Ridley Scott's Napoleon is getting an epic four-hour cut, but only on Apple TV Plus

Napoleon by Ridley Scott
(Image credit: Apple TV+)

Napoleon, the forthcoming epic historical drama from Ridley Scott, looks pretty incredible and it's coming to cinema screens in November before making its streaming debut on Apple TV Plus. But there's an even more epic version and the legendary director is hoping that the best streaming service will screen that too. 

The film is based on the French leader's rise to power through his relationship with his wife, Empress Josephine, and features Joaquin Phoenix in the starring role alongside Vanessa Kirby and Tahar Rahim. In addition to the theatrical release, Scott is also preparing a considerably longer Director's Cut. 

If you want to watch that version we hope your couch is comfortable: the director's cut is over four hours long.

What do we know about the Napoleon director's cut?

Speaking to Total Film about the upcoming historical drama epic, Scott said: "I'm working on it. It was four 10 this morning and so what will happen is: we'll screen [the theatrical cut] first with Sony, and then it has its run, and then the perfect thing is that [the director's cut] goes to streaming, and we have four hours ten minutes."

It's important to note here that "the perfect thing" hasn't been confirmed by either Ridley Scott or by Apple TV Plus. Right now the deal is for the theatrical cut, which is 158 minutes long. But the director's cut promises to flesh out the story in much more detail, in particular showing more of Empress Josephine's life.

Whichever version we end up streaming, it sounds really exciting. The production included the re-enactment of six major battles, and Scott described the filming as "geometry" – something he's taking with him to Gladiator 2, which he reckons will take just 52 days to film. "I'm not doing 50 takes with one camera, on one shot, and turning around," he explains. And regarding casting Phoenix as Napoleon, he describes the actor as "this little demon... Joaquin is probably the most special, thoughtful actor I've ever worked with."

Napoleon hits US cinemas on November 22 and will stream on Apple TV Plus in the near future. There's a high chance that it will be among the best Apple TV Plus movies to stream on the platform when it does too. 

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Carrie Marshall

Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now and her next book, about pop music, is out in 2025. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band Unquiet Mind.