Test screening is a necessary process for every “hot” Hollywood movie. After long months of work on a movie, it is hard for the creators to look at the result with an open mind. And it is even harder to predict how the audience will react. In this situation, test-screening allows the creators to not only find weak spots in the story, but even change the entire course of it. By the way, almost anyone can take part in a test screening, the only requirement is that you’re completely impartial.
We at Bright Side found that the future of many famous films totally depended on the opinion of the focus groups.
Sunset Blvd. (1950)
The dark noir film about the tragedy of the Hollywood stars was a real hit in the film industry. It got a lot of different awards, including 3 Oscars, and all the credit goes to the first viewers. During the test screening, absolutely every person in the theater was laughing for the first few minutes. But 30 minutes in, and those same people were confused. They couldn’t really understand what they were watching — a drama or a comedy. Many people started to leave the theater without even knowing how it ended.
When the director of the film Billy Wilder asked one of the viewers what the problem was, he answered, “I have never seen such a terrible movie before.” The thing was that in the original version of the film, the dead body of Gillis was telling his sad story to other dead people. So, the director decided to reshoot the beginning of the film.
Justice League (2017)
In the beginning, the creators planned to make Justice League the sequel of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice but the superhero movie was a total mess at the box office. The production of Justice League was already underway and because the directors were worried about the future of the film, they decided to redo about 20% of it, taking the negative reviews and opinions into account.
So, all the scenes with Victor Stone before his “transformation” were cut out, and a lot of the dialogue was cut down to just several lines. Almost all the scenes with Superman were reshot, the episode with the opening of his coffin was added, and a mention about the past of Wonder Woman was put into the film. There were also some other minor details that completely changed the atmosphere of the film.
The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
It’s one of the best films in history, according to IMDb, that not only has awards and nominations, but also the love of its viewers. But it could have gotten completely different reviews.
As director Frank Darabont planned, the finale of the film was not supposed to be as optimistic: it was originally planned to pose the question to the viewer of if Red was able to adapt to a life of freedom after so many years spent behind bars. Of course, the answer would probably be “no.” The focus group was totally against such a pessimistic finale and the director had no choice but to redo the ending, adding the scene where Red meets Andy after so many years.
The New Mutants (2020)
The news about The New Mutants appeared back in 2016. The scriptwriters promised the viewers a film with a unique, original voice. But the trailer that was released in 2017 showed us a completely different genre — a true horror that confused the fans of superhero movies. A slew of negative comments under the trailer hinted that the film might be a real disaster and the premier was pushed back by a year, because it needed to be reshot. But after Disney and Fox merged, the premiere was pushed back to 2020.
The first cut of Titanic was 5 hours long. We think that very few people would dare to call the drama about the legendary cruise shop uninteresting or less than intriguing, but 5 hours is still way too much.
James Cameron listened to the first viewers and cut out 45 minutes from the film including the scenes with the iceberg floating just outside the window, the fight between Jack and Caledon, and the rescue of the survivors. Also, the director decided to change the slightly funny ending, where Rose fights against a treasure hunter for the diamond and instead made the ending tragic, just the way we like.
Suicide Squad (2016)
Something completely different happened to the Suicide Squad that a lot of fans were really looking forward to watching.
Despite the fact that the early reviews of the film were positive, the project was sent back to the director. The creators worried that the film would do the same thing that Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice did. So, the variant of the film that originally looked dark and dramatic was changed to something lighter and funnier. The original version centered more around the relationship of Harlie and the Joker. As a result, almost all of the popular magazines and critics gave the film terrible reviews.
Deadpool 2 (2018)
The first viewers of Deadpool 2 also complained about the film: they liked the funny main character, but they didn’t like that Cable and Domino didn’t get a lot of screen time. The creators decided to please the audience and shot several more episodes with these characters. Also, they decided to remove one post-credit scene where Deadpool travels through time and explained that they just didn’t think it was necessary anymore.
Pretty Woman (1990)
This romantic comedy that made every girl hopeful that princes still exist somewhere, was actually meant as a serious social drama. The director initially planned to make Vivian a drug addict, who worked as a prostitute to earn money for her next hit. The ending was even quite fitting: Edward just pushed this pretty woman out of his car and threw the money he owed at her.
Fortunately, the Disney company was against such a dark drama and they asked the director to shoot several more versions of the ending. Of course, viewers chose the most optimistic one and the creators even decided to reshoot many of the scenes to make the film look more like a comedy.
Movie fans initially thought that the reboot of the famous sci-fi comedy was a silly idea and was completely pointless. But Paul Feig wasn’t worried about this since he had firmly decided to give the world a new version of Ghostbusters.
As a result, the first trailer was the absolute leader among trailers in the number of dislikes it got on YouTube. The fact that now the Ghostbusters are women was the main problem for the fans. The creators of the film decided to answer their fans with a scene where the main characters read the negative comments from YouTube that were left by the fans.
Starship Troopers (1997)
The sci-fi satire film that all of us remember from childhood was supposed to have been somewhat of a romantic film. Carmen and Johnny were supposed to break up during the military preparation and she would then start a romance with her commander Zander. This event made the test group furious: they wanted the film to be as non-romantic as possible and they wanted the commander to be killed. So, the creators had to change the script and replace some scenes in the film to turn it into a real action film.
What would you like to change in films that have recently been released?
Preview photo credit Pretty Woman / Touchstone Pictures