Recently in movie news, the original screenplay of Ridley Scott's perplexing and much derided Prometheus hit the web, and apparently it answers many of the questions that confused some (and hospitalized others, after they banged their heads against a wall for three straight hours, in a futile attempt to makes sense of what they'd just seen). It's jam packed with plot points removed from the original cut, including a somewhat different ending. Amazingly, this happens more than you might think in Hollywood and often with our favorite films. Here's a few fascinating facts about movies that underwent a massive change from page to screen.
1. Blade Runner
Yes, Prometheus isn't the only Ridley Scott film that underwent a great deal of tinkering in post production. The Harrison Ford starring sci-fi epic was deemed too cerebral for audiences by the studios, and to remedy this, supervisors added recurring narration by Ford's character. Scott felt the choice dumbed down the film, and many of its champions agree. Blade Runner, which tells the story of a hard nosed detective chasing renegade cyborgs in the future, also nixed two short but key sequences that shed an ironic light on Ford's character, Inspector Deckard, and ended up shooting an alternate ending that was decidedly more upbeat than the ending in the original script. Scott was never happy about the compromises he made, and in the early 90's, he finally had enough clout to release his vision of the film. Most Blade Runner enthusiasts prefer Ridley's take, but the original cut does have its fans.
2. Pretty In Pink
The John Hughes scripted romantic comedy tells the tale of various high school teens who struggle to find love, in spite of the cliques and peer pressures that stand in their way. At the heart of the film are two geeky misfits, Andie Walsh (Molly Ringwald) and Phil "Duckie" Dale (John Cryer). Duckie (who BTW is the most awesome geek character in any 80's movie ever) has strong feelings for Andie that go unrequited throughout the film, and his affection goes largely unnoticed by her, as she has eyes for the school's popular jock dreamboat, Blane (SPOILERS AHEAD!!!). Well, frustratingly, Andie does end up with Blane, but this wasn't always the case. The original script had Andie finally going for Duckie at the end, but the original ending tested poorly with audiences, and so an alternate version was filmed in which Blane and Andie make a last minute reconciliation, leaving the lovable Ducky high and dry. In short, that testing audience was a bunch of freaking idiots; DUCKIE RULES!
3. Terminator 2
Terminator 2's final ending hinted that mankind was unknowingly headed towards a robo-apocalypse, but the original treatment wasn't that bleak at all. The original? It's 2029, Sarah Connor is a happy and healthy grandmother, and her son John is a senator. Everything's going to be ok, The END. Well, James Cameron and company didn't even shoot this, deciding to go with the darker, high octane ending that hit theaters, which left ample room for sequels, and these days, it's all about the sequel.
4. The Thin Red Line
Terrence Malick is a director's director, a filmmaker for filmmakers, and although he only had three films under his belt in 1998, they were so revered he got nearly every bankable male star in Hollywood to take part in what was set to be a FIVE HOUR epic movie. Well, somewhere along the line, plans were changed, probably because some genius realized that they'd probably have to equip the theaters with a cafeteria in order for audiences to endure a FIVE HOUR film. What was cut from the final? ALL of the main story. Yes, the original script focused primarily on actor Jim Caviezel's character, which was relegated to a rather insubstantial role in the final cut. Amazingly, the film was a masterpiece in spite of major cuts, and was boiled down to a somewhat digestible three hour length.
5. The Empire Strikes Back
We're all accustomed to so many of the characters and plot lines within the acclaimed Star Wars trilogy, but if the original screenplay to the much beloved Empire ever saw the light of day, the entire Star Wars universe would be radically different. First of all, there was no Yoda. Instead "Minch" was the original name for the Jedi teacher Yoda. But that's just the tip of the iceberg. In this still unrevealed script, places and people had different names and histories, Lando was a clone and LEIA WASN'T LUKE'S SISTER! What kind of horrible bizarro world is that? Thankfully, we averted disaster and our Empire is just as we know it—and the last time we checked, well under FIVE HOURS.
Would you want to see the original versions of any of these ever made?