Listen up, film buffs: Ron Howard has a mission for you. The Oscar-winning director is challenging moviegoers to spot what's vanished from his new IMAX re-release of Apollo 13 (in select theaters now). Howard was forced to cut 20 minutes from the original two-hour, 19-minute pic to accommodate the limitations of IMAX projectors. But the artist-formerly-known-as-Opie bets most folks won't know what's missing.
"So far, nobody — outside of absolute insiders — has been able to figure out [what we removed]," he tells TV Guide Online. "I was as subtle as I could be. I lost a few scenes, but nothing major.
"The good news is, a lot of it I was just able to squeeze out," he continues. "Because, with the large-screen format, you don't need to linger to make sure that an idea is expressed. And you also don't have to repeat dialogue, [which] you often have to do to make sure complicated pieces of information are really understandable for an audience. It wasn't nearly as painful as I thought it was going to be."
In fact, Howard believes the shorter-yet-bigger Apollo 13 actually improves on the original. "I think the overall experience is a better one," he says. "It's more impactful, richer and even more emotional."
And although some of Apollo's space cadets grumbled about their imperfections taking center stage on the (really) big screen — "Tom Hanks joked that his teeth looked like a sofa," Howard grins — the Beautiful Mind auteur insists no cosmetic work was performed to pluck stray nose hairs or pop unsightly blackheads. "It would make a great story, but no," he maintains. "Let's face it, actors have a hard time looking at themselves in any format. Being an actor is a strangely vulnerable undertaking."