The Campaign to Digitally Remove the Rat from 'The Departed' Has Been Digitally Removed

Warner Bros. Studios shuts down the viral Kickstarter campaign over copyright infringement.

Well, that was fast. One week ago, filmmaker Adam Sacks, introduced the internet to his undying hatred for the "metaphorical" rat shot at the end of Martin Scorsese's 2006 filmThe Departed. He hated that rat so much that he launched a Kickstarter to the tune of $4,000 to fund its digital erasure from the picture. 

A mere one day later, the Kickstarter succeeded in hitting its goal, and at least 50 people were set to receive handmade copies of the "superior" version of the film. This is where the trouble really began. Sacks technically couldn't sell any of these Blu-ray copies, because he does not own the rights to the movie. As a workaround, users were asked to pledge $70 to receive one of the limited edition copies. The problem is, that workaround didn't really work.

"Although we live in an era when money and copyright laws allow corporations to stop Kickstarter, nothing can stop ideas."

In a statement released by Kickstarter yesterday, Warner Bros Entertainment Inc. called for the removal of the campaign stating: “The 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.” Unfortunately, Sacks couldn't put up much of a fight against the media giant and the campaign has been terminated, with all funding in place canceled and refunded.

Instead, he responded with a note on Twitter yesterday that was heavily laced with shade:

"Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. has decided that my Kickstarter campaign to buy 50 Blu-ray copies of their thirteen-year-old movie infringes on their intellectual copyright, just because I was going to fix the ending.

In order to comply with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), Kickstarter had no choice but to take down my project to digitally erase the rat from the end of ‘The Departed.’ I could fight this, but I checked my bank account, and I have far less money than Warner Brothers made off ‘A Star is Born’ in its 21st week in theaters alone (700,000 dollars. Very impressive!).

Although we live in an era when money and copyright laws allow corporations to stop Kickstarter, nothing can stop ideas. Ideas like digitally erasing the rat from the end of ‘The Departed’. Clearly there is a lot of grassroots support for this too. In fact, someone has already erased the rat from the last shot. To protect his or her identity, I won’t name the person, but a quick Google search will give Warner Brothers someone else to send a cease and desist letter to. They infringed on your copyright, not me. I’m only guilty of wanting to help!

As this project comes to a close I’d like to thank everyone who supported my dream and everyone who called me an idiot. Without all of your help, this story would not have reached national publications and triggered a Warner Brothers google alert.

If there is a silver lining here (besides me not having to actually follow through on this), its that maybe all this online controversy about the rat will convince Warner Brothers to release a 4k Blu-Ray of ‘The Departed’. And maybe, just maybe, they will include an alternate rat-less ending. I’m fairly confident it would make them at least an additional 4,000 dollars."

At this point, I'm not really sure if this was all a joke in the first place or why he felt compelled to expose whoever went ahead and digitally removed the rat for free but kudos to Mr. Sacks for giving No Film School the distinction of a "national publication."     

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I always found this a strange article for NFS to publish, but free speech. Fine, Mr. Sacks disliked the rat, and is entitled to his opinion (shared by whomever else), but his God-like position to deem it destroyed the movie, when apparently it didn't bother millions of others was a bit arrogant.

And to think the family well publicized stunt to raise money was going to go unnoticed when it was a clear copyright infringement?

I wonder how Mr. Sacks would respond if he made a movie and someone publicly announced they were going to fix an element in that movie that they felt destroyed the perfection of it. Perhaps he would fully fund any hypothetical KickStarter to assist...but unlikely. He would probably be enraged.

I can only see his act of divulging where to find the free rat removed video as sour grapes, and he probably wants the other person to suffer the same wrath he received.

February 28, 2019 at 12:54PM

Grant Vetters

Well, it was funny, but I can only agree with Warner Brothers...

February 28, 2019 at 1:56PM

Thales Banzai
Director; Screenwriter

I am SOOOO glad it ended this way. What an insipid, little simpleton of a twit to actually think he could do this, not to mention that he actually had the right to do it. Shall we have a KickStarter campaign to change the expression of the Mona Lisa?

March 1, 2019 at 10:46AM


Funny thing is, I just watched this movie last night. For the first time since it probably came out. The next day this article shows up in my feedly feed. What a coincidence. I thought the inclusion of the rat at the end was a kind of cute wink wink.

It's one thing to not like something about a movie, it's another thing entirely to go out of your way and start a kickstarter campaign to have it changed. Some people have too much time on their hands.

March 1, 2019 at 11:21AM, Edited March 1, 11:21AM

Mike Tesh
Pro Video / Indie Filmmaker