HBO Max is proving to be a strong competitor in the streaming wars, but there’s a hidden feature that could make them even more valuable for cinephiles. Although it’s incredibly easy to miss, you can see extended cuts of several films on the service.
When you punch up a movie on HBO Max, some films have an “Extras” section. It’s incredibly easy to miss because you’re forced to scroll down to see it. While you might expect the “extras” to feature behind-the-scenes documentaries or trailers, there are some cases where an entirely new cut of the movie is available in that section!
Some of the current films available with the extended cuts include “The Warriors,” “Saw,” “Ted,” “Van Wilder: Freshman Year,” and “Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem” (as if anybody needed to see even more of that film).
As you might expect, director’s cuts or extended cuts often tend to be slightly more violent or graphic. Movie studios will often make small cuts to lower the rating assigned by the Motion Picture Association. A film rated PG-13 is allowed one “F-word,” so adding a second would bump it up to an R. Indeed, the “extended” cut of “Saw” runs the same length as the original, so we’re probably talking about a few added frames of gore.
You’re most likely to find these extended cuts with raunchy comedies or horror films.
Oddly, HBO Max does currently offer the extended cut of “Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” as a separate streaming title. If you look for the “extras” on the original “Return of the King” listing, there are none to be found. (Those films were extremely well documented, so it’s shocking you won’t find so much as a trailer available on HBO Max.)
Even more frustrating, HBO Max is currently home to “This is Spinal Tap,” which has excellent deleted scenes and a hilarious separate commentary the actors recorded in-character. It also has “Boogie Nights,” which arrived on DVD with two wonderful director’s commentaries and hysterical outtakes (see below). These extras exist, and they would provide deeper engagement for fans. It’s fascinating that the streaming services haven’t invested in these features, especially for beloved films or TV series.
The reliable addition of extras would be a huge win for the first streaming service to make it a priority. Adding director’s commentaries would be as easy as simply including another audio stream. As a workaround, some directors are recording a podcast you can watch in tandem with the streaming movie. Until that happens, we can be thankful for the few (hidden) extended cuts in the HBO Max library.