A finished film is made up of a lot of different visions. Writers, directors, editors, actors, producers, each have an idea of how the story should be told. The best films come together when all of those visions align. But, even when everyone respects each other’s creative contributions there are differences. This is how we end up with theatrical cuts vs directors’ cuts. The differences between these film cuts can change from minutes to hours to the entire story. We’ve put together a list of some of the best directors’ cuts and deleted scenes, some no one wanted, others that are more famous than the original, and some that have never seen the light of day.
Theatrical Cuts Vs. Directors’ Cuts
Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood
Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood is Quentin Tarantino’s tribute to the golden age of Hollywood and has quite a few stories to tell. Like other auteur directors, Tarantino exerts a high level of creative control over his projects. Even so, scenes still end up on the cutting room floor. In Once Upon a Time…In Hollywood Tarantino reunited again with some of his favorite stars, this includes actor Tim Roth. Roth originally played Jay Sebring’s British butler, unfortunately, due to time all of the scenes were cut from the final release. In addition to Tim Roth’s cut, James Marsden as a young Burt Reynold’s and Danny Strong as Dean Martin were also cut from the film. There is no official release for a director’s cut of this movie but with the recent resurgence of director’s cuts, be on the lookout.
Remastered Star Wars Trilogy
If you’ve been on the internet for longer than 15 minutes you have an idea of how intense the Star Wars fandom is. George Lucas’ Star Wars story and its universe have spanned generations of moviegoers. Throughout his career, Lucas has made a habit of revisiting and tweaking the star wars movies. Those tweaks resulted in years of re-releases on top of releases. No change was off-limits to Lucas, new CGI effects, new characters, story changes, Depending on when Introduced to Star Wars will affect which version you first see. The original Star Wars films (1977), The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Return of the Jedi (1983) hold a special place in the hearts of many fans which is why the changes to the movie have been roundly rejected. People are so passionate about their dislike for the remastered versions that it’s a reminder to sometimes leave well enough alone.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
If you read the Harry Potter series you know that Peeves the Poltergeist is a trickster character that appears throughout the story. If you’ve only seen the movies, you probably have no idea who he is because Peeves makes no appearance in any of the Harry Potter movies. Actor Rik Mayall played Peeves the poltergeist in the first film but the entire character was cut from the final project, even the deleted scenes on the DVD extras. An image or two of the Rik Mayall as Peeves appears online but no release has been made of this particular cut. But there are fan petitions you can if you want it released! Readers of the books were disappointed when Peeves was cut from the story, probably because Harry Potter movies can always benefit from more magic.
The Lord of The Rings Franchise
J. R. R. Tolkien’s stories of Middle Earth span four books. Director Peter Jackson attempted to tell as much of the story as possible in The Lord of the Rings film trilogy. But with thousands of pages of lore, there are bound to be scene cuts. The theatrical cuts of The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), The Two Towers (2002), and The Return of the King (2003), total in a little over 9 hours. The extended version of the trilogy is 12 hours, an additional film’s worth of material. True LOTR heads love the extended version and praise extended scenes and the addition of completely new scenes. A movie made by a fan for the fans. These directors’ cuts are for the diehard fan, not for the casual observer.
I Am Legend
Adapting a book into a film adds another layer of complication to a production. In addition to the regular consideration, filmmakers also have to contend with the original vision of the author. I Am Legend, starring Will Smith is a movie based on the book of the same name by Richard Matheson. The film script followed the story of the book with the twist ending intact. No spoilers, but when test audiences saw the movie they hated the ending even though it was true to the original story. Based on the test audience’s opinion another ending was made for the theatrical release. Once the film was released, moviegoers and critics alike didn’t like the new ending. Eventually, both endings were released on limited edition DVD sets and Blu-ray. According to the internet, many people prefer the alternate ending over the theatrical ending. It really depends on how you like stories to end and if you’re willing to blur the heroes and villains.
Blade Runner is another movie with a devout fan following. Originally released in 1982, there is a long history of the different cuts of Ridley Scotts’ Blade Runner. Fans of the sci-fi noir, for an in-depth look at the history, check it out here. There are seven different versions of Blade Runner. Scott worked for years to make his version of the story available to viewers. During that time, a variety of changes were made across the different versions––scenes were added, the narration was scrapped, and the already ambiguous film took on new meanings. The best-known versions of the movie are Workprint, the US Theatrical Cut, the International Cut, and the Director’s Cut all of which are available in a five-disc Ultimate Collectors Edition. And now, over 30 years later, all the versions of Blade Runner available have become a part of the story itself.
Streaming has made watching movies in the comfort of your own homes the norm. Nowadays, people are more willing to sit through a four-hour film, especially sicne you can pause the movie at your leisure.