MOVIES

Movies Ruined Because Of Test Audiences

Focus groups weren’t happy with the original climax of “A Perfect Murder,” resulting in a new ending for the final film. In both versions, Emily (Gwyneth Paltrow) reveals to her husband Steven (Michael Douglas) that she has evidence proving that he hired a man to kill her. In the theatrical version, Steven physically attacks Emily to make sure his secret doesn’t get out, and she shoots him in self-defense. In the alternate ending, Steven only verbally threatens Emily before she shoots him, yet afterward she tells the police she shot him because he was attacking her. Detective Karaman (David Suchet) seems to suspect that Emily isn’t telling the whole story, but he simply assures her, “What else could you do?”

In other words, Emily killing Steven is a bit more premeditated, so there is some moral ambiguity surrounding her character. “I liked that ending,” director Andrew Davis told Yahoo! “But test audiences felt she was more empathetic if she killed her husband [in self-defense].”

It’s only a slight change, but it makes a world of difference. The theatrical ending, with its shouting match between Steven and Emily and cliché ankle-drag shot, is anything but subtle. In contrast, the director’s preferred ending would have given the heroine more shades of complexity. In the safer ending, Emily is just a victim. In the alternate ending, she’s a victim who is willing to do anything to escape her abusive husband.

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