With respect to Sheryl Crow, when it comes to editing a gigantic summer blockbuster, the first cut may be the deepest, but it's the last cut that really matters.
"Superman Returns" flew into theaters this week with an already lengthy running time of more than two hours, but until weeks before the release, director Bryan Singer was still fighting the battle of the cinematic bulge.
"It was 2-hours-and-45 minutes," Singer says of the last "Superman" rough cut. "That was this cut that I screened for friends and family. That's why I stepped back and said 'OK, the time has come for me to sit back and bring a bunch of people in a room and just watch it with them.' You learn a lot from that moment. They don't even need to say anything to you. I had a few friends I'd ask. But you know it. You feel it in the room. I've lost the audience here. Lost them and then at one moment I got them back. You just learn."
One of the scenes that found its way onto the cutting room floor (or into the desktop trashcan on the AVID-equipped computer) was the Return to Krypton sequence that has already generated extensive buzz on the Internet. The scene helped bridge the five-year gap of Superman's (Brandon Routh) absence from Earth and showed the superhero back on what remained of his home planet.
"I just felt it was really interesting on its own and deserved a life somewhere else," Singer says. "Maybe on DVD. I think it should be on 3D IMAX frankly because it's designed to be 3D IMAX. At some point I'm sure you'll see it some time and it's got a little thing that's going on. It's very elegant. In the context of this movie -- where this movie needed to begin and what it needed to be about -- I didn't feel it. It's just one of those things that you bravely do."
Singer quickly insists, "No one told me to do it, to make these cuts. I had no time restrictions. Nor pressure whatsoever. I just felt the movie doesn't need this so I did something else instead. It could exist later in this form. I think it would be coolest in 3D because of the stuff that's flying around."
The director also shied away from any suggestion that "Superman Returns" might someday arrive in an Extended DVD or as a markedly different Director's Cut.
"Those are kind of weird you know, the director's cut," Singer muses. "No this is the director's cut. You just saw it. They don't tell me what to cut. I'm not a place in my career that anyone tells me that I have to cut anything or put anything in."
Singer acknowledges, though, that a future DVD will include some deleted scenes that he misses. Fans of "Harold & Kumar" may get to see Kal Penn's dialogue restored. And Singer is particularly looking forward to bring back James Karen's scenes as Ben Hubbard, the new man in Martha Kent's (Eva Marie Saint) life.
"They're wonderful beats and hopefully those will be there because I'd hate for people not to see them," he says. "It's the magic of DVD."
For now, though, forget about DVD. "Superman Returns" is playing nationwide.