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Movies That Were Completely Changed at the Last Minute

Updated June 24, 2020 100.3k views12 items

A lot of people work on a movie. There are the actors, directors, writers, cinematographers, and editors. Then, there are also studio executives and producers. Not too many directors in Hollywood have final say on every facet of their movie. Sometimes at the very last minute, a studio head will say, “the movie is too violent,” or “this needs to be more family-friendly.” Studio executives are just one reason why there are last minute movie changes, as these movies that were completely changed at the last minute show.

Imagine Tom Hanks playing Jerry Maguire or Winona Ryder as Mary Corleone in The Godfather III. Maybe audiences wouldn’t have bought nice-guy Hanks as a power-hungry sports agent? Perhaps if Winona Ryder stayed with the part of Mary Corleone, critics would have been kinder to the film, because they were not concentrating on Sofia Coppola's wooden performance.

Sometimes movie scripts changed at the last minute can be good, but other times they can totally ruin a film. I Am Legend could have gone down as one of the best plot twists in film history if studio executives had not asked for rewrites. Daredevil could have possibly become Marvel’s next great superhero franchise if 20th Century Fox had not asked the writers to make the film shorter and less dark.

There are many films that were changed at the last minute, for better or worse. Let everyone in the comments section know about any big time last minute changes that you think totally affected a film, or any other cool last minute alteration movie trivia.
  • Annie Hall is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list Movies That Were Completely Changed at the Last Minute
    Video: YouTube

    What Was the Change?

    Annie Hall was supposed to be called Anhedonia, which means "an inability to experience pleasure." The original film was all about Woody Allen's character Alvy, told through a stream of conscious type narrative. In fact, Annie (Diane Keaton) only appeared in about a third of the film. Once Allen got into the editing room, he reluctantly realized that the film should focus on Alvy and Annie's complicated romance. Scenes featuring Annie were added and the film was cut with more narrative focus.

    How Did This Change the Film?

    Many consider Annie Hall the perfect movie. It's certainly a timeless classic, winning four Academy Awards in 1978, including Best Picture. It also proved that just like in real life, a love story doesn't have to end with happily ever after.

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  • Blade Runner is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list Movies That Were Completely Changed at the Last Minute
    Video: YouTube

    What Was the Change?

    Ridley Scott's adaptation of the classic novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? ended with an ambiguous conclusion. Could Rick Deckard actually be a replicant himself? The studio disliked the implication and the ambiguity. They opted to add a little Deckard voiceover narration to help tie up any loose ends. The voiceover also kindly informs us that Rachel will not self-terminate. 

    How Did This Change the Film?

    Instead of giving audiences a hefty twist ending/WTF conclusion, we find out that Rachel will live, and that means it's another Hollywood happy ending. Deckard and Rachel drive away together and, we suppose, live happily ever after.

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  • The Godfather Part III is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list Movies That Were Completely Changed at the Last Minute
    Video: YouTube

    What Was the Change?

    Francis Ford Coppola originally hired 18 year old Winona Ryder for the part of Mary Corleone in the final installment of his epic trilogy. However, Ryder left the project due to "nervous exhaustion." Coppola then hired his daughter, Sofia, to play the role.

    How Did This Change the Film?

    The Godfather is considered one of the best cinematic trilogies ever, except it has a very large asterisk next to the word "best." The Godfather III is far from perfect, and it's hard to pin the problem on just one issue. However, Sofia Coppola received a ton of negative criticism, mostly citing her wooden performance. Mary Corleone is a very important character in the film, and Sofia's performance is awkwardly painful to watch; some consider it a trilogy killer. That may or not be a fair assessment. Even still, the experience was bad enough that Sofia dropped acting all together and decided to concentrate on becoming a director, a good move, she is an excellent filmmaker.

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  • Dawn of the Dead is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list Movies That Were Completely Changed at the Last Minute
    Video: YouTube

    What Was the Change?

    In the original ending of George A. Romero's horror classic, both Peter (Ken Foree) and Fran (Gaylen Ross) end their own lives, the latter by sticking her head into whirring helicopter blades. Reportedly, this ending was partially shot, but at some point, Romero changed course and allowed Peter and Fran to escape via helicopter instead.

    How Did This Change the Film?

    You know how Hollywood likes happy endings? Dawn of the Dead gave audiences the opportunity to walk away with a sense of hope, even if it was a small one. This is much different from the thoroughly bleak ending to the film's predecessor, Night Of The Living Dead.

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