Leave it to a film franchise called Escape Room to make its movies a puzzle for fans. On September 21, the second Escape Room film, subtitled Tournament of Champions, will be released digitally, with two different versions. One is the 88 minute theatrical cut and the other is a 96 minute extended cut which may blow the door wide open on the series’ mythology.
According to a description on Movies Anywhere, the longer digital version “includes more than 25 minutes of all new scenes including an alternate beginning and ending revealing for the first time who is behind the Minos Corporation.” That sure sounds like the franchise’s big bad is being revealed in an extended edition that’s completely different from the one we saw in theatres.
Let’s back up a second. The first Escape Room was released in January 2019 and grossed over $US150 ($203) million worldwide. A second film was quickly put in the works and released in July 2021. Both films are directed by Adam Robitel (Insidious: The Last Key) and tell the story of a seemingly random group of strangers who find themselves caught in a deadly series of rooms that they must escape from or die.
The survivors of the first film then move onto the second film where they vow to take down the company they believe is behind is all, Minos. However, in the second film, Tournament of Champions, you don’t really get any of that — there are plenty of new, cool, elaborate escape rooms, but the movie lacks any real escalation of the franchise mythology in regards to Minos.
At least, that’s how it went in the theatrical version. An Gizmodo reader who goes by JR first alerted us to fans online who were very confused. Some saw the film in theatres, where its ending [Spoiler Alert] revealed that the whole movie was an elaborate trap to get the star, Zoey (Taylor Russell), to face her biggest fear, getting on a plane. Others, however, didn’t see any of that.
People who were watching (probably illegally, we should note) the sequel online saw a whole new version which dumped the elaborate plane storyline in favour of an even bigger one. This ending introduced a whole new family who worked at Minos and saw Zoey leave the game, after which she meets the daughter of that family who began to unravel some of the mystery behind the company. We won’t spoil what happens but Reddit threads seem to suggest the current description that’s been added to Wikipedia is accurate.
If the runtimes on Movies Anywhere (88 minutes theatrical, 96 minutes extended) are accurate, and the new, extended cut of Escape Room actually has 25 minutes of “all new scenes,” the maths works out to 17 minutes of the theatrical version being cut. This raises a ton of questions: why were the changes made? Why was one version released in theatres and the other not? Plus, does the existence of one version of this film negate the existence of the other? Regarding all of that, a Sony representative couldn’t comment but did say further details on the home release of Escape Room: Tournament of Champions would be available soon and clear all this up.
We do know Robitel has hinted that the theatrical version of the film wasn’t his ultimate vision. Speaking to the Wrap earlier this year, he said ‘“My director’s cut was 45 minutes longer. But you get into it with a lot of cooks in the kitchen and they’re like ‘cut, cut, cut, cut, cut.’ So at the end of the day, until I have director’s cut, I’m at the whim of the gentle chainsaw.” Seems like the sub-90 minutes theatrical cut was more a studio thing and, hopefully, this extended cut is more the filmmaker’s vision.
Nevertheless, I find this mystery not just fascinating, but encouraging. I loved the first Escape Room and was incredibly excited to see the second. However, I thought the second film was very frustrating, mainly because its main dramatic throughline was based on a scene that was supposed to have taken place during the first movie, but didn’t actually exist in the first movie.
Not to mention the ending completely whiffed the opportunity to escalate and elevate the franchise’s mythology. These 25 new minutes sound like they’re going to change all that and make Escape Room a bit more epic than its sequel made it out to be.
Escape Room: Tournament of Champions will be released digitally on September 21 and on physical discs October 16.