Whether because of meddling producers, disagreeable test audiences, or apprehensive directors with second thoughts, many movies get tweaked before we ever get a chance to see them, especially in the final act.
In fact, some of our favourite Hollywood endings could have gone in very different directions if they had followed their original trajectories.
In an alternate universe, this is is how some of your favourite movies would end.
[Spoilers ahead, obviously.]
How it ends: Will Smith's Neville blows himself and a bunch of Darkseekers up to protect his new friends and the antidote.
How it was supposed to end: Neville discovers the Darkseekers are more than just murderous zombies. They are capable of love and compassion and just want to rescue one of their own who has become Neville's test subject. Test audiences were left unsatisfied with the humanization of the 'bad guys' so they went with the 'blow everything up' ending.
How it ends: With Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston randomly meeting on the street months after breaking up.
How it was supposed to end: Originally, they were just going to split and be done with it, but the movie happened to coincide with Aniston's real-life breakup with Brad Pitt after he left her for Angelina Jolie. Producers didn't want her character to get jilted on the big screen too, so they re-shot the ending to include a more ambiguous finale that suggested there was hope for reconciliation.
How it ends: The good guys (Vince Vaughn's team) win and the bad guys (Ben Stiller's Globo Gym team) lose.
How it was supposed to end: In the original ending, the Average Joes lose and it cuts to black, leaving audiences (except in Russia apparently) confused and disappointed. Which is why they went back and converted the final scene to a happy ending.
How it ends: After getting shot rescuing his friends, Jim falls into a coma and awakes in a peaceful cottage where they wait for rescue.
How it was supposed to end: Jim dies in the hospital. It then cuts to a dream state where Jim recalls the accident that put him in the hospital in the first place.
How it ends: Reese Witherspoon embraces the Southern roots she was trying to hide and falls back in love with Josh Lucas, her high school sweetheart, happily ever after.
How it was supposed to end: In a sick practical joke, Lucas carries Witherspoon's seemingly lifeless body into a party with all their friends, saying she was struck by lighting. As everyone gasps, Witherspoon pops up all healthy like and kisses her man. Gotcha!
How it ends: Old lady Rose drops her giant diamond necklace into the ocean alone.
How it was supposed to end: Old lady Rose makes a big production of ditching the multi-million dollar piece of jewelry in to the sea, rubbing it in the face of the treasure hunting crew, telling them that real value is in 'making every day count.' Ugh. Bearded guy gets it right when he tells her, 'That really sucks, lady!'
How it ends: With Gwyneth Paltrow's head in a box and Brad Pitt putting half a dozen bullets in Kevin Spacey.
How it was supposed to end: While the 'what's in the box' ending was in the original script, producers demanded it be rewritten before going to production. Somehow David Fincher and Pitt got their hands on the first draft of the script and refused to make the movie unless it adhered to the original climax. Pitt even has a clause in his contract that said 'the head stays in the box.'
How it ends: John McClane gets the bad guys, shooting down Simon's helicopter and recovering the stolen gold.
How it was supposed to end: In the original, Simon gets away with the gold and a down-and-out McClane hunts him down in Europe to challenge him to a game of rocket launcher Russian roulette. This ending was cut because producers thought it made McClane look too sadistic and vindictive.
How it ends: Rather uneventfully with Dante closing up shop and pondering how he ended up as a clerk in a quick stop.
How it was supposed to end: Before the film made a splash at Sundance, Kevin Smith had a much darker ending in mind: Dante gets gunned down by a burglar.
How it ends: With a grand romantic gesture in which Richard Gere arrives in a limo and scales the fire escape to meet his prostitute-turned-girlfriend.
How it was supposed to end: Very differently. The original script had Gere's character giving Julia Roberts the boot, leaving her with the envelope of cash they agreed upon. It was probably more realistic, but far less romantic.
How it ends: Crazy, obsessive Glenn Close gets shot by Michael Douglas' wife.
How it was supposed to end: In a far superior, more twisted ending Close's character takes her own life and frames Douglas for the murder, still screwing his life up from beyond the grave.
How it ends: Blue-collar Andie (Molly Ringwald) ends up with the preppy rich kid she was longing for the whole movie.
How it was supposed to end: Andie was supposed to end up with her best friend Duckie, but test audiences booed at this result, prompting the director to flip the script. Tough break for Jon Cryer.
How it ends: A crazed Jack wanders the hedge maze in a blizzard only to get frozen solid.
How it was supposed to end: The original version of the film included an epilogue in which Wendy and Danny are recovering in the hospital and are visited by the hotel manager who tells them nothing out of the ordinary had happened at the hotel, suggesting it was all in their minds. Stanley Kurbick rushed to cut this scene from the film after screening it for a few audiences in New York.
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