Elvis director Baz Luhrmann is open to releasing a four-hour extended cut of the film sometime in the future. After previously helming Romeo + Juliet (1996), Moulin Rouge! (2001), and The Great Gatsby (2013), the new Elvis Presley biopic is the latest to showcase the Australian director’s flamboyant filmmaking style. With a screenplay by Luhrmann and several collaborators, Elvis chronicles the life of the titular rock and roll icon (played by Austin Butler) through the perspective of his Dutch manager, Colonel Tom Parker (Tom Hanks).
Elvis has been showered with praise for Butler’s outstanding lead performance as the King of Rock and Roll, complemented by Luhrmann’s dazzling directorial energy. After a moderate opening weekend in theaters earlier this summer, Elvis went on to put up a fight at the box office with several subsequent strong weekends. In addition to becoming the second-highest-grossing musical biopic of all time behind Bohemian Rhapsody, Elvis now holds the distinction of being the only original movie in the box office top 10 for 2022. With the film finding such a wide audience in theaters and now on HBO Max, many are interested in seeing a potentially longer cut.
During an exclusive interview with Screen Rant, Luhrmann elaborated on plans for an extended cut, saying he is open to releasing a four-hour version of Elvis sometime in the future. However, the director detailed the extensive work that would need to be done before a longer cut could be released. Read what Luhrmann had to say below:
Not now, and not probably next year. But I don’t close my mind to the idea that in the future, there might be a way of exploring another [cut]. I’ve got to be really careful here, because the moment I put it out there… I tell you what, all my tweets are nothing but, “We want the four-hour version! We want the four-hour version!” I think people are at my gates with pitchforks saying, “We want the four-hour version!”
But I don’t close my mind to the idea that there would be an extended cut. Right now, with how long it’s stayed in the theaters and how well it’s done, it’s crossed the line. But it’s done so well on HBO Max over the weekend, so it’s about the parent company going,” Wow, it’s really worth spending the money.”
Because it isn’t just like I’ve got it, and you just put it out there. Every minute in post-production, you have to do visual effects, grading, cutting, refining, and ADR sound. It’s not like it’s just sitting there finished, and I can just push a button and it comes out. You’d have to get back in and work on it. To do an extended cut, you’d be working on it for another four or six months something. I’m not closed to it, but not now. I’m a little bit on the tired side.
The Elvis director first revealed the potential for a four-hour extended cut shorty before the film was released in theaters on June 24. Luhrmann shot about 240 total minutes of footage, which was whittled down to 2 hours and 39 minutes for the theatrical cut. Among the scenes that were cut to condense the film include Elvis Presley’s famous meeting with President Richard Nixon in 1970.
While diehard Elvis fans are clamoring to see a longer version of Luhrmann’s biopic, the director’s comments reveal a lot of insight into the process of releasing an extended cut. The 4-hour cut does not technically exist at this time and a lot of post-production work like visual effects, color grading, cutting, refining, and re-recording sound needs to be done before it can be released. Luhrmann generally takes long breaks between films, having last directed The Great Gatsby in 2013 and, before that, Moulin Rouge! in 2001. The director does not seem opposed to putting in the work for an extended cut of Elvis, but for the time being, he is likely looking to take time off after a taxing production process.