I saw a movie poster yesterday in a video store window for the movie Hide and Seek, starring Robert deNiro and Dakota Fanning. What struck me about the poster, which was for the DVD version of the movie, was the note on it that proudly trumpted the 4 ALTERNATE endings available on the disc.
Think about that. 4 ALTERNATE endings. Which means that actually they shot 5 endings. Again, think about that. What does that mean? The possiblity is that in anticipation of a DVD release the producers put two major stars to work creating little snipets of film that very few people would ever see in the hopes that the slogan "4 Alternate endings" would entice more people to buy the thing. (probably at a cost 10 times what it cost to make my two films COMBINED.) OR they were lost. They didn't know what they were doing. That's kind of what it tells me.
You see, I have to confess that many of my projects have had alternate endings. I can go back through my folder of Final Draft documents and pull out version after version of scripts with many alternate endings - and beginings and middles too. But it doesn't cost anything to have alternate endings on paper. Having come from the world of camera I learned that when you have major talent in front of the lens, you should be ready. Have everything to you need to do the job right then and there. That too, should apply to directors and producers. My suspicion, and I think it applies to Hollywood in general these days, is that there were too many voices in the mix. Too many people were giving their opinion on what the movie should be. Have you ever sent a script to a friend to read and then gotten frustrated because they focused on one minute thing about the script - and ignored the whole rest of the plot, characters and story? Now imagine that friend is actually in charge of the project and you HAVE to do what they tell you. Now imagine that there's 10 of those friends. That's kind of what it's like to make a movie these days.
So what happens is that when 10 different people tell you to change 10 different things in your 2nd act - well...
You can wind up with 5 different endings.