15 Great Movies Improved By Last-Minute Changes

POSTED BY Tayyab Khalil, UPDATED ON November 13th, 2023
Great Movies Improved by Last Minute Changes

When it comes to shooting movies, decisions varying from the script are bound to happen now and then. In a few instances, few alterations are so significant that they become irrefutably responsible for vastly positive implications. Take a look at the 15 great movies improved by last minute changes:


15. X-Men (2000)

X Men 2000

As much as Australian actor Hugh Jackman is synonymous with the mutant Wolverine, he was not originally considered for the role. Dougray Scott was initially hired for the part but he had to back out due to being busy shooting for Mission: Impossible 2.

Upon the suggestion of Russell Crowe – director Bryan Singer’s first choice for Wolverine – unknown actor Hugh Jackman was selected for the role. Despite having only two movie credits to his name at the time, Singer allowed Jackman to audition for Wolverine and subsequently realized that he was indeed perfect for the role.


14. Terminator 2 (1991)

Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991)

As a drastic contrast to James Cameron’s dark sci-fi action masterpiece, Terminator 2 surprisingly had a joyful bright ending which is set 30 years into the future – John Connor is a senator, an old Sarah Connor is tying her sweet granddaughter’s shoelaces and Judgement Day never happened.

The scene was even shot but director Cameron decided to remove it since he realized that the scene was entirely out of tune with the rest of the movie and did not give the franchise to have more sequels.


13. Rocky (1976)

Rocky 1976

One of the very few low-budget movies to win the Academy Award for Best Picture, Rocky was the brainchild of Hollywood legend Sylvester Stallone and demonstrates to the audience to never give up. Ironically, that is exactly what almost happened at the end of the movie.

Original plans for the movie included boxing trainer Mickey Goldmill being a racist and Rocky intentionally losing his match against Apollo Creed after realizing that he does not want to be a professional boxer. Thankfully, such ideas were wisely changed during the shooting.


12. American History X (1998)

American History X 1998

After serving three years in prison and learning the error of his ways, Derek Vinyard leaves his neo-Nazi beliefs behind him. Though American History X ends with Derek mourning for his brother Danny after the latter is shot and killed by a black student in the school bathroom, there was supposed to be an eerie scene afterward.

As Danny’s mother and sister grieve over their loss, the camera slowly pans inside a bathroom in which Derek has shaved his head again, looks at the swastika tattoo on his left chest, and pulls out a gun; reverting to his white supremacist lifestyle. The studio rejected the idea since it completely nullified Derek’s inspirational journey to the righteous path.


11. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

Raiders of the Lost Ark 1981

Overflowing with action sequences and dramatic tones, it was rather pleasant to see a hilarious scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark for a change. As a consequence of playing the demanding role of Indiana Jones that came with a hectic traveling schedule, Harrison Ford fell ill right before shooting a sword-fighting scene.

The actor was supposed to engage in a cool sword fight and disarm his opponent with a whip but due to his health, Ford decided to improvise the scene. Instead of a swordfight, Jones cuts to the chase and calmly shoots the guy – resulting in one of the funniest moments of the franchise.


10. Shrek (2001)

Shrek 2001

The voice of the lovable ogre was originally voiced by comedian Chris Farley but he tragically passed away due to a drug overdose before he could record all of his dialogues. Mike Myers stepped forward as a replacement and the studio had to restart from scratch since he had to completely voice Shrek with his voice.

As a result, fresher comedy gags began pouring in. Additionally, Myers voiced Shrek with a Canadian accent but would soon switch to a Scottish accent. The alteration worked wonders for the animated movie and even Steven Spielberg expressed his opinion to Myers about the Scottish accent improving the movie.


9. Se7en (1995)

Se7en 1995

The gritty, edgy ending of the crime thriller movie Se7en has one of the most memorable plot twists in cinematic history but it almost did not see the light of day. Instead of Detective David Mills shooting murderer John Doe for killing the former’s wife and having her severed head delivered to him inside a box, the original ending was a softer one.

New Line Cinema was distressingly against the gloomy ending and demanded to have it changed but director David Fincher and leading star Brad Pitt fought to keep the iconic scene from being removed.


8. American Beauty (1999)

American Beauty 1999

Nominated for eight Academy Awards and winning five including Best Picture, American Beauty almost had a distressing trial scene in which Jane Burnham and her boyfriend Ricky Fitts are falsely accused of murdering the former’s father, Lester Burnham.

The trial scenes were a half-hour-long but as per the suggestion of screenwriter Alan Ball, it was decided not to include it since it took attention away from leading star Kevin Spacey and hardly contributed towards the movie’s steady pacing.


7. Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (2005)

Remember the scene from Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope in which Obi-Wan Kenobi hands over a lightsaber to Luke Skywalker while revealing that it once belonged to his father? That moment was immensely crucial to be re-addressed in Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith.

While filming the battle of Obi-Wan Kenobi against Anakin Skywalker, director George Lucas accidentally forgot to shoot the scene in which the latter picks up the former’s lightsaber and it was during the editing phase that he realized his mistake.

Lucas immediately shot the scene of Kenobi picking up Anakin’s lightsaber to include in the movie and though the scene merely lasts for two seconds, it was an extremely significant moment that connects the original and prequel Star Wars trilogies.


6. X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)

X-Men Days of Future Past 2014

The X-Men franchise was on the verge of collapse until the director of the first two installments, Bryan Singer, returned for X-Men: Days of Future Past. The movie is best remembered for the mesmerizing slow-motion scene of Quicksilver saving Wolverine, Professor X, and Magneto in the Pentagon and briefly stealing the spotlight from his co-stars.

Believe it or not, Quicksilver was not even supposed to be included in the movie. As it turns out, the mutant Juggernaut was originally intended to be the one breaking Magneto out of his cell but such plans were scrapped.


5. Back to the Future (1985)

Back to the Future 1985 Movie

For the leading role of Marty McFly, Michael J. Fox was enthusiastically approached to play the part but had to refuse due to his shooting commitments with the NBC sitcom Family Ties.

Director Robert Zemeckis had to settle for rising star Eric Stoltz for the role but after four weeks of shooting, the former realized that the latter lacked the comical charm necessary for the character. As a result, Zemeckis fired Stoltz and hired Fox – who was now free from his shooting schedule – to shoot Marty McFly’s scenes from scratch.


4. The Shining (1980)

The Shining 1980

One of the reasons behind The Shining being a horror masterpiece is its ambiguous ending. It is open to interpretation but had to go through a creative change after the movie had already been released to the theatres.

A week after its premiere, director Stanley Kubrick felt unsatisfied with the original cut of the movie so he decided to remove a closing scene that takes place in a hospital in which hotel manager Stuart Ullman reveals to Wendy Torrance that her husband Jack’s body was never found a gives her son Danny a yellow tennis ball, assumed to be the same one his father had.

Kubrick demanded the theatres send back his movie’s reels so he could cut the aforementioned scene; raising more and more questions about the movie’s mysterious conclusion.


3. Toy Story (1995)

Toy Story 1995 Movie

A crown jewel in animation, Toy Story is one of the most beloved projects of Pixar but things could have ended up way differently had director John Lasseter stuck to the original plot and personalities of the characters.

In the early drafts of the animated movie, the toys were unhappy, mean characters, and in particular, Woody was a tyrannical boss and described as a “jerk” by his voice actor, Tom Hanks. When Lasseter screened the first half of the movie to Disney executives, he was so embarrassed by it that he requested two weeks to rework the script.

The most crucial alterations were Woody being a caring and wise leader of Andy’s toys and Buzz Lightyear being oblivious to the fact that he is a toy. As a result, Toy Story became everything it is known and loved for today and would go on to bag three Academy Awards.


2. Jaws (1975)

Jaws 1975

Back when Steven Spielberg was a rookie director, he was hired to direct the thriller movie Jaws. With only one feature movie under his belt that was made under a tight budget, he was not the perfectionist he is today so naturally, he encountered dozens of technical dilemmas while directing Jaws.

One of them was the continuous malfunctioning of the mechanical shark used in the movie which originally had a lot more screen time. The director had to resort to showing the faulty shark as minimally as possible and rely on composer John William’s score to build the tension while showing water waves instead of the actual shark.

The movie was expected to flop since the shark character was barely in it but upon its release, Jaws was a massive success Spielberg achieved his very first blockbuster but in doing so, he made numerous people legitimately scared of going near the ocean.


1. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

The Lord of the Rings The Fellowship of the Ring 2001

Considering the legendary status of The Lord of the Rings, it is impossible to imagine anyone besides Viggo Mortensen portraying Aragorn but as shocking as it may seem, the role was meant for Stuart Townsend.

Townsend traveled to New Zealand and would undergo vigorous training and rehearsals for the arduous role for two months. However, just one day before the shooting began, director Peter Jackson decided that the character of Aragorn should be played by an older actor.

As a result, Jackson fired Townsend and offered the role to Mortensen but even he was initially reluctant to accept his career-defining role. The actor accepted the part when his son – a huge fan of J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings fantasy novelsardently encouraged him to do so.

Did we miss any worthy titles on our list of the top movies improved by last-minute changes? Let us know in the comments below!

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