The Director's Cut: Helping to Preserve the Legacy of Movies?Lots of people spend their free time watching films either at home or at the cinema but not all film-watching experiences are always good. However, one can look forward to a better version of the film known as the Director’s Cut. But what is a Director’s Cut?

To put it simply, it is a modified variant or version of a movie, a soap opera edition, musical video, commercial advert, or video game that is meant to stand as the endorsed edit of the director.

Since we’re talking movies in this case, the Director’s Cut is the edition or version of the film prior to the editing done in the studio. On many occasions, the studio’s alterations or cuts have been found to have an effect on the movie’s storyline.

What usually follows is a storyline that doesn’t make sense and considered ‘meaningless’ by movie watchers in the theatrical edition.

But then is it possible to save a movie’s legacy by having a director’s cut?


Big-budget and Studio Intervention

One problem that big-budget movies always confront is studio intervention. Studio intervention usually occurs on two occasions with the first being done during film production and the second is done after production (post-production as they call it). Although there are cases where studio intervention during film production has been useful, there are also instances where the intervention has negatively affected the entire project.

Studio intervention after production may have the same negative consequences but there are occasions where filmmakers release the director’s cut.  In those instances, the audience will be able to see and understand the director’s vision before the studio’s intervention. This offers a chance for the film to be redeemed.

In a lot of cases, it is unfortunate to discover how the storyline and themes can be altered in a bid to boost the commercial appeal of the movie. Alterations were done to appearances, themes, dialogues, and scenes that were seen as unpopular but were an important part of the big picture.


Finding the Director’s Cut

For movie watchers to find the director’s cut is a different matter entirely. You are likely to see the studio version first online as it will be commercially marketed. In a few cases, the director’s cut is sold as DVD or Blu-ray but it may not be given the same hype as the theatrical version thus, it is left for the movie watcher to look for it.

There are instances where critics publicly post their assessment/reviews of the director’s version or cut. As the driving force behind the life of the story, the support of fans is very important in this situation. Fans can continue to ask the filmmakers to show the final cut via streams. Alternatively, fans can opt to purchase the digital copy as Blu-ray or DVD.

Generally, it is rare to see the director’s cut being released to the market because the majority of movie directors do not have the right to make a final cut.  The final cut right is commonly used in the movie sector to represent the privilege or right of the director to make a decision on the ‘modus operandi’ of the movie release. Why is this needed, you may ask?

Anyone of those involved in the production of the film can make changes that they feel will bring more profit to the box office revenue of the film. At times, this may result in more clarity and pleasant ending or reduced ambiguity, or remove scenes which can lead to more restriction of the audience; however, in most cases, the intervention has negative effects on the final product.

The most popular type of director’s cut is one that involves the inclusion of more scenes and characters which mostly leads to the director’s cut being significantly longer in time than the final cut. The moment the film marketing teams realized that customers are likely to purchase different variants of movies, they began making sure that movies have more than one release. As standards are not set for labeling, lots of acclaimed ‘director’s cuts’ were released even when the director chose the theatrical version or when he/she had a right to the final cut. Normally, the assembling is done by carefully re-instating deleted scenes which at times involves extending the film by 30 mins without the need for storytelling or pace.


Looking at the Director’s Cut

There are directors who clearly frown at the term ‘director’s cut’ as it gives the impression that they (directors) do not approve of the theatrical cut. Peter Jackson and James Cameron are known as directors who openly frowned at the usage of the term. These men chose to use the phrase ‘special edition’ or ‘extended edition’.

Although the theatrical versions of the Lord of Rings and the Hobbit trilogies were seen by Jackson as the complete ‘director’s cut’, the special or extended versions were produced to share with the fans, scenes that were shot according to the script but were removed from the original cut. In addition to these bonus scenes, special effects and fresh music were included in the editions. Cameron said that what he releases into theaters is the director’s cut and that the special edition usually just includes a few extra scenes as a bonus to the fans.

E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial DVDSpecial cuts like Star Wars films by George Lucas and The Extra-Terrestrial by Steven Spielberg which involves the addition of a new edit and special effects have stirred controversies because they look better than the theatrical edition.

Movies that have been made longer in a bid by television to fill time slots despite strong protest from the director like the television edition of Dune in 1984, Harry Potter movies, and The Warriors in 1979 are also considered as special editions.

Amongst the main studio films, the film Blade Runner holds the record of having the most versions of the film on the market. A 1993 issue had seven different editions before the Final version was released later by Ridley Scott.


Final Thoughts

You should watch the director’s cut because it will add a lot especially if the final cut is more impressive than the theatrical edition.

With the support from the masses, there will probably be opportunities for interested investors, supporters, and sponsors to finish the story or add more exciting stories.

Some examples of movies where the director’s cut was better than the theatrical cut, are Batman vs. Superman, Blade Runner, and Close encounters of the Third Kind. In most cases, the director’s cut is able to improve the movie-watching experience and help restore or preserve the legacy of the film.

Have you ever seen any director’s cut? If yes, why did you decide to give the director’s cut a chance?  From which of the films you have watched, would you like to see a director’s cut version of? Feel free to leave your comments. I would love to hear from you.


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10 thoughts on “The Director’s Cut: Helping to Preserve the Legacy of Movies?”
  1. Hello Dira,

    I am a big fan of the directors cuts and I always watch them if they are included on a certain DVD or Blu-Ray.
    It is very curious to see the raw version of the movie or like you say, the work of the director before the intervention of the studio.
    I was amazed to see that many movies were drastically better with their directors cut.
    Such movies are for example Mel Gibson’s ‘Apocalypse Now’, ‘Lord of the Rings: Return of the King’ and ‘Sucker Punch’.

    1. Hi Asen,

      Thanks fort sharing your views. It is indeed very interesting to see the director’s cut. You’re right, the director’s cut of the movies you mentioned were indeed better than the theatrical release.

  2. I never knew the difference between theatrical release and director’s cut. Thank you for explaining it in this article. The information you gave was very useful and enlightening.

    I do not think there are any director’s cut for movies made in Asia. I could be wrong. To me, I have not come across any so far. But it would be interesting to see the director’s cut of movies like Shaolin Temple, Fist of Fury, or the newer movies like Crouching Tiger.

    Thank you.

    1. Hi Timotheus,

      I think its because of the way movies are made in Asia are different form Hollywood. I have no idea of how big the studio intervention is there and how many liberties the directors have to create and present their films. I know that there is a little bit of restriction from the censor board in India and most films follow a particular formula. I am not sure how it goes in the rest of Asia.
      Yes, in the end it is very interesting to see what the director’s vision was and what was initially planned. If you have more information about the Asia film industry feel free to share, I would like to know more.

  3. Oh I’m definitely gonna have to check out the director’s cut of Blade Runner, especially with the reboot coming (or is it already out??) I like to watch these kind of movies (an excellent original and a reboot) in succession, which almost always leads me to love the original even more. The reboot of Flatliners is coming out soon, too…wonder if there’s a director’s cut for that one??

    1. Hi Penelope,

      Great choice! There probably is one. I haven’t watched the flat-liners yet. I will also probably watched the original and reboot back to back. I haven’t heard good things about the reboot but I would like to judge for myself. That is always the best option these days.

  4. This is interesting information! So, do they sell the director’s cut for a lot of the movies and include them in the box when you buy the movie? I know that I have purchased movies before, only to find more than one version inside. I really didn’t know what that was for, and I always watched the final version (not the director’s cut). After reading this post, I am looking forward to my next movie purchase that has this included, so that I can watch both and compare. Very interesting information. Thanks!

    1. Hi Matts Mom,

      It’s really interesting to make the comparison. You will definitely notice a difference. It also have a lot to do if you like the movie. Some people buy the DVD version to have unrestricted access to the movie they liked. Others buy the Director’s cut to see something different after a not so great experience they had in the theater.
      You need to check if liked all the movies you have bought. For those movies you didn’t like the first time, you can check the second version and see if that is a better version of the movie or not.

  5. I have to say I never knew what the Directors cut was and so glad I know now. I’m looking forward now to watching the directors cut version of Batman vs. Superman. I’ll be on the lookout for the terms special edition or extended version as well. I guess I may have missed out on some good movie editions! Are soundtracks like different music also added in too?

    1. Hi Linda,

      Interesting! Let me know what you thought of it when you’re finished.
      There have been some cases where they did include additional scores that were excluded from the theatrical version but it not a standard addition so you will not find it everywhere.

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