Alternate versions - what kind of things are considered alternate versions?
- For our purposes, an "alternate version" is a new
version of a movie that's different from the one that was originally and
widely released in theatres.
There are many kinds of alternate versions, the most common of which are:
- Director's Cuts / Special Editions: Contracts under the terms of
the Hollywood Director's Guild allow about six weeks for a director to
assemble a cut without studio interference. This is fully edited and has a
synchronized sound track; however, it is usually not color-corrected nor
density-corrected and may not have the final music and effects track. In
more recent times, due to an expanding video after-market, the term
director's cut has acquired a popular meaning that implies a finished final
print, officially prepared by the director or with his consent, and usually
including scenes not included in the original theatrical release. Many
director's cuts are re-released in theaters or on video. Examples:
Blade Runner, Alien, The Exorcist.
- Restored Versions: Classic movies are sometimes re-released
(usually many years after their original premiere) with never before seen
or long-lost restored scenes. Examples: Spartacus,
Lawrence of Arabia, The Wild Bunch.
- Censorship Changes: Censorship laws often impose changes or
deletions before a film can be given a certificate and released. In the
USA, movies are often cut after being submitted to the MPAA in order to
avoid an X or NC-17 rating; sometimes the deleted scenes are restored for
the video release, or are left intact in the European release.
Other countries have different censorship standards: UK releases
routinely cut any scene that suggests violence or mishandling of animals
(i.e., the mouse sequence in The Abyss).
- Unauthorized / Unofficial versions: Sometimes a movie is cut or
otherwise modified from the original version without the consent or the
knowledge of the filmmakers. A frequent occurrence is when a foreign
distributor decides to remove scenes to reduce the film's running time in
order to get more showings per day or to make it more appealing to the
local audience, often by including a different music score.
What kind of things DO NOT qualify as alternate versions?
- Television versions: Films, especially R-rated ones, are
routinely cut or altered before they can be shown on network television or
airlines to delete objectionable language and frames or to fit a
two-hour time slot. These changes are routine, don't necessarily represent
alternate versions and will not be considered here. However, TV
versions which add new footage (i.e., 1941), significantly
re-edit or change existing material or substitute new scenes (i.e., Basic Instinct) in place of deleted sequences will be listed.
- An alternate version has to be (or have been) available for public
viewing: therefore sneak preview/press release preliminary screenings don't
qualify as alternate versions unless these cuts are also distributed in
theatres (or on video), even if for a short time, because
otherwise thousands of films would qualify (most American movies are sneak
previewed and then partly recut/reshot).
- Likewise, the simple existence of outtake footage or unused material for
a film doesn't make necessarily an alternate version: for example, some of the
famous "Biggs" sequences removed from Star Wars prior to initial release and the discarded music scores
by Alex North for
2001: A Space Odyssey or
for Torn Curtain have never been used in any released print of those movies. Therefore they don't qualify as alternate versions. Similarly, deleted scenes included on a DVD, unless they are part of a completely recut version, are not considered "alternate versions."
- Alternate titles (there is another list specifically for this).
- Differences between the trailer and the released version do not qualify as an alternate version.
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