This author was lucky enough to see an early cut of “Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie,” and I can relate by first-hand account that there used to be a lot more to enjoy.
Notably, the original cut included more of “This Island Earth.” It wasn’t a considerable amount more — “Earth” runs only 86 minutes on its own as is — but there were additional “Earth” scenes to flesh out a more holistic film experience. In the final cut of “MST3K: The Movie,” audiences saw only about 55 minutes of it. Not that we necessarily needed to see much more.
Additionally, the original “MST3K” cut had a more organic explanation for its periodic inter-film breaks. In the original show, the human host was trapped on board a satellite, while his mad scientist captors lived in an underground bunker back on Earth. The scientists would push a button and send a movie by remote. The satellite would explode if their victim didn’t enter the satellite’s theater. Occasionally, however, the host would be permitted to leave the theater and converse about what they just saw with their robot buddies. The breaks were organic ways to incorporate commercials.
In theaters, of course, there are no station breaks, so the host segments needed an explanation. In the original cut, the host segments would come at the end of each reel. Dr. Forrester was, in this version of things, projecting the movie from 35mm film directly into space, and he needed to swap out reels every 20 minutes. Mike Nelson, Tom Servo (Kevin Murphy), and Crow T. Robot (also Beaulieu) would comment on the reel ending and note the relief of the break.