A Director's Cut (also known as a "Extended Cut", "Uncut Version" or "Original Version") is an edited version of a film that is supposed to represent the director's original vision. 'Cut' explicitly refers to the process of film editing: the Director's Cut is preceded by the Rough Edit and followed by the Final Cut meant for the public film release.
Several director's cuts have garnered positive reviews as opposed to their theatrical cuts that were ruined by test screen audiences that had important content edited and/or removed.
Director's Cuts of films are not generally released to the public; 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 think will make the film profit more at the box office. This sometimes means a happier ending or less ambiguity, or excluding scenes that would earn a more audience-restricting rating, 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 Director's Cut considerably longer than the Final Cut.
Roger Ebert approves of the use of the label on 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.
Notable examples of Director's Cuts
- In the remake of the 1986 comedy musical film Little Shop of Horrors, it shows the original ending where the main antagonist Audrey II eats both of the main protagonists, Seymour and Audrey, and subsequently conquering the world by destroying and eating all that remains of human civilization. The theatrical version instead ends with Seymour destroying the plant. The original ending was made available in Blu-Ray versions of the movie.
- The Thief and the Cobbler was meant to be Richard Williams' magnum opus, and was in production for about 30 years until some film agents threw Richard out from the development and Miramax had it rushed out to theaters as Arabian Nights, which was universally panned by critics. However, Richard's fans have since found the original workprint and have created a restored version closer to his original vision known as the "Recobbled Cut".
- Superman II's original director Richard Donner was fired and replaced by Richard Lester, who reshot most of the film. The original theatrical cut is about 35% Donner footage and 65% Lester footage. In 2006, Richard Donner released his own cut of the film on DVD, which is composed of about 90% of his material, and makes use of rehearsal footage and screen tests to make up the parts he never got a chance to film properly.
- The Special Editions of both Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King have an additional musical number; in both cases the songs were taken from the stage versions, although in Beauty and the Beast, "Human Again" was really a cut song from the movie. Disney had the foresight of making both the original and special editions included on the DVD releases, although neither "original" one was the original animation.
- Pocahontas is another example of this. The Special Edition featured a deleted song that wasn't from a stage production, but instead a deleted song from a test screening. The song, "If I Never Knew You", was deleted because kids found it boring. Despite this, the animation was 90% completed at the time. In 2005, the song was completed and was restored on the 10th Anniversary Edition DVD.
- Muppets Most Wanted had 12 additional minutes of footage not shown in theaters, luckily they are available on the Blu-Ray edition. Some deleted scenes were used in the film's Junior Novel adaptation.
- Bedknobs and Broomsticks had lost footage until 1996, when the film celebrated its 25th anniversary. This version can also be found on the 30th Anniversary Gold Classics Edition and Enchanted Musical Edition DVDs. However, the Blu-Ray version only features the extended scenes as bonus features instead of incorporating them back into the film like the DVD versions did.
- The Muppet Christmas Carol featured the deleted song "When Love is Gone" which was commonly exclusive to the fullscreen versions on the VHS and DVD versions, while a widescreen letterbox version can only be accessed with Laserdisc. It was originally going to play in theaters, but then-Disney CEO Jeffery Katzenberg removed it because he believed that the following scene would not appeal to young children.
- Spider-Man 2 has an extended cut titled Spider-Man 2.1, which added 8 minutes of additional footage into the film, which was not shown in theaters and on the original Spider-Man 2 VHS and DVD. It even airs on television channels like FX (albeit in fullscreen instead of its original widescreen format).
- The Pebble and the Penguin: Family Fun Edition, is a re-edited version of the theatrical release from which Don Bluth and Gary Goldman supervised to fix all of the errors that the Hungarians made.
- The Iron Giant received a extended cut titled Signature Edition featuring 2 new animated scenes released in September 2015.