9 Very Famous Films That Originally Had Very Different Endings
It's hard to imagine the silver screens most loved films any differently than the exact way we've seen them play out every time. We assume the stroke of genius that created the final moments of our favourite films was there all along, a perfectly imagined masterpiece that needed no tinkering with.
But just like your A-Level English coursework, even great ideas need some editing and interference. Whether it was a character avoiding being killed off, a different final image or an edit to a parting line, here are the films that were meant to end differently until someone said, "Hang on a minute..."
In the now infamous closing scene, Dr. Strangelove is miraculously able to walk just as the Doomsday Machine detonates nuclear bombs all over the world. The ending originally, however, involved a pie-fight to breaking out. Seriously—senior politicians, including the President and Russian Ambassador, were meant to throw pies in each-other's faces. Director Stanley Kubrick "decided it was farce and not consistent with the satiric tone of the rest of the film." Thank God.
In the original ending to this classic thriller about a man who meets a woman who becomes dangerously obsessed with him, the protagonist Dan (Michael Douglas) was charged with murder and in a voicemail message, Alex (Glen Close) confesses and then commits suicide. Audiences found it tedious, and after much work convincing Glen Close—who strongly believed Alex would kill herself—they filmed the infamous bathtub shooting scene instead. The original ending, however, was kept for Japanese audiences for some reason.
The ending Stanley Kubrick initially envisaged for the cult horror was a hospital scene that showed Danny and Wendy had survived, and then a scene with the Overlook Hotel manager saying they didn't find any evidence of paranormal activity. But then, as the manager leaves, he gives Danny the yellow ball that he followed to room 237. Kubrick "decided the scene was unnecessary" and had projectionists cut it from the film and mail the strips back to Warner Bros.
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
In the ending you're probably familiar with, Butch and Sundance walk out with guns firing and while you hear them being shot at, the pair's fate is left as a mystery. But in the original ending, Paul Newman and Robert Redford meet a gruesome death, ending one of the great onscreen bromances for good.
Dazed and Confused
Towards the end of the cult coming-of-age film the group are smoking on the edge of the football field. According to The Daily Beast Matthew McConaughey's character, Wooderson, wasn't even meant to be in that scene, but because two of the actors—Shawn Andrews (Pickford) and Jason London (Floyd)—hated each other, they swapped him in instead.
The original ending was meant to be even more terrifying. Instead of Ripley having her final triumphant battle with the xenomorph and recording a captain's log entry before grabbing hero cat Jones and tucking into hypersleep, Ridley Scott suggested the following: "I thought that the alien should come in, and Ripley harpoons it and it makes no difference, so it slams through her mask and rips her head off." 20th Century Fox execs threatened to fire Scott on the spot when he pitched the idea.
Those soft studio folk weren't too keen on the whole human-head-in-a-cardboard-box idea at first, and wanted to use the head of a family dog instead in the final climatic scene where Brad Pitt looses his mind. But Pitt refused and said that if they didn't use Gwyneth's head, the film was off. And what an ending it proved to be.
In Stallone's original screenplay, Rocky accepted money to throw a fight against Apollo Creed. He then uses the cash to help Adrian open a pet store. A minor disaster diverted with some good editing there.
Star Wars: Return of The Jedi
The first version of the script included the death of Han Solo during a raid on an Imperial base but producer Gary Kurtz was concerned about how Han's death would impact merchandising, and so refused to kill any of the main characters off. It was the last time producer and director would work together.
This story originally appeared on Esquire.co.uk.
* Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.