In the case of “Napoleon,” Scott emphasized the abbreviated theatrical version for practical reasons:
“I felt like it saved you a lot of trouble to say, okay, here’s the one we’re going to release in theaters, but ultimately I want to show you my whole vision of ‘Napoleon.’ There is something else that comes into play in this equation, which I put under the title of pain in the butt factor. How long can you sit in a movie theater beyond two and a half hours, before starting to feel uncomfortable? Three and a half hours or four hours? (A film) has to be terribly good for you to be able to endure three and a half hours.”
With “Kingdom of Heaven,” Scott says he also wanted to “make the story fly,” even if the lost details turned out to be a net negative. As Scott previously said and reiterated to Deadline, there is one subplot that he particularly regrets having left out of the initial version. For Scott, these missing 17 minutes would have resulted in a “meatier” film. What subplot is this?
When Balian arrives in Jerusalem, it is ruled by King Baldwin IV (Edward Norton), a descendant of the Catholic crusaders from Christendom (medieval Europe) who took the city in the 11th century. Now, the good king is a leper. He hides his disfigurement behind a white robe and a metal mask, but it is common knowledge that his days are numbered and that a succession crisis will be imminent.