Blade Runner
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Alternate movie endings

Blade Runner
By Patrick Day, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

Movie endings have always been a tricky business. Done right, they can make a good film great. Would anyone remember “The Sixth Sense” if Bruce Willis were just a friendly child psychologist? Or “Casablanca” if Ilsa didn’t get on that plane?

So important are endings that some filmmakers can’t help but revisit their films, changing endings over and over again to get it just right. Steven Spielberg’s “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” added an extended ending within the alien mother ship when it was rereleased in 1980, only to have it trimmed again years later by Spielberg. And Ridley Scott has redone the ending of his film “Blade Runner” many times since its original 1982 release, to greater and greater critical acclaim.

But what about the endings that were scrapped before release in favor of something completely different? Some of them live on as DVD bonus features, while others have become bootleg favorites to seek out on YouTube or elsewhere, giving fans an idea of alternate (and usually much darker) visions of their favorite films.

Here are a few of the more notable changed endings. Beware, spoilers follow: (The Blade Runner Partnership)
The Kingdom
“The Kingdom” (2007)

As originally scripted, Jamie Foxx’s FBI team is about to board its plane bound for the U.S. when one of their Saudi counterparts approaches them with a concealed bomb strapped to himself -- and blows everyone up. To avoid making a grim film grimmer, the filmmakers opted instead to end with a more thoughtful comparison of the bloodlust of the American FBI agents and the Saudi terrorists. (Frank Connor / Universal Pictures)
The Descent
“The Descent” (2005)

Neil Marshall’s claustrophobic spelunkers-meet-underground-cannibals thriller had to change its ending for American audiences when studio executives determined the original ending seen in Britain was too dark. Americans saw the film’s heroine, Sarah, escape the cave and make it to her car, only to be traumatized by a vision of her dead friend Juno. But in Britain, that vision caused Sarah to wake up back in the cave, her escape revealed as only a dream. As she lies on the cave floor, she watches her torch, the only light in the cave, wink out. (Alex Bailey / Lions Gate Films)
“Clerks” (1994)

Writer-director Kevin Smith didn’t know how to end his low-budget comedy, so he had a gunman enter the convenience store and shoot the main character, Dante (Brian O’Halloran), during a robbery. Then, a man (played by Smith) enters the store and steals cigarettes. The ending made it through only one public screening before Smith was persuaded to give the film a more upbeat ending, which no doubt helped it become a smash hit but prevented “Clerks II” from being a zombie movie. (Miramax Films Release)
The Break-Up
“The Break-Up” (2006)

The gossip columns jumped all over rumors last year that the original ending to the Vince Vaughn-Jennifer Aniston relationship comedy had been re-shot to give Aniston a happier ending. The theory went that after her recent divorce from Brad Pitt, audiences wanted the actress to finally get the guy. So many were left scratching their heads when the film was released and had a bizarrely awkward ending in which the former lovers meet on the street and continue on their separate ways. The original ending featured Aniston and Vaughn meeting at an art fair with dates who were virtual look-alikes of their exes. (Melissa Moseley / Universal Studios)
Little Shop of Horrors
“Little Shop of Horrors” (1986)

Frank Oz’s comedy musical originally ended in a similar manner to the original off-Broadway production, with Audrey (Ellen Greene) and Seymour (Rick Moranis) getting eaten by the carnivorous plant Audrey II, and the plant attacking New York City and taking over the Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty, all to the tune of the song “Don’t Feed the Plants.” That ending tested poorly with audiences, so the film was given a much smaller-scale and happier ending. The original ending was released on DVD in 1998, but a dispute with producer David Geffen over ownership of the deleted scenes caused the release to be recalled. ()
Men in Black II
“Men in Black II” (2002)

The original ending for the film featured a scene in which the towers of the World Trade Center opened to release a swarm of UFOS. After the terrorist attacks in 2001, the ending was reshot and relocated to the Chrysler Building. (Melinda Sue Gordon / AP)
Fatal Atttraction
“Fatal Attraction” (1987)

The original ending to Adrian Lyne’s adultery thriller is one of the most famous alternate endings of all time.

Originally, the crazed woman played by Glenn Close ended the film by committing suicide and making it appear as if her former lover, played by Michael Douglas, had murdered her. Once again, test audiences objected and the film was given a more action-packed conclusion, ending with Close’s character being shot by Douglas’ character’s wife. The original ending was retained for the film’s Japanese release. (Paramount Pictures, xx)