Ever since there have been movies there have been multiple cuts of movies. Silent films like Greed were chopped up and screened in various version, in many cases leaving many scenes lost to history. In some cases, films had roadshow edits that were trimmed for the regular theatrical release, as was the case with It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. Sometimes studios would go in and meddle with the cut approved by a director. In many recent cases a director will agree to a studio-advised cut, only to put out a “director’s cut” later on. Sometimes the studio will want a new way to market a film and create a new “extended edition” or “unrated version” or even get a director to create a “director’s cut” that isn’t even the director’s preferred version (as is the case with Alien).
The prevalence of multiple cuts has increased drastically since the advent of DVD. It seems like every other movie released on DVD or Blu-ray is labeled “Unrated” or “Director’s Cut”. It’s hard to know whether this is a good thing, especially when directors are already talking up extended versions for Blu-ray when the movie was only just released theatrically. Why even pay to see the movie theatrically if the definitive version is being held for home video? This is the dilemma created when Ridley Scott says that a version of Prometheus 20 minutes longer is coming to Blu-ray. But is that the definitive version? What constitutes a definitive version of a film to begin with? Click to read more.