Hollywood is a fickle place. As fast as a trend starts, it's already over, making it difficult to predict what will work at the box office.
Pity those poor screenwriters then who write and then sell their work to the studios, only to see their original concept change massively before finding its way to the big screen. Here are seven astonishing examples of movies which changed genre from the page to the multiplex.
Given that the central relationship is between a prostitute and a businessman, it's no real surprise that there was a much darker story to be told within Pretty Woman. The original script was called $3000 and saw our toothy heroine addicted to drugs and told by her trick to stay off cocaine for the week that they spent together. The film ends, rather depressingly, with her being kicked out of the car by her less then charming prince. Disney were, well, less keen on this side of the story and wanted to amp up the fairy tale element. There are still some references to the darker version available in the form of deleted scenes.
Good Will Hunting
While the shooting script might have won Matt Damon and Ben Affleck a pair of Oscars, their original vision for the film was very different to what we all remember so well. The first iteration of the screenplay was an out-and-out thriller which saw our hero targeted by the FBI who wanted to capitalise on his superior intelligence and turn him into an agent. They were recommended,. by Castle Rock Entertainment president and When Harry Met Sally director Rob Reiner, to focus more on the relationship between Will and his psychologist. The thrills were gone.
Beverly Hills Cop
Known as the film which gave Eddie Murphy his first real starring role (he'd co-starred in 48 Hrs and Trading Places), Beverly Hills Cop wasn't always such a perfect fit for the wisecracking comedian. It was originally called Beverly Drive and focused on a cop from Pittsburgh called Elly Axel. It was also a straight action movie. It received a lighter touch when Mickey Rourke circled the project but once he left and Sylvester Stallone was in, it reverted back to all action, no jokes. But his ideas were seen as a bit too ambitious (he's since referred to it as resembling the opening of Saving Private Ryan) and Eddie Murphy was brought on, with a comedic rewrite soon following.
While Will Smith's anarchic superhero flick was intermittently entertaining, it was also a frustrating glimpse at what could have been. The darker edge to both the character and the film was hinted at but not fully explored. This wasn't always the case though. The original script, entitled Tonight He Comes, was seen as one of the finest unmade movies in Hollywood and attracted the attention of both Tony Scott and Michael Mann. By the time director Peter Berg and star Will Smith came on board the tone was lightened. Pre-rewrite, Berg compared the tone to Leaving Las Vegas. The finished film? Ermmmm, less so...
After the stupendously successful Transformers franchise, Hasbro were keen for another toy-to-movie smash and they decided that their Ouija board was a blockbuster in the making. Working with Universal, they were aiming for a family friendly supernatural adventure, in the spirit of Pirates of the Caribbean and with a $100 million budget. But unwilling to take such a risk, given the scale, Universal and Hasbro changed tacks and turned it into a cheapo horror movie for teens, with a $5 million budget, something which has so far paid off. Despite toxic reviews, it has crept up to a worldwide box office of $56 million and counting.
I'll Do Anything
While most of these examples have seen changes occur from script to screen, this one saw an overhaul after production had ended. From director James L Brooks, known for As Good As It Gets and The Simpsons, I'll Do Anything was a comedy drama about an actor who finds himself becoming the sole carer for his young daughter. Oh with one small catch. It was also a musical. Soundtracked with music from Prince, Carole King and Sinead O'Connor and singing from star Nick Nolte, test screenings were a disaster, leading to a drastic recut, removing all music numbers and adding more dialogue. It didn't help, with the film making a quarter of its budget theatrically.
The balance of comedy and horror is an incredibly difficult one to master but in the 80s, we enjoyed a golden era of the genre mash-up. From Gremlins to The Burbs to Fright Night, something just clicked in a way that hasn't worked out quite so well since. While it's now known as one of the finest examples of the decade, Beetlejuice was originally much more on the horror side of the equation. The crash that killed the main couple was a graphically violent setpiece and the character of Beetlejuice was a murderous rapist, intent on killing the inhabitants of the house, rather than haunting them. A much lighter rewrite kept some of the sinister aspects but replaced much of the nastiness with hijinks.
(Images: All Star)