5 Bizarrely Different Early Versions Of Beloved Movies
There are a lot of things that have to fall in place to make your favorite movies into your favorite movies. Which why it can be so weird discovering how very, very different some of them were supposed to look and feel. Like how ...
The Original Idea For Star Trek: Generations Had Kirk And His Crew Time-Travel And Sacrifice Themselves To Save The TNG Crew
In the original version of Star Trek: Generations, the plot kicks off when the Kirk-era Enterprise is suddenly barfed out of a wormhole next to Picard's Enterprise. Instantly, Picard's Enterprise changes: it's now a warship, and Picard is a military commander. Nobody at all realizes what's happened, though, except Guinan (thanks to being magic Whoopi Goldberg). Picard then meets Kirk, and we find out that, in this timeline, the Federation has been at war with the Klingons. That's the setup, and the bulk of the plot consists of Guinan trying to convince Picard that reality has shifted, the Enterprise didn't used to be a warship (unless the Earl Grey settings on the replicator broke), and they need to send back the Kirk-era Enterprise to restore the timeline. Of course, this is a completely different film than Generations -- a movie creatively forced to include a horseback riding montage.
If you've read the above and recognized the plot of the TNG episode "Yesterday's Enterprise," you're totally right. The TNG team was originally going to use that plot for Generations, but season 3 of TNG was a total mess (so, you know, like current day Star Trek), and they were so far behind schedule, they had to take any stories that worked and turn them into episodes ... including this one. If season 3 hadn't set phasers to "dumpster fire," they'd have left that idea alone.
If you haven't seen the episode, you're probably wondering how things end. In short, Picard would have told Kirk that the Federation is losing the war and one more ship won't make a difference, but if the original Enterprise goes back, that could reset the timeline and prevent the war from happening (Guinan, who knows both Kirk and Picard, presumably helps out along the way.) Kirk, being cooperative and unwilling to hog the limelight, as always, agrees with Picard and takes his Enterprise back into the wormhole, taking them to their original time -- which, by the way, also kills everyone aboard.
So that's Kirk's and his crew's introduction to Picard and the TNG crew, and it's also how Kirk and his crew die: they willingly go to their deaths so the TNG crew can live. It's hard to think of a plotline that's more meta.
They Really, Really Wanted To Kill John Hammond At The End Of Jurassic Park
In Michael Crichton's novel Jurassic Park, John Hammond dies at the end (Hmm, that's a good book title ...). In Spielberg's movie, he most definitely does not (and goes on to appear in The Lost World). For some reason, though, John Hammond's death felt so vital to filmmakers that it survived several rewrites, with the writers working on the script killed him off in Happy Death Day variety of ways.
In Crichton's first version of the script, Hammond is in the wrecked visitor center, gets startled by the twitch of a dead velociraptor, falls into the collapsed scaffolding behind him, and then gets swarmed by compies (the tiny little dinosaurs that act like bipedal piranhas). That's pretty close to his death in the novel, where compies swarm him after he falls off a cliff. In Crichton's last draft, a velociraptor attacks him while the park's welcome video plays behind him because the raptor is a clever enough girl to understand comedic irony.
In the next version, written without Crichton's involvement, Hammond's death is pretty elaborate: he's escaping from the park with an egg incubator and, while in the control room, hears screams for help. He opens the door to find a raptor outside; he falls back, dropping the incubator, and smashes into the tabletop model. The raptor then has an early dinner. Later, Grant finds Hammond on the verge of death, who tells Grant that he was looking forward to working with him. He then peaces out as a baby triceratops hatches from one of the incubator eggs.
In other versions, Hammond just got left on the island to die, either on purpose or by accident -- in any case, they were dead set on killing him. But all that fell through when screenwriter David Koepp joined the project. It might have been because the character was changed and no longer needed to die, or because Richard Attenborough (who had just gotten cast) didn't like the idea of Hammond dying, or whatever. In any case, life, uh, found a way.
Galaxy Quest Was Supposed To Be A Spaceballs-like Movie From Harold Ramis
Galaxy Quest is basically a Star Trek film with slightly different uniforms and ships, and, if you had to describe it in a few words, something like "affectionate parody" would do.
It's definitely not a slapsticky, Mel Brooks comedy, but that would have been the case if Harold Ramis' original vision was realized. According to Tim Allen, Ramis, the first director attached to Galaxy Quest, wanted to make it a spoof -- like Spaceballs was for Star Wars. Not only that, but Allen's casting was the reason why Ramis ditched the film too.
Ramis' first choice for leading man was Alec Baldwin, but if he couldn't get Baldwin, he wanted an action star who could do comedy -- definitely not a comedian who could act. None of his choices panned out, though, and the role was eventually offered to Allen, which is when Ramis decided he just couldn't see how Allen could pull it off. That became apparent to Allen in one hilariously weird lunch with Ramis and DreamWorks studio head Jeffrey Katzenberg -- Katzenberg wanted Allen in the role, but Ramis was pretty clearly not onboard (Allen says the whole thing was "pretty uncomfortable").
Ramis, for that matter, was dead set against using any sci-fi actors (for his own, inscrutable reasons), which obviously didn't happen. Right after Allen got the part, and Ramis left to continue not making Ghostbusters 3, Sigourney Weaver, who had been hard at work persuading studio heads that she could totally play Gwen DeMarco, finally got the role. Weaver's reasoning for going so hard for the part was, "It's those of us who have done science fiction movies that know what is funny about the genre." Anyway, Ramis' work was apparently launched out of an airlock that.
To Ramis' credit, he reached out to producer Mark Johnson after seeing the finished movie and said that he'd been totally wrong and that Allen was actually a great commander. "Harold was very gracious," said Johnson. Which is truly a rare note to end on in Hollywood.
Dazed and Confused Was Supposed To Be Two Guys Driving Around, Listening to ZZ Top
Dazed and Confused is a classic rock-fueled film dealing with high school cliques, the importance of music at that age, parties, dating, pressure from adults, and all the other things you'd expect in a teen comedy. This makes the movie, as initially envisioned, absolutely baffling as it has nothing in common with what you saw on screen except for teens and rock. It was basically supposed to be a weird ZZ Top tribute.
Writer/director Richard Linklater knew he wanted to do a teenage rock & roll film set during one day in 1976, and his first idea was an entire film consisting of two guys driving around in a car and talking while listening to ZZ Top. The movie would have had a total of two shots: the first, in which one of the guys puts the ZZ Top album Fandango! in the car's eight-track player (an ancient way of allowing you to hear music); the second, a oner of the two guys talk for the rest of the movie. Fandango! would be playing in the background all the time, with the movie ending exactly when the album did.
This line delivered from the window of a moving car could've been the creepiest moment in film history.
Anyway, it's unclear how that morphed into Dazed and Confused as we know it today, but thankfully Linklater decided to add more things to his bare-bones "teenagers + rock & roll + one day + 1976 = ???" formula. Presumably, someone told him that the cinematic experience of being the person that missed out on calling shotgun for an entire film would suck as much ass as the real-life version.
Ghostbusters Was Originally About A SWAT-like Team Hunting Ghosts In Outer Space
Dan Aykroyd's original idea for Ghostbusters had pretty much nothing to do with the movie you saw, except for a couple of the same names and the presence of ghosts. Aykroyd originally wanted to make Ghostbusters, then called Ghost Smashers, a movie set in ... outer space. Our heroes -- who, by the way, were just one of many competing ghost-smashing teams operating in that universe -- work for an interdimensional being called Shandor. Shandor accidentally trapped another being, called Zuul, in our time and dimension, and Zuul's owner, Gozer, comes to our dimension to get his pet back. And, of course, it's up to the Ghost Smashers to stop him. It sounds less like Ghostbusters and more like a screenplay blended together from three different Power Rangers rip-offs.
Ivan Reitman said the movie was just wall-to-wall action. The Ghost Smashers were catching ghosts from the first page, and they never stopped catching them. While there was a certain "comic attitude," Reitman says it was written very seriously, and he felt exhausted by the time he got to the tenth page of the script.
And as the cherry on top, the Ghost Smashers didn't look anything like the Ghostbusters. They pretty much looked like space cops. They had SWAT gear and riot squad helmets with transparent visors, and they used wands of some kind, not proton packs.
Anyway, Reitman thought the basic idea was genius, but the setting was all wrong. So he invited Aykroyd to breakfast one day and suggested the film should be contemporary and recognizable, like New York -- to which Aykroyd replied, "That's cool." Also, he suggested that making the movie an origin story would help. Maybe these guys are doing paranormal studies at a university before getting kicked out, leading to them becoming paranormal investigators, and that's how the whole thing starts. Aykroyd replied, "That's all cool." Yeah, Dan, it sure is.
Top image: Columbia Pictures