About a month before Zack Snyder's Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice had its theatrical premiere, word got out that the Blu-ray release would include an extended, R-rated version of the film. Dubbed the "Ultimate Cut," this particular edition runs roughly 30 minutes longer than the theatrical cut, includes new sequences, and even reinserts performances that were entirely removed from the Batman V Superman that's currently lighting up the box office in a record-setting performance.
Warner Bros. apparently knows that interest in the Ultimate Cut runs high. On the day Dawn of Justice was released to the public, the studio announced that the Blu-ray would hit stores in July 2016, and shortly after shared a deleted scene online that perhaps teased villain Darkseid for the upcoming Justice League film. Some criticized Batman V Superman for having an unfocused narrative that didn't flow and hope that the lengthier edition will clear some things up. Certain fans don't want to wait until the middle of summer to see if the Ultimate Cut is a better version of the movie, petitioning for WB to give it a theatrical release.
The news comes courtesy of Comic Book, who received word of a petition on Change.org (from a user named Bruce Wayne) requesting that the R-rated Batman V Superman get a limited run in theaters. It is addressed to WB, Regal Entertainment Group, and AMC Theaters and as of this writing needs just 59 more signatures to reach its goal of 500 supporters.
Movie related petitions are nothing new for the Internet. Earlier this year, a group of Star Wars fans organized one to have franchise creator George Lucas return to direct Star Wars: Episode IX. The one thing most of them have in common is that they represent wishful thinking on the part of viewers and rarely (if ever) yield tangible results. Even if this Batman V Superman petition surpasses the number of required signatures, the odds of WB following through are rather slim, particularly for business reasons.
Starting off, the studio has no incentive to remove the spotlight from the PG-13 edition that's currently playing. Though its opening weekend was a little softer than originally estimated, it's performed well throughout the week, breaking Monday and Tuesday single day records for March. Batman V Superman may have strongly divided audiences and critics, but it remains a hot talking point and interest in seeing it is still high. It would be one thing if the film was floundering commercially, but it's quickly becoming one of WB's biggest hits as it approaches the $1 billion plateau. They'd have very little to gain and arguably a ton to lose if they did put the R-rated version in theaters.
By including the Ultimate Cut on the Blu-ray, WB is banking on intrigue in seeing it to increase home media sales. Even those who weren't particularly fond of the theatrical edition have said they'd be curious to watch the 3-hour version and see what it has to offer. If the Ultimate Cut was released in theaters and the word-of-mouth did not improve, that could negatively impact the demand to buy a copy of the Blu-ray (even with all the bonus materials that will surely be included). Right now, Snyder's director's cut has an aura of mystery surrounding it, and it will surely be the centerpiece of the home media marketing campaign (much like the Star Wars 7 deleted scenes). They obviously have a plan, and they'd be better off sticking to it.
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice is now playing in U.S. theaters. Suicide Squad will arrive on August 5, 2016, followed by Wonder Woman on June 23, 2017; Justice League Part One on November 17, 2017;The Flash on March 16, 2018; Aquaman on July 27, 2018; Shazam on April 5, 2019; Justice League Part Two on June 14, 2019; Cyborg on April 3, 2020; and Green Lantern Corps. on June 19, 2020.