One of the most interesting stories about Martin Scorsese’s “The Wolf of Wall Street” was all the talk about the film’s earlier version. Back in the early Fall, Scorsese was screening a longer and racier cut to the studio.
He and famed editor Thelma Schoonmaker spent weeks cutting the film to get it down to a marketable 2hr 59min theatrical cut we ended up with that’s scoring a lot of strong critical notices ahead of its release this week.
Schoonmaker sat down with HitFix the other day and spoke about the earlier cut which she confirmed ran a full hour longer.
It turns out people loved the four-hour cut, so much so it became a huge problem as everyone acknowledged it had to be shorter, but no-one could figure out what to shave. They even at one point considered a “Kill Bill”-style two-volume approach:
Well, we thought about it. We did. But the film doesn’t work split in half. It has to have a certain arc. We did think about it, believe me, because people loved the four-hour version… It would’ve been horrible if we had it cut out whole scenes.”
Ultimately they didn’t cut out scenes so much as trim some of the length out of them:
“We just shaved things down and did three or four screenings and kept going and kept going and finally we got there. And I would never have believed we would have done it. So it was fortunate because it would’ve been disastrous if we hadn’t. I mean you can’t distribute a four-hour movie.”