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Director's cut

A director's cut is a specially edited version of a film, and less often TV series, music video, commercials or video games, that is supposed to represent the director's own approved edit. 'Cut' explicitly refers to the process of film editing: the director's cut is preceded by the rough editor's cut and followed by the final cut meant for the public film release.

Director's cuts generally remain unreleased to the public because, as far as film is concerned, with most film studios the director does not have a final cut privilege. The studio (whose investment is at risk) can insist on changes that they feel will make the film more likely to succeed at the box office. This sometimes means a happier ending or less ambiguity, but more often means that the film is simply shortened to provide more screenings per day. The most common form of director's cut is therefore to have extra scenes added, often making the "new" film considerably longer than the "original".

Origin of the phrase

Traditionally, the "director's cut" is not, by definition, the director's ideal or preferred cut. The editing process of a film is broken into three basic stages: First is the rough cut, which matches the script without any reductions. Second, the editor's cut, which is reduced from the rough cut, according to the editor's tastes. Third is the final cut, which actually gets released or broadcast. It is often the case that a director approves of the final cut, and even prefers it to the so-called earlier "director's cut." The director's cut may include unsatisfactory takes, a preliminary soundtrack, a lack of desired pick-up shots etc, which the director wouldn't like to be shown.

For example, the director's cut of Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid was 122 minutes long. It was then trimmed to the final/released cut of 105 minutes. Although not complete or refined to his satisfaction, director Sam Peckinpah still preferred the director's cut, as it was more inclusive and thorough than the 105-minute cut. The restored cut, at 115 minutes, is thus not the traditional "director's cut," but is closest to the director's preferred version, as it was reconstructed based on Peckinpah's notes, and according to his style in general. In this case, the director's cut and the director's ideal preferred cut are distinctly separate versions.

Considering this definition, Alien: The Director's Cut, for example, is simply a misuse of the phrase. As Ridley Scott explains in the DVD insert, the 2003 cut of Alien was created at the request of 20th Century Fox, who wanted to re-release Alien in a form that was somehow altered or enhanced. Scott agreed, and settled on making an alternative cut of the film. He describes it simply as a second version that he is also satisfied with, even though the original released cut is still his preferred version. In contrast, the director's cut of Scott's Kingdom of Heaven (which was a commercial failure in its 2005 theatrical release) is the true version of the film Scott wanted, nearly an hour longer and has been met with more critical acclaim than the original version.


The trend of releasing director's cuts was first introduced in the early 1980s alongside the rise of the home video industry. Video releases of director's cuts were originally created for the small but dedicated cult fan market. Two of the first films to be re-released as a director's cut were Michael Cimino's Heaven's Gate (first aired on the Los Angeles cable station Z Channel) and Ridley Scott's Blade Runner.


When it was discovered that the market for alternative versions of films was substantial, the studios themselves began to promote "director's cuts" for a wide array of films, even some where the director already had final cut of the theatrical release. These were usually assembled with the addition of deleted scenes, sometimes adding as much as a half-hour to the length of the film without regard to pacing and storytelling. Such "commercial" director's cuts are seldom considered superior to the original film and in many cases, fans feel the films are diminished by the director's own ego or the studios' desire for revenue.

Because of this, the director's cut is often considered a mixed bag, with an equal share of supporters and detractors. Roger Ebert approves of the use of the label in unsuccessful films that had been tampered with by studio executives, such as Sergio Leone's original cut of Once Upon a Time in America, and the moderately successful theatrical version of Daredevil, which were altered by studio interference for their theatrical release. However, Ebert considers adding such material to a successful film a waste. Even Ridley Scott stated on the DVD commentary of Alien that the original theatrical release was his director's cut, and that the new version was released as a marketing ploy.

Extended cuts and special editions

A related concept to the "Director's Cut" is that of an extended or special edition. An example is Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings trilogy. While Jackson considers the theatrical releases of those three films to be a final "director's cut" within the constraints of theatrical exhibition, the extended cuts were produced so that fans of the material could see nearly all of the scenes shot for the script to develop more of J. R. R. Tolkien's world, but which were originally cut for running time, or other reasons. New music and special effects were also added to the cuts. Opinion remains divided on which cut is superior, as supporters hail the Extended Edition as the superior cut, while detractors believe such scenes were left out for a reason. Another example is Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now Redux, which, like the original film, polarized the audience, with some fans considering the original version to be the definitive cut.

In rare instances, such as Peter Weir's Picnic at Hanging Rock, and Blake Edwards' Darling Lili, scenes have been deleted instead of added, creating a shorter, more compact cut.

Special editions such as George Lucas's Star Wars films, and Steven Spielberg's E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, in which special effects are redone in addition to a new edit, have also caused controversy. (See List of changes in Star Wars re-releases and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial: The 20th Anniversary).

Extended or special editions can also apply to films that have been extended for television and video against the wishes of the director, such as the TV versions of Dune (1984) and the Harry Potter films.

More recently, a slightly different take on the re-cutting of films was seen in a 2006 revision of the 1980 film Superman II. Most releases that contain the label "director's cut" or "extended edition" include minor changes and/or scene additions not seen in a film's theatrical release, but that do not tend to greatly affect or change the plot, story or overall product. However the new version of the second Superman film (known as The Richard Donner Cut) restores as much of the original director's conception as possible, making it a considerably different picture. More than half of the footage filmed for Superman II by the originally credited director (Richard Lester) has been removed from the film and replaced with Donner footage shot during the original principal photography from 1977–1978. There are also several newly-filmed shots and many new visual effects, and Richard Donner is credited as director of the film instead of Richard Lester.

Notable examples of legitimate extended and director's cuts

  • Sergio Leone's director's cuts of Once Upon a Time in America, Once Upon a Time in the West, and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.
    • America U.S. altered: 139 min.
    • America director's: 229 min.
    • West original: 165 min.
    • West director's: 175 min.
    • Good, Bad, and Ugly U.S. edited: 161 min.
    • Good, Bad, and Ugly original director's: 179 min.
  • Oliver Stone's director's cuts of Alexander, JFK, and Nixon
    • Alexander original: 175 min.
    • Alexander director's: 167 min.
    • JFK original: 189 min.
    • JFK director's: 206 min.
    • Nixon original: 192 min.
    • Nixon director's: 212 min.
  • Sam Raimi's director's cut of Army of Darkness.
    • Army original: 81 min.
    • Army director's: 96 min.
  • Francis Ford Coppola's special edition cut of Apocalypse Now, called Apocalypse Now: Redux, The Outsiders.
    • Apocalypse original: 153 min.
    • Apocalypse director's: 202 min.
    • Outsiders original: 91 min.
    • Outsiders director's: 113 min.
  • Bernardo Bertolucci's director's cuts of 1900, The Last Emperor, and The Conformist.
    • 1900 original: 245 min.
    • 1900 director's: 315 min.
    • Emperor original (considered director's): 160 min.
    • Emperor extended: 219 min.
    • Conformist original: 107 min.
    • Conformist director's: 111 min.
  • Wolfgang Petersen's director's cuts of Das Boot and Troy.
    • Boot original edited: 149 min.
    • Boot director's: 209 min.
    • Boot original extended miniseries: 293 min.
    • Troy original: 163 min.
    • Troy director's: 201 min.
  • Garry Marshall's director's cut of Pretty Woman.
    • Original: 119 min.
    • Director's: 125 min.
  • Eli Roth's director's cut of Hostel.
    • Original: 94 min.
    • Director's: 93 min.
  • Monte Hellman's director's cut of China 9, Liberty 37.
    • Original: 98 min.
    • Director's: 102 min.
  • Andrzej Żuławski's director's cuts of The Most Important Thing: Love and Possession
    • Love original: 105 min.
    • Love director's: 109 min.
    • Possession original: 123 min.
    • Possession director's: 80 min.
  • Giuseppe Tornatore's director's cuts of Malèna, The Legend of 1900 and Cinema Paradiso.
    • Maléna original: 92 min.
    • Maléna director's: 109 min.
    • 1900 original: 120 min.
    • 1900 director's: 160 min.
    • Cinema original: 155 min.
    • Cinema director's: 170 min.
  • Michael Cimino's director's cuts of Heaven's Gate and The Sicilian.
    • Heaven's original director's: 218 min.
    • Heaven's altered: 149 min.
    • Sicilian original: 115 min.
    • Sicilian director's: 146 min.
  • Richard Rush's director's cut of Color of Night
    • Color original: 121 min.
    • Color director's: 140 min.
  • Paul Verhoeven's director's cuts of Basic Instinct, Hollow Man and RoboCop.
    • Basic original: 127 min.
    • Basic director's: 128 min.
    • Hollow original: 113 min.
    • Hollow director's: 119 min.
    • RoboCop original: 102 min.
    • RoboCop director's: 103 min.
  • Kevin Costner's director's cut of Dances with Wolves.
    • Original: 181 min.
    • Director's: 236 min.
  • Richard Kelly's director's cut of Donnie Darko.
    • Original: 113 min.
    • Director's: 133 min.
  • Sergei Bondarchuk's director's cut of War and Peace.
    • Original: 390 min.
    • Director's: 401 min.
  • James Cameron's special edition versions of The Abyss, Aliens, and Terminator 2: Judgment Day.
    • Abyss original: 146 min.
    • Abyss SE: 171 min.
    • Aliens original: 137 min.
    • Aliens director's: 154 min.
    • Terminator original: 137 min.
    • Terminator director's: 152 min.
  • Tinto Brass's director's cut of Caligula.
    • Original: 210 min.
    • Director's: 102 min or 156 min.
  • Luc Besson's "Version Intégrale" Director's Cut of Léon.
    • Original: 110 min.
    • Director's: 133 min.
  • Richard Donner's version of Superman II (unique on this list, as Donner was not the credited director of Superman II, having been fired during the film's production, and replaced with Richard Lester). (see Extended cuts above)
    • Original: unknown, though Lester's version ran 127 min. theatrically
    • Director's: 115 min.
  • Roland Emmerich's longer cuts of Stargate and Independence Day.
    • Stargate original: 121 min.
    • Stargate director's: 130 min.
    • Independence original: 145 min.
    • Independence director's: 153 min.
  • George A. Romero's slightly-shortened director's cuts of Dawn of the Dead and Land of the Dead.
    • Dawn original: 126 min.
    • Dawn director's: 139 min.
    • Land original: 93 min.
    • Land director's: 97 min.
  • Nicholas Meyer's special editions of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.
    • Khan original: 113 min.
    • Khan director's: 116 min.
    • Undiscovered original: 109 min.
    • Undiscovered director's: 113 min.
  • Ridley Scott's shortened version of Alien, the 1992 "Director's Cut" and "Final Cut" versions of Blade Runner, and extended versions of Legend and Gladiator, the latter of which Scott did not consider a director's cut, and the director's cut of Kingdom of Heaven.
    • Alien original: 117 min.
    • Alien "director's" (actually alternate studio cut): 116 min.
    • Blade Runner original: 116 min.
    • Blade Runner director's (theatrical cut sans voiceovers and happy ending): 116 min.
    • Blade Runner final cut (alternate "actual" director's cut): 117 min.
    • Legend original: 94 min.
    • Legend U.S. altered: 89 min.
    • Legend director's: 114 min.
    • Gladiator original (considered director's): 155 min.
    • Gladiator extended: 171 min.
    • Kingdom of Heaven original: 145 min.
    • Kingdom of Heaven director's: 194 min.
  • Kevin Reynolds's extended cut of Waterworld, and extended DVD cut of Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.
    • Waterworld original (by Universal and Kevin Costner): 136 min.
    • Waterworld director's: 176 min.
    • Robin Hood original: 143 min.
    • Robin Hood director's: 155 min.
  • Russell Mulcahy's longer director's cuts of Highlander and Highlander II: The Quickening.
    • Highlander original: 116 min.
    • Highlander director's: 120 min.
    • Highlander 2 original: 91 min.
    • Highlander 2 director's: 109 min.
  • Joel Coen's shortened director's cut of Blood Simple.
    • Original: 99 min.
    • Director's: 96 min.
  • George Lucas's extended cut and digitally enhanced versions of THX 1138 and the original Star Wars trilogy.
    • THX-1138 original: 86 min.
    • THX-1138 director's: 88 min.
    • Star Wars: A New Hope original: 121 min.
    • Star Wars: A New Hope director's: 125 min.
    • The Empire Strikes Back original: 124 min.
    • The Empire Strikes Back director's: 127 min.
    • Return of the Jedi original: 134 min.
    • Return of the Jedi director's: 135 min.
  • Steven Spielberg's extended E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial and the shortened "special edition" & "collector's edition" of Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
    • E.T. original: 115 min.
    • E.T. director's: 120 min.
    • Close Encounters original: 135 min.
    • Close Encounters SE: 132 min.
    • Close Encounters "collector's"/director's: 137 min.
  • Peter Jackson's director's cut of The Frighteners and the extended versions of The Lord of the Rings and King Kong.
    • The Frighteners original: 110 min.
    • The Frighteners director's: 122 min.
    • The Fellowship of the Ring original: 178 min.
    • The Fellowship of the Ring director's: 208 min.
    • The Two Towers original: 179 min.
    • The Two Towers director's: 223 min.
    • The Return of the King original: 201 min.
    • The Return of the King director's: 251 min.
    • King Kong original: 187 min.
    • King Kong director's: 201 min.
  • Miloš Forman's director's cut of Amadeus.
    • Original: 160 min.
    • Director's: 180 min.
  • Terry Gilliam's original version of Brazil.
    • Original: 143 min.
    • Studio altered (used for television): 93 min.
    • Studio/director's compromised: 132 min.
    • Director's: 142 min.
  • Mark Steven Johnson's director's cut of Daredevil.
    • Original: 103 min.
    • Director's: 133 min.
  • Sam Peckinpah's original Director's Cut of The Wild Bunch and Major Dundee, Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid
    • Wild original: 134 min.
    • Wild director's: 145 min.
    • Dundee original: 123 min.
    • Dundee director's: 152 min. (lost)
    • Garrett original: 106 min.
    • Garrett director's: 115 min.
  • Hideaki Anno and Kazuya Tsurumaki's director's cut re-edit and extended versions of the Neon Genesis Evangelion TV series and films.
  • David Twohy's director's cut of The Chronicles of Riddick.
    • Original: 119 min.
    • Director's: 135 min.
  • David Lynch's director's cut of Dune (1984). This is the only Lynch film that the director has shortened himself; originally intended to be approximately 4-6 hours, but the studio balked, so he cut the 137 minute version himself for the initial theatrical release. For the broadcast premiere on U.S. network TV, the studio produced a longer cut from the unused footage, although it also removed many of the dark "Lynch-ian" moments - such as the heart-plugs sequence between Baron Harkonen and his male victim, and the original spoken intro from the three female leads (as opposed to Princess Irulan's narration for the theatrical version) - as well as altering footage to appear that even more scenes had been added - causing David Lynch to exercise his legal right to remove his name as director of this longer edition.
    • Original: 137 min.
    • Broadcast version: 190 min.
    • Alternate TV version (hybrid of the two earlier versions): 177 min.
  • Robert Wise's "Director's Edition" of Star Trek: The Motion Picture.
    • Original: 132 min.
    • Director's: 136 min.
  • John Waters's director's cut of Cry-Baby.
    • Original: 85 min.
    • Director's: 91 min.
  • Mel Gibson's re-cut edited version of The Passion of the Christ.
    • Original: 127 min.
    • Director's: 120 min.
  • Eric Bress and J. Mackye Gruber's "director's cut" of The Butterfly Effect.
    • Original: 113 min.
    • Director's: 120 min.
  • William Brent Bell's extended unrated cut of Stay Alive.
    • Original:85 min.
    • Director's: 101 min.
  • Rob Zombie's extended unrated cut of Halloween.
    • Original: 109 min.
    • Director's: 120 min.
  • Luchino Visconti´s European cut of Ludwig.
    • Original: 144 min.
    • Director's: 246 min.
  • Emir Kusturica's cut of Underground.
    • Original: 168 min.
    • Director's: 322 min.
  • Johan Vandewoestijne's cut of Lucker the Necropharogus.
    • Original: 74 min.
    • Director's: 68 min.

Video game director's cuts

see also international version and video game remake.
In video games, the term "Director's Cut" is usually used as a colloquialism to refer to an expanded version of a previously released game. Often, these expanded versions, also referred as "Complete Editions", will have supplemental additions to the gameplay or additional game modes and features outside the main portion of the game. As is the case with certain high-profile Japanese-produced games, the game designers may take the liberty to revise their product for the overseas market with additional features during the localization process. These features are later added back to the native market in a re-release of a game in what is often referred as the international version of the game. This was the case with the overseas versions of Final Fantasy VII, Metal Gear Solid and Rogue Galaxy, which contained additional features (such as new difficulty settings for Metal Gear Solid), resulting in re-released versions of those respective games in Japan (Metal Gear Solid: Integral, Final Fantasy VII International and Rogue Galaxy: Director's Cut). In the case of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty and Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, the American versions were released first, followed by the Japanese versions and then the European versions, with each regional release offering new content not found in the previous one. All of the added content from the Japanese and European versions of those games were included in the expanded editions titled Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance and Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence.

Expanded editions that bear the term "Director's Cut" in their titles include Worms: The Director's Cut, Resident Evil: Director's Cut, Sonic Adventure DX: Director's Cut. and Metal Slader Glory: Director's Cut (a Super Famicom remake of a visual novel game for the Famicom).

Music director's cuts

Director's cuts in music are rarely, if ever, released. A few exceptions include Guided by Voices' 1994 album Bee Thousand, which was re-released as a three disc vinyl LP Director's cut in 2004, and Fall Out Boy's 2003 album Take This to Your Grave, which was re-released as a Director's cut in 2005 with two extra tracks.

Director's cut commercials

In the advertisement industry it is very common that a director delivers his or her perfect version of the spot. In the most cases these special versions are never seen by the consumer, since the edits tend to be a littler longer than the On-Air versions. Mostly the spots that are really catching the consumers attention are directors cut commercials. You can also check some of them on the Directors Label" series of DVDs. For example, Michel Gondry.

Music video director's cut

The music video for the 2006 Academy Award-nominated song "Listen", performed by Beyoncé Knowles, received a director's cut by Diane Martel. This version of the video was later included on Knowles' B'Day Anthology Video Album (2007). Janet and Michael Jackson's "Scream" and Weezer's el Scorcho, both directed by Mark Romanek, and U2's "One", directed by Anton Corbijn, also have director's cut versions. Linkin Park also has a director's cut version for their music video Faint (which was also directed by Mark Romanek) in which one of the band members spray paints the words En Proceso on a wall. Britney Spears' music video "Gimme More" was first released as a director's cut on iTunes, with the official video was releasing 3 days later. Many other director's cut music videos contain sexual content that can't be shown on TV thus creating alternative scenes, and in some cases, alternative videos.

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