Many things can happen between the development of a screenplay for a movie and the film’s release. Some movies of today would have been entirely different if the filmmakers had stuck to the original idea they had. Here are 17 iconic movies that would have turned out completely different from what made it to the big screen:
Originally, Ghostbusters featured Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi, and Eddie Murphy in a future setting, battling ghosts across dimensions. After Belushi’s death, plans changed. The script, initially Ghost Smashers, evolved into the present-day storyline we recognize.
The Mask (1994)
The Mask, adapted from a violent comic, originally had a darker plot involving face removal and zombies. Director Chuck Russell transformed it into a family-friendly comedy starring Jim Carrey, opting for a cartoonish approach, which was a huge contrast from the initial gruesome concept.
Pretty Woman (1990)
The film, initially titled 3,000, was a dark drama about a drug-addicted prostitute. The original story lacked a happy ending, focusing on the harsh realities of sex work. After several rewrites, Pretty Woman was transformed into the Cinderella story that made Julia Roberts a superstar.
Big Trouble in Little China (1986)
Big Trouble in Little China, starring Kurt Russell, began as an 1880s cowboy story but eventually became a 1980s mystical battle in San Francisco’s Chinatown. Originally penned by Gary Goldman and David Weinstein, script doctor W.D. Richter reshaped it into a cult classic, blending kung fu with a contemporary setting.
Con Air (1997)
Con Air was originally a small-scale indie thriller but was transformed into an over-the-top action spectacle. They leveraged Bruckheimer’s influence to attract indie actors with higher pay. The movie, starring Nicolas Cage, became a summer blockbuster, grossing $224 million and becoming a quintessential 1990s action film.
1978’s Superman faced numerous challenges, including a campy script with bizarre elements. For example, Marlon Brando wanted his character Jor-El to appear as a bagel. Director Richard Donner opted for a reverent approach, turning it into a blockbuster hit. The film proved comic book movies could succeed, setting a new standard for the genre.
The first live-action Scooby-Doo movie was initially envisioned as a teen comedy with adult jokes, but it was toned down to PG after concerns about its mocking tone. Director Raja Gosnell and screenwriter James Gunn had originally planned edgier humor, including a stoner portrayal of Shaggy.
Star Wars (1977)
Before becoming a cinematic juggernaut, Star Wars faced challenges with low-budget effects and skeptical actors. In its early stages, Star Wars had humans as the villains and aliens as the heroes. Original plans included Luke battling miniature Wookiees.
The Lost Boys (1987)
Screenwriters Janice Fischer and James Jeremias initially created The Lost Boys with kids as the target audience. But when Joel Schumacher took over, he aged up the vampires, making the film darker and a lot more explicit.
Beverly Hills Cop (1984)
Originally an action-comedy, Beverly Hills Cop almost turned into a serious shoot-’em-up under Sylvester Stallone’s influence. Stallone’s script changes led to budget concerns, causing him to leave the project. Eddie Murphy stepped in, restoring the comedy element through ad-libbing.
Beetlejuice’s original script was extremely dark, featuring gruesome scenes like Betelgeuse killing characters and wanting to harm Lydia. The initial plot was intense, with Betelgeuse portrayed as a menacing demon. Screenwriter Warren Skaaren toned down the horror, creating the blend of comedy and spookiness we know today.
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
Steven Spielberg conceived the idea of a sci-horror movie called Night Skies. It was, however, reworked by Melissa Mathison, who recognized the potential of a touching story about an alien and a boy. She removed the horror idea and made it something much more family-friendly.
X-Men’s Hollywood journey had twists. Carolco Pictures planned it in 1989, but details are scarce. Fox acquired rights in 1994. Initial drafts linked Magneto to the Chernobyl disaster. Earlier, in 1989, talks involved James Cameron producing and Kathryn Bigelow directing, with Bob Hoskins considered for Wolverine.
Originally, Elsa was supposed to be a villain in a Snow Queen adaptation. “Let It Go,” however, changed the narrative, focusing on Elsa’s struggle and acceptance. The songwriter’s perspective transformed Elsa into a complex character, shaping the film’s powerful message of self-discovery.
Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)
Originally made to debunk UFO rumors, Spielberg faced challenges with Close Encounters’s script. Schrader’s version was rejected, leading to various rewrites, including one by Spielberg inspired by “When You Wish Upon a Star.”
Monsters, Inc. (2001)
Pixar’s Monsters, Inc. had a drastically different original pitch, involving a man haunted by childhood fears. The entire monster world was absent. Later drafts focused on George Sanderson, a monster struggling to be scary. Elements of this character were retained in the final film, even as the story underwent a significant transformation.
Good Will Hunting (1997)
The initial drafts of this $138 million-grossing movie differed widely from the final version. For instance, Ben Affleck and Matt Damon’s characters were supposed to be killed as his way of getting out, but this was eventually struck out.
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