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What is a director's cut?

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Hand holding film clapper board in blue red neon light. Indicates film shooting

What is a director's cut?

Several different versions of a film are made before it is completed. These can be rough cuts, specific shot selections, editor's cuts, and of course, the "theatrical cut" or "theatrical version" which refers to the film that viewers watch in theatres. One of these cuts is the director's cut, which contains what the director wanted to have included in the film. A director's cut represents a director's actual vision when creating a film or movie. It's usually much longer than the theatrical edition, rather than shorter. Extra scenes will be added, and existing scenes will be extended. Sometimes, whole storylines will be added to the film. A director's cut may use different b-roll, or utilize different shots than the original theatrical cut of the film.

Sometimes, a "Director's cut" release isn't actually a real director's cut but a re-release demanded by the studio or production house to draw more attention to the film or to increase the money-making capacity of a film. While these may include extra footage, they aren't necessarily based on the artist's vision.

What is the difference between a theatrical version and a director's cut?

Now that you know, "what is a director's cut movie", let's explore the differences between director's cut and theatrical cuts. If you're making a film that will be going to theaters, the final cut will be the theatrical version.

Director's cut with a clipboard

In recent years, many more director's cuts have been released after the theatrical versions have left theaters. They are often added to special DVD editions and can be released many years after the theatrical cut. For example, the iconic Rocky IV which was originally released on November 27, 1985 and grossed over $300 million worldwide is expecting a special Rocky 4 Director's Cut to be released in November 2021. It's an amazing way to keep the franchise alive, and give fans fresh content.

When to make a director's cut?

Director's cuts usually only come into play when creating short or feature-length films. You probably wouldn't release a director's version of a YouTube video, for example.

However, if you had to chop large portions out of your film to get it under a certain length for a festival or grant, you could release a director's cut to get everything you want into your film. If you're revisiting a film you made years ago, a director's cut may be a good approach.

Watch a director's cut today

There actually have been a lot more notable director's cuts than you may remember! Many of the most popular movies out there have had director's cuts released. Some notable director's cut examples that you may want to look into include Blade Runner, the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, I Am Legend, Little Shop of Horrors, Apocalypse Now, Once Upon a Time in America, The Shining, and Bad Santa.

Now you know the answer to, "what is a director's cut?". As you can see, director's cuts are an interesting art form that you may enjoy either creating or simply watching.

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