Although they have been floating cover art, vague specs and a “coming soon” release window for some time now, Universal have, until today, not unveiled many specifics about their upcoming HD DVD release of Ridley Scott’s latest film, American Gangster.
Today, however, they issued an official announcement, confirming its release date as February 19th, along with its full specs. This will be an HD DVD/DVD combo release, and, oddly enough, while the HD DVD side contains only the theatrical cut, the DVD side, via seamless branching, also throws in what is being described as an “Unrated Extended Cut”, clocking in at 19 minutes longer than its theatrical counterpart.
My first reaction upon reading this announcement was “No!!! You morons! What are you thinking releasing it like this?” The more that I think about it, though, the less this annoys me. Does anyone remember the last Ridley Scott film to be released as an “Unrated Extended Cut” (as opposed to a “Director’s Cut”)? It was Gladiator, and it opened with a visibly pissed off Scott, scarcely able to hide his contempt, telling us that the version we were about to release was categorically not his director’s cut. The fact that he and writer Steven Zaillian have provided an audio commentary for the theatrical version rather rather than the extended cut suggests to me that this is their preferred version. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to discover that the extended version was just another Gladiator, with a few scenes that were rightly left on the cutting room floor spliced back in.
Bottom line, it would have been nice to have had both versions in HD, but I’m not losing sleep over this. Unlike some people, I’m not about to cancel my pre-order.
I am, however, disappointed to note that many of the extras from the DVD have been left off this release… although it may turn out that much of the missing material may be replicated in the picture-in-picture feature on the HD DVD.