What do the following terms mean in movie business?

  • Director's Cut
  • Editor's Cut
  • Theatrical Cut

What are the differences between them? Are there any other cut s?

  • Other than wbogazc's neat answer, perhaps the cuts made for airline presentations might be included. Also known as 'neutering'.
    – Nobby
    Mar 16, 2012 at 13:35
  • @Nobby - that wasn't a term I encountered so far, so I just googled 'film cut neuter' and it took me in a whole new direction. Plus, I'm doing this at work and some of this isn't just NSFW, it's just NOT SAFE for anything/anyone. :)
    – wbogacz
    Mar 16, 2012 at 15:24
  • Oops - my bad ;)
    – Nobby
    Mar 16, 2012 at 15:45
  • "Special Edition" I really hate that one.
    – Jared
    Mar 18, 2012 at 20:52
  • 1
    This doesn't seem like it could have a single answer. It could vary from movie to movie and even then, it would be a matter of opinion. Jun 13, 2013 at 17:51

3 Answers 3


Wikipedia's Film Editing page defines many of these cuts. I will try to summarize the questioned ones here.

Editor's Cut:

An editor's cut (sometimes referred to as the "Assembly edit" or "Rough cut") is normally the first pass of what the final film will be when it reaches picture lock.

Additional: The article says that editing starts right after photography starts, utilizing the dailies, so the edited product grows with the director's submissions.

Director's Cut:

When shooting is finished, the director can then turn his full attention to collaborating with the editor and further refining the cut of the film...where the film editor's first cut is molded to fit the director's vision.

Additional: The Director and Editor mold the editor's cut by shifting scene order, reshooting, associating music, etc. until the Director is satisfied with his movie.

Final Cut: (BTW - no glossary I looked into had a 'Theatrical Cut')

Often after the director has had his chance to oversee a cut, the subsequent cuts are supervised by one or more producers, who represent the production company and/or movie studio.

Additional: The article says sometimes disputes with producers arise forcing a tempermental director to sever ties with the final cut of the movie. IMDB lists these types as 'Alan Smithee' films, though other pseudonyms are currently allowed.

This is just one article defining these -- there are a number of movie glossaries listed on Google to define these terms from (supposedly) film classes at .edu sites -- and generally speaking a "Theatrical Cut" refers to the original version released to cinemas.


The theatrical version of a movie is the one that was originally shown in theaters. Thus it is the cut of the movie that the studio thought would be best for the most moviegoers.

An extended version or uncut version has scenes added that were filmed but cut out of the theatrical version. Most often, it is created to entice people have already been to the movie to purchase a DVD since it will contain something extra that they haven't already seen. Since scenes are often deleted because they slow the pace of a film or are redundant, the extended version may be a longer but less impressive experience. On the other hand, the extra scenes may have been omitted to preserve the film's rating; in this case, the longer version may involve significantly more violence or sexuality. Such a version may also be called an international or European version.

A director's cut is often nothing more than an extended version, created to sell more DVDs. However, there are instances in which the director had a vision for the film which was significantly different than the studio's, in which case the director's cut may leave out some scenes from the theatrical version, reorder scenes or have other changes. A well-known example is the director's cut of Blade Runner, in which the voice-over narration is omitted and the ending is different.

A special edition or remastered version of a film is typically a version of an older film created using newer technologies to enhance picture or sound quality or to improve special effects. Other changes can be made as well; a notorious example is the special editions of the original Star Wars trilogy ("Han shot first").

  • The Theatrical Cut is the version of the film that was shown at cinemas.

  • The Director's Cut is the version edited by the Director, usually for additional home media releases.

  • An Extended Cut is usually any version of the film which is longer than the theatrical cut (though in very rare cases, its shorter).

Which one you should pick is an opinion that's up to you.

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