Director's cut

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A director's cut is a specially edited version of a film, and less often TV series, music video, commercials, comic book or video games, that is supposed to represent the director's own approved edit. 'Cut' explicitly refers to the process of film editing: the director's cut is preceded by the rough editor's cut and followed by the final cut meant for the public film release.

Director's cuts generally remain unreleased to the public because, as far as film is concerned, with most film studios the director does not have a final cut privilege. The studio (whose investment is at risk) can insist on changes that they feel will make the film more likely to succeed at the box office. This sometimes means a happier ending or less ambiguity, but more often means that the film is simply shortened to provide more screenings per day. The most common form of director's cut is therefore to have extra scenes added, often making the "new" film considerably longer than the "original".


Origin of the phrase

Traditionally, the "director's cut" is not, by definition, the director's ideal or preferred cut. The editing process of a film is broken into three basic stages: First is the rough cut, which matches the script without any reductions. Second, the editor's cut, which is reduced from the rough cut, according to the editor's tastes. Third is the final cut, which actually gets released or broadcasted. It is often the case that a director approves of the final cut, and even prefers it to the so-called earlier "director's cut." The director's cut may include unsatisfactory takes, a preliminary soundtrack, a lack of desired pick-up shots etc., which the director would not like to be shown.

For example, the director's cut of Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid was 122 minutes long. It was then trimmed to the final/released cut of 105 minutes. Although not complete or refined to his satisfaction, director Sam Peckinpah still preferred the director's cut, as it was more inclusive and thorough than the 105-minute cut. The restored cut, at 115 minutes, is thus not the traditional "director's cut," but is closest to the director's preferred version, as it was reconstructed based on Peckinpah's notes, and according to his style in general. In this case, the director's cut and the director's ideal preferred cut are distinctly separate versions.

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