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Theatrical Version vs. Unrated Version — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman — Published on January 20, 2024
Theatrical Version is the version of a film released in theaters, typically rated by a film rating board, while Unrated Version usually contains additional content not shown in theaters and is not rated.
Theatrical Version vs. Unrated Version — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Theatrical Version and Unrated Version


Key Differences

The Theatrical Version of a film is the cut that is edited and approved for release in cinemas. It adheres to the requirements of film rating boards to achieve a specific rating, like PG-13 or R. The Unrated Version, also known as the Director's Cut or Extended Version, often includes scenes or content that were omitted from the theatrical release and has not been submitted for rating.
Theatrical Versions are typically shorter, focusing on broader audience appeal and meeting time constraints of cinemas. In contrast, Unrated Versions can be longer with additional scenes, extended dialogues, or alternative endings that provide a different viewing experience.
The content in Theatrical Versions is often more conservative, edited to avoid higher age ratings that could limit the audience. Unrated Versions, however, might include more explicit content, be it violence, language, which could have contributed to a higher rating.
Theatrical Versions are the most widely seen and known versions of films, as they are distributed for mass public viewing. Unrated Versions are usually released later, often as part of a DVD or digital release, catering to fans who want to explore the film further.
In terms of marketing, Theatrical Versions are promoted for cinema releases, with trailers and advertisements tailored to a wide audience. Unrated Versions are often marketed as special editions, offering more for fans, collectors, or viewers interested in a director’s full vision.

Comparison Chart

Length and Content

Typically shorter, with content for wider appeal
Often longer with additional or explicit content

Film Rating

Rated by film boards
Not rated

Target Audience

Broad public audience
Fans, collectors, and those seeking more depth


Released in cinemas
Released typically as part of DVD or digital media


Promoted for mass audience
Marketed as special or extended editions

Compare with Definitions

Theatrical Version

Edited to meet film rating board standards.
They cut some scenes in the theatrical version to secure a PG-13 rating.

Unrated Version

Released typically on DVD or digital media.
I bought the unrated version for its additional content and director's commentary.

Theatrical Version

Tailored for a broad audience appeal.
The theatrical version was less violent to attract a wider audience.

Unrated Version

Caters to fans seeking a more comprehensive film experience.
Fans of the movie preferred the unrated version for its deeper storyline.

Theatrical Version

Film version released in cinemas.
The theatrical version of the movie was two hours long.

Unrated Version

Not submitted for rating by film boards.
Since the unrated version was released directly on DVD, it wasn't rated.

Theatrical Version

Widely distributed and promoted version.
The theatrical version had a massive worldwide release.

Unrated Version

Contains additional content not in the theatrical release.
The unrated version of the film included an extended fight scene.

Theatrical Version

Often shorter due to time constraints.
Certain subplots were trimmed in the theatrical version to keep it under two hours.

Unrated Version

Often longer with more explicit material.
The unrated version had more explicit language and scenes than the theatrical cut.

Common Curiosities

Is the Unrated Version more explicit?

Often, the Unrated Version is more explicit, containing scenes that might have been omitted from the theatrical release due to rating concerns.

What is a Theatrical Version?

The Theatrical Version is the cut of a film that is released in cinemas, often edited to meet specific film rating criteria.

How long after the theatrical release is the Unrated Version typically released?

The Unrated Version is usually released several months after the theatrical release, often as part of a DVD or digital release.

What does Unrated Version mean?

An Unrated Version is a version of a film that includes additional content not shown in theaters and has not been rated by film boards.

Are Unrated Versions only available for purchase?

They are primarily available for purchase or rental, though occasionally they might be available on streaming platforms.

Do Unrated Versions affect the film's storyline?

They can, as additional scenes and character development might provide more depth or a different perspective.

Why are films edited for a Theatrical Version?

Films are edited for theatrical release to appeal to a broader audience and meet the criteria for a desired age rating.

Why would someone choose to watch the Unrated Version?

Viewers might choose the Unrated Version for more content, extended scenes, or to see the director’s full vision.

Can the Unrated Version have a different ending?

Yes, the Unrated Version can sometimes include alternative endings or additional scenes that alter the storyline.

Is the Unrated Version always longer than the Theatrical Version?

Typically, yes, the Unrated Version is longer, but this is not always the case.

Is the Unrated Version more expensive than the Theatrical Version?

It can be, especially if it's part of a special edition release.

Can a film’s rating change in the Unrated Version?

Since Unrated Versions are not submitted for rating, they don’t have an official rating change but often contain content that would alter their rating.

Are Unrated Versions better than Theatrical Versions?

"Better" is subjective and depends on individual preferences for content and storytelling.

Do all movies have an Unrated Version?

No, not all movies release an Unrated Version; it depends on the director's choice and studio policies.

Can I watch the Unrated Version in theaters?

Unrated Versions are typically not shown in theaters; they are usually released for home viewing.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Tayyaba Rehman
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

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