I’ll be attending a special Fox lot screening tomorrow night of the director’s cut of James Cameron‘s Aliens (’86), which Cameron has said is the absolute go-to. For whatever reason Fox Home Video, which is hosting the screening, has chosen not to reveal their decision to show the 154-minute cut (which was first assembled in 1992 for VHS and laser disc and then was refined again for Bluray in 2010) rather than the 137-minute theatrical version. This is a fairly big deal as I’ve never seen the longer version in a first-rate theatre. I, presuming that the longer Aliens has been shown theatrically here and there, but to my knowledge not in my orbit. (I’m not counting any screenings that may have happened at the New Beverly as that place does not offer state-of-the-art projection, to put it mildly.)
Here’s a rundown from avp.wikia: “Unlike the other alternate versions of the films in the Alien franchise, the Special Edition of Aliens was not created in 2003 but actually evolved over a period of several years in the late 1980s/early 1990s. It originated with the film’s broadcast television debut on CBS in 1989, which featured numerous deleted scenes reintegrated into the movie to extend its running time. However, two additional scenes set on LV-426 before the Xenomorph outbreak begins were never completed during the film’s production.
“It was not until 1992 that this footage was added back into the movie, after [director] James Cameron returned to visual effects artists Robert and Dennis Skotak and had them finish the the sequences for inclusion in the 1992 Special Edition VHS and laserdisc releases.
“The footage added to the Special Edition had actually been intended as part of the film’s theatrical release. However, 20th Century Fox representatives thought the film was showing ‘too much nothing’ and spent an unnecessary amount of time building suspense. Conscious that a film over two and a half hours in length would allow for less screenings per day (and therefore reduced profits), Fox had Cameron cut the running time by over 15 minutes. Since its release, James Cameron has described the Special Edition as his preferred cut of the movie and the version he always intended people to see.
“2010 alterations: While the Special Edition of Aliens was essentially finalized in 1992, the film would be altered once more in 2010, when a new version was created especially for the film’s Bluray release as part of the Alien Anthology set. While preparing the movie for hi-definition home video, Cameron took the opportunity to correct several goofs in the film, both by re-editing existing footage and including subtle digital alterations.”