7 Great Director's Cut Movies You Can Stream Right Now

Lee Norris and Ciara Moriarty in Zodiac (2007).
Lee Norris and Ciara Moriarty in Zodiac (2007). / Paramount Home Video

Since the earliest days of VHS, the home video market has sometimes allowed for filmmakers to reconcile their regrets of studio interference and release director’s cuts of certain movies. These editions, which are often longer and feature restored plot points and more fully fleshed out characters, typically represent the director's true artistic intentions. Check out seven of the most interesting director-approved edits or expanded editions currently streaming.

1. Blade Runner: The Final Cut (1982)

Director Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner was a marvel of sci-fi dystopia when it was initially released in 1982. But Scott was never totally happy with it, and disagreements with Fox led to star Harrison Ford providing a voiceover narration that never quite worked. Later, Scott had a chance to tweak the film to his liking. Through several iterations, he arrived at a final cut in 2007. Now, the movie—about Rick Deckard (Ford) chasing after rogue androids named Replicants in a twisted future—is arguably better than it was when it first wowed audiences.

Find It: $3.99 on Amazon Prime

2. The Hateful Eight: Extended Version (2015)

Quentin Tarantino’s moody chamber drama about a bunch of malcontents holed up in the same stagecoach stop during a blizzard was already long at 167 minutes, but this Netflix-exclusive version edited and supervised by Tarantino sports additional and recut footage that brings it up to 210 minutes. (Minus credits, it’s roughly 25 minutes of new footage.) Because the film is broken up into four “episodes,” the result is the first pseudo-binge watch of the director’s career.

Find It: Netflix

3. Nightbreed: The Director’s Cut (1990)

Director and horror icon Clive Barker directed this effects-heavy cult favorite about a man (Craig Sheffer) drawn to a monster-infested world called Midian. Allegedly pared down for theatrical release, the director’s edition is 20 minutes longer and contains 40 minutes of new and altered footage. (But don't confuse it for Barker's even longer Cabal Cut, which got a limited home video release in 2017.)

Find It: Shout! Factory TV via Amazon Prime

4. Alien: Director’s Cut (1979)

In the editing room, no one can hear you scream. In Ridley Scott's Alien, starring Sigourney Weaver as Ellen Ripley, the spaceship Nostromo is hunted by a stowaway on board—a xenomorph with an appetite for chaos. Scott was asked by Fox to recut the film for a 2003 DVD box set of the franchise. Unlike most director’s editions, his cut is actually a little shorter and more rapidly-paced than the original.

Find It: $3.99 on Amazon Prime

5. Zodiac: The Director's Cut (2007)

David Fincher's masterpiece about the hunt for the Zodiac killer in 1970s San Francisco has a director's cut that adds five minutes to the running time. Included is an expanded sequence in which the killer calls into a local news station and explains he hasn't been feeling too well.

Find It: $3.99 on Amazon Prime

6. Apocalypse Now: Final Cut (1979)

Francis Ford Coppola’s masterpiece about the dogged Benjamin Willard (Martin Sheen) pursuing a rogue Colonel Kurtz (Marlon Brando) during the Vietnam War was a grueling film to shoot and an even more grueling one to perfect. According to the director, the Final Cut is the best representation of what he had in mind. It’s roughly 14 minutes shorter than Coppola’s earlier Apocalypse Now Redux edit, making for a tighter and more focused effort.

Find It: $3.99 on Amazon Prime

7. Close Encounters of the Third Kind: Director’s Cut (1977)

Steven Spielberg’s provocative film about an everyday husband and father (Richard Dreyfuss) making first contact with an alien race was one of the biggest box office hits of the 1970s. The director’s cut reflects Spielberg’s intentions by blending elements of the original release and a later Special Edition that included an unfortunate coda to an otherwise terrific ending. (It’s been eliminated here.)

Find It: $3.99 on Amazon Prime

A version of this story ran in 2020; it has been updated for 2021.