Director's Cuts Only Became Popular Thanks To A Dumb Mistake
With the exception of those folks who accidentally streamed it while attempting to check out the wacky antics/ceaseless bloodlust of Tom & Jerry, this coming week will be the first time most of us get to see the fabled "Snyder Cut" of Justice League. People haven't been so hyped for an alternate version of a movie since society as a whole demanded the release of the "butthole cut" of Cats. But the trend of releasing director's cuts of popular movies wasn't always a thing -- and it only became a thing thanks to one guy's random mistake.
While directors had released new edits of old movies in the past, the so-called director's cut wasn't a ubiquitous part of pop-culture until Blade Runner was re-released in 1992. Famously the version that hit theatres a decade earlier contained a tacked-on happy ending as well as a voiceover that sounded like Harrison Ford was being held at gunpoint and forced to half-assedly audition for The Naked Gun.
On the other hand, the director's cut not only nixed those blatantly pandering studio contrivances, but it also added key moments such as Deckard's unicorn daydream, which implies that he's either a replicant or a closet Brony.
But the director's cut didn't see the light of day thanks to Ridley Scott's tireless efforts; it was due to a complete accident. A Warner Brothers employee simply stumbled on an "abandoned" 70mm print of the movie while perusing a screening room vault looking for a copy of the '60s musical Gypsy. He ended up lending the print to a local movie theatre for their 70mm film festival, believing it was the theatrical cut. When the film was screened, it turned out to be the workprint version of the movie, lacking some of Blade Runner's cringier elements like Ford's "inner monologue of a character from a 1970s diarrhea medication commercial" narration.
After its positive reception, the workprint got booked for a theatrical run at the Nuart in Los Angeles, where it "broke house records." Even the film's screenwriter couldn't get a ticket. While the film was advertised as the director's cut, that wasn't actually the case -- it was still missing the unicorn scene and featured temp music in some scenes that was lifted from the original Planet of the Apes. So the studio eventually roped Scott into further tinkering with the movie (despite the fact that he thought it was a lot of "fuss about nothing") and eventually released a true director's cut. And that was that ... until 15 years later when we got the "Final Cut." And presumably, we have yet to receive the "Famous Original Final Cut."
Top Image: Warner Bros.