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Elvis director Baz Luhrmann reveals original cut of the film was ‘four hours long’

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Elvis director Baz Luhrmann has claimed that his forthcoming Elvis Presley biopic originally had a runtime of around four hours.

The film, which is released in cinemas this week, stars Austin Butler as the rock ‘n’ roll singer, and Tom Hanks as his manager, Colonel Tom Parker.

While the theatrically released film clocks in at around two-and-a-half hours, Luhrmann revealed his original cut was substantially longer – and detailed some of the material that had been cut.

Speaking to Radio Times, the Moulin Rouge filmmaker said: “I have a four-hour version, actually. I do. But you have to bring it down to two hours 30.

“I would have liked to lean into some of the other things more – there’s so much more,” he continued. “I mean, there’s lots of stuff that I shot like the relationship with the band, I had to pare [that] down – and it’s so interesting how the Colonel gets rid of them.”

He cites scenes involving Presley’s first girfriend, Dixie, and later ones in which the singer was “caught in a trap, and he’s discombobulated and doesn’t understand”.

Some scenes set during Elvis’s periods of heavy substance abuse were also cut, including when he went to meet Richard Nixon.

Austin Butler in ‘Elvis' (Warner Bros)
Austin Butler in ‘Elvis' (Warner Bros)

Of the Nixon sequence especially, Luhrmann said: “I had it in there for a while but there just comes a point where you can’t have everything in, so I just tried to track the spirit of the character.”

Presley’s 1970 meeting with the US president was the subject of the 2016 film Elvis & Nixon, which starred Michael Shannon as Presley and Kevin Spacey as Nixon.

Elvis is out in cinemas on 24 June.

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