Source: Disney/Pixar

12 Happy Movies That Originally Had Shockingly Bleak Endings



Movie audiences love happy endings, which kind of sucks for screenwriters who love writing stories with gritty, realistic endings that aren't always uplifting or neatly tied up in a bow. Because of that, many movies with the standard Hollywood Happy Ending ™ don't actually start off that way. What normally happens is the film is test-screened first. If the audience hates the ending, it gets chucked and replaced with a different, happier one. It happens a lot more than you think, too. Below, a few of the biggest examples. Warning, there be spoilers ahead!

1. 'Pretty Woman'

Source: Touchstone Pictures

The ending you saw:

In this "hooker with a heart of gold" story, Vivian (Julia Roberts), a sex worker, falls for Edward (Richard Gere), a rich corporate raider who needs a girlfriend-for-hire for the week. Edward shows her the finer things in life, gives her a makeover, falls in love with her, and the two live happily ever after. Classic rags-to-riches story. Nothing sad here.

The original:

Instead of happily ever after, in the original ending, Edward kicks Vivian out of his car, throws a wad of cash at her, and drives off while she sobs. Bleak. Screenwriter J.F. Lawton never meant for the movie to be a lighthearted romcom. The movie was originally supposed to be a realistic depiction of prostitution that showed the gritty side of homelessness and addiction. Once Disney bought the script, they decided to rewrite the story and make it more wholesome. 

2. 'Toy Story 3'

Source: Disney/Pixar

The ending you saw:

After being tricked into an incinerator, Andy's toys slowly slide to their fiery demise until they're saved by the Aliens, who use an industrial claw to get them out. The toys board another truck and return safely back to Andy's house. 

The original:

Toy Story 3 is already pretty sad, but it turns out it was even sadder! In the original ending, the toys didn't make it out of the incinerator. According to director Lee Unkrich, writers were thinking of ending the film right before the toys slid to their deaths. As the toys locked hands in preparation for their demise, the film faded to black. "It didn’t have the uplifting ending that the film actually has,” he said. Ya think??

3. 'Get Out'

Source: Universal Pictures

The ending you saw:

While trying to kill his evil girlfriend, Chris is saved by his best-friend Rod, who arrives triumphantly in a police car. The two drive off together happily knowing the evil has been defeated. Yay!

The original:

Instead of Rod heroically stepping out of the police car, it's two white police officers. They arrest Chris and charge him with the murder of his girlfriend. The closing shot is Chris being led to his prison cell. Although director Jordan Peele said this was the more "realistic" ending, he ultimately chose the happier ending because test audiences hated the original.

"We tested the movie with the original 'sad truth' ending," producer Sean McKittrick said. "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... It was always an ending that we debated back and forth, so we decided to go back and shoot the pieces for the other ending where Chris wins."

4. 'Frozen'

Source: Disney

The ending you saw:

To save her sister Elsa, Anna jumps in the way of Hans' attack and freezes solid. Elsa embraces her body, causing Anna to thaw out. Elsa realizes she can control her power through love, Anna hooks up with Kristoff, and everyone's happy.

The original:

Producer Peter Del Vecho revealed last year that the movie went through several iterations before becoming the version that hit theaters. In the first version, Elsa and Anna weren't sisters, they were enemies. Elsa was a standard Disney villain who ignited an ice battle with Anna at the end. Producers scratched this ending because they felt viewers couldn't connect with Elsa as a villain. 

“Making them related led us to the idea of her living in fear of her powers,” Peter told Entertainment Weekly. "What if she’s afraid of who she is? And afraid of hurting the ones she loves? Now we had a character in Anna who was all about love and Elsa who was all about fear. That led to making Elsa a much more dimensional sympathetic character, and instead of the traditional good vs. evil theme we had one that we felt was more relatable: Love vs. fear, and the premise of the movie became that love is stronger than fear.”

5. 'Little Shop of Horrors'

Source: The Geffen Company

The ending you saw:

Seymour defeats the evil alien plant by electrocuting it to death. He and his girlfriend Audrey then move to the suburbs, get married, and live happily ever after. 

The original:

The true ending stayed loyal to the Broadway play. In this version, Seymour and Audrey are defeated and eaten by the evil plants, who then take over the world and destroy New York City. (And yes, it's as hilarious as it sounds.) Although the studio blew half its budget on producing the ending, once they realized test audiences hated it, they had to scrap the whole thing. Honestly, the original ending was way better.

6. '28 Days Later'

Source: DNA Films

The ending you saw:

Jim (Cillian Murphy) is rushed to the hospital after sustaining injuries while fighting evil dudes and zombies. His love interest Selena (Naomie Harris) saves him, and the film skips ahead into the future where the two are living happily in a countryside house as they wait for the zombie apocalypse to end. 

The original:

Well, what do you expect? Jim dies. After Selena fails to resuscitate him, she sadly leaves the hospital as the movie fades to black. Although filmmakers wanted the movie to end the same way it began (with Jim at the hospital), they went with the happier ending after the original bombed with test audiences.

7. 'Rampage'

Source: 7 Bucks Entertainment

The ending you saw:

George, the albino gorilla, defeats the mutated wolf and the gigantic crocodile. Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson stands somewhere and flexes, I suppose. The evil is defeated, everyone's happy, blah blah blah. *shrug* 

The original:

George dies! Dwayne hated this ending so much, he threatened to leave the film if it wasn't changed. "I don’t like a sad ending," he told Rolling Stone. "Life brings that $#*! — I don’t want it in my movies. When the credits roll, I want to feel great…We had a big meeting where they gave me all the reasons they thought George should die. He sacrifices himself saving the world. Killing these animals who had ill intentions to harm mankind. He sacrifices himself like a brave soldier. OK. But this is a movie! There’s a crocodile the size of a football stadium — we’re not making Saving Private Ryan."

8. 'Dodgeball'

Source: Twentieth Century Fox

The ending you saw:

The underdog team, the Average Joes, defeats Globo Gym. Yay, high fives all around!

The original:

Globo Gym defeats the Average Joes. While the rival team celebrates, the film abruptly fades to black. It's actually kind of hilarious, but test audiences hated this ending for obvious reasons.

9. 'Star Wars: Return of the Jedi'

Source: Lucasarts

The ending you saw:

The crew defeats Darth Vader and then parties in a forest with dancing teddy bears. 

The original:

George Lucas pitched an idea that, once Luke Skywalker unmasked Darth Vader, Luke would put the mask on and say, "Now I am Vader." But George backed down from the idea because he wanted the movie to be "for kids," hence the dancing Ewoks. Bummer.

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