There are often two versions of movies available to audiences: the theatrical release and the director’s cut. While the latter is typically seen as the true vision of the director, sometimes, these cuts differ from what audiences loved in the original. Let’s examine six instances where the director’s cut arguably didn’t enhance the film experience.
1. Donnie Darko
The theatrical version of ‘Donnie Darko’ had a mysterious narrative, leaving many questions unanswered. The director’s cut, financed by Newmarket Films in response to the movie’s cult following, added 20 minutes to the runtime. This extended version aimed to clarify several plot points but, in doing so, dispelled much of the mystery that had initially intrigued viewers. Besides, notable changes were made to the film’s soundtrack.
2. Apocalypse Now
The 1979 original film was recognized as a cinematic masterpiece and received multiple Oscar nominations. However, the ‘Redux’ edition released years later added 49 minutes, increasing the total runtime to over three hours. These additional scenes altered the film’s pacing, drawing out sequences that didn’t necessarily enhance the core story.
Steven Spielberg later released a version of ‘E.T.’ where practical effects were replaced with CGI. Some elements perceived as not family-friendly were also altered. For instance, security guards’ firearms were replaced with walkie-talkies. As a result of the reception, Spielberg eventually returned to the original and made it available to the public once more.
4. Star Wars Trilogy Special Edition
To commemorate the 20th anniversary of ‘Star Wars,’ George Lucas released Special Editions of the original trilogy. These versions presented edited scenes and incorporated deleted sequences. Controversial changes included a re-rendered CGI version of Jabba the Hutt and an adjustment to the Han Solo and Greedo encounter.
While the theatrical release was hailed for maintaining suspense through ambiguity, the director’s cut provided more explicit answers. For some, these explanations detracted from the tension and fear that had made the original memorable.
6. The Hobbit Trilogy
J.R.R. Tolkien’s ‘The Hobbit’ is a concise novel, yet it was adapted into a three-film series. Peter Jackson, the director, introduced an Extended Edition that added even more content, causing some viewers to believe it strayed too far from the essence of the source material. Jackson even admitted himself that he didn’t know what he was doing while filming ‘The Hobbit.’