As one of the results of the Great Marketing Machine that is Hollywood, many films that are released are released in a different edit or form than they were originally conceived or even originally screened. Screenings for the public allow fillmakers and studio execs to fine-tune their product for maximum acceptance, even if it means 'blanding' down the film. However, not all film scenes that are cut are simply filler or tonal scenes - one of the most frequent major changes is the ending of the film. This would seem counterintuitive, in that the ending is the most integral piece to the story; however, time and again we have seen that when story (or art) and marketing clash, marketing wins bloodily.

It should also be noted that some ending changes are made by the directors themselves as the result of poor audience response or comprehension. However, for whatever reason, 'cut' endings are a source of interest to me, since they actually allow a broader look at the goals of the director. One great feature of the DVD is that it allows 'extra material' to be placed in the package along with the film for no extra money, and even better is that DVD releases are competing with each other to see whcih can provide the most 'interesting' extra footage. Naturally, alternate endings are a favorite inclusion, although by no means do all alternate endings end up on the DVD!

I propose this node to chronicle The Endings That Never Were. If you know of an alternate ending to a popular movie that was planned, or better yet shot and cut later, add a writeup here! I"ll start the ball rolling with a couple...oh, yes, WARNING: Spoilers abound in this sort of thing, so DON'T LOOK if you're worried!

Terminator 2: Judgement Day

T2 ended, in the theater release, with the image of a highway at night from a moving car, with the lane markers keeping rhythm as they pass beneath the camera. Sarah Connor narrates, explaining that now the future isn't set, and that Skynet and the terminators probably would not come to be. In the original ending, however, which was aired on television for a 'geewhiz' Hollywood special, we see Sarah Connor and her son John many years later, sitting in the playground which Sarah saw incinerated in her dreams. John, an adult, is swinging his own toddler son while a radio talks about his running for Senate. Sarah reminisces about what almost was. My guess for the reason this was cut is that it is unnecessarily explanatory; better if our imaginations take Sarah and John into the future. Besides, it cut off any possible further sequel potential. :-)

Full Metal Jacket

Full Metal Jacket ends with Pvt. Joker and the troops surrounding the dying sniper, a female Vietnamese child. She begs them to kill her, as she's horribly wounded anyway. No one responds, until Joker raises a pistol and fires, silencing her cries. His 'Flower Power' emblem, visible on him almost always, is obscured by the raised pistol. The next and final scene has the Marines marching down towards the Perfume River at night, singing the theme to "The MIckey Mouse Club" in a fairly jarring contradiction. In the original cut, however, as the troops are standing around the wounded sniper, no-one will move to end her pain as they've all suffered at her hands; finally, however, Joker performs the coup de grace with his pistol. Immediately thereafter, however, he 'loses it' and throws himself on the corpse, mutilating it with his knife and hands, until the other Marines pull him off, where he stands spattered with blood and breathing hard. The implication is that Joker, the last uncorrupted man in Vietnam, has finally succumbed to the horror, and is now one of the boys; the marching scene that follows, with its infantile singing, is designed to demonstrate the unity of the troop, secure in their group regression and group bond. Rumor is that audiences were leaving the theater retching, prompting Kubrick to tone down the ending. I believe, however, that unpalatable as it might have been, the original ending would have been much more powerful, and changed the film from a picture of the pointlessness of war to a picture of the ultimately corrupting nature of war, and its effect on human behavior and morals.

In Richard Marquand's original cut of Return of the Jedi (overseen by George Lucas), the Millennium Falcon containing Lando and several rebels does NOT make it out of the Death Star in time. This version apparently failed audience tests (gee, wonder why). Here's the quotation from the ROTJ script:



An Imperial shuttle, with Luke alone in the cockpit, rockets out of the main docking bay as that entire section of the Death Star is blown away. But as Luke pilots toward the safety of the Sanctuary Moon, his thoughts -- enhanced by the Force -- turn to his friends aboard the Millennium Falcon.

The Falcon flies at top speed, with a single X-wing as escort, over the endless surface of the Death Star. A series of explosions within the superstructure follow, then swiftly overtake the small craft as it races for an exit.


Lando turns to Nien Nunb and shakes his head.

LANDO (into comlink) Wedge, I don't think we're going to make it.

WEDGE (VO) You'll make it. Just follow me Gold Leader.

LANDO (to himself) I promised to return his ship without a scratch...I sure hope that old pirate forgives me.


An X-wing, piloted by Wedge Antilles, races out of the exploding superstructure and whizzes toward the Sanctuary Moon. But the Millennium Falcon is not fast enough as it explodes with the Death Star in a supernova of glory.


Han and Leia, Chewie, the droids, the Rebel troops, and the Ewoks all look to the sky as the Death Star reveals itself in a final flash of self-destruction. All except Han cheer, as the 30-year-old starship pilot feels a deep personal loss.

HAN (whispering to himself) Lando...

THREEPIO (misinterpreting Han's reference) They did it!

Han looks down from the sky to Leia, a look of sorrow and regret on his face. He knows he will never see the Falcon and Lando again. His thoughts turn to Leia, as she continues to look at the sky, watching for Luke.

(back to e2)

Lest you think I'm full of it, think back to the scene aboard the rebel flagship where they're loading up the shuttle with Han's strike team. He looks out of the cockpit window and says "I've just got a funny feeling... like I'm not going to see her again." This line wasn't changed when the new ending was inserted.

Being John Malkovich had a few scenes that weren't filmed. For instance, there were a couple of extra orientation videos on certain subjects, such as the small door and John Horatio Malkovich. Then there was thirty minutes or so worth of an original ending that was changed due to budget considerations. But it's still preserved in the original screenplay, which is up on Drew's Script-O-Rama.

Basically it veers off from the point where Craig is inside Malkovich and using him to do the same puppeteering work at the beginning of the movie as a demonstration for Maxine. Craig gets the idea to let everybody in on his controlling by showcasing Malkovich as the world's most complicated puppet. It also serves a way for Craig to get the upper hand on Derek Mantini, who he was jealous of.

Now some of the original points stay in. The agent meeting, Craig/Malkovich's rise to puppeteering fame, and Lester's revelation tht he's Captain Mertin. But the details about getting in before Malkovich turns 44 are cut, not like it matters.Anyways, the new aspects introduced are the introduction of Mr. Flemmer, a bigger role for Mantini, and Lotte breaking away and attempting to stop the Mertin cult on her own. It drags a little more, and tends to go back to the sophmoric humor from the first part of the film, but leads up to a final duel between Craig/Malkovich and Mantini (with his Harry S. Truman puppet} in a production of the play Equus, where the crowd decides the best puppeteer and the loser quits the business.

The actual events that go down during the play would end up requiring a quite a bit more in the budget for special effects, due to some of the tricks that "Mr. Flemmer" pulls. And the ending is totally bizarre, with the Mertin cult controlling Malkovich as a wicked king reigning over all of humankind, Lotte hiding out in a camoflauged area of Central Park and getting married to Elijah (the monkey), and Craig...well...the image that the original ending would have provided would have been one of the eeriest ever.

If you don't wanna go through the Script-O-Rama maze, then you can go to It's quite a treat to read.

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