Movies are magical, mysterious, and often far removed from their original concepts. Original movie plots often end up in the scrapheap more times than you’ll believe, leaving viewers with a filtered, sometimes drastically different experience. Here are a few original movie plots that didn’t make it to theaters (and some that did).
Before he was hunting down national treasures, Nicolas Cage rocked the ‘long hair, don’t care’ look in 1997’s Con Air. The movie itself is a treasure trove of outrageously out-of-control performances by the cast, many of which strayed far from director Simon West’s original movie plots. West had planned the movie to be part drama, part thriller, with a humble script centered on character development. But with names like Diamond Dog and the pressure of a summer release date, producer Jerry Bruckheimer shifted gears into overdrive. Con Air had one goal: to blast viewers out of their seats. With acclaimed writer Scott Rosenberg and an unforgettable cast ready to rock the big screen, the masterpiece of mayhem burst into theaters and to this day remains one of cinema’s greatest messes.
With all the secrets hidden in the Overlook Hotel, it’s no surprise that the The Shining itself had a few things to hide. Director Stanley Kubrick severed the movie’s original ending shortly after its debut. The lost scene would have Wendy and Danny hospitalized following a shot of Jack Torrance’s icy corpse. The Overlook’s manager waltzes in with news that the police, obeying the traditional rules of horror, found zero clues pointing to anything paranormal within the hotel walls. This leads us to wonder whether the whole movie was just a hallucination. However, the manager gives Danny a parting gift – the strange yellow ball that played an undeniable role in the events that unfolded. As the movie closes, Wendy and the viewers are left to believe that the manager had orchestrated the entire nightmare himself.
I Am Legend
The I Am Legend we saw in theaters ended with Robert Neville giving his life to save his team and give them a serum to cure the undead epidemic plaguing the Earth. Thus, he became a legend. A hero. No questions left unanswered. The end. The original ending, however, had much more to say. Turns out, the Darkseekers weren’t just minions of the dark bent on death and destruction. Like humans, they had thoughts and emotions, attacking Neville and his team to rescue their friend from experimentation. A conflicted Neville then ponders his existence and concludes that he was truly a legend, a heartless monster whom the Darkseekers feared and loathed.
Last Action Hero
Fresh out-of-the-loop writers Zak Penn and Adam Leff began the infamous project to parody run-of-the-mill action cinema: over-the-top acting, explosions, and an atmosphere rife with machismo. Arnold Schwarzenegger brought the muscle, and Shane Black donned his no-holds-barred ’80s noggin to revise the script. But the party was due for plenty more guests. Star Wars’ Carrie Fisher, William Goldman of The Princess Bride (among many others), and master-of-all-trades David Arnott all added their own touches to the film. Unfortunately, Last Action Hero was devoured by Jurassic Park that summer, only gaining the recognition it deserved decades after its debut. Penn’s parents questioned him about the film’s fart jokes, to which he assured them they weren’t his idea. We’re not sure what the original would’ve been like, at all.
We saw the film as writer Andrew Walker had intended – Detective Mills discovers the severed head of his wife in a box and gives John Doe his just desserts. But the scene fought a hard battle to make it to the big screen. Producers hated the scene back when it was just double-spaced text, and commanded Walker to rewrite it. However, the unedited draft “accidentally” landed in the hands of director David Fincher, much to his joy. One producer adamantly declared that there would be no heads in boxes at the end of the film. However, Fincher and a determined Brad Pitt made sure that the head stayed in the box.
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