Alternate endings tweak interest
What if you could change the ending to your favorite movie?
Hilary Swank makes a full recovery in Million Dollar Baby. The princess in Shrek stays desirable. E.T. decides to make Earth his home.
Those plot-smashing endings are a stretch, but more DVDs are offering viewers a look at alternate endings that once wound up on the cutting-room floor.
“An alternate ending is a great way to provide added value because it brings film fans into the creative process,” says Ken Graffeo, executive vice president of Universal Studios Home Entertainment.
Universal will release The Interpreter, starring Nicole Kidman, with two endings √≥ the one shown theatrically and the other premiering on the DVD √≥ on Oct. 4.
“Sydney Pollack had actually shot two different conclusions to the film, but obviously only one could make it into the theatrical version,” Graffeo says.
Universal’s research has identified alternate endings as consumers’ favorite bonus feature. The studio offered viewers an alternate ending on The Bourne Identity DVD in 2003. And New Line Home Entertainment has offered alternate endings on DVDs going back to 1997’s Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, which came to DVD in 1999.
“It differentiates the DVD experience from the theatrical experience,” says New Line executive vice president Matt Lasorsa. “Before when you heard there was an alternate ending in which, say, the character dies, you could only read about it. Now, with DVD, we have the opportunity to bring that to the consumer.”
On the Final Destination DVD, New Line tacked on an alternate ending and created a 15-minute featurette about the test screening and the poor audience reaction that led to that ending being scrapped, Lasorsa says.
“It provides an inside look at how studios test movies,” Lasorsa says.
DVDs of Joy Ride, with Paul Walker, and Hide and Seek, with Robert De Niro, came out this year with four alternate endings, and Alien vs. Predator has another beginning.
Fever Pitch arrives on DVD today in two versions: the movie that showed in theaters and a “collector’s edition” with several more minutes from the film-ending scene in which the Red Sox win the World Series.
“The hardest thing in the world about making a movie is to satisfactorily end it,” FeverPitch co-director Bobby Farrelly says. “We almost always have a couple of different endings in mind, and it’s informative to show the audience the different direction you might have gone.”
On Dumb and Dumber, Farrelly says he and his brother, Peter, shot five endings before settling on the scene in which Lloyd and Harry pass up a chance to board a bus filled with bikini-clad women.
The alternates, including one in which the two turn down a cushy job, “just didn’t work,” Farrelly says. “They were amusing but left the audience a little unsatisfied.”
On There’s Something About Mary, Ted (Ben Stiller) “was going to get hit by a bus after all he’d been through, but it wasn’t good at all, so we went back to a traditional happy ending.”
Those endings didn’t make it onto DVD √≥ at least, not yet.
Other do-overs due soon
It’s not exactly Gone with the Wind’s Rhett Butler deciding he gives a damn after all, but here are some alternate endings coming out on DVD:
√Ø In The Outsiders DVD, due Sept. 20, the redone ending is closer to the S.E. Hinton book.
√Ø In The Interpreter, due on DVD Oct. 4, Nicole Kidman’s character appears on the floor of the United Nations for a dramatic showdown.
√Ø In a nine-minute alternate ending to Titanic, due Oct. 25, shipwreck explorer Brock Lovett (Bill Paxton) has a meaningful confrontation with the elderly Rose (Gloria Stuart) as she is about to toss her diamond necklace overboard.
√ØThe Perfect Man, starring Heather Locklear and due Nov. 1, has two endings and two beginnings.
Alternate endings tweak interest