10 films drastically changed after test screenings

Orland Parfitt
Yahoo UK Movies Features

It’s been reported that the director of the new 'Batman' film will re-edit the audio after fans complained they couldn’t understand what the villain Bane was saying.

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If true, then ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ is the latest in a long line of movies to be re-cut after negative feedback from fans.

Almost all movies are shown to audiences at test screenings, with the public's response often resulting in dramatic changes to the finished product; from alternate endings, shorter running times and even changing the title.

But is it a good idea for film makers to listen to Joe Public?

(Warning: some spoilers below)



The Mighty Quinn

What was changed
: A kissing scene was removed

Depressingly, Denzel Washington said that his smooch with Mimi Rogers was cut because some audience members objected to the inter-racial romance at test screenings. “Black women hated the scene, white men hated the scene”, he told the Chicago Sun-Times.

Sunset Boulevard

What was changed:
The beginning and end

The first edit of this classic exploration of the dark side of Hollywood was set in a morgue, and saw a corpse (presumably slain lead character Joe Gillis) talking to the screen. Preview audiences apparently roared with laughter, thinking it was a comedy, and it was swiftly removed by director Billy Wilder.

Pretty Woman


What was changed: The ending

This feel good prostitution flick was apparently a lot grittier in the original script. The ending, which was actually shot and screened, saw Richard Gere’s businessman dump Julia Roberts’ hooker with a heart of gold after a week of makeovers and opera. The studio preferred a happy ever after version.


Pride and Prejudice

What was changed:
The ending… in America

In every country but the US, this superior Jane Austen adaptation ends with Donald Sutherland's character saying: "If any young men come for Mary or Kitty, send them in, for I am quite at leisure." This is because UK test audiences rejected the sappier version shot for Americans, which showed Elizabeth and Darcy all loved up outside their estate.

The Magnificent Ambersons

What was changed: The running time and the ending

You’d think Orson Welles, the man who made ‘Citizen Kane’, would’ve had final cut on his projects. Sadly not, as his follow-up to ‘The Best Film Ever Made’ was cut from 148 minutes to 88 (without his permission) after negative audience reactions. A happier alternate ending was also tacked onto the end. Tragically, most of the cut footage is now believed lost.

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Blade Runner

What was changed: The ending and a lot more

The classic example of audience meddling. The test screenings for Ridley Scott’s dark sci-fi masterpiece were apparently disastrous, with dumb cinemagoers expecting ‘Indiana Jones’-style shenanigans from star Harrison Ford. Cue the hasty addition of exposition-heavy voiceover by a clearly-miffed off Ford and a weird happy ending in the sunshine.

Licence To Kill

What was changed: The title

The original title of this decent Timothy Dalton 'Bond' adventure was apparently ‘Licence Revoked’ - as 007 has his license to kill , umm , revoked in the plot. However it was changed after tests showed US audiences thought the term referred to his driving licence. To be fair, the new title was much sexier.

Australia

What was changed: The ending

The first cut of Baz Luhrmann’s three-hour Aussie epic apparently saw Hugh Jackman’s dishy cattle drover snuff it in the finale. Test audiences weren’t happy, with one writing on the feedback card: "There is no reason to kill off Wolvie (Jackman) in this one… come on." Fox listened and Jackman miraculously survived in the theatrical version.


Titanic

What was changed: The length

Amazingly, the original version of ‘Titanic’ was much longer than the buttock-numbing 194 minutes of the final cut - there is around 45 minutes of deleted footage on the DVD. After test screenings James Cameron cut at least ten scenes, including an extended sequence that showed Leo’s Jack fight evil Lovejoy (who was after gem The Heart of the Ocean) as the ship is sinking. Apparently audiences didn’t think Leo would go to all that bother for a shiny stone.

28 Days Later

What was changed: The ending

Danny Boyle’s zombie classic originally ended with Cillian Murphy dying alone in a hospital bed (after he was shot in the stomach). Test audiences understandably thought it was bleak, so it was switched for a new version that saw him wake up in a cottage and discover the zombies are now dying of starvation.