They Changed the Ending!

Movie endings can make or break a film. But sometimes, they change. Here are ten well known movies where the original ending was subsequently switched.


10 Movies Where They Changed the Ending

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The Right Note, in 'Thelma and Louise'

1991's 'Thelma and Louise' has one of the most famous endings in movie history; the title characters, on the run from awful relationships and deadend lives, and murder, have finally been cornered by the police on the edge of The Grand Canyon. But rather than give up, they hold hands and decide to 'keep going', driving off the cliff to their deaths. It's a female empowerment move, in an era not famed for that theme. The film fades to white with the car in mid air, poised in its plunge to the bottom. But originally, director Ridley Scott had intended to show the car crashing to the canyon floor, and then have one final shot of Harvey Keitel's police detective, looking sadly over the edge at the wreckage. This small change (you can watch it above) adds a very different tone to the final scene; the ending where you don't see the crash makes the characters seem almost mythical, immortal, whereas the longer ending becomes much more pedestrian. The stars of the film, Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis, both objected, and the final half a minute was cut.

Duckie Gets the Girl, in 'Pretty in Pink'

When you watch 'Pretty in Pink' for the first time, you know exactly how it's going to end; Andie (Molly Ringwald) will come to her senses and chose dorky Duckie (Jon Cryer) over handsome Blaine (Andrew McCarthy). Only... she doesn't do that; leaving Duckie at the prom while she goes after the rich guy. What you may not know is that they originally filmed it the way you thought it should happen, with Duckie and Andie cuddling on the dancefloor as David Bowie's 'Heroes' played, and the credits rolled. Sadly for dorks everywhere, test audiences nixed this one, as apparently they simply didn't believe Andie would choose Duckie. Director Howard Deutch later said he was 'heartbroken' when told he would need to reshoot the ending, although Molly Ringwold would defend the change, as she also felt her character would not end up with Duckie.

Sledgehammer Subtlety, in 'Titanic'

After she has told Bill Paxton's crew her story of surviving the Titanic sinking, the older Rose sneaks out late at night and drops her enormous sapphire over the side of the boat. 'A woman's heart is a deep ocean of secrets,' she said earlier, and here is one more thing she kept to herself... But in the original version of the ending, Paxton catches her at the ship's railing, and after he confronts her has to listen to a heavy handed ramble about following your heart (or something). He then looks properly insane, when Rose tosses the jewel overboard in front of him (watch it, above). Wisely, the subtler version was the one that was ultimately used.

The Tone Shift, in 'Clerks'

Kevin Smith's low budget debut 'Clerks' was a hoot for anyone who had ever manned a counter in the service industry. Dante and his pal Randal dealt with annoying customers, played hockey on the roof, and otherwise did as little as possible, as they filled another average day. It's heavy on banter, and engagingly silly... until the very final moments of the original ending, when a thief enters the Quick Stop and shoots Dante dead. It's so jarring (see above) it's like a scene from some other youth slacker movie. Smith subsequently admitted that the shooting scene really showed he wasn't sure how to end the film, and he quickly cut it after a rough edit was viewed by members of the cast and crew.

The Real Monster, in 'I Am Legend'

Will Smith battles zombie type things in the post apocalyptic 'I Am Legend', as a dedicated scientist trying to find a cure for the disease that caused the zombification in the first place. Eventually, the zombie hoardes find his secret lab/hidey hole, and he blows himself (and a few of them) up, allowing a young mother and child to escape in the chaos. But in the original ending, which is taken from the Richard Mathieson novel the film is based on, the zombie attackers are actually just trying to rescue one of their own, captured by Smith and used as a guinea pig. The point is that the zombies are an evolved species, and they view Smith as the monster; a psycho who stalks, captures, and tortures them. So Smith lets his captive go, and the other zombies slink away (after screeching a bit). The Twilight Zone couldn't have wrapped it up better.

The Frame Up, in 'Fatal Attraction'

One of the most famous of alternate endings is the original final act of this taught, popular thriller. After Michael Douglas - playing one of his patented 80's douchebags - has finally fessed up to cheating on his wife, and ditched psycho Glenn Close, she hatches an ingenious revenge scheme. Close commits suicide, but does it in such a way that it will appear Douglas murdered her, framing him from beyond the grave. The film ends with Douglas being arrested, an ending that the stars both liked but which was roundly rejected by test audiences, who did not sympathise with Close's character. In an interview several years later, Close said, 'There is something with that character that people wanted her to be punished.' The ending was changed to a more conventional showdown, with Close attacking Douglas at home, and being shot by his wife.

The Prom in Heaven, in 'Heathers'

Two decades before 'Mean Girls', there was 'Heathers', the original popular-high-school-girls-run-amuch comedy. In 'Heathers', young wannabe Veronica (Winona Ryder), and her boyfriend JD (Christian Slater), cap the film with a plot to blow up their high school. Only Veronica has a change of heart, foils the plan, and JD only blows himself up. But there was no hedging of bets in the original ending, in which Veronica goes through with the plan; blowing herself up on the school steps and destroying the building, killing everyone inside. The film then cuts to... a prom, in heaven, where all the characters are seen enjoying themslves. A 'much better' ending, according to screenwriter Daniel Waters. Unsurprisingly, the studio balked at such a wild, bleak finale, where every character has been killed, and insisted on a slightly tamer version. The original ending is discussed in the clip above.

Rocket Launcher Roulette, in 'Die Hard with a Venegence'

John McClane can't lose. But in the third installment of the Die Hard series, he originally had to wait a bit longer than usual to beat the bad guy, Simon Gruber (Jeremy Irons). This first ending had Gruber escaping with his trucks of stolen gold, leaving McClane and everyone else floundering in the aftermath of a huge explosion. Flash forward to six years later, and McClane has tracked Gruber to what looks like a fancy ski lodge, where he confronts him with a rocket launcher (see above). The launcher has had all the markings removed, making it hard to tell one end from the other, and McClane says they are going to play a game; Gruber has to point one end at himself and press the trigger, giving himself a 50% chance of survival. You can guess what happens.

The Unlikely Apology, in 'Election'

The end of Alexander Payne's 'Election' shows us the wash up for the characters in a few years time; Jim (Matthew Broderick) lost his job as a teacher, and is now working as a guide at the American Natural History Museum, where he sees Tracy Flick (Reese Witherspoon), working as an aid for a politician. There's a funny bit where Jim throws his soda at the limo Tracy is in, then runs away when her secret service detail gets out. But originally, a much more low key ending was shot, which matched the book the film is based on. In this one, Jim has ended up working as a car salesman, and Tracy comes to buy a car for college. After a bit of awkward chat, they apologise to each other for their actions... which is very grown up and all, but not as funny as chucking a drink at someone. The low quality footage is above.

The Big Pie Fight, in 'Dr Strangelove'

Stanley Kubrick's 'Dr Strangelove' has one of the most famous endings in movie history, as General Kong (Slim Pickens) rides a nuclear bomb onto a Russian target, triggering World War III and the end of civilisation. Only, this was not the ending of the film as it was originally scripted and shot. Towards the end of the movie, when General Turgidson (George C. Scott) accuses the Russian ambassador of spying, the Russian retaliates by picking up a cream pie from a nearby catering table and flinging it at the general, triggering an all out food fight among everyone in the war room. The point is; whether it's nuclear weapons or cream pies, humanity will find some way to make war. But the scale - and mess - of the food fight was such that only one take was ever going to be possible, and no one was happy with the result as filmed. Everyone enjoyed flinging food around a little too much, with the result that the tone of the movie shifted dramatically to giddy slapstick. You can see more photos of the food fight (the footage is sadly lost) here.




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