In the past, it was reasonably common practice for producers to add new scenes to foreign films that they were importing. This was done for several reasons: to add name actors to what would otherwise be a cast of unknowns, to disguise the fact that the film was foreign (at least for the duration of the trailer
), to increase the running time
, or any combination of the above.
The "expansion" is related to the adding of new footage, not to the actual length of the "expanded" film. Indeed, the "expanded" versions of some films can be much shorter than their original versions.
This has been a Dead Horse Trope
since the mid-1970s, when distributors realized that most audiences didn't actually care enough to justify the time and expense of shooting new footage. This is in danger of becoming a Forgotten Trope
in the United States, with the near-disappearance of foreign films from mainstream theatrical releases and television airings.
Note that to be an example of this trope requires substantial
original footage; simply adding insert shots of translated signs or the like doesn't count.
A subtrope of Cut-and-Paste Translation
. Compare to the Regional Bonus
of video games.
For whatever reason, Japanese films seem to be particularly prone to this treatment.
Non Japanese Films
Anime and Manga
- The Godfrey Ho Ninja Movies. Godfrey Ho was pretty much the king of this - by his own account he made about 40-50 movies this way. He and producer Joseph Lai would buy up the rights to various 70s/80s Asian films which would usually be unmarketable elsewheren (or sometimes were unfinished or never saw release at all), shoot between 10 to 30 minutes of original footage with Western actors (usually as Technicolor Ninjas), then attempt to tie the whole thing together into an vaguely coherent plot via a Hong Kong Dub. Needless to say this was usually unsuccessful.
- Jerry Warren
- Soviet Science Fiction films
- Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet
- Voyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Women
- Battle Beyond the Sun
- Queen of Blood, although similar in genesis, doesn't really qualify, since it only really used footage from the original Russian film as stock footage for its original story.
- When Journey to the Beginning of Time was released in the United States, it got an entirely new beginning for the film. The new footage featured lookalike actors (carefully shot to avoid showing their faces) going to the New York Museum of Natural History and taking a boat ride in Central Park before segueing to the original Czech footage.
- Horror of the Blood Monsters started life as a black and white Filipino caveman epic called Tagani. To make it saleable to American drive-ins, hack director extraordinaire Al Adamson added color scenes with American actors (including John Carradine) as astronauts exploring a "prehistoric planet". The fact that said "prehistoric planet" (the Tagani footage) was black and white was solved by tinting the film day-glo colors, which, the newly added footage explaned, was caused by "Involuntary shifts in Spectrum Radiation".
- That shot of Margot and La Môle on the American DVD of La Reine Margot? That whole scene was shot for the American release to strengthen the love story.
Live Action TV
- Battle of the Planets, in addition to the heavy Bowdlerisation that it suffered underwent when it was imported, featured additional animated footage of the Amusing Alien 7-Zark-7, who cracked lame jokes and explained how everyone got away safely.
- A truly bizarre example of this occurred when New World Pictures brought over Angel's Egg. Instead of giving it a straight dub (which would have been more or less impossible given the nature of the film), they cut the film heavily and added about 45 minutes of live action footage. The resulting mess truly must be seen to be believed.
- The 4th Pokemon film, Celebi: The Voice of the Forest added three scenes to the English version. Two of them served to over-explain a plot point in the story. The other was a comedic Team Rocket scene that served no purpose to the plot.
- The English dub of Maple Town had live-action segments added to the beginning and ending of each episode, featuring a human person named Miss Maple.
Eastern European Animation
- Several Japanese Tokusatsu series have been adapted in English, keeping footage where the actors are in face-concealing costumes and replacing the rest with new footage with English actors. In a number of cases, the plot changes drastically in the adaptation.
- Fraggle Rock - various markets (including the UK, which didn't redub the Muppet characters) had their own version of Doc. They all had Sprocket, though.
- This was actually part of the plan for the series, however.
- The Soviet animated film The Snow Queen had a live-action prologue added featuring Art Linkletter "reading" the original story to some children.
- Albums released in Japan usually have Bonus Tracks, a lyric booklet in Japanese and an exclusive Obi Strip. This is to justify the high cost of new CDs (and previously vinyl records) in Japan. Record companies quickly discovered this was a lucrative business and albums in Australia and the UK often have bonus tracks as well (albeit without the additional booklet and obi strip). It rarely happens in the US and mainland Europe, but has been known to on occasion.