For a long time it seemed like the entire World War Z promotional campaign consisted of Brad Pitt explaining, in detail, why this production was so troubled and why the entire original ending was scrapped. Although it looks like all the changes were for the best as World War Z defied expectations to open with $66 million dollars domestically and unexpectedly good word of mouth.
Interestingly at no point during Pitt's full disclosure interviews did he actually detail what the scrapped ending entailed. We knew he lost lots of weight for the role and that much of the action took place in Russia. Now, ScreenRant has posted an extensive report about what the original ending consisted of, and it's much -- much! -- bleaker in tone.
In a nutshell, the two films were fairly similar until Brad's character, Gerry, boarded the flight out of Jerusalem. In the theatrical release, following the plane crash, Gerry and Segen (the Israeli soldier) make it to the World Health Organization building where he unlocks the key to zombie camouflage. None of that was in the original script.
Instead, as originally planned, after the plane safely lands in Moscow, Gerry, Segen and the rest of the uninfected are rounded up while soldiers kill the elderly and infected. Survivors are forced into the armed services and begin killing zombies. The film then jumps ahead a fair amount of time (hence Pitt's weight loss), with Gerry leading a team of zombie killers in Russia during the dead of winter. That's actually what clues him in to the zombie's weakness: the cold.
While that's happening in Russia, Gerry's wife Karin is with the kids in an Everglades-based refugee camp where bartering is essential to survival, and Karin has been forced to sell her body to provide for her family. Pitt learns of his wife's situation and embarks on a long trek to reunite with his family. However the film was set to end before audiences actually saw the lovers embrace once again and the closing moments were to feature Gerry, Segen and another soldier storming the American shore to get his wife back. Cut to black.
Black being the optimal word. Much different/darker/bleaker ending, no?
World War Z isn't the first, nor will it be the last, movie to undergo ending-rejiggering, tone-altering reshoots based on test audience reactions. In fact, here are 5 more films that once ended in entirely different ways!
I Am Legend
In the theatrical release, Will Smith's character sacrifices himself to kill a house full of vampires. Originally though, the ending was to reveal the monsters were anything but and Smith's character had actually spent the whole film massacring a peaceful species, effectively turning him into the movie's villain in its closing moments.
The Lion King
In the never-shot, but storyboarded, original ending, Scar kills Simba and throws him off Pride Rock before being consumed by the flames while maniacally laughing.
The Butterfly Effect
Most alternate endings are revealed to fans on special edition DVDs, and three were included on The Butterfly Effect's DVD. The "best" of that trio featured Ashton Kutcher's time-traveler go back to the moment of his birth and strangle the baby version of himself with his own umbilical cord!
Instead of tossing the necklace into the ocean, dying peacefully and reuniting with Jack in "heaven," Titanic originally had Rose's daughter and Bill Paxton's character discover her on the ship's edge and, fearing she was going to jump over, run to save her. There, the three engage in a seriously schmaltzy conversation about life being priceless before collectively tossing The Heart of the Ocean to the depths of the sea. That's when one crewmember drops the single worst piece of dialogue I've ever heard.
This ending, which never made it past the script stages, featured much different versions of Edward and Vivian. He's a total jerk and she's a crack-addict, so, needless to say, they don't ride off into the sunset together. Originally, Edward ends the movie by pushing a crying Vivian out into the street and throwing $3,000 at her before driving off. She then goes to Disneyland.