ByKristin Lai, writer at
MP Staff Writer, cinephile and resident Slytherclaw // UCLA Alumna // Follow me on Twitter: kristin_lai
Kristin Lai

By the time the average movie makes it to the silver screen, drafts have generally been passed down through the hands of various screenwriters, directors, actors, studio executives and more, before becoming the finished product we get to enjoy. Chances are, there are a number of versions of a screenplay, each with a number of different details, that exist before making it to production.

It might be hard to imagine the movies we know and love today looking any different than they do currently, but a lot of them could have looked pretty different with only minor changes. Thanks to deleted scenes, alternate endings, and original screenplay drafts, we're able to see what these seven classic movies almost looked like.

1. Yoda stopped Obi-Wan from telling Luke that Vader was his father, 'Return of the Jedi'

In light of Star Wars: The Force Awakens opening tomorrow, it's fitting to start this list with Return of the Jedi. In the final film, it's shown that both Yoda and Obi-Wan actively chose to keep Luke's parentage a secret. They lied in an attempt to make it easier for Luke to see Darth Vader as an enemy and someone who should be killed, rather than his father and a former Jedi.

The deleted scene below shows that there was some debate between Yoda and Obi-Wan over whether or not to tell Luke the truth.

I know that Yoda had his reasons, but I would side with Obi-Wan on that. Seems like a pretty unfair move to keep something like that from the Jedi warrior you're training.

2. Phil and Rita almost lived together in Groundhog Day time loop hell, 'Groundhog Day'

There are a lot of things that were changed from Danny Rubin and Harold Ramis's earlier drafts of this brilliant comedy. The final version of Groundhog Day never reveals why or how Phil ended up living in this time loop for so long, but one explanation from an earlier screenplay says it was one of Phil's spurned lovers - who happened to be a witch of sorts - who forced him into this purgatory until he could prove himself worthy of love.

Another minor detail that would have meant a huge change is that initially, Phil was never fully freed from the loop, but eventually Rita became aware and stuck in her own loop on February 3. What's mine is yours, right?

While there's no final answer as to just how long Bill Murray's character actually spent in Punxsutawney, there are a couple of answers. Harold Ramis suggested that he spent 30-40 years there, but Stephen Tobolowsky (Ned Ryerson) has said that while they only showed about 23 days in the movie, Phil's time tallied up around 10,000 years. Hey, what's 40 to 10,000 years between friends?

3. Judge Doom turns out to be the worst villain in Disney history, 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit'

Being a house of animation mainly suited for children, it's surprising how scary some of their villains can be. But in one of the earlier drafts of the screenplay, Judge Doom went from being and already despicable and totally creepy character even more evil than before.

VALIANT: You wanna know? Well, since you're so goddamn curious, I'll tell ya. One of you Toons killed my brother.
ROGER RABBIT: A Toon? Noooo.
VALIANT: Yeah, a Toon. It was the guy who killed Bambi's mother.
ROGER RABBIT: Him? Oh, he was vile, heinous,despicable... a smear on the drafting board.

So there you have it. The original script had Jude Doom confirmed as hunter who left poor, sweet Bambi motherless. He deserves to face the Dip a hundred times over, if you ask me. Also, one of these drafts reportedly included Roger Rabbit dying after a battle with Judge Doom. This children's movie could have been pretty scarring.

4. Vivian and Edward weren't a modern fairytale, 'Pretty Woman'

There isn't one specific change that really represents just how different the romantic comedy Pretty Woman could have been, but according to the movie's screenwriter J.F. Lawton in an interview with Vanity Fair, the love story we saw between Richard Gere and Julia Roberts was next to nothing like the earlier version of the story.

Originally titled $3,000, Lawton initially set out to write something more dramatic since his comedies and ninja films weren't catching anyone's attention. So he wrote the gritty version of $3,000 instead, which showed a relationship between Edward and Vivian that was far from picture perfect.

The screenplay ends with Vivian and Edward in a screaming match and he drops her back off in the slums where she used to live. Kit, blissfully unaware that Vivian and Edward had broken up the day before, accompanies her best friend to Disneyland. Vivian stares outside the car window with empty eyes. In the end of this version, no one was really rescued.

5. Will Smith's character is kind of the bad guy, 'I Am Legend'

Maybe "bad guy" isn't the right term, but the alternate theatrical ending made Will Smith's character, Neville, far less of a hero. In this ending, before he blows himself up with the darkseekers, he realizes that killing him was not their intention. Instead, the Alpha male darkseeker attacked his lab in the hopes of saving the Alpha female with the butterfly tattoo from any further testing by the Doctor.

Instead of being dead matter walking through a post-apocalyptic world, this ending suggests that, as admirable as his aims are, after testing and killing enough darkseekers, maybe it's Neville who is the real monster.

6. The title character was originally a lot more terrifying, 'Beetlejuice'

In the earlier drafts of Beetlejuice, Michael Keaton's character was far less of a demonic prankster with a penchant for bursting out into forced group song and dance, and more the type that would sprout leather wings and is hellbent on raping Lydia and murdering her family. Seriously.

Originally written by Michael McDowell and Larry Wilson, their version of the screenplay makes the Maitland's death far more gruesome, and Beetlejuice's character far more homicidal. Based on appearances alone, here's how Beetlejuice is described in the second draft of the screenplay.

He is small and wiry, dark, with vaguely Middle-Eastern features. Here, and whenever we see him again at the beginning of a scene, his eyes are COLD and YELLOW and SHAPED LIKE A SNAKE'S -- but after a moment, they melt, becoming human, and liquid, and brown. This is definitely not a spirit to be trusted.
He sprouts an enormous pair of LEATHER WINGS. His face alters -- and become a truly malicious mirror of his twisted soul.

Instead, Tim Burton's trusted writer Warren Skaaren opted to make the dark comedy slightly more whimsical and lighthearted.

7. Gizmo was almost the bad guy, 'Gremlins'

I know what you're thinking. Gizmo is adorable, and with the apparent moral compass of an angel it's had to imagine the little Mogwai would hurt anyone. But, in the earlier stages of the film, Chris Columbus saw Gizmo transforming into the Gremlin leader and essentially becoming Stripe. Thankfully, Stephen Spielberg nixed this idea in the bud.

There were also other scenes that would have made Gremlins even more terrifying than it already is. There was one written in which the Gremlins eat Billy's dog, another where the Gremlins attack and eat the customers at a McDonalds, and finally one where they decapitate his mother and toss her head down the stairs. I think those darker scenes would have officially switched this movie from a horror-comedy straight to the horror genre.

So, what do you guys think? Do you like some of these original ideas, or do you prefer what we ended up seeing? Let me know in the comments section.

(Source: Dorkly, Vanity Fair, IMDb, Wikipedia, The Hollywood Reporter)


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