Will People Start Caring About Director's Cuts Again?
Zack Snyder's Justice League hit the internet today -- and regardless of how you feel about the finished product, isn't it just kind of nice to have a big, hyped-up new movie come out? Even if it is just a longer, boxier version of a movie, most of us saw and didn't like four years ago? The Snyder Cut release also makes us wonder if there's going to be more of a demand for movie director's cuts going forward.
As we mentioned earlier this week, the trend of re-releasing director's cuts of movies was first popularized on a wide scale by the success of Ridley Scott's rejiggered Blade Runner. But what began as an (accidental) restoration of a cinematic artist's vision quickly devolved into a hacky gimmick studios utilized to sell more VHS tapes and DVDs.
Scott's director's cut of Alien, for example, was merely an expanded cut created for home video that he didn't like. So Scott re-edited the new version of the movie for the DVD box set, which was ultimately branded as his "director's cut" purely "for marketing purposes." Similarly, the theatrical version of The Exorcist was director William Friedkin's cut -- but the movie was re-released as "The Version You've Never Seen" in 2000 after the writer convinced Friedkin to re-insert (and digitally augment) scenes he had personally cut out back in 1973. So less of a "director's cut" and more of a "we want you to pay to see our movie again."
And the closest analog to the Snyder Cut is probably the "Richard Donner Cut" of Superman II that features alternate scenes, such as Lois uncovering Superman's secret by whipping out a gun and shooting Clark Kent (thankfully with blanks, which apparently intrepid reporter Clark doesn't realize are a thing).
Like with Snyder, there was a fan campaign to release the version filmed by Donner, who was fired midway through filming. But regardless, Donner "disparaged the idea" of assembling his cut of the movie, ultimately working on the new edit, seemingly somewhat begrudgingly. And Warner Brothers' release of the Donner Cut was likely less about satisfying fan interest and more about promoting sales of the new Superman box set and Superman Returns' home video release.
Even the director's cuts that weren't purely concocted to sell DVDs potentially soured audiences; the revised version of Donnie Darko explained away much of the original's mystery, and Walter Hill's "ultimate director's cut" of The Warriors is only a minute longer than the original but contains comic book-style transitions seemingly created on a 13-year-old's iPhone.
So if the Snyder Cut goes down well, perhaps it will redeem director's cuts for those fans who otherwise came to see them as a long-running Hollywood grift. That is until we get a director's cut of Mad Max: Fury Road with, like, the dancing CGI baby from Ally McBeal digitally inserted into the chase scenes or some such shit.
Top Image: Warner Bros.