Reshoots Changed the Original 'Rise of the Planet of the Apes' Ending
Usually when a high profile, tentpole film that has completed shooting decides that reshoots are needed late in the game, that doesn't bode well for the production. However, when you hear about a drastic change in the ending to Rupert Wyatt's surprisingly fantastic summer prequel Rise of the Planet of the Apes, the skepticism and worry about reshoots might not be so prevalent in the future. THR has an interesting story about how James Franco's character Will Rodman, the scientist who raised and eventually abandoned Caesar, originally had an entirely different fate before reshoots changed the ending a month before release.
At a panel discussion during the Visual Effects Society Production Summit in Beverly Hills, Fox's president of post-production Ted Gagliano said that over the Fourth of July weekend this summer, James Franco flew from North Carolina to California to shoot the alternative goodbye to Caesar (Andy Serkis was on set, too) that ended up in the final cut of the film. The crew shot for three hours and Franco was back on a plane back to North Carolina and the film opened one month later. If you want to see how the original ending played out, The Playlist has a page from an early draft of the script where Will is killed at the end of the battle.
It's quite a drastic change considering the ending of the film leaves such an impression as audiences leave the theaters. Gagliano's talk about the decision comes down to business sense in that Fox wanted to keep their human star of the film alive for potential sequels (obviously), and also, now they have a completely different alternate ending they can use to help sell the Blu-Ray and DVD. Again, no surprise. Honestly, I like the moment that Will and Caesar share before the very last shot of the film, and it would've been a little too brutal for his character to be killed in the end, especially the way described in the original script.
For me, this helps quell the usual fear that comes from news that reshoots are always occurring on high profile projects. Usually extensive reshoots are worrisome, but in the end, the extra work could result in a better film. In the case of Rise of the Planet of the Apes, aside from the practical decision to change the ending, I think it actually works better on a number of levels. It shows that Casear really is in control of his ape army, and it allows for a more tender and less dark ending. If Will had been killed just before the final moments, I don't think I would've left the theater feeling as satisfied with the film. What do you think?