7 Iconic Scenes (We Only Got Because The Movie Was Broke)

Money: It’s the thing that most rap songs and every episode of DuckTales are about. It’s also the thing that allows for movies to be made. Usually, filmmakers having zero dough results in some no-budget piece of crap wherein Kirk Cameron mansplains the meaning of Christmas. But occasionally, cinematic penny-pinching leads to greatness. As we’ve mentioned before, Hollywood being total tightwads has inadvertently given us classic scenes like …

7

Alderaan Was Blown Up In Star Wars Because George Lucas Couldn’t Afford Any Alderaan Scenes

While these days, Star Wars productions are so flush with dough that they can afford to dole out tens of millions just to have Harrison Ford stagger on set and promptly get laser-stabbed to death, the first movie wasn’t quite so lucky. We all know the famous scene in which the Death Star destroys Princess Leia’s home planet of Alderaan, cementing the Empire’s status as the evilest bastards in the galaxy while also ensuring that Jimmy Smits wouldn’t pop up in The Empire Strikes Back.

Lucasfilm

Originally, Though …

Surprisingly, like a whole bunch of computerized bullshit in the special editions, this moment wasn’t in the original script. In the early drafts, Alderaan was supposed to be a main setting, the home of a “Sith prison.”

Lucasfilm
Imagine Oz, but all the guards can shoot lightning bolts from their dicks.

The idea was for Luke and Han to go to Alderaan and break Leia out prison, but when Lucas got his budget, it was relatively low for this type of film — about half the amount of that year’s Bond movie, The Spy Who Loved Me (which, to be fair, had to pay the cast double to pretend that a 50-year-old in a tuxedo was a murderous sex machine). So Lucas was forced to cut all the Alderaan scenes and relocate them to the Death Star, meaning the station would have to have a detention level instead of hundreds of gift-wrapping rooms. And since going back and deleting the word “Alderaan” from earlier portions of the script was probably a huge pain in the ass, Lucas reworked the story so Alderaan gets blown up.

This also probably explains one of the movie’s biggest problems: Why is Leia comforting Luke over the loss of an old guy he met yesterday when her entire family was the victim of space genocide? Since script-writing software wasn’t a thing yet, it would have been harder to delete this scene or add the detail that Leia is fighting back intense rage and sadness while gingerly draping a blanket around poor Luke.

Lucasfilm
The official canon explanation is now “She’s THAT much of a badass.”

6

Deadpool Forgot His Guns So The Studio Could Save $7 Million

Deadpool is the R-rated blockbuster which cemented that superhero movies could be only for adults … and also children in theaters with lax security. In an effort to make America forget about the emo X-Files villain version of the character we saw in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, the movie is crammed full of irreverent humor. One such joke sees Deadpool packing a Ted Nugent garage sale’s worth of guns into a backpack before storming the bad guy’s compound, only to forget the bag in a cab. After interrupting the heroes’ triumphant posturing to make frantic calls to the cabbie, Deadpool has to make it work without the guns, as if the movie were set in Canada.

Originally, Though …

It turns out that this funny moment had less to do with making Deadpool’s exploits as wacky as possible and more to do with saving the studio some serious scratch. Yes, believe it or not, there was some trepidation about throwing money at a comic book movie full of graphic violence and dick jokes. The filmmakers did want to end the movie with a giant shootout, but at the last minute, the studio decided to cut about $7 million from the budget. With Ryan Reynolds presumably unwilling to give up whatever lavish expenses lead to his perfectly coiffed hair, the filmmakers were forced to start making story changes. They consolidated a cadre of henchmen into one character played by Gina Carano, cut out a motorcycle chase, and yup, forced Deadpool to forget his guns. That way, they saved money and created an amusing moment. The only downside is that studios may now suggest that John Woo abandon guns and doves for slow-motion fart jokes.

5

Mad Max Was Set In The Future Because They Couldn’t Pay For Extras … Or Really, Any Nice Things

The original 1979 Mad Max follows a leather-clad police officer fighting a barbaric gang in a near-future in which society is seemingly falling apart. While from The Road Warrior onwards the Mad Max series is set in a straight-up post-apocalypse, the first movie only hints at that, with its empty roads, dilapidated buildings, and perplexing hairdos.

Originally, Though …

According to an interview with director George Miller (who confessed he “probably shouldn’t admit this”), he didn’t set out to make a movie about the future. The reason Mad Max is about the ruination of the world is only that hiring extras is damned expensive.

As we’ve covered before, Miller, a doctor, was so strapped for cash at the time that he had to finance the movie by driving around doing emergency house calls. As a result, he didn’t really have the budget to “tell that story in a real city, with real cars, with lots and lots of people.” So to explain away why hardly anybody was hanging around and why seemingly every scene was set in an abandoned shithole, Miller threw on a title at the beginning that said “A few years from now …”

He also made a few story changes, moving the action to “deserted backstreets and decrepit buildings that cost us nothing.” And thank god he did. Otherwise we might have gotten a laboriously bureaucratic version of Fury Road in which everyone is pulled over by highway patrol after five minutes.

4

The Blair Witch Project‘s Ending Was Subtle Because They Ran Out Of Money

Before the series became focused on drones and time travel, the original Blair Witch Project was a simple faux-documentary about how hanging out with film students for extended periods always leads to abject horror. The closest we get to a big scare is the gang of campers finding a bunch of wicker ornaments, presumably evidence of the Witch’s Etsy side business.

The ending, too, was surprisingly subtle. Instead of a scary witch popping out, audiences were left puzzling over the image of one of the protagonists, Mike, standing in a corner, followed by the camera dropping, like a terrible PSA about public urination.

And whether you liked it or hated it, you have to admit that the ending made an impression. It’s a disquietly ambiguous finale, like the end of The Sopranos or every Transformers movie after you walked out three-quarters of the way through.

Originally, Though …

While they never planned on hiring Bette Midler to go full Hocus Pocus, the directors recently gave interviews admitting that they came up with the iconic ending a mere three days before they shot it, mainly because they “didn’t have any money.” It was less “unseen horrors left to your imagination” and more “Let’s wrap this thing up before our actors get eaten by a bear or something.”

When the movie was picked up for distribution by a studio, test audiences were “overwhelmingly confused” by the ending. So the studio decided to give the filmmakers extra money to go film some of the ideas they had come up with but didn’t have the money for. Those ideas, it turned out, were rather stupid. One ending found Mike dangling from a noose for some reason …

… while another had him getting crucified by bits of rope and wood, before seemingly dying of embarrassment:

In the end, they went with the ending they already had, because sometimes leaving it up to the viewer’s imagination is better and way cheaper.

3

Pretty Much Every Well-Known Element Of Halloween Stems From John Carpenter’s Cost-Cutting

John Carpenter’s Halloween is crammed full of iconic, genre-defining moments. The slow, methodical, knife-wielding killer, the performance by soon-to-be “Scream Queen” Jamie Lee Curtis, the deceptively simple musical score that sounds like the kid from The Omen‘s piano lesson. Every single part of this movie went on to be ripped off by all other horror flicks that followed (starting with the 47 or so sequels).

Originally, Though …

Almost everything we love about this movie was designed to save money. The premise itself was Carpenter’s cheap-ass way of making a monster movie in which the monster could be a dude in coveralls. And the casting of Curtis? Brilliant in retrospect, but she wasn’t Carpenter’s first choice … until he remembered she was the daughter of Janet Leigh, who starred in Halloween‘s predecessor, Psycho. With the movie’s small budget, Carpenter “couldn’t afford to squander” the free publicity casting Curtis would give him.

Also, the sparse, haunting score was sparse because that’s all they could afford. The music was created in two weeks, in a tiny studio where they couldn’t even spring for a way to watch the movie while recording. It’s a miracle it even fits at all. As for Carpenter composing the music himself? “I was the fastest and cheapest I could get,” he later admitted.

We’ve mentioned how Michael Myers’s “face” was originally a Captain Kirk mask. That too wasn’t only due to creative genius. The original plan was to make their own unique mask, but at the last minute, the art director went to a magic shop a few blocks from their office and bought some cheap Halloween shit that looked creepy enough.

In other words, the most memorable elements of this great movie were assembled as if by a deadbeat dad buying Christmas presents at the gas station.

2

Lost Ended With A Glowing Magic Cave Because The Network Wouldn’t Pay To Film At A Volcano

The island from Lost housed numerous secrets — mysterious hatches, hidden temples, and presumably an unmarked grave filled with the bones of Gilligan and his pals. Fans waited patiently through the show’s run for any morsel of explanation as to what the hell was going on. Finally, in the final season, we learned that the island was home to a magic glowy cave with a stone cork which apparently protected the world from evil … or more evil, we guess.

So this was the reveal the show had been building to all along, right?

Originally, Though …

Hahaha, of course not. The magic pee cave was only created because the network didn’t want to pay to shoot on a goddamn volcano. The original magical element of the show’s mythology was going be the island’s inactive volcano, which would suddenly spring to life for a big showdown between Jack and the Man in Black. Which makes sense, because over the show’s run, they seeded in references to the volcano, but never paid it off.

According to showrunner Damon Lindelof, when they went to ABC with the volcano idea, they responded that while they were allowing the show to end, “we can’t let you bankrupt the network in the process.” Meaning that they had to scrap plans for a “big fight between the forces of good and the forces of evil” with “[m]agma spewing everywhere!” and settle instead for Batman’s enchanted grotto.

1

The “Rules” For Zombies Stem From Night Of The Living Dead‘s Budget Problems

Jaws ruined beach vacations, Psycho ruined leisurely showers, and Night Of The Living Dead ruined fucking around in a cemetery like a total asshole.

The late great George Romero’s horror classic defined what we now think of as the modern zombie story. He set the rules for what we’d later see in The Walking Dead, Shaun Of The Dead, the United States Senate, etc.

Originally, Though …

The first concept Romero and co-writer John Russo (aka the guy who would later ruin the movie’s home video release) had was a horror comedy about teenage aliens “hotrodding” to Earth to hang out with human teens. The movie was also going to co-star an inept cop named Sheriff Suck and an alien pet that “looked like a clump of spaghetti.”

Eventually, the idea morphed into cannibal aliens, and then into just cannibals. Who happened to be dead. The idea of having zombie-ism be an epidemic, that the recently dead would rise, and their bite would turn people into zombies was unique to the movie — and it we owe it all to its slim budget. According to Russo, they “couldn’t afford special effects like people coming out of their graves en masse,” so they “came up with the idea that it would only be the recently dead that came back and the others couldn’t.”

So a lack of money for special effects and an unwillingness to enlist more friends to stagger around in a graveyard formed an entire genre. It’s amazing that they didn’t also parse out rules that zombie movies should be 20 minutes long and are allowed to pay the actors in peanut butter sandwiches.

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