Anybody Getting Tired of Extended Cuts?

Discussion in 'DVD' started by gushin, Jan 28, 2008.

  1. gushin

    gushin Stunt Coordinator

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    It seems a good 50% of movies out in theaters for the last two years or so is announced to have an extnded cut on DVD / HDM. I'm getting sick of this trend. Before, the editor and the director had one cut to make: theatrical. But lately the theatrical is just a tease to the extended or director's cut coming soon on DVD. I understand some movies were taken away from director's in the past (Alien 3, Spartacus, etc), but I don't see this being the case in recent movies. Discuss.
     
  2. Russell G

    Russell G Fake Shemp
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    I'm fine if it's the directors prefered version. Otherwise they tend to be a bit crap. especially with comedies.
     
  3. Simon Howson

    Simon Howson Screenwriter

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    I think in many instances extended versions are the cut handed to the studio by the director, as is their right according to D.G.A. rules. The studio normally re-cuts a film which ultimately becomes the theatrically released version.

    The extended cut on DVD usually just represents a reversion to the first cut.
     
  4. WillG

    WillG Producer

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    Well, there are so many restrictions these days imposed on directors by the MPAA and the studios that directors have to make compromises for the theaters that they would not have wanted to make had it been up to them. So I'm glad there is a market for the film that couldn't be shown in theaters if it does indeed meet with the director's approval or supervision.
     
  5. TravisR

    TravisR Studio Mogul

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    It all depends on the movie.

    I'd bet that alot of modern comedies probably aren't really extended cuts. They're just cash-ins with all the deleted material (that should have stayed out to begin with) reintegrated back into the movie with no concern about the quality of the scene or if it negatively effects the overall movie.

    When a movie is more or less censored by the MPAA or the director wants a longer version of the movie to be seen but it doesn't go the theater, it's great that there's a way for that version to be eventually seen. I guess I have to take the bad with the good. [​IMG]
     
  6. PaulDA

    PaulDA Cinematographer

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    There are several points to consider (I'm currently researching for an article that deals with historical feature films with multiple cuts--so I've been watching a lot of extended versions lately).

    There are things like "the Director's Cut"--usually (though not always), this indicates the cut the director would have preferred as the theatrical release but, for one reason or another, it was not possible.

    There are "Extended editions". These can be with the director's blessing/involvement (like the extended Gladiator and LOTRs) but they are not necessarily what the director preferred (Ridley Scott explicitly states this at the beginning of the extended Gladiator). Also, they can be released without any director involvement if the studio so wishes and holds the rights to do so. Many comedies are done that way.

    Then there are nebulous things like Orson Welles' Touch of Evil. It is said to reflect his wishes, but who knows for sure? Not that it turned out badly, mind you, but still.

    So, to answer the title question, for me, it depends. For LOTR and Kingdom of Heaven, I would say I clearly prefer the extended/director's cut versions. For Troy (part of my research, along with Kingdom of Heaven and Alexander--haven't tackled the other two cuts yet), it did not seem to make much difference (except that the transfer for the director's cut looks better). I try to judge them on a case by case basis. But those cases where they simply tack on a bunch of deleted scenes, I'm not usually impressed. Where some care is taken to address some shortcomings in the theatrical release (as in Kingdom of Heaven) or to offer a genuinely different, alternate cut that shows some serious thought (like the LOTRs), then fine.
     
  7. SD_Brian

    SD_Brian Supporting Actor

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    The irony of the extended cut trend is that it has sort of backfired on the studios. What was once meant to be a selling point for the DVD is now a deterrent that keeps people from seeing the movie in theaters. With horror movies (especially the PG-13 ones) or raunchy comedies like Knocked Up, I rarely bother seeing them in the theater anymore because the unrated version will inevitably be coming to DVD. #657 on the list of reasons movie attendance is down*.

    *By attendance being down, I'm talking about actual # of tickets sold, not box office grosses.
     
  8. Mark Cappelletty

    Mark Cappelletty Cinematographer

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    I absolutely adore the theatrical cut of THE 40-YEAR-OLD VIRGIN. But the DVD extended cut is 20 minutes too long, ruining the pacing and the timing. The bits are funny, but would have worked much better as separate deleted scenes or using the "seamless branching" option which no one -- in SD or HD -- seems to bother with much anymore. KNOCKED UP is a lesser offender, but the movie's already long without six more minutes tacked on.
     
  9. Jeff Whitford

    Jeff Whitford Screenwriter

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    I love the extended cuts of Kingdom of Heaven,Almost Famous and LOTR as they round out the stories more. But I hate Robin Hood Prince Of Theives,That Thing You Do and Empire Records as the first and second add stuff that is just stupid and the pace is all wrong in the third.
     
  10. JackKay

    JackKay Second Unit

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    NO
     
  11. Harpozep

    Harpozep Stunt Coordinator

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    Nope. I, like 'em. I'll take the good with the bad.
    What is bad and has been pointed out by another poster is the backfiring effect the extended DVD syndrome has on the theatrical release.
    I talk to a lot of people as I have a DVD rental business and most folks do not even bother with the theater any more. One reason that constantly comes up is the extra scenes or extended cuts that show up on DVD.

    Buying a DVD and sitting in a proper home theater is a better experience for them also. Heck, even viewing in an improper home theater works for most folks. They just wait for the DVD with extras and spend their former theater money on DVDs.
    Heck, they don't even rent much any more, they just buy, and buy used. People are cheap. I'm in the midst of selling around ten thousand DVDs now and ending the business. But that's another thread and topic.
     
  12. Yee-Ming

    Yee-Ming Producer

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    PaulDA and TravisR sum it up quite nicely.

    I'd just add, Kingdom of Heaven is a bit of an anomaly, in that the theatrical cut was always "compromised" from day one because of the running time requirement, and Sir Ridley and the producers always had a DC for DVD in mind even during production, which is why the DC is so much better than the TC. In contrast, as noted some so-called Extended Editions are really just an excuse to milk consumers by reinserting deleted scenes not worthy of inclusion in the TC in the first place.

    Then again, there are those scenes excised to earn an "R" rating and avoid the dreaded NC17, so should we frown on reinsertion (pun intended) of those scenes? [​IMG]
     
  13. Jesse Skeen

    Jesse Skeen Producer

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    I always hate when the theatrical version is hard to find when they do this (they DID put out "40 Year Old Virgin" in its theatrical cut, it's hard to find but is out there) One of the most-hyped features of DVD when it came out was the ability to put multiple versions on one disc, but there's been tons more separate releases than ones that do that.

    What's REALLY stupid is how Blockbuster and Wal-Mart won't carry anything rated NC-17, so that's one of the main reasons why movies get cut down before release to avoid that rating, but if they put all the naughty stuff back in on an "unrated" DVD then those stores WILL carry it since it has no rating and therefore doesn't violate their policy!
     
  14. Jon Martin

    Jon Martin Cinematographer

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    Most of the "extended cuts" are just marketing gimmicks. As mentioned, very few of them are really worth it. I've yet to see an extended cut that made me wish it was the theatrical cut.

    "Directors cuts" are a different issue. But again, this is more often a marketing factor than truly a creative one. In most cases, unless there is a big behind the scenes battle, you are seeing the directors cut in theatres. Many directors are perfectionists who want to keep changing the film later on.

    MPAA issues are yet another reason, but in very rare cases. Most often, if you see an "unrated" DVD, it just means that the DVD has had a couple scenes added and hasn't been submitted to the MPAA. It doesn't mean you are seeing an otherwise NC-17 rated film.
     
  15. PaulDA

    PaulDA Cinematographer

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    Seamless branching is a wonderful concept, but it runs counter to studio marketing philosophy. Why would a studio release ONE disc with multiple versions when it can get people to buy TWO different releases of the same thing for at least 80% more in total? It may not be working out that way, but clearly the temptation for "double dips" rather than using "seamless branching" is too much for most to avoid.
     
  16. Josh Steinberg

    Josh Steinberg Producer
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    Extended cuts can be fascinating so long as they don't replace the original theatrical version, which unfortunately sometimes they do. I've noticed that some studios have been putting out three versions of a new movie DVD on release date: a single-disc fullscreen theatrical version, a single-disc widescreen extended cut, and a two-disc extended cut special edition. I think (though am not completely positive) that that's what happened with "The 40-Year-Old Virgin".

    It's my opinion that the MPAA is out of control as far as what ratings it assigns, and the often secretive and vague process filmmakers are forced to go through when submitting their films. The ratings system was intended to replace the outdated production code (essential self-censorship by the studios to avoid government intervention), and give parents a better guideline for choosing which films were appropriate for their children. People always complain about R ratings being given or not given arbitrarily, but I think what's happening with the PG-13 rating is almost as bad. According to the MPAA, The Bourne Ultimatum and Ocean's Thirteen are exactly the same. I suppose that's all well and dandy, except that Bourne is a hard-edged, intense, action-packed, violent thriller (and a damn good one at that), while Ocean's Thirteen is a lighthearted romp, completely lacking a sense of peril or intensity that Bourne has. But they have plenty of inconsistent R ratings that seem to negate the whole point: when the MPAA tells parents that "Michael Clayton" is as inappropriate for children as "Grindhouse", the system is clearly broken.

    The "unrated" cut of "American Pie" is the version originally submitted to the MPAA which got the NC-17, which they then trimmed to get an "R". Yet from a practical point of view, there's nothing in the unrated version that I'd have a problem with my (imaginary) kid seeing if I had been OK with him seeing the R. The R version shows him humping the pie against a counter; the unrated/NC-17 version shows him humping the pie while on top of the counter top. Are you seriously telling me that one of those concepts is so extreme that children shouldn't be allowed to see it in the theaters even with their parents, while the other is totally cool with parental consent? No genitalia is shown in either version, and the implication is exactly the same. It's stupid that the MPAA makes such a big deal about something so insignificant. (Meanwhile, the TV commercials and MPAA general audience approved trailers for the film essentially convey the implication of what he's doing to the pie without really showing it, meaning that it's OK to joke about having carnal relations with baked goods in an "approved for all audiences" trailer, OK to show him getting it on with the pie in an R rated movie, but not OK if he humps it in a different position. Bizarre.) In this case, the "unrated" DVD throws a few brief shots back into the film but nothing of real consequence, and Blockbuster and all of the other places that won't carry NC-17 films will carry it because it's "unrated". It makes no sense whatsoever. The filmmakers shouldn't have had to create a second version to get the R in the first place.

    My current favorite dumb MPAA story: I was listening to Paul Thomas Anderson's commentary on Boogie Nights, and he was talking about how they really didn't have anywhere near as much trouble getting an R rating as one might expect for a movie with that subject matter. PTA recalled that one of the biggest issues was the extremely brief scene where William H. Macy's character walks in on his wife on top of another man; there's obviously no visible penetration but the implication is that he catches his wife having sex with another man. He stops and asks what they're doing, and she says essentially "What does it look like? Go away and shut the door" or something to that effect. As originally shot, the wife's body is thrusting as she says the line, which the MPAA said was a big no-no and NC-17 worthy. To get the R, PTA had to go back and shoot that scene so the wife is thrusting when Macy walks in the door, stops thrusting while she speaks, and then goes back to it when she's not talking. Is one scenario there really more offensive or inappropriate than the other?

    "Die Hard" used to be the perfect example of an R-rated action flick; it was a big hit, and that it was rated R really doesn't seem to have effected its popularity one way or the other. The "Die Hard" movies were R rated actioners until "Live Free or Die Hard" came out with a PG-13. Watching that in theaters, it was painfully obvious to me that they had shot an R rated movie, decided to cut it to a PG-13 to try to sell more tickets, but had every intention of releasing an "unrated" cut on DVD, and that's exactly what happened in the end. I went to see Live Free Or Die Hard to watch Bruce Willis blow up some shit and say "Yippee-kay-ya motherfucker" at the end, and honestly, I was a little annoyed walking out of the theater when they covered up the "motherfucker" part with a gunshot sound. I think it's incredibly disrespectful for the studio to be treating its customers that way. On standard DVD, "Live Free or Die Hard" is available in the theatrical PG-13 version as a full-screen single disc; if you want the film in widescreen and bonus features, it's the unrated version. That probably tells you all you need to know about which version the filmmakers considered the "real version" and which version was created to sell more tickets.

    So yeah, I'm a little tired of some extended cuts, the kind where it's what the filmmakers originally meant to do, but had almost arbitrary and nonsensical cuts demanded by the MPAA to get an R instead of an NC-17, or a PG-13 instead of an R. I don't blame the studios for that one, I blame the MPAA. There wouldn't be two different versions of American Pie were it not for an overzealous MPAA.

    "The Forty-Year-Old Virgin" is another example of an extended cut that seemed unnecessary to me. I liked the film in theaters, but I thought it ran a tad long. It didn't need to be 20 minutes longer for DVD. Sure, "Unrated! The version we couldn't show you in theaters" might look good on the package, but does it help the film? (At the least, Universal could have presented both versions on the same disc as they did for their DVD of "Ray".)

    On the other hand, there are extended cuts that I'm fully supportive of. "Almost Famous" comes to mind. On the bonus features, Cameron Crowe mentions that Steven Spielberg got a copy of the script on a Friday, and called Crowe the following Monday simply saying, "It's brilliant: shoot every page." "Untitled" is the film he wanted to make. "Almost Famous" is the film the studio made him put out because he was contractually obligated to bring it in at about two hours. Some people might prefer the shorter version, but that's one case where I think having an extended version is completely justified, and of value to the consumer. They're getting a substantially different film, not something almost identical with an extra few shots the MPAA didn't like.

    Since films "live longer" in the home video market nowadays than they do in the theatrical market, the DVD essentially becomes the record of the film that people have access to when they want to see it. They know it's easier to sell unrated DVDs to the home audience than it is to market the R (sometimes NC-17) rated movie to the theatrical audience, and thus more profitable. While commerce and art are always related, I too am a bit fed up with the attitude of making stupid cuts to appease the MPAA and get the lesser rating, with the filmmakers being comfortable in that choice because they know their intended work will be on the DVD. When the theatrical release essentially becomes a commercial for the DVD and not an entity to be respected in its own right, that's a problem. On the other hand, when the filmmakers decide to go back to their work and take another look at it, giving the fans a chance to see an alternate telling of the same story that they believe had merit and couldn't be released theatrically for whatever reason, I think that's worthwhile.

    Sorry for the long post, but I think it's a good topic and one worth discussing.
     
  17. Frank@N

    Frank@N Screenwriter

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    I read the Fantastic Four Extended has two scenes reinserted which basically have the same dialog and intent (apparently to give the production team two choices to chose from during the original shoot).

    In the EC *both* were bizarrely put back in, which just goes to show that creative intent is not the primary purpose of most of these products.

    I did buy the EC, but what I really wanted was the 2nd disc (as opposed to the EC specifically).
     
  18. Manus

    Manus Second Unit

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    V.interesting post , Josh . I've always been bugged by this subject . When dvd was launched one of the upcoming features to look forward to was 'seamless branching' but ( T2 Ultimate apart) it never really happened to such an extend that when 'Gladiator' was released on dvd in 2000 Ridley Scott was unaware of the possibility of it in an interview at the time and added the 'deleted' scenes as an extra feature .

    In the HD war we're being promised the exact same thing , multiple cuts on one disc and yet they just released 'Die Hard 4' with the PG13 version only [​IMG]

    ~M~
     
  19. Jonathan Peterson

    Jonathan Peterson Second Unit

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    It really depends on the film. To answer the question though, no I do not mind them as long as both versions are offered. What I hate is when only the extended version is released. I hate the directors version of Pretty Woman. When I bought the 15th anniversary version I was happy because it was finally anamorphic. When we watched it my wife and I were like WTF!!!
     
  20. SD_Brian

    SD_Brian Supporting Actor

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    I'm reminded of the scene in Cecil B. Demented when they attack the movie theater showing "Patch Adams: The Director's Cut" and Melanie Griffith spray-paints graffiti on the box office window while yelling out, "Patch Adams doesn't NEED a director's cut, the first one was long ENOUGH!"

    It all depends on the movie and the way it's presented. If both the orignal and extended versions are offered in comparable quality, I don't have a problem with the practice. Some extended cuts such as The Abyss, Kingdom of Heaven, Lord of the Rings: FOTR and Alexander Revisited have drastically changed my opinions of the movie for the better. The extended cut of Alien 3 was worthy as well. The extended cut of Stripes was annoying because it had a non-optional deleted scene marker that stayed onscreen for the duration of every new scene. The director's cut of Donnie Darko substantially weakens the movie, as does Apocalypse Now Redux. In all of these cases however, the original theatrical cuts are still readily available and, in a couple cases, included on the same disc in a quality OAR presentation so they are aquitted and free to go.

    IIRC, the theatrical cut of The 40-Year-Old Virgin was only available on DVD in "Full Screen?" That was an instance where the extended version added nothing but running time to a movie that was too long already. The extended edition of Nixon also gets a big thumbs-down because the added footage was of VHS quality and not even framed the same as the regular footage--also, the disc was non-anamorphic and the original theatrical cut, which WAS anamorphic, is out of print (I was fortunate to find a used copy for cheap and I hear they will be releasing a better quality edition of Nixon sometime this year).
     

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