Rocky IV shows the best reason to make a director (not fan demand)
Rocky IV highlights the best way to make a director’s cut, as revisited movies only work when the original visionary is behind the project.
The next Rocky IV the director’s cut shows the best way for filmmakers to revisit their films after release. Following a furious debate around the ethics of updating existing films, especially regarding highly anticipated feature films like DC’s Justice League, studios and directors are in the spotlight like never before when it comes to films that haven’t quite lived up to expectations. However, as Sylvester Stallone proves with his Rocky update, there is a right and wrong way to make adjustments.
The reinvention of Stallone Rocky IV has been in development since August 2020. The original film, which became the highest-grossing entry of the Rocky franchise at the time of release, starred Stallone’s Rocky Balboa taking on Soviet Union fighter Ivan Drago. Drago kills Rocky’s friend Apollo Creed in an exhibition fight, sparking a feud between the two boxers and inadvertently leading to the events of the Creed derivative series. This new cut of the film was originally intended to coincide with the film’s 35th anniversary and is slated for release in November 2021.
While the details around the new cut are sketchy, it looks like Stallone is going for a darker, more gritty tone. For example, it was revealed that Paulie’s robot from the original film – one of the few true moments of lightness – has been replaced. However, beyond including subtle changes, the film also shows how and why director’s cuts should be released – namely that they should give directors the chance to present an unaltered version of their vision, rather that the result of collapsing into toxic fanbases or nervous studio executives.
The last few years have seen several extremely vocal demands for alternate versions of unpopular or disappointing films. These can range from irony, like the so-called “asshole” cut of Cats, in the extremely serious, as the Justice League Snyder fit. However, these two examples demonstrate the worst motivations for revisiting a movie. Calls to update Cats, for example, might just appeal to a studio desperate to save face after funding an expensive and critically-criticized flop. In the same way, the very ridiculed Justice League got a relatively poor reboot due to the passionate and sometimes toxic pressure from fans. While arguably well-intentioned, both instances lack something essential about how to make a truly meaningful director’s cut, which is that the brash has to come from the creator behind the original project.
Ultimately, any director’s cut should be aimed at getting closer to the original vision, rather than trying to satisfy what viewers or studios wish they had seen instead. Any other motivation can lead to a dangerous place for the whole industry. By revising existing properties based on demands from an external audience, the result is a committee film in which the filmmakers try to please everyone and ultimately not please anyone. There is no doubt that in the case of fans most of the requests come from a place of love. However, as a movie like Rocky IV turns out, the only way to achieve a result that can truly add anything of moral and artistic value is if the director, and the director alone, is the force behind the project.
More: How Many Fights Rocky Actually Won In His Boxing Career
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