Southland Tales’ Richard Kelly working on six-hour director’s cut

Southland Tales, Richard Kelly

Following the explosive success of Donnie Darko, writer/director Richard Kelly returned with SOUTHLAND TALES, a sci-fi comedy thriller that took place in an alternate version of Los Angeles. “As the city stands on the brink of social, economic and environmental chaos,” reads the official logline, “the fates of an eclectic set of characters – including an amnesia-stricken action star (Dwayne Johnson), an adult film star developing her own reality TV project (Sarah Michelle Gellar) and a police officer whose identity has split in two (Seann William Scott) – intertwine with each other and with the whole of humanity.” Unlike Donnie Darko, Southland Tales didn’t exactly impress audiences upon its release, but Kelly still considers the film to be “the thing that I’m the most proud of.

Arrow Video will be releasing a 2K restoration of Southland Tales on January 25th that includes the 145-minute theatrical cut as well as the 160-minute Cannes cut that premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 2006, and although that’s certainly an awful lot of Southland Tales, Richard Kelly has even more in store for us. While speaking with, the director said that he’s developing an even longer cut of the story that places the existing film as merely the middle segment of a much bigger tale.

There’s been a significant amount of work done on revisiting Southland Tales. I’m actually putting together a polish on what I’m putting together, which is a polish on it, which is using the graphic novel prequels that were published….You’ll see in the existing version of Southland Tales is chapters 4-6, so there’s basically a prequel companion film that could, if it’s made, theoretically continue onward into an expanded version of the existing film with new footage, and the most ideal version it would basically be a six-hour film, split in two, and within each film there’s 3 chapters. So it’s like a six-chapter story, but it would be presented in two epic movies, like a big double feature, that in an ideal world could exist on a streaming platform of something that is more amenable to these sort of long-form stories. If people want to skip forward to the chapters, they would have that option, but in an ideal world it would be presented as a six-hour project split into two big feature films.

Kelly added that he’s done a lot of work expanding and adapting the existing Southland Tales graphic novels into new screenplays. While the chances of an enormous six-hour cut of Southland Tales may seem slim, the rise of Zack Snyder’s Justice League and streaming platforms in general give Kelly hope that it could happen. “We are entering into a new world of digesting narratives, and with the sort of streaming platforms, we have sort of trained the audience into being more open to digesting longer stories that sort of exist in that netherworld that exists between a feature film and a long-form television series,” Kelly said. “You see what Steve McQueen has just done with the Small Ax anthology on Amazon and you’re seeing what Zack Snyder is working on with Justice League, and I think that if you have a film that can’t really exist normally in the traditional theatrical distribution space.” The Arrow Video blu-ray release of Southland Tales will drop on January 25th.

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