If your favourite films ended differently, would they still be your favourite films? What if Rose had made room for Jack on the door as the Titanic was sinking, or Glenn Close didn’t kill herself in the bath at the end of Fatal Attraction, as was originally planned? An ending can make or break our favourite films and often several endings will be shot before a choice is made.
Terminator 2: Judgement Day is widely regarded as one of the best sequels of all time, and regularly tops Best Sequel lists. After the first Terminator film skyrocketed Arnold Schwartznegger from ex-bodybuilder to actor and Governor of California, director James Cameron returned to make the sequel in 1991. The film was widely well received by critics and also picked up several Oscars, and was heralded as the film which changed the special effects industry.
The ending to Terminator 2 was possibly one of the biggest contributors to the success of the film. Bucking the trend of awkward sci-fi endings, Terminator 2 said a heartfelt goodbye to the Terminator. Both the original film and the sequel felt like complete films, and this made it harder for further sequels to feel plausible. This could be due to the fact that sequels weren’t particularly big business in the 80s and 90s, but it could also be because the alternative endings were pretty drab.
In the alternative ending for Terminator 2, we see an older Sarah Connor playing with her grandchild, speaking a voice over about how every day was a gift. Skynet is completely wiped out, and there is no threat to the planet. Of course, this might work for other series, but because the Terminator films are so dark, the idea of a happy ending feels quite out of the ordinary. If it hadn’t been for the ending that hit the theatres, Terminator 2 may not have retained its legacy, which has included various video games. There is even a Terminator 2 game among online slots available at Casino Euro, and those working in the industry continue to note the impact film had on innovation in special effects.
In contrast to Terminator 2, audiences may prefer happier endings. Often endings are changed because they don’t poll well with test audiences who are often used as part of commercial release. This was the case for the thrilling movie musical A Little Shop of Horrors, in which a giant human eating plant begins to take over the life of a humble gardener. Originally, the plant ate Seymour and Audrey before going on a rampage throughout their New York suburb. Audiences found this ending too disturbing, and it was swapped for a happier ending in which the couple survived.
Whatever the reason for alternative endings for films, it is always exciting to see the bits which end up on the cutting room floor. The ending is arguably the most important part of any film and ensures that the audience leaves satisfied with what they have seen. Increasingly we are becoming used to endings which allow for a franchise to grow, and it feels as though an ultimate ending without a cliffhanger doesn’t quite satisfy in the same way as it might have done before.