Director Jon M. Chu brings forty minutes of never-before-seen Justin Bieber footage to Digital 3D theaters this Friday

Director Jon M. Chu brings forty minutes of never-before-seen Justin Bieber footage to Digital 3D theaters this Friday

This Friday, everything changes. In an unprecedented move, director Jon M. Chu is set to release an all-new never-before-seen extended cut of the hit movie Justin Bieber: Never Say Never in theaters. This Director's Fan Cut will reestablish forty minutes of Justin Bieber footage back into the film as asked for by the fans. As well, it is a wholly new entity with a new narrative arc and song changes. Fans who attended the opening night festivities have also been edited back into the story.

Justin Bieber: Never Say Never: Director's Fan Cut arrives just three weeks after the original cut opened to both audience and critical praise. Showing in Digital 3D, Justin Bieber: Never Say Never: Director's Fan Cut is set to change the way films are edited in the future. Any filmmaker can now makes changes leading up to that first showing on Thursday at Midnight, and as Jon M. Chu is proving, popular movies can now be given new scenes and alternate endings while they are still experiencing their first run at the multiplex.

We recently caught up with director Jon M. Chu to talk both about

Justin Bieber: Never Say Never: Director's Fan Cut and how it is set to change the way movies are presented in the future.

Here is our conversation:

How does being able to get a director's cut into theaters three weeks after the release of Justin Bieber: Never Say Never pretty much change the way things are done in terms of editing going into the future?

Jon M. Chu: To me, it's not about changing things. It's just logical. I grew up in the digital video world in high school, with Final Cut Pro. Being able to post things online, and change things on a dime. It was more a shock for me getting into the business that things didn't happen like this. We had to use reels. I didn't want to separate reels! It's such an old school world. For me, and this movie, the fact that we were on 98% digital screens opened up this opportunity to be able to change some things. It's not for every movie. I don't think every movie should start changing their endings. But for this movie, it fit. It felt right. The fans were demanding some of the more personal Justin Bieber stuff that we had. We had an opportunity to actually execute that. 3D has been a big thing in the last couple of years. It has had an impact on this business. But for me, it was the Trojan horse. It was actually digital cinema that 3D brought into our world. What that means is digital distribution, and being able to do a lot more organically. There are more ways to update or change a story. We can do whatever we want to do. We can be editing up to the very last second, which is what we were used to. There is something interesting about it, thinking about what kinds of doors this opens creatively. Can you do a choose-your-own-adventure? I don't know. That is fascinating to me. There is a changing of the guards happening with these digital filmmakers. This is one of those things that are changing.

This seems like an aspect o filmmaking that would have driven an artist like George Lucas batty back in the day. We'd have been getting a different cut of the film at every showing.

Jon M. Chu: (Laughs) I am not saying it's a good thing across the board. It's good for any artist to have a deadline, where they can stop and say, "Enough is enough." Or you will edit to death. It's the option. To have that is very interesting. I think there are going to be a lot more uses of it than we are thinking about right now.

Like Judd Apatow. He can change the jokes in his movies every week that the film is in theaters. He could literally have a different cut of the film for five straight weeks.

Jon M. Chu: Yeah. And I think that is interesting. From my understanding, that is fun. It changes the way you think about a story, and how you present it. Obviously, you already have DVDs. The extra features, and things like that. But the movie is not presented in the way it was originally supposed to be shown. On the big screen. There is something freeing about doing this version of the movie. The first movie is our foundational version. That is the movie we wanted to release. The second version is a lot more free. We can leave a lot more hanging. We can do things that are left field. We can pull out a couple more risks. That is freeing. We know people have seen this movie. Once they come back and see this movie again, we'll be giving them the best of the best that we have. I think that was a cool experience as a filmmaker to go through.

One of the things I haven't seen discussed yet is that this really keeps bootleggers on their toes...

Jon M. Chu: (Laughs) Yeah, I don't know how they are going to keep up. It's hard enough to keep the consumers up-to-date with an understanding of what we are doing. But then you have the bootleggers going, "Oh, what version do you have?" This will definitely throw them off a little bit.

It certainly seems like a deterrent for them.

Jon M. Chu: If they can be a virus, we can be a virus and evolve, too, though. It's all about evolving. It's about finding new ways to tell a story. I know it sounds corny, but what I learned from Justin Bieber is that the story of Justin Bieber doesn't begin and end in the movie theater. It started way before on Twitter, when we first met. Then people found out there was a movie. The narrative began right then. People could follow the narrative on Twitter. Then the movie comes out, and it begins and ends. Then you go home and follow us on Twitter again. You get to see the aftermath of the movie. In this new version, now the movie itself is changing. Its this organic part of this moving narrative. The narrative is everywhere. How will it end up? Where will the stand be? I don't know that yet. But it's exciting. The form of the story changes, and happily-ever-after and "The End" don't necessarily have to exist anymore.

This movie is being compared to The Social Network, in that it clearly speaks to what is going on in terms of technology and how it is pushing human nature forward at this time. It is clearly bigger than its own subject matter...

Jon M. Chu: It's an honor to be in the same sentence as that movie. I love that movie. Before that movie came out, I was a little scared about how they were going to represent technology. I grew up in the silicone valley. To me, its never been presented well in movies. For me, when I saw it, I thought it was a Godsend. I thought, "Oh, my God! They get it." Technology is about connecting human beings. We are connecting crowds of people who don't necessarily interact physically. But still, they are connecting emotionally. When I came onto this movie, I didn't know a lot about Justin Bieber, but I knew that the Justin Bieber story was fascinating. Whether Justin Bieber was going to make it in five or ten years from now, I just wanted people to look back on this movie, and see it as a time stamp of what we are going through right now. How kids at home are picking their icons now. It's not coming from a network show or a big corporation. But they are seeing this in their living rooms, on a crappy little webcam. They are choosing who they want for their heroes. Not only that, they are creating their own stuff. There are these digital artists who get their stuff out. They can be anywhere and do that. I thought that was a very inspired idea. The more we got into this story, the more the fans became a part of this story. The more we used them as characters. Especially when he gets sick. He had all of these Twitter followers and messengers making him videos. I saw physically how it helped him. I wanted to portray that in the film as well. As I grew to learn about the Justin Bieber world, and what he taught me about interacting with his own fans, honestly and genuinely, that became a bigger part of our movie. I wasn't sure people would pick up on that in this movie, because Justin Bieber is such a huge presence. Underneath it all, we have always understood that this story is bigger than himself. We always knew that it was about this new generation of artist and celebrity.

The film is being released as the Director's Fan Cut. From what I understand, you went directly to the fans and found out what they wanted from the movie that they didn't get the first time around. You listened to their feedback, and incorporated that in the version we're going to see this Friday...

Jon M. Chu: For sure. This is a fan cut. In my mind, I call this the "fan take over version". Because, we have been talking to the fans since the beginning of the movie. They have had a huge influence on the movie itself. But a lot of the stuff they wanted, I knew I couldn't put it in their as a filmmaker. Even though we tried. Because it didn't have anything to do with our core story. Which is about a boy following his dream. There were a lot of things that came out of left field. We kept it to the side. Once we realized we could do this, we started pulling those things out again. We decided to put it in. We could have loose ends, and that would be okay, because we had this new version that we could contain it in. A couple of weeks ago, I started to ask the fans again what they wanted to see in the movie. This is stuff that we either had and that we could fit back into the movie. Or, we went searching for it and got it. The best part is that we went to the theaters on the first weekend it opened, and we got fans at the movie theater. We are including that footage in this version. If you were at the movie two weeks ago, you could be seen in this version coming on Friday. It's unlike any other thing. We have a poster that says, "He's story is yours." That is our marker for this version of the film. You are a part of this story.

That is actually kind of crazy. That opens up a whole other avenue for filmmakers to go down...

Jon M. Chu: Yeah. I have a clip right now that I got last night. I am working with the studio right now, trying to figure out how I can slide it in there. It seems like the ship has sailed, but I am working on it right now to see how we can slide this footage in. It's so timely, it's so perfect. It would be absolutely insane, within five days of the movie opening, to have a clip from today. That would be insane. I really want to get it in there. We'll see.

Are you pulling footage out of the movie as you add this new footage back in?

Jon M. Chu: Yes. We pull out a decent amount. We pulled out twenty minutes to get back in this new forty minutes. It was things that didn't fit in with our narrative, with this new structure. Going to the doctor? Seeing the doctor doesn't necessary help us because we have so many other stories that we are telling. That got lifted. Him having voice problems is still there. We swapped out songs. We switched one song for another song, because in our original cut, we had to choose between songs. They are in the same location. He is singing from the heart in both of them. But now we got to switch it and play the other songs. We played with that type of stuff. And we got to play some shots longer. Which is something I wanted to do from the beginning. I wanted to make this less cutty, and focus on those home videos. Play it straight up. We get to do that in this new version.

What is this going to look like when it comes home on DVD and Blu-ray?

Jon M. Chu: I have no idea. That is something I am sure Paramount is freaking out about right now. We will see. Our foundation movie is the one we released two weeks ago. That is the one that is our movie. This one is the cherry on top movie.

Could there be a third cut of the movie? Especially if you are still coming up with footage that you want to include at this very minute?

Jon M. Chu: That is the thing. If it doesn't make it now, I will probably just use it as a bonus feature on the DVD. I don't know. I am sure they are working that all out right now. What they want, and how they want to do it. They are discussing that right now. I literally finished mixing this new version on Sunday, which was two days ago. I am still recovering from that.

Justin Bieber: Never Say Never: Director's Fan Cut comes to Digital 3D theaters across the country this Friday.

B. Alan Orange