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I was recently on a transatlantic flight and watched the movie Steve Jobs on the plane’s entertainment system. Every movie I tried, including that one, had a message right at the start saying the movie had been edited for content.

In one scene, the caracter of Steve Wozniak is fiddling with a watch and the character of Steve Jobs makes a joke it looks like he’s messing with a bomb. Those words were muted. The word “bomb” (and one or two words around it) were gone from the movie. I even rewinded to make sure, and the words were indeed gone.

Is there some weird law that forbids the use of the word in in-flight entertainment systems? It there is, it’d be particularly weird since you need to plug headphones to listen to the movie in the first place, so it’s unlikely you’d cause hysteria. In addition, the word was pronounced again later on in the movie but wasn’t muted then. It was less clear audibly, though, so it’s feasible it wouldn’t have been caught by the automated system (if any is used).

The airline was TAP, and the entertainment systems were individual per seat.

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Most 'content' editing is done to make the movie youth viewable, ie removing explicit nudity, excessive violence, etc. Never seen a movie where the word bomb was removed, but then I haven't watched any movie enough to have memorized all the lines. – Tom Mar 10 at 3:05
Related question on Skeptics.SE: Are movies with aircraft incidents not shown on planes? – Andrew Grimm Mar 10 at 10:15
up vote 12 down vote accepted

There doesn't seem to be any law of that sort, however there's some reports online, which indicate, that this is a common occurrence. See for instance this news report talking about Qantas.

More generally air crashes and the like seem to be avoided in in-flight programs. Although I once watched a documentary on a Singapore Airlines flight which went into great lengths about the dangers of counterfeit airline parts and their involvement in the Concorde crash.

Other than that, airlines also seem to edit out content which they deem potentially offensive. To quote from an article from road warrior voices:

For example, nudity and profanity in a film might be okay on a flight to Europe, whereas more discretion is practiced in the Middle East where nudity is not tolerated. In some Middle Eastern countries violence is totally acceptable, but scenes that involve pork products or pigs in any way, shape, or form hit the editorial chopping block because they might offend Muslim passengers, Toh said.

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I will long remember watching Memphis Belle on a transatlantic flight and hitting some pretty serious turbulence during the climactic air battle scene. It definitely enhanced the, um, dramatic effect. – phoog Mar 10 at 3:49
Less than a year before Andreas Lubitz crashed Germanwings Flight 9525, the film Relatos salvajes premiered. This film has a part portraying a flight crashed by its pilot, as with Lubitz. I saw the film some weeks after the Germanwings crash, and couldn't help thinking if any passengers on the Germanwings flight had seen this film, and that seeing this film on a plane would be unsettling (in particular after the Germanwings crash). – gerrit Mar 10 at 14:51
The version of Two Girls and a Guy I saw on an individual TV on British Airways was more explicit than the version in American theatrical release. – Andrew Lazarus Mar 11 at 23:26

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