Did you just buy the recently released BluRay of Sergio Leone‘s “Once Upon A Time In America“? It might already be dated. Leone’s sprawling gangster tale, which has long been subject to various cuts and edits, is now going to get a fresh coat of paint in a new director’s cut that is now being prepared.
Variety reports Leone’s children, Andrea and Raffaella Leone, have snagged the Italian rights and will be teaming with Bologna Cinemetheque L’Immagine Ritrovata to digitally restore the film, adding forty more minutes. Starring a massive ensemble lead by Robert De Niro and James Woods, the film has arrived over the years in number of different edits. Initially, Leone wanted to release it as two separate three hour movies, but the film’s producers didn’t want to take that expensive gamble. It first arrived in theaters in a butchered 134 minute version that was taken out of Leone’s hands and put in chronological order. A three hour TV version showed up on the mid-90s and finally, there is the 229-minute version that is widely available today (such as on the aforementioned BluRay) — it’s the version that premiered at Cannes in 1984.
There’s no word yet just what will be added but there is plenty to choose from, as Leone shot nearly ten hours worth of footage over the year long shoot. Fausto Ancillai, the original sound editor, will be supervising the restoration and the plan is to premiere the new 269-minute film in 2012 at either the Cannes or Venice film festival. Talks are already underway for the new version to go on VOD or get a theatrical release in Italy and we’re sure more territories will follow eventually, and we’d presume a fresh BluRay release will come along at some point as well.