So after reading Castor’s article ‘great movies … until the third act‘, I thought I should write up an article about alternative ending(s) to some well-known films. Most film fans know that directors or studio people demand a new ending if say, the first test screening didn’t go too well, or maybe the director just didn’t like the original ending from the script. The following films have a completely different ending to the ones released in the theater and these endings can’t be found on deleted scenes on DVD/BD. Some of the endings were actually filmed, but the studio or director decided to cut those scenes out and replace with a new one. Some alternative endings on certain films you can actually see on DVD/BD because the director shot it but decided to cut it from the final film, so those don’t count.
Here are the films with big alternative ending that might have changed the outlook of the film:
The Bourne Identity
Originally the film was going to end in NYC just like the novel, it was supposed to have a big shootout scene in a subway station but because of 9/11 tragedy, they decided to shoot the action scene in Paris instead. In this particular climax scene, Bourne was being ambushed by the CIA assassins and it would’ve have been a big shootout sequence, which involves machine guns, motorcycles and rocket launchers. Universal wasn’t too thrilled that during the shoot, so far the film doesn’t have a big action scene so they wanted to go out with a bang and director Doug Liman agreed. In fact, Universal was going to give him an extra $5 – 10mil to shoot the scene. But then 9/11 happened and the film’s producer Frank Marshall decided it wasn’t such a good idea to include such a violent sequence after the tragedy.
What Marshall didn’t mention was that Matt Damon refused to be involved in that big shootout scene. In an interview, Damon said he didn’t sign up to do a Rambo movie. Liman on other hand, wanted to keep that scene but he relented after he learned Damon won’t do it, obviously you can’t shoot a big action scene without your leading man. So they rewrote the script and shot the small shootout sequence in the apartment building. There’s another alternative opening and ending to this film, it’s available on DVD/BD if you’re interested.
BTW, Liman got his wish on his next film Mr. & Mrs. Smith, if you remember that film has a big shoot out at the end.
So okay this film wasn’t a big hit or well liked but I enjoyed it and there’s a big chunk of the film that was cut out. After the film was released, a lot of people (including myself) complained that the film didn’t have enough action at the end; well the film didn’t really have any action at all for the climax scene. Per IMDb, here’s the description of original ending of the film:
In the original version of the film, Dr. Russell collapses while giving a lecture and dies in The Saint’s arms. The Saint sees Tretiak, Jr. stabbing him in the leg with the tip of his cane. Thus the final half-hour has him set to destroy the villains’ plans and avenge her death. With Dr. Botvin’s help, he switches the formulas around and humiliates Tretiak during his show trial of the Russian president. The Saint battles Dr. Russell’s killer on a stairwell as Russian tanks pound outside, exposing and setting fire to the vast stockpile of heating oil in the basement. With the stairwell disintegrating around them, the fight spills out on to the chandelier, suspended above the blazing oil.
The Saint teases Treatiak, Jr. with the disc containing the formula for cold fusion. As he reaches out for it, The Saint cuts the rope and Tretiak, Jr. plummets to a fiery death. Returning to Dr. Russell’s home, the Saint finds a letter from her, a tear fills his eye and he vows from now on to use his skills only for good. Test audiences didn’t like the way Dr. Russell died three-quarters of the way into the film. Footage from the original ending features prominently in the film’s primary trailer. Director Phillip Noyce hopes one day to be able to restore the original version for a Director’s Cut DVD.
I would love to see this version someday; maybe Paramount will let director Phillip Noyce do a director’s cut version. But I highly doubt we’ll ever see it since the film was never a big hit and not considered a cult favorite.
28 Days Later
Now, you can find alternative endings of the film on DVD/BD, one was shot while other only made it as far as story boarding. Since I’m too lazy to write, I’m referencing Wikipedia:
The “Radical Alternative Ending”, rather than a bare ending, is a radically different development of the movie from the midpoint onwards; it was not filmed and is presented on the DVD as a series of illustrated storyboards with voiceovers by director Danny Boyle and screenwriter Alex Garland. When Frank is infected at the military blockade near Manchester, the soldiers do not enter the story. Instead, Jim, Selena and Hannah are somehow able to restrain the infected Frank, hoping they will find a cure for the virus nearby as suggested in the radio broadcast. They soon discover that the blockade had protected a large medical research complex, the same one featured in the first scene of the film where the virus was developed. Inside, the party is relieved to find a scientist self-barricaded inside a room with food and water. He will not open the door because he fears they will take his food, although he does admit that the “answer to infection is here.”
Unfortunately, he refuses to talk further because he does not want to make an emotional attachment to people who will soon be dead. After hours of failed attempts to break through the door or coax the man out, Jim eventually brings Hannah to the door and explains Frank’s situation. The scientist reluctantly tells them that Frank can only be cured with a complete blood transfusion, and supplies them with the necessary equipment. After learning that he is the only match with Frank’s blood type, Jim sacrifices himself so that Frank can survive with his daughter. Just as his journey began, Jim is left alone in the abandoned medical facility, and Selena, Hannah and Frank move into the room with the scientist as a horde of the infected breach the complex. The computer monitors show death and destruction come to life around a thrashing, infected Jim, who is strapped to the same table as the chimp had been in the opening scene.
Garland and Boyle explain that they conceived this ending to see what the film would be like if they did not expand the focus beyond the core four survivors. They decided against it because the idea of a total blood replacement as a cure was not credible. As Boyle said in the DVD commentary, it “didn’t make much sense” since the film had already established that one drop of blood can infect a person. “What would we do? Drain him of blood and scrub his veins with bleach?”
If you are a fan of the movie, I would highly recommend you check out this behind the scenes stuff on DVD/BD.
Another of Phillip Noyce’s film has an alternative ending. This one wasn’t as big as The Saint’s ending but we it was quite different from the actual ending. In the original ending, the scene involved Jack Ryan and Sean Miller fighting on large rocks in the middle of the storm after the shoot-out in Ryan’s house. I remember Entertainment Tonight showing this particular scene during their visit to the set of the movie, but when I finally saw the film I was like what happened to the fight scene between Ryan and Miller? Well what happened was, they test-screened the film and the audience found the fight scene to be boring. So they decided to switch to the boat chase with machine guns and have Ryan and Miller fight on the boat instead.
I don’t think this film would’ve changed much had they went with the original ending but I would like to see that scene nonetheless. Unfortunately this ending is not available anywhere for us regular movie-watchers.
Well, those are some alternate endings I found interesting. Do any of these endings make you like the film more if you didn’t like ’em in the beginning? Or do those endings actually ruin the films for you?