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 method is most viable when the main action is done by People in Rubber Suits (or Puppets), allowing the adaptation's Greek Chorus (or in some cases its stars) to have similar sensibilities to the importing country.
This is also possible in animated media, but there has to be a coordination between the original producers and the dubbers; otherwise, the visuals for these segments would be Off-Model.
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 for Film 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, either for theatrical release or for Direct-to-Video. However, it's alive and well in Television Series imports, which run long enough overall for the investment of new characters to pay dividends.
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. Neither do repurposed shots used in "And Knowing Is Half the Battle" segments.
Anime and Manga
- 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. Retitled In The Aftermath: Angels Never Sleep, it was released in 1988 to mixed reviews.
- The 4th Pokémon 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.
- The Ur-Example of this trope is probably Godzilla: King of the Monsters!, the American version of Gojira, which was completely re-edited to tell the story from the perspective of Raymond Burr as Steve Martin, a foreign correspondent who had been following the story. Notable for actually being very well done, as far as these things go, with considerable care taken to match the Burr footage and the original film.
Officer (after watching Godzilla destroy a building): That's one hell of an urban renewal program they got going on over there!
- The second Godzilla film, Godzilla Raids Again (released in the United States as Gigantis the Fire Monster), managed to avoid this, suffering only the addition of considerable amounts of Stock Footage, and Godzilla being referred to as "the Gigantis monsters", as well as having most of his roars replaced by modified Anguirus roars. However, it was almost turned into a film called The Volcano Monsters that would have been a prime example of this trope. Read about it here.
- King Kong vs. Godzilla had American-shot scenes with "U.N. News Reporters" talking about whatever had previously occurred. At one point, one pulls out a children's book to explain how Godzilla is a mutated dinosaur.
- Mothra vs. Godzilla contains an additional sequence of a missile attack on Godzilla shot by Toho especially for its American release.
- The Return of Godzilla, in keeping with its status as a direct sequel to the original film, had Raymond Burr reprise his role as Steve Martin, as well as product placement-laden scenes where American military personnel crack wise about Godzilla.
- Varan, the Unbelievable was subjected to a particularly extreme case of this. Its American version was completely rewritten around newly shot American footage with Myron Healey. Varan is an excellent example of a film that ended up shorter despite its Importation Expansion; the original Japanese version runs 87 minutes, while the American version, despite adding 40 minutes of newly shot footage, runs only 70 minutes.
- Toho's Bigfoot movie Jû jin yuki otoko was brought to the US as Half Human: The Story of the Abominable Snowman, with over 40 minutes cut and and scenes added of John Carradine and other American actors spouting Techno Babble and (in a rather squicky scene) dissecting one of the monsters.
- When New World Pictures picked up the rights to the disaster epic Japan Sinks, they cut it down by 40 minutes, added scenes of Lorne Greene sitting at a desk, and released the resulting mess as the legendarily awful Tidal Wave.
- UPA performed similar duties with Conflagration, adding scenes with Peter Graves and releasing it to TV as High Seas Hijack.
Live Action TV
- 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.
- Marvel UK's reprint series of The Transformers added a huge amount of extra stories by Simon Furman in order to avoid overtaking the main series, which occasionally required editing the American material to avoid plot holes. This bonus material was of such high quality that not only did Furman get to take over writing the American series when Bob Budiansky burned out, American fans actually subscribed to the UK series to get the bonus material.
- The Soviet animated film The Snow Queen had a live-action prologue added featuring Art Linkletter "reading" the original story to some children.
- 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.
- Soviet Science Fiction films
- When Karel Zeman's 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.
- Because Iron Man 3 was partially funded by China's DMG Entertainment, bonus scenes were added to the Chinese release of the film, primarily focusing on the character of Dr. Wu (who is briefly introduced at the 1999 party and can be glimpsed in the surgery scene in the American version). In a scene that occurs just before Tony's surgery, Dr. Wu talks to one of his assistants, played by Fan Bingbing (who will make her American debut in X-Men: Days of Future Past). Though this caused some discontentment from Americans, the deal seemed to pay off handsomely for Marvel.
- Likewise, Looper is also a U.S.-China co-production, and the Chinese release had more screentime for scenes in Shanghai.
- For it's US TV release, the B/W British horror film Naked Evil got 15 minutes of newly shot color framing sequences featuring Lawrence Tierney. The original film was tinted sepia and presented as the recollections of a psychiatric patient in an American hospital.
- Legend Of Horror is one of the most extreme examples. Most of the film is newly shot American footage based around a "flashback" that occupies about a third of the movie. This "flashback" is actually the third segment of the Argentinian Edgar Allen Poe anthology Obras Maestras Del Terror, an expanded adaptation of Poe's The Tell-Tale Heart.
- The 1967 Klaus Kinski film Creature With The Blue Hand (which had already been released intact in the US) had American-shot zombie footagenote added in 1987 for a VHS release as The Bloody Dead.
- Jerry Warren was a director/producer in the 1950s and 60s. Best known for The Wild World of Batwoman, he frequently acquired Mexican horror films, hacked them up, and added new footage with American actors before releasing them under new, more exploitative titles to unsuspecting drive-in audiences. His efforts include:
- Invasion Of The Animal People, adapted from the Swedish Terror In The Midnight Sun (Rymdinvasion i Lappland) with added footage of John Carradine sitting at a desk spouting scientific gibberish. Interestingly, the original film was already in English.
- Creature Of The Walking Dead, adapted from La Marca Del Muerto, with seemingly endless added footage of a shirtless Bruno Ve Sota getting a backrub.
- Attack Of The Mayan Mummy, adapted from La Momia Azteca
- Face Of The Screaming Werewolf, pasted together from La Momia Azteca and La Casa Del Terror (a comedy, albeit one that featured Lon Chaney Jr. as a werewolf)
- Curse Of The Stone Hand, pasted together from two Chilean films from the 1940s, La Dama De La Muerte (an adaptation of The Suicide Club by Robert Louis Stevenson) and La Casa Esta Vacía. Warren's added footage includes John Carradine doing not very much. It should be noted that neither of them are horror films.
- Gameof Death: The international version of the 1978 version shows a longer sequence where Billy Lo meets his uncle in a theater. The HK version shows another fight scene with a Bruce Lee double and Korean Taekwonwdo master Casanova Wong in a greenhouse. The ending is also significantly longer in the HK version, where dead Dr. Land is picked up by an ambulance. More information on this here
Live Action TV
- 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 practice was fairly common for American children's television in The '90s, where a new show would be made for the purpose of introducing a foreign children's series to the country:
- Shining Time Station, a show which framed Thomas the Tank Engine, kick-started this trend.
- Since the original version of Tots TV was ten minutes long and the series was acquired by PBS Kids, which doesn't show commercials, the show would run in a Three Shorts format where the segment in between each story would either feature a storyteller named Noah or an animal expert named Jane.
- Perhaps the strangest example of this was Salty's Lighthouse, where 5-minute clips comprised from various episodes of Tugs played as what Salty saw at the harbor.
- The Noddy Shop would show a story from Noddy's Toyland Adventures split into two five-minute parts when Kate Tomten, one of the child characters, told stories to solve her friends' problems. Oddly enough, this version made it back into the United Kingdom and several other countries that aired the original series, like Portugal and France.
- Mr. Men and Little Miss aired in the US as part of a show with the same title made by Summit Media Group note where the segments were sandwiched between live-action variety sketches tied into a specific theme like exercising or the circus.