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Part of what has made Star Wars: The Last Jedi the topic of so much debate is how different it is than what has come before. Disney and Lucasfilm truly let director Rian Johnson put his vision of Star Wars on screen, unaltered. This is reflected in the bold story and character choices he made, but also in the runtime. At over two and a half hours, The Last Jedi is the longest Star Wars movie to date. But while this length may seem like not a lot was trimmed off the film, in reality the original cut of Star Wars: The Last Jedi was much longer, as Rian Johnson explained:
We had a long movie from the start. It was well over three hours, the first cut... It's much better at two and a half [hours] than it was at over three, but it was a cut I had put together, is where we started. And it was over three hours.
At well over three hours that would mean that the original cut of The Last Jedi was over a half an hour longer than the final theatrical cut. That's a much longer film, and such a runtime is far more common for tales in Middle Earth than those in a galaxy far, far away. A theatrical three-hour cut for The Last Jedi would have been unlikely. This is blockbuster filmmaking and there are certain financial equations that come into play. The longer the movie is, the more difficult a proposition it is for families with children. Plus, there is the fact that shorter runtimes equal more showings per day, and thus more money. But still, the fact that we received a two and a half hour-long Star Wars movie shows Disney's confidence in Rian Johnson's vision and that audiences will turn out for this franchise, regardless of length.
While some Star Wars fans might feel that The Last Jedi feels a bit bloated overall, and in some spots more than others, you have to think three plus hours would have only exacerbated such complaints. So Rian Johnson's comments to Collider that the shorter cut is a better film certainly ring true to those who already found it overly long. However, with an original cut of over three hours, you have to wonder what was left on the cutting room floor. I doubt the longer cut gave different answers to questions of ancestry and the Snoke of it all, but I'm sure there was probably some neat stuff we didn't get to see. We know that Rian Johnson doesn't believe in a director's cut for The Last Jedi because he thinks that the best version of the film is the one that so many of us saw to close out last year. So those hoping for a Lord of the Rings-style extended edition shouldn't hold their breath. But ideally there will be a plethora of deleted scenes on the eventual home video releases to sate our curiosity and piece together what a three-hour cut would have looked like.
When the Blu-ray of Star Wars: The Last Jedi arrives, we can dissect the deleted scenes to see what might have been and debate whether or not they count as canon. Meanwhile, the franchise that keeps the crown on Disney's head rolls on. Check out our guide to see all of the rumored and confirmed Star Wars movies heading to theaters in the years to come.