Sergio Leone's 'Once Upon a Time in America' was just released on Blu-ray this January. If you purchased a copy of the disc, you're unfortunately already the unlucky owner of an outdated cut. Variety reports that Andrea and Raffaella Leone (the maestro's children) have picked up the Italian rights to the 1984 gangster tale and will be working with Bologna Cinemetheque L'Immagine Ritrovata to digitally restore the film. They're also going to be adding 40 minutes of original footage to the new director's cut.
All restoration is being supervised by 'America's' original sound editor, Fausto Ancillai. The film's in good hands with Bologna Cinematheque, who have worked on Leone's epic spaghetti westerns and also manage the Charlie Chaplin archives. An Italian theatrical release and VOD may be on the way, but the Leone family are eyeing up the Cannes and Venice film festivals for a possible 2012 screening.
The current Blu-ray release clocks in at 229 minutes (it's the cut that premiered at Cannes in 1984), but the film has gone through a serious and unwanted overhaul through the years. Leone wanted to initially release the epic crime drama starring Robert De Niro and James Woods as two three-hour films, but the producers refused to take a commercial gamble. A 134-minute abridged version (not Leone-approved) was the theatrical release U.S. critics first saw and panned, which rearranges the story in chronological order. The '90s delivered a three-hour TV version that kept Leone's original narrative order, but deleted important scenes.
Let's hope whatever they add to this 269-minute release will make it the definitive version. They'll have almost 10 hours of footage to dig through to figure it out. Are you ready to plunk down your cash for another Blu-ray most likely heading our way soon?