Del Toro (from Collider) on his new project At The Mountains of Madness:
What I would like to do is shoot it, as dark as it is, in an unrated cut and a PG-13 cut. Ideally they would be released simultaneously if that’s at all possible. We could release one [cut] in a certain format and the other in a different format with the hopes that we can offer more intense moments in one cut and equally intense moments but without graphic content in the other cut.
Unrated cuts of films are usually reserved for Blu-Ray releases months after a theatrical run. The reasoning is twofold: studios want to be sure that their investments will be rewarded with a wide audience and audiences aren't willing to bet the price of a ticket on an unrated experience that may be too gruesome.
The fact remains that the audience for uncut versions of a movie exists in the home video space, where existing fans are willing to pay a premium for the more extreme edition. These fans have already seen the movie in theaters and want more.
The theatrical model doesn't favor this kind of distribution. It's why the NC-17 rating is a kiss of death; theaters don't want to risk playing a movie that seems inaccessible. The Anchorman 2 R-rated cut had a week-long engagement in theaters for those who already saw the original cut and wanted more.
If del Toro can pull this off, then I can't wait to see only the unrated cut. I hope I'm not in the minority; if enough film buffs pay for an uncut version in advance, maybe we'll prove to the studios that these kinds of experiments can succeed.
He could also make an unrated cut available on Blu-Ray or digital download at the same time as the theatrical release, but that doesn't seem likely. At best, there will be an absurd time shift between the editions. At worst, del Toro's original vision will be ghettoized to the Blu-Ray release of the film when the time comes.