How 10 Iconic Movies Almost Ended

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It's hard to imagine that some of our favorite movies could have turned out entirely differently. Sometimes the directors simply changed their minds, and sometimes the test audience hated the original ending so much there was really no choice but to change it so theater-goers wouldn't leave the movie feeling ripped off. Here's the way 10 movies could have turned out.

1. Clerks originally ended with Dante getting shot and killed by a robber. Kevin Smith said he ended it that way because he didn't know how to end it otherwise, but when his two mentors informed him that the ending was ridiculously depressing, he decided to end the movie just before the scene where Dante is killed. You can see the death scene on the DVD extras, though.

2. Dr. Strangelove. The ending to this one is so iconic it's almost impossible to fathom it ending any other way. The ending that was used, of course, was Major T.J. "King" Kong riding a nuclear bomb like it's a bucking bronco, followed by Dr. Strangelove miraculously walking just as the Doomsday Machine activates and detonates nuclear bombs across the world. But all of this could have been replaced with a massive fight at the Pentagon"¦ a pie fight. Everyone in the war room, including the POTUS and the Russian Ambassador, cream each other in the face with pies like they're slapstick vaudevillians. Stanley Kubrick ended up cutting the scene because he "decided it was farce and not consistent with the satiric tone of the rest of the film." No kidding.

3. Thelma and Louise. Only a tiny tweak here, but a fairly significant one - the first ending showed Thelma and Louise's car tumbling all the way to the canyon floor, no doubt getting pulverized in the process. As you probably know, the updated ending is a wee bit more hopeful - we see their car drive off the cliff, but we don't actually know what happens. I suppose there's the chance that there's an awning halfway down the canyon that they bounce off of, cartoon-style. No?

4. I Am Legend. Also another hopeful ending here. At the end of the version that was released, Dr. Neville heroically blows himself and a bunch of Darkseekers up, saving Anna and Ethan, but giving them the cure before he goes. Critics didn't care for the ending, but perhaps they would have preferred the one where the Darkseekers break into Neville's lab because they're looking for the female Darkseeker he has been experimenting on. Once Neville realizes this and gives the female back, the rest of the mob backs off and Neville realizes that the infected just see him as a murderer of their kind.

5. The Princess Diaries. Would you have been disappointed if you hadn't' seen the fabulous castle the new Princess Mia was headed off to live in? Garry Marshall's granddaughter was. When he showed his five-year-old granddaughter the film, she was upset that it just ended with Mia agreeing to become a princess. The little girl really wanted to see the castle and the start of Mia's fabulous new life, so Marshall convinced Disney to buy some footage of a European castle, which they digitally added the Genovian flag to. Marshall said it made his granddaughter much happier.

6. Fatal Attraction. Audiences were bored to tears with this original ending - Dan is charged with murder while an Alex voice-over confesses suicide. Bad audience reaction prompted a change to the ending we know now - the famous bathtub shooting. But Glenn Close hated this ending and fought hard against it, arguing that her character was more likely to self-destruct and commit suicide. She even had psychiatrists analyze Alex; they agreed. After three weeks of resisting, she gave in and filmed the ending that was released. The original ending was kept for the Japanese release of the film, however.

7. Terminator 2. The year is 2029, Sarah Connor is a happy grandmother, and her son John is a senator. Everyone lives happily ever after. That's great and all, but it didn't leave much room for sequels. The studio preferred dollar signs to happy endings. No surprise there, huh?

8. Little Shop of Horrors. The 1986 version of this movie-musical was supposed to end with Audrey II killing Audrey and Seymour and taking over New York City. That's in keeping with the off-Broadway ending, which is what the movie was based on. It's said that Frank Oz and most of the actors, including Rick Moranis, much prefer this ending.

9. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. This one got the Thelma and Louise treatment. Or rather, I suppose, Thelma got the Butch Cassidy treatment. The way it ends now is with Butch and Sundance leaving the house with guns a'blazing, and we hear return fire. But we don't actually see anyone die, leaving the ending slightly more ambiguous than the original where Paul Newman and Robert Redford got to test their acting chops on a gruesome death scene.

10. Clue. It had three alternate endings, but unlike these other movies, you could actually see all three of them when the movie was released as long as you were willing to pay to see the movie three times. Originally you didn't know what ending you were going to get until you got to that dividing point at the end of the movie, but eventually, theaters started advertising if ending A, B, or C was playing so patrons could see the endings they hadn't seen yet. Rumor has it there was actually a fourth ending as well, but they decided enough was enough.

Do you like any of these alternative endings better, or are you happy with the choices directors ended up making? Do you know of any other drastically different outcomes?

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May 26, 2010 - 1:15pm
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