We’ve seen a significant number of specific movie “cut” releases over the past few years, which represent the director’s own approved edit of a particular film. In a pre-home-video era, director cuts, or any other cuts for that matter, weren’t released to the public to protect the movie investor’s interest. However, with the rise of home video, unique “cuts” became more generally used as a marketing term, as they offered extra scenes or added characters that add more context to the movie’s narrative or alter it completely. On that note, one of Hollywood’s most famous movie flops just got an Extended Cut, 28 years after the movie’s original release. Of course, we’re talking about the Super Mario Bros. movie.
According to an article published by IGN, a group of fans released an Extended Cut of the 1993’s Super Mario Bros. movie, with previously undiscovered, deleted scenes from the film. The added scenes increase the movie’s run time by slightly more than 20 minutes and provide a subplot cut from the original Super Mario Bros. released almost three decades ago. The cut was titled The Morton Jankel Cut, in honor of the film’s husband-and-wife directing duo, and can be watched below.
The never-before-seen footage was discovered on a VHS tape containing an extended rough cut in May 2019 by The Super Mario Bros. Movie Archive Team, a website dedicated to the movie’s memorabilia. It contains added elements to the movie’s main narrative, involving Bob Hoskins’ Mario and John Leguizamo’s Luigi competing with a Mafia-affiliated plumbing company and Dennis Hopper’s King Koopa devolving his henchmen into slime. But that’s not all – there’s a lot more of Lena, Daniella, and the Brooklyn Girls in the Extended Cut, with a lot more cast involved.
Unfortunately, the material contained on the aforementioned VHS had inferior image quality and sustained some damage, which required heavy restoration – prompting the Archive Team to hire a director/editor/artist Garret Gilchrist. The artist restored the footage frame by frame using Photoshop, adjusting the 60fps VHS material to 24fps, with added color grading and noise reduction. However, The Morton Jankel Cut is still an early version of the Extended Cut and shows signs of mismatched editing for the time being. With that said, this particular version used VHS-sourced material, while Gilchrist prepares an identical edit of the film using downscaled Blu-Ray video for most of the edit.
1993’s Super Mario Bros. was the first feature-length live-action film based on a video game, which ended up as a critical and commercial failure due to production conflicts. The movie was initially conceived as a dystopic cyberpunk fantasy aimed at teen audiences. However, Disney acquired distribution rights eight weeks before cameras started rolling, demanding significant script rewrites, aiming the film’s final cut at children and younger audiences. These conflicts between Disney’s demands and the director’s creative vision are adamant throughout the movie, giving its plot an identity crisis.
Luckily, the newly reworked and released footage sheds some light on Morton’s creative vision and provides the original narrative with more context. That said, the Extended Cut of Super Mario Bros. is perhaps the most extensive and most comprehensive movie restoration effort done by the film’s fandom outside of official studio work. Just don’t let Disney hear about it; they’ll want a sequel.