Malick still cutting pic

Terrence Malick’s “The New World” will bow Sunday — but that doesn’t mean the helmer’s done tinkering with it.

Just days before its Christmas bow at two venues in Los Angeles and one in Gotham, director Malick has been trimming his historical drama from the 149-minute version shown to critics and advance screening auds.

Newer version is said to include 15-20 minutes of tweaks and trims, but has no major chunks cut out.

New Line will release the longer version this weekend, will show it at awards screenings and has sent out DVD screeners of it to such voting groups as members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences.

New Line execs will see a shorter version soon and decide then which version will go out when the film expands late next month — around the announcement of Academy Award nominations on Jan. 31.

New Line distribution and marketing topper Rolf Mittweg told Daily Variety the studio will make a decision on the exact release pattern of the new version once Malick delivers the new cut, either later this week or early next week.

“It’s all part of the process of working with Terrence Malick,” Mittweg added. “He simply wants ‘The New World’ to be the best possible film that it can be.”

Pic, centering on the arrival of the English at Jamestown and the story of Pocahontas, has already been reviewed extensively at the 149-minute length. Critics have delivered mixed reviews, with some carping about languid pacing.

Malick is famous for tweaking his films until the last minute.

Running times have been getting more intense scrutiny in lead-up media coverage. Nearly every review of and pre-release feature about Peter Jackson’s “King Kong” has mentioned the ape epic’s three-hour-plus length.

The length was cited by studio execs when explaining the giant primate’s weekend boost after its slow Wednesday start: Auds may have needed to wait for the weekend when they had more free time to spend at the theater.

Likewise, the 164-minute running time for Steven Spielberg’s “Munich,” has been a frequent target for critics taking issue with the pic.

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more