"Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" got ravaged by critics when it was released in theaters, but Zach Snyder and Warner Bros. hope to win some people back with an R-Rated extended cut. However, this isn't the first time that an extended or alternate cut fixed a bad film's problems or enhanced a masterpiece.
Extended cuts first became popular as theatrical re-releases in the 1970s, but date all the way back to the 40s. In 1942, Charlie Chaplin re-released his seminal 1925 Tramp film, "The Gold Rush." Chaplin's director's cut added a musical score and narration to the film, and also altered some key plot points.
One of the most famous examples of an extended cut improving the film is Sergio Leone's "Once Upon A Time In America." For its U.S. release, the distributors cut the film to 139 minutes and re-edited it against Leone's wishes, turning it into a bomb. Europe, meanwhile, got a much more acclaimed 229 minute version that later aired on American TV. Martin Scorsese is still trying to piece together the unaltered 269-minute version that premiered at Cannes.
Sam Peckinpah's 70s Western "Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid" is considered today to be one of the finest of the genre, but only after Peckinpah's preview cut was released in 1988. The panned theatrical cut was the result of sloppy editing by MGM, who took control of the film after a bitter production feud with Peckinpah. Until his death in 1984, Peckinpah disowned MGM's version and considered the preview cut he made prior to the MGM takeover to be closer to his original vision.
An earlier Peckinpah western, "The Wild Bunch," was far better received upon its initial release, though it shocked people by pushing the boundaries of cinematic violence. But in the 1990s, an extended cut added 10 minutes of restored footage that fleshed out the film's story and re-contextualized the violence, earning the classic even more praise.
The film that introduced the term "director's cut" to mainstream film jargon was the sci-fi classic "Blade Runner." There are seven different versions of the film, but the one considered to be the definitive version by fans is a 1992 cut that removed a studio-sanctioned narration voiceover and gave the film a bleaker ending. Ridley Scott later released a "final cut" that made technical tweaks to the film along with a complete visual remastering.
20th Century Fox
Extended cuts also saved another one of Ridley Scott's films, "Kingdom of Heaven." Scott's tale about the Crusades was criticized for being spectacle over substance, but it turned out that the studio had Scott remove 45 minutes that included key characters and dialogue. An extended cut was released on DVD and received a much warmer reaction from critics.
New Line Cinema
The advent of DVDs made extended cuts a marketing gimmick, but the extended cuts for the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy are a cinematic marvel. Over two hours of footage were added to the trilogy in special DVD releases, with new music and visual effects work done just for the home release. The extra footage brought Middle-Earth to life and further developed the supporting characters that Frodo met during his quest.
DVDs also allowed for the release of the original version of "Superman II." Richard Donner, director of the first film, originally signed to make two Superman films. But with the sequel nearly completed, Donner was removed from the project for reasons that are still not fully clear and replaced with Richard Lester. A 2006 DVD release allowed fans of the Man of Steel to see the film that Donner had intended to create.
"Batman v Superman" isn't the first time Snyder has attempted an extended cut. His adaptation of Alan Moore's "Watchmen" was met with lukewarm reception, but his three-hour extended cut was considered an improvement. While the ending is still different from the book, the extended cut adds key scenes that were removed for time constraints, including the death of the original Nite Owl, Hollis Mason.
Now Snyder is doing it again with the extended cut of "Batman v Superman," which answers critics' complaints about the plot's logic and Superman's perceived lack of compassion for humanity. For TheWrap's take on this new version, click here.