11 Famous Movies That Had To Scrap Their Original Ending, Then Came Up With Something Better

·12 min read

1.Legally Blonde had to dump its original ending after a test screening went absolutely amazing...until the last five minutes.

Elle Woods wears a pink dress in court as she cross examines a witness

How did the movie originally end, you ask? Well, it had Reese Witherspoon's Elle kissing Luke Wilson's Emmett, then cut to a year in the future where Elle and a now-blonde Vivian (Selma Blair) hand out Blonde Legal Defense Fund pamphlets on campus.

Cowriter Karen McCullah told Entertainment Weekly, “The test-screening audience didn’t feel like it was an exciting enough ending for her, success-wise." So while still at the movie theater after the test screening, the filmmaking team brainstormed a new, better, more satisfying graduation speech ending.

Mgm / ©MGM/Courtesy Everett Collection

They soon gathered the cast for reshoots, and if you look closely at the new graduation ending and compare it to the rest of the film, you'll notice Witherspoon's hair is redder. This is because she was in the middle of shooting another film, The Importance of Being Earnest, when she did the reshoots.

Witherspoon as Woods with blond hair and Witherspoon as Woods with red hair

You might also notice Luke Wilson's hair doesn't quite look the same. He had to wear a wig because he'd recently shaved his head while filming The Royal Tenenbaums.


2.Get Out was originally intended to have a much bleaker ending where Chris (played by Daniel Kaluuya) is arrested for the murders of the Armitage family. The final shot of the film would've been Chris wearing an orange jumpsuit behind bars, unlikely to ever see the outside world again.

Chris from Get Out stares at the camera with tears in his eyes

Writer/director Jordan Peele wanted this darker ending because he started writing the screenplay shortly after Barack Obama became president, and at that time there was a mood across the nation that we were living in a post-racial world.

Peele told BuzzFeed, "People were saying, ‘We’ve got Obama, so racism is over, let’s not talk about it.’ That’s what the movie was meant to address. ... The ending in that era was meant to say, 'Look, you think race isn’t an issue? Well at the end, we all know this is how this movie would end right here.’"


Peele filmed this darker ending (seen below), but it didn't go over well at test screenings. Producer Sean McKittrick told Vulture, "The audience was absolutely loving it, and then it was like we punched everybody in the gut. You could feel the air being sucked out of the room."

3.Happy Death Day was originally supposed to end in a very different place — with Tree dying once more and seemingly remaining stuck in the time loop forever.

Tree stands unaware the killer in a mask stands right behind her

Director Christopher Landon told CinemaBlend, "In the old version, Tree gets murdered again at the very end of the movie. So you kind of suggest she's going into a time loop again, but there was nothing definitive about it."

He goes on to say that they filmed a version of this ending that test audiences not only hated, but were infuriated by. "They were so pissed off because they felt betrayed. They were like, 'Wait, she did all this hard work, and made all these changes, and she's a better person now. And then you kill her again?!'"

Photo Credit: Universal Pictures / ©Universal/courtesy Everett / Everett Collection

Landon tossed the hated ending and came up with what is seen in the movie where the audience briefly thinks Tree is still stuck in the time loop, then learns Lori is the killer...and the time loop is closed.

A hand desperately grabs for a cupcake
Universal Pictures

So how did Tree die in the original ending? She's killed in the hospital by the wife of Dr. Butler (the professor Tree is having an affair with). You can see it below:

4.Speed was originally meant to fade to black almost immediately after Officer Jack Traven (played by Keanu Reeves) and Annie Porter (Sandra Bullock) got all the hostages safely off the bus — a good 20 minutes before the actual film ended.

Reeves stands over Bullock as she drives the bus at high speed

Speed screenwriter Graham Yost told the Script Apart podcast, “The original ending was just them getting off the bus. It was a shorter script."

Director Jan de Bont loved the shorter script enough to attach himself to the project, but Twentieth Century Fox wasn't convinced that a film could be set entirely on a bus. So, they greenlit the film to be made with one caveat — that the filmmakers add some action sequences away from the bus.

In order to satisfy the studio, Yost came up with the elevator sequence that starts the film and the dramatic, pulse-pounding ending on the subway where the villain (played by Dennis Hopper) is decapitated in unforgettable fashion.

Mgm / ©MGM/Courtesy Everett Collection

Interestingly, the production also intended to film the sequence where Keanu and Sandra get the hostages off the bus at Dodger Stadium, but had to relocate it to an airport runway after the Dodgers' ownership balked at the idea.

Dodger Stadium and its parking lot

Yost told Script Apart, "Dodger Stadium has this big road all the way around the stadium through all the parking lots. I thought that's perfect, and that was scripted until the people who owned the Dodgers and the stadium and the parking lot at the time said, 'No, we’re not going to have a terrorist film shot at Dodger Stadium.'”

Shifting to the airport runway had one plus, at least as far as director Jan de Bont was concerned — it let him blow up a plane. Yost wasn't quite as into the exploding plane addition, saying it “makes no fucking sense, but it’s fine, it’s cool.”

Before we move on from Speed, Yost revealed a couple other interesting changes made along the way from his screenplay. Jeff Daniels' character, Detective Harry Temple, was supposed to be revealed as the villain, but it wasn't totally coming together on the page so, as the production start date neared, they decided to simplify things and have a more traditional baddie.

Oh, and the speed the bus couldn't go below wasn't always 50 mph. In the first draft, it was 20 mph. A friend told Yost after reading it that 20 mph wasn't very dramatic and suggested raising it to 50 mph.

Tom Szczerbowski / Getty Images

5.When James Gunn was writing the ending for The Suicide Squad, he at first planned to have two different characters die — and the one who dies in the final film live.

The whole suicide squad stands together

Gunn really let his mind go wild when conceiving the film. He told the Script Apart podcast that, at least initially, he wanted Superman (yes, Clark Kent himself) to be the villain the Suicide Squad go up against. That idea was quickly set aside, but some others lasted longer.

Warner Bros.

Gunn revealed he initially didn't have Polka-Dot Man as the hero who dies at the end of the final battle. Instead, he wanted to kill off Ratcatcher 2.

Ratcatcher 2 and her rat Sebastian

He changed his mind, he said, because "I'm not that cynical." He also felt Polka-Dot Man made more sense dying. "It seemed like Polka-Dot Man strangely had the most complete arc, where he started out as a loser and ended as the superhero he always wanted to be."

Interestingly, the most last-minute change Gunn made to the ending was having John Cena's Peacemaker live instead of die. Gunn admitted that the post-credits scene where Peacemaker is shown to be alive in the hospital was added after the decision was made to film a Peacemaker spinoff series.

Gunn, who was intrigued by the character and felt there was a lot more ground to explore, said, “I have to own up to it, killing a character and then saying, 'Wait, he’s not dead.'”

Warner Bros.

6.The Lion King was originally planned to end in a fashion guaranteed to traumatize kids — with a final battle where Scar appears to toss Simba off Pride Rock to his death. Oh, and then Scar is overwhelmed by flames and burns to death while cackling about killing Simba, totally unhinged.

Simba leaps and attacks Scar as fire burns around them

This ending also included a direct reference to William Shakespeare's Hamlet, which the movie is partially based on. Scar, before attacking Simba, said "Good night, sweet prince" (the line famously uttered by Horatio in Hamlet).


This unsettling ending made it to the storyboard phase, but the filmmakers weren't satisfied and continued massaging the scene, which was common. Screenwriter Linda Woolverton told Forbes, "Things evolve with storyboards. … Then you go back in and you rewrite again or you actually rewrite again on the board itself. ... It starts to evolve from there."

7.Writer/director James Cameron's instincts were just about perfect when making the classic Titanic, but — how can I put this nicely? — his original planned ending was so bad it would have ruined the whole movie.

DiCaprio and Winslet stand at the front of the boat, smiling

In the original ending, instead of having the older Rose toss the "Heart of the Ocean" diamond into the water in a private moment, Brock (Bill Paxton) and Lizzy (Suzy Amis) come running and there's an action film-ish standoff over the necklace, where Rose yells, "Don't come any closer!" and juts the diamond over the water, adding, "I'll drop it!" When she finally does drop it into the ocean, other characters yell, "Jesus, no!" and "That really sucks, lady!"

Paramount/20th Century Fox

Cameron, to his credit, quickly realized while editing the film that this ending didn't work, and he reworked it into the ending that helped Titanic win Best Picture at the Academy Awards.

8.The original ending of Escape Room saw Zoey returning to her college dorm room and finding a clue in one of her puzzle books that suggested the games were about to start again. However, this smaller, more conventional ending bombed with test audiences.

A man screams in agony

So, director Adam Robitel set out to dream up a new ending. He told Bloody Disgusting, “One of the things that became clear out of that test screening was the audience wanted two things. They wanted Ben and Zoey to have some sort of closure and they wanted a little bit of a peek behind the curtain of who Minos was. So I had this challenge of how do I make them proactive? How do I do this game of a checkmate?”


What Robitel came up with was the pulse-pounding ending on a plane we think Zoey and Ben are on — only to discover they're not on the plane, it's just a test run of a game Minos intends to play on their actual flight.

A flight attendant screams as a plane goes down

The new ending worked — audiences loved it and the film was a massive hit, grossing $155 million worldwide and spawning a sequel.


9.Pretty in Pink was originally supposed to end with Molly Ringwald's Andie ending up with Jon Cryer's Duckie, but test audiences hated it so much they reshot the now-famous ending where she ends up with Andrew McCarthy's Blaine.

The stars of the film

From the beginning, writer John Hughes and director Howard Deutch intended for Molly Ringwald's Andie to end up with Duckie, her quirky friend, played by Jon Cryer, and not rich kid Blaine, played by Andrew McCarthy. However, Deutch told the HuffPost, “The girls in the test screening didn’t go for that...they wanted her to get the cute boy. And that was it. So we had to reshoot the ending.” Having Andie and Blaine end up together was hard to do, as the architecture of the whole film was leading up to Andie choosing Duckie, but they did it.


The ending proved to be very popular with audiences — the movie was a hit — but Hughes wasn't so sure that what they came up with was, in fact, better than the original ending. Unhappy with the change, he essentially retold the same story with his next film, Some Kind of Wonderful. This time, though, the lead (played by Eric Stoltz) walked off into the sunset with his outcast friend, Watts, and not the rich kid, Amanda.

The stars of Some Kind of Wonderful
Paramount / ©Paramount/Courtesy Everett Collection

10.Deep Blue Sea had to reshoot their ending to fix one thing test audiences absolutely hated about it.

A shark bites a scientists arm

Deep Blue Sea was about genetically engineered sharks that go on a rampage in a scientific facility, and the thing test audiences hated was that the scientist played by Saffron Burrows survived.

Warner Bros.

The audience wanting Burrows' character dead shocked director Renny Harlin, who told Crave Online, "In our minds, she was the heroine and we thought saving her was the key.”

Burrows stands on a plank above shark-infested water

However, Harlin continued, "The audience felt so deeply that the scientist character, the woman who was behind the whole experiment with the sharks, that it was all her fault. In their minds, she was the bad guy."

So, after debating what to do, Harlin and the filmmaking team did a reshoot where Burrows’ scientist gets eaten by a shark.

Harlin may not have loved it, but audiences did — the film was a sizable hit and spawned two sequels.

Warner Bros.

11.Fatal Attraction originally had a much darker and low-key ending, which test audiences found utterly unsatisfying...and sent the filmmakers scrambling to come up with something better.

Close attacks Douglas with a knife in the film's climax

In the original ending (seen below), Glenn Close's Alex — who became obsessed with Michael Douglas's married family man, Dan, after the two had an affair — cut her own throat using a knife Dan had handled, framing him for her apparent murder.

Clever, but test audiences didn't find this satisfying. Michael Douglas later told the New York Times, "The audience viscerally wanted to kill Alex, not allow her to kill herself."

Paramount / ©Paramount/Courtesy Everett Collection

Screenwriter James Dearden and director Adrian Lyne soon hatched the now-famous ending where Alex sneaks into Dan's home and the two have a knock-down, drag-out fight before Dan's wife (played by Anne Archer) shoots her dead. However, before they could do the reshoots, they ran into a problem: Glenn Close didn't want to do it.