Donnie Darko Wiki
Donnie Darko Director's Cut poster.jpg

Donnie Darko: The Director's Cut is a 2004 extended version of Richard Kelly's directorial debut, Donnie Darko. A critical success but a commercial failure when first released in 2001, Donnie Darko grew in popularity through word-of-mouth due to strong DVD sales and regular midnight screenings across the United States. As a result of this growth, Kelly was approached by Bob Berney, president of the distributor Newmarket Films, who suggested that the film be rereleased. Kelly proposed producing a director's cut, and was given $290,000 to create what he called his interpretation of the original film. Donnie Darko was subsequently described as being the first "flop" to be given a director's cut.[2]

Kelly made various alterations to create the director's cut. Almost all of the deleted scenes that had previously been included as bonus features on the film's DVD were added, which increased the runtime by twenty minutes. Kelly also superimposed text from the in-universe book The Philosophy of Time Travel, providing an explanation for some of the more ambiguous elements of the film's plot. Additionally, the sound quality was improved, digital effects were added, and a new soundtrack was created using songs for which Kelly had previously been unable to obtain the rights – for the opening scene, "The Killing Moon" by Echo & the Bunnymenwas replaced with "Never Tear Us Apart" by INXS. The new cut made its premiere on May 29, 2004, at a sold-out screening during the Seattle International Film Festival.

Critical reception to Donnie Darko: The Director's Cut was initially positive: review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a rating of 91% based on 43 reviews, while Metacritic awarded an score of 88 out of 100, indicating "universal acclaim". Roger Ebertgave the film three stars out of four, describing it as "alive, original and exciting".[3] Retrospective reviews have been more mixed, with reviewers criticizing the new soundtrack and the plot's lack of ambiguity. The film was released on DVD on February 15, 2005, and on Blu-ray four years later. Domestically, Donnie Darko: The Director's Cut took a total of $1.3 million at the box office.


When originally editing Donnie Darko in 2001, Kelly was required to keep the final film shorter than two hours, with its final runtime coming to 113 minutes.[2] With more freedom in 2004, his director's cut is twenty minutes longer than the original release.[16] Most of the deleted scenes that had been included as extras on the Donnie Darko DVD were added to narrative, bringing the runtime to a total of 133 minutes.[14] Such scenes include additional sequences with Donnie and his parents, Donnie's therapist Dr Thurman telling him that his drugs are placebos, and his English teacher Karen Pomfrey teaching Watership Down to her class.[17][18] Close-up shots of Donnie's eyeballs were included, as well as footage of waves crashing on a beach, and a scene in which Donnie and Gretchen play the 1986 arcade game Out Run.[19]

Alongside the deleted scenes, Kelly also superimposed pages from the fictional book The Philosopy of Time Travel, which had previously been available on the film's official website, onto the film.[20] Kelly had written these passages after he had finished shooting, and explained that their inclusion was to help the film "operate on a more logical, fluid level, a bit more as the science fiction film that [he] always intended it to be".[2] The text introduces new concepts that had previously been unmentioned in the original release. According to The Philosophy of Time Travel, much of the film's plot take place in an unstable "Tangent Universe", a duplicate of the "Primary Universe" from which Donnie originates. Donnie is described as being the "Living Receiver", and is granted superpowers such as strength, telekinesis and premonition. Donnie's task over the course of the film is to return the jet engine (called the "Artifact" in the book) to the Primary Universe to avert a disaster. During his quest, he is aided by "The Manipulated Living" and "The Manipulated Dead", who are the other characters in the film.[21] These plot points received criticism from reviewers, who objected to the narrative's new lack of ambiguity.[22][23] Jonathan Dean of Total Film described them as "unsatisfactory" and "handholding".[5] In an interview, Kelly stated that the pages had been created "as an exercise in interpretation", and that they were not necessarily intended to be viewed as canon.[21]

The film's sound quality was improved and its soundtrack revised.[6] Kelly had originally wanted to use the songs "Never Tear Us Apart" by INXS and "West End Girls" by the Pet Shop Boys during the opening scene of Donnie cycling home and Sparkle Motion's dance at the talent show respectively, but financial constraints meant that he instead had to use "The Killing Moon" by Echo & the Bunnymen and "Notorious" by Duran Duran. For the director's cut, Kelly was able to gain the rights to use "Never Tear Us Apart" for the opening scene, and moved "The Killing Moon" to later in the film; "Notorious" was not moved from the talent show scene.[15]


  1. "Donnie Darko: The Director's Cut". Box Office Mojo. Archived from the original on June 24, 2006. Retrieved January 20, 2016.
  2. ^ Jump up to:a b c d e f Axmaker, Sean (August 30, 2004). "The Resurrection of 'Donnie Darko'".AlterNet. Archived from the original on July 27, 2014. Retrieved January 19, 2016.
  3. ^ Jump up to:a b c Ebert, Roger (2013). "Reviews". Roger Ebert's Movie Yearbook 2007. Kansas:Andrews McMeel. p. 180. ISBN 9780740792199. OCLC 829176285. RetrievedJanuary 19, 2016.
  4. ^ Jump up to:a b c d Snider, Mike (February 14, 2005). "'Darko' takes a long, strange trip". USA Today (Tysons Corner, Virginia: Gannett). ISSN 0734-7456. OCLC 682028651.Archived from the original on October 12, 2012. Retrieved January 19, 2016.
  5. ^ Jump up to:a b c Dean, Jonathan (2005). Ganguly, Aubrey, ed. Total Film Presents the 100 Greatest Movies of All Time. London: Future Publishing. p. 33. ISBN 9781858701974.OL 12042166M.
  6. ^ Jump up to:a b c d e f g h i Burnett, Adam (July 2004). ""Donnie Darko: The Director's Cut": The Strange Afterlife of an Indie Cult Film". Indiewire. Archived from the original on August 6, 2004. Retrieved January 19, 2016.
  7. Jump up^ Morrison, Alan (October 2002). "Donnie Darko Review". Empire (Bauer). ISSN 0957-4948. OCLC 40516612. Archived from the original on January 22, 2016. RetrievedJanuary 22, 2016.
  8. Jump up^ Leigh, Danny (July 30, 2004). "The rabbit rides again". The Guardian (London:Guardian News and Media). ISSN 0261-3077. OCLC 60623878. Archived from the original on December 20, 2013. Retrieved February 27, 2016.
  9. Jump up^ Garrett, Jason Lyle (2008). "IV: Donnie Darko". Social Outcast Cinema: Generic Evolution and Identification in Early 21st Century Teen Film. Ann Arbor, Michigan:ProQuest. p. 83. ISBN 9780549518389. Retrieved February 25, 2016.
  10. Jump up^ "Gary Jules tops Christmas charts". London: BBC News. December 21, 2003.Archived from the original on February 22, 2004. Retrieved January 22, 2016.
  11. ^ Jump up to:a b c d Axmaker, Sean (June 1, 2004). "'Donnie Darko' gets a second shot in theaters".Seattle Post-Intelligencer (Seattle: Hearst). ISSN 0745-970X. OCLC 3734418.Archived from the original on May 10, 2005. Retrieved January 19, 2015.
  12. Jump up^ Person, Lawrence (September 17, 2016). "Donnie Darko: The Director's Cut". Locus(Oakland, California). ISSN 0047-4959. OCLC 610386221. Archived from the original on September 23, 2004. Retrieved January 22, 2016.
  13. Jump up^ Shott, Chris (April 22, 2005). "Stealing the Show". Washington City Paper(Washington, D.C.: SouthComm). Archived from the original on January 22, 2016. Retrieved January 22, 2016.
  14. ^ Jump up to:a b Murray, Rebecca (2004). "Interview with Writer/Director Richard Kelly". New York City: Archived from the original on September 20, 2005. RetrievedJanuary 19, 2016.
  15. ^ Jump up to:a b Day, Matt. "Donnie Darko: Director's Cut". The Digital Fix. Archived from the original on February 21, 2014. Retrieved January 22, 2016.
  16. Jump up^ Addiego, Walter (September 4, 2004). "Teen, sinister rabbit get second chance". San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco: Hearst). ISSN 1932-8672. OCLC 8812614.Archived from the original on October 1, 2015. Retrieved January 22, 2016.
  17. Jump up^ Hornaday, Ann (August 20, 2004). "Return to 'Darko' Side: New Scenes Enlightening".The Washington Post (Washington, D.C.: Nash Holdings). Archived from the original on January 22, 2016. Retrieved January 22, 2016.
  18. Jump up^ Klein, Leighton (August 27, 2004). "New 'Donnie Darko' version cuts both ways". The Boston Globe (Boston: Boston Globe). ISSN 0743-1791. OCLC 66652431. Archivedfrom the original on January 22, 2016. Retrieved January 22, 2016.
  19. Jump up^ Russell, Jamie (August 24, 2004). "Donnie Darko: The Director's Cut (2004)". London:BBC. Archived from the original on September 13, 2004. Retrieved December 15, 2014.
  20. ^ Jump up to:a b Thomas, Kevin (July 23, 2004). "Donnie Darko: The Director's Cut". Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles: Tribune). ISSN 0458-3035. OCLC 3638237. Archived from the original on March 21, 2008. Retrieved January 19, 2016.
  21. ^ Jump up to:a b Kois, Dan (July 23, 2004). "Everything you were afraid to ask about 'Donnie Darko'". San Francisco: Salon. Archived from the original on October 27, 2011. Retrieved February 26, 2016.
  22. ^ Jump up to:a b c Sims, David (May 2004). "'Donnie Darko' and Other Times Directors' Cuts Messed Up Their Own Movies". Washington, D.C.: The Wire. Archived from the original on June 3, 2014. Retrieved January 20, 2016.
  23. ^ Jump up to:a b Hawking, Tom (December 28, 2010). "10 Director's Cuts That Are Worse Than the Original". Flavorwire. Archived from the original on January 1, 2011. RetrievedJanuary 22, 2016.
  24. ^ Jump up to:a b "Donnie Darko: The Director's Cut (2004)". Rotten Tomatoes. Archived from the original on April 26, 2012. Retrieved January 25, 2016.
  25. Jump up^ "Donnie Darko: The Director's Cut". Metacritic. Archived from the original on July 10, 2011. Retrieved January 25, 2016.
  26. ^ Jump up to:a b Elder, Robert K. (2004). "Movie review: 'Donnie Darko: The Director's Cut'".Chicago Tribune (Chicago: Tribune). ISSN 1085-6706. OCLC 60639020. Archivedfrom the original on August 22, 2004. Retrieved January 22, 2016.
  27. Jump up^ Lim, Dennis (July 20, 2004). "Tracking Shots". The Village Voice (New York City: The Village Voice LLC). ISSN 0042-6180. OCLC 473126613. Archived from the original on August 7, 2004. Retrieved January 22, 2016.
  28. ^ Jump up to:a b Wampler, Scott (August 17, 2011). "DONNIE DARKO 10th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray Review". Archived from the original on April 21, 2013. RetrievedJanuary 22, 2016.
  29. Jump up^ Cantrell, Ashe (January 8, 2015). "4 Director's Cuts That Are Worse Than The Original". Film School Rejects. Archived from the original on January 11, 2015. Retrieved January 22, 2016.
  30. Jump up^ Britton, Luke Morgan (April 8, 2015). "Echo And The Bunnymen's Ian McCulloch says 'The Killing Moon' is 'the greatest song ever written'". London: Archivedfrom the original on April 12, 2015. Retrieved January 22, 2016.
  31. Jump up^ White, Cindy (February 9, 2009). "Donnie Darko (Director's Cut) Blu-ray Review". San Francisco: IGN. Archived from the original on January 25, 2016. Retrieved January 25,2016.
  32. Jump up^ "Donnie Darko: The Director's Cut". The Sunday Times (London: News UK). February 19, 2006. Front cover. ISSN 0956-1382. OCLC 16310772.
  33. Jump up^ "Donnie Darko: 10th Anniversary [Blu-Ray Combo]". St. Louis: Cinema Blend. July 2011. Archived from the original on October 8, 2011. Retrieved January 25, 2016.
  34. Jump up^ ASIN B004ZBFRTY, Donnie Darko (10th Anniversary Edition) [Blu-ray] (July 26, 2011)