Some movies have the perfect ending, and there is no conceivable alternative.
Spoiler alerts ahead, but how would Planet of the Apes wrap up without the destroyed Statue of Liberty revealing that the ape-ruled planet was, in fact, Earth?
Or how would we have gone about spoiling The Sixth Sense to others if Bruce Willis had not been, ahem, the whole time? Think of the chilling twist in the final moments of Se7en, the technological wonder of a scene that concludes 2001: A Space Odyssey, or Daniel Plainview shouting "I'm finished!" at the end of There Will Be Blood.
Some movie endings simply cannot be changed.
But there are a litany of films that had completely different endings in their original scripts, and in some cases, they seem better than the ones we ended up with. It seems endings are often changed from the original to be a touch happierand an ounce more palatable.
Here are the alternative endings to eight films: of course, if you haven't seen them, be aware that this is a spoilers minefield.
At the end of Ridley Scott's 1979 classic sci-fi horror, we see Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) escape the self-destructing Nostromo ship in a shuttle only to discover that the xenomorph has followed her.
She puts on a spacesuit and uses gas to flush out the creature from the shuttle, but the battle continues as the xenomorph pulls itself into one of the engine exhausts, at which point Ripley fires the engines and finally kills it.
However, Ripley's survival was not on the cards at first. In the original script, she manages to escape the detonating Nostromo in a shuttle, but the alien bites Ripley's head off and starts communicating with Earth using her voice. Way creepier, way fewer chances for sequels.
2. ‘Die Hard With a Vengeance’
An alternative ending to the third Die Hard film would have shown us a different side to Bruce Willis's John McClane. Instead of having McClane save the day by killing bad guy Simon Gruber (Jeremy Irons) in the big action scene, Gruber escapes in the original ending, leading to a more convoluted and creepy victory for McClane.
In this script, some time would have passed during which McClane would have become bitter and disillusioned after being blamed for Gruber’s crimes in New York City. He'd eventually find Gruber and get him to play a game of Russian roulette with a small rocket launcher with the sights removed, meaning they wouldn't know which end is which.
This alternative script culminates with McClane asking Gruber a series of riddles, and when Gruber gets one of the answers wrong, McClane forces him to fire the rocket launcher at his own chest at gunpoint.
The last moment would have revealed that McClane was wearing a flak jacket the whole time and would not have been killed by the rocket launcher. A deceptive, slightly evil, hero.
3. ‘Get Out’
Few contemporary filmmakers can blend social commentary with horror as elegantly as Jordan Peele. Get Out's actual ending let us sigh with relief after a tense ride, as Rod showed up to the Armitage house of horrors to rescue protagonist Chris.
However, Peele originally had a far more piercing, and perhaps more fitting, end to the film in mind. After Chris manages to kill his captors and sets out to escape, the police show up and arrest him for all the murders. This ending is far bleaker, but would have been more consistent with the film’s themes and a further searing critique of society.
For a while, Peele was unsure about which of the two endings to conclude the film with. "It was very clear that the ending needed to transform into something that gives us a hero, that gives us an escape, gives us a positive feeling when we leave this movie," the filmmaker revealed during an interview with Buzzfeed's Another Round podcast, which is why he went for the happier option.
4. ‘The Butterfly Effect’
The Ashton Kutcher thriller was one of the zaniest films to be released in the early 2000s. It told the story of a college student who could go back in time by reading memories he’d written in journals. He was then able to alter the past, but this then led to grave consequences in his present.
The film concludes with Evan (Kutcher) burning his notebooks and old photos as a way of putting a stop to his time-travelling misadventures. He does it with the hopes of saving his loved ones from the suffering caused by his changes in choices.
However, the film’s director's cut offered an alternative ending, which was way, way creepier: Evan travels back in time to his mother’s womb and strangles himself with the umbilical cord.
In a way, the film was set up to end this way: it was revealed early on that his mother had several still-born babies before Evan was born, suggesting that Evan’s siblings also had time-travelling abilities and chose to kill themselves in a similar vein.
Christopher Nolan's sci-fi epic concludes with a touching reunion between Cooper and his now-elderly daughter. Many thought the ending was an overly sentimental way of wrapping up the film.
However, according to co-writer Jonathan Nolan, there was an alternative ending to the film in which Cooper dies in the black hole that he travels to in order to send a message to his daughter, sacrificing himself to save humanity.
6. ‘The Birds’
Alfred Hitchcock's feathered thriller is a cinematic masterpiece, but the ending always seemed a bit, well, off. The birds just stop attacking people and perch ominously around the Brenner house as the family escape.
Hitchcock originally had another, more expensive, ending in mind. The alternative conclusion sought a shot of the Golden Gate Bridge covered in birds, which would have been a much more chilling and memorable final scene.
7. ‘I Am Legend’
Will Smith's dystopian thriller had an alternative ending that would have made us sympathise with the vampiric zombie-like mutants. The ending has the creatures attack the lab as in the version that was made, but rather than mindlessly seeking to ravage everything in their path, it would have been revealed that the Darkseekers had only come to save the female creature that Dr Robert Neville (Smith) was experimenting on.
Dr Neville and the alpha Darkseeker would both realise that they had been wrong about one another. If anything, it would have made Dr Neville the villain of the film. The last scene was meant to be him driving out of New York City to let other survivors know what he had discovered.
OK, so this alternative finish is not better than the theatrical version we ended up with. If anything, it’s much worse. It was even filmed and released as an extra on a 2005 DVD release of the film. The ending is this: Right when the elderly Rose (Gloria Stuart) tries to throw the rare Heart of the Ocean diamond overboard, she is caught in the act by Brock Lovett (Bill Paxton) and her granddaughter.
The ship’s crew then go to stop her from throwing the diamond into the ocean, at which point Rose bursts out with some soap-opera-level lines.
“You look for treasure in the wrong place. Only life is priceless, and making each day count,” and then, with a cringe-worthy “whoops” she tosses the diamond into the ocean.
"That really sucks lady," one of the ship’s crew yells. What a canned conclusion.