s more likely that only 20% of the folks on the plane prefer *not* to see an R-movie even if it’s of a better quality, while the 80% would greatly prefer it. Obviously not everyone will be happy, but the majority could at least be accommodated without imposing on the minority (who can choose not to watch).

  10. daze says:

    yeah, i accidentally saw the crocodile hunter movie AND scooby doo on an international flight a few years back. i tried to sleep, but crikey, i couldn’t.

  11. jacques says:

    I also saw Little Miss Sunshine on a flight last year. (Well, actually twice, since they forgot to switch movies out). I noticed they still bleeped the language and took out the grandfather’s drug scenes. If I hadn’t seen the movie before, I would have been confused how he died I guess.

  12. formergr says:

    Hoo boy, typo in my post above– I meant “movie”, not “meeting”. And I didn’t mean to sound like I was criticizing or dissing the “prudes”; the tone of my post came off badly. I really am just genuinely curious of your thoughts on this.

  13. pego says:

    It used to be that *better* (more mainstream/blockbuster type) movies were played on international flights. Nowadays most movies are crap. Better to skip the headphones and make up your own soundtrack to the movie on the screen. Oh, and on my last flight to Hong Kong, it seemed they tried to squeeze in as many crappy mmovies as possible (most of them starring JLo) but that might’ve been a tactic to get us to go to sleep instead of bugging the stewardesses.

  14. FLConsumer says:

    If it’s being shown on individual seat-back screens, then I don’t have a problem with the R movies, but I’d hate to see some of the R movies on the main screens of the planes…

    Besides, don’t the airlines have better things to focus on (like getting people to their destinations in-tact, on-time?) than what they show on the movie screens? How ’bout some real food and beverages on the flights, that’d be a good start. They can bring me my drink and I can bring my spank-o-vision for my laptop.

  15. humphrmi says:

    I hgave a list of movies they can add now:

    * World Trade Center
    * Syriana
    * United 93

    Sorry couldn’t resist

  16. kerry says:

    @WindowSeat: I saw Joe vs The Volcano on three flights during one trip to Southeast Asia many years ago. I might be the only person on earth who actually enjoyed that movie.

  17. nweaver says:

    THe flight I was just on had a crappy main movie (Night at the Muesuem)

    Fortunately, the flight attendants were bored and also had Casino Royale for the next week, and put that on. A few of the edits were weird, but far better movie.

  18. Falconfire says:

    Funny enough I saw Must Love Dogs with my fiancee only to THEN see it on a flight to Cali later that month.

    They cut out some strange language, yet left in the ENTIRE car ride for condom scene completely intact with no editing. Really made me wonder why they cut out the language when that 5 minute long scene was more questionable than any of the language.

  19. critical_matt says:

    @formergr: I think it’s difficult either way to tell the truth. I have to fly and would love to see adult fare on my flights. The problem is that you’re not choosing to watch a movie when you buy a ticket. You’re on the flight to get somewhere, and the movie is put on for you. I can’t book my flight and decide between the 8:10 to Orlando showing Cars, or the 8:15 showing 300.

    Look, a few years ago I would have taken your position, but my perspective has changed since the kiddies. I take my portable and movies with me when I fly, but I’m still mindful of what I watch.

    As for trying to have kids not watch something. Good luck. The only way that works is to turn it off (at least in my experience, but I could be a really crappy parent).

  20. critical_matt says:

    Oh, and my comment above was referring to the large screen. If there are individual seat screens then I could care less what is being shown.

  21. RumorsDaily says:

    That’s almost verbatim the conversation I have with people about Lady in the Water.

  22. RumorsDaily says:

    Side note: anything would be better than the hour long interview of Tyra Banks by Ryan Seacrest that I watched the last time I was on an airplane. That was intolerable.

  23. Youthier says:

    First airline that shows Arrested Development reruns has my undying loyalty.

  24. RandomHookup says:

    * World Trade Center
    * Syriana
    * United 93

    Let’s not forget Snakes on a Plane.

  25. formergr says:

    @critical_matt: Makes sense, and I appreciate the answer. And oh god, “Must Love Dogs”…I’ve seen that one on a plane a couple of times, which was a couple of times too many. I managed to avoid Lady in the Water, though, even though that seemed to be on constantly (along with “My Super Ex-Girlfriend”)!

  26. Mr. Gunn says:

    It’ll never fly. Writers-of-sternly-worded-letters, already uptight because they’re scared of flying, will have a fit and demand travel vouchers because their little angel heard a word that pales in comparison to what he hears every day coming from his parents’ mouths.

    I’m going to use this comment as proof that I Called Itâ„¢.

  27. DougDascenzo says:

    If anyone who works for the airlines is reading this:

    I’ll gladly pay up to $50 extra per ticket for an “adults-only” flight where I can watch a decent movie, unedited, without screaming kids kicking my seat and bawling in my ear the whole time.

    I’m guessing plenty of other people would do the same (particularly business travelers who aren’t paying for their flights anyway). There, I think I just made 90% of airline passengers happy and saved the airlines from bankruptcy. You’re welcome.

  28. I have seen three plane crash movies on planes — Alive, Armageddon (okay, that was a space plane thingie), and Air Force One.

    WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH AIRLINES THAT THEY SHOW PLANE CRASH MOVIES ON PLANES?

  29. Sudonum says:

    @kerry:
    That is one of my favorite movies and my wife just doesn’t “get it”. The only way I got here to even try and watch it was because it had Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan in it. I think she’s got a brain cloud or something.

  30. lucabrazi says:

    But if it’s an R rated movie it’s likely to be hacked to death–sorta like watching the Sopranos edited for basic cable. Far better to get stuck with a movie that you can righteously ignore rather than one that has been ruined.

  31. Samby says:

    I agree with critical_matt. Having flown with kids, I know that it’s impossible to keep their eyes off the big screen, it’s too entrancing.

    I have also flown with young children, and I bring along toys and crafts to distract them from the movies that I feel are far too violent and inappropriate for young childre. I can’t imagine it being worse than it already is. (of course, if this is just referring to language, that’s not an issue, we just don’t take the headphones!)

  32. dale3h says:

    Too bad that Air Canada rocks! They have private screens on the back of EVERY SINGLE CHAIR! They had a wide variety of selections, everything from music, to radio shows, to TV shows, to wonderful movies!

    Air Canada FTMFW!

  33. msbadkittie says:

    “I’ll gladly pay up to $50 extra per ticket for an “adults-only” flight where I can watch a decent movie, unedited, without screaming kids kicking my seat and bawling in my ear the whole time.”

    DougDascenzo, I second that idea!

    p.s. don’t remember how to do that special ‘quote another commenter’ thing. can someone remind me how to do it? thanks!

  34. acambras says:

    @Eyebrows McGee:

    Remember that Jodie Foster movie that came out last year (the name escapes me)? Where her little girl vanishes on a giant plane? I read that real-life flight attendants were pissed off by the way they were portrayed in the film (as cold, indifferent sky-waitresses). The article mentioned that that movie probably would not make airlines’ lists of in-flight movies.

    So crazy weird that they would show PLANE CRASH movies. Idiots.

  35. WindowSeat says:

    @kerry: I’d rather see silly early Tom Hanks than present-day serious Tom Hanks, but three times is a bit much.

  36. TechnoDestructo says:

    I dunno…I never would have seen Spy Kids 3D if I hadn’t seen it on a plane, and I’m glad I did.

  37. John Stracke says:

    What’s dumber than plane crash movies on a plane? How about a shoot-em-up movie in the waiting room of the ER? I had to bring my 5-year-old son in this weekend, and they were showing something with Bruce Willis and automatic weapons.