The 'third act' of a film is the most vital for it to land properly on its feet. A lot of the audience remembers the film by its 'climax' which is why you think about how else a film could've possibly ended - and you might have actually felt differently towards the film. For eg: what if The Usual Suspects hadn't ended the way it did? Would it be such a classic today? Maybe, maybe not.
Here are 10 such films which shot alternate endings but fortunately those ending didn't make it to the final cut:
1. T2: Judgement Day
The alternate ending was supposedly quite optimistic which is why he decided to do away with it.
The year is 2029, Sarah Connor is a happy grandmother, and her son John is a senator. Everyone lives happily ever after. That's great and all, but it didn't leave much room for sequels. The studio preferred dollar signs to happy endings.
Rocky was supposed to lose the final fight against Apollo Creed for money.
Stallone’s original screenplay had Rocky accepting money to throw the fight against Apollo Creed—who would have been Jamaican, by the way. Rocky then uses the cash to help Adrian open a pet store.
Source: Digital Spy
The ending was supposed to have the dog's head instead of Gwyneth Paltrow's.
Studio execs preferred an ending that didn't result in any heads in boxes—or at the very least, not any human ones: Instead of the ending they went with, they wanted to soften the blow by using the head of a beloved family dog instead. Brad Pitt stuck to his guns and said it was Gwyneth’s head or no head—and no film—at all.
Ridley Scott dreamt of a darker climax, with the xenomorph biting the heroine's head off.
Even after the movie had started production, no one knew exactly where Ripley would be when the credits rolled. The script went through multiple rewrites, and multiple finales were written up. One of Scott’s ideas was to have the xenomorph bite our heroine’s head off, then record a final entry in her log—using her voice. Producers thought it was too dark and would only provide additional money for filming if the alien bit it in the end instead.
5. I am Legend
Robert Neville is able to cure the Darkseeker, and he survives to make it to the final settlement.
The original ending shows Robert Neville blow himself up along with the Darkseekers letting Anna and Ethan drive down to the last establishment of mankind. However, in an alternating end, the film shows Neville actually cures one of the female Darkseekers he had captured earlier. The male sees this, stares at Neville and picks up the female and leaves. The last scene shows us Neville, Anna and Ethan finally reaching the last establishment of mankind.
Source: Movie clips
Cooper drifts away in space and dies, and no probes find him.
In the original ending penned by Jonathan Nolan, Cooper drifts away in space and dies. However, as we saw in the final cut of the film, we see Cooper being rescued by Probes of the people of the future. It could've been so depressing man!
Thakur kills Gabbar with his bare feet, instead of handing him over to the police.
Gabbar gets arrested by the police in the original ending of Sholay, but in the alternate ending, Thakur kills Gabbar with his bare feet. Would've been so much fun!
Source: Infozenics arm
John Rambo kills himself, instead of surrendering to the police/military.
John Rambo commits suicide in the alternate ending in the climax of First Blood, instead of getting arrested. That would've also killed any hopes of a franchise. So they changed it.
Rose shows the 'Heart of the Ocean' to Bill Paxton and team before throwing it into the ocean.
In the original ending, elderly Rose throws the priced diamond into the ocean instead of giving it to the Bill Paxton's team of explorers. Cameron had also shot an alternate ending where she tells the team about possessing the diamond and gives them advice about how life after all is most precious.
Source: Gus Tavo
In the original ending AB Sr is supposed to die, but he's brought back on popular demand.
In the original ending, Amitabh Bachchan was supposed to die and become a martyr. But then the life-threatening injury happened while shooting the climax and on popular demand AB Sr had to be brought back at the end of the movie, once he had recovered.