10 Movies That Were Almost WAY Darker

Interstellar originally had a much bleaker ending.

Interstellar Cooper
Warner Bros.

One of the ultimate maxims of filmmaking is that the script is king, because no matter how talented the cast and crew might be, nor how stacked the VFX budget is, if the script's basically toilet paper, nobody's going to care.

The drafting process can be a painful one for filmmakers as they iterate on their concept until everyone - writer, director, actors, and studio executives - are all on the same page. Literally, in fact.

Tone is one of the most underappreciated aspects of a strong script, whereby the filmmakers establish a consistent mood or, at least, find a way to switch between light and dark without jarring the audience.

And it shouldn't surprise anyone who knows anything about Hollywood that countless scripts have had their darker visions reined in to be something lighter and, let's be honest, more commercially acceptable.

Though there are certainly may examples of studio executives sanitising a provocative idea into soulless mush, there are also times where a darker original script would've simply been too hard-edged to connect with audiences at large.

These bleaker what-ifs certainly provide compelling food-for-thought, even if it's easy to appreciate why they got toned way down before shooting started...

10. Rocky

Interstellar Cooper

Rocky is one of cinema's all-time great underdog sports movies, ending with the street-smart charmer Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) losing to world champion Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) by split decision, but proving himself far beyond anyone's expectations.

It's a triumphant, feel-good ending to a gritty sports drama, but Stallone originally had a far bleaker vision for the overall story and especially its ending, in line with the more pessimistic view of America present throughout 1970s cinema.

Stallone told The Hollywood Reporter back in 2021 that his original conception of Rocky as a character was "very dark," and that he even decided to throw the final fight against Apollo, after deciding that he didn't want to be involved in the boxing world and would rather stew in his own hate.

Stallone's original draft also depicted Rocky's trainer Mickey (Burgess Meredith) as a "very angry, racist man." Uplifting stuff, then.

Yet after Sly's then-wife Sasha Czack read the first draft and called Rocky "so nasty," he re-wrote the script numerous times, transforming him into the more likeable character we ended up with.

And just to think, if Stallone had stuck to his original conception of the movie, it would've almost certainly been a one-off with cult appeal at best - not a Best Picture-winning pop classic which spawned a massive franchise.

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Stay at home dad who spends as much time teaching his kids the merits of Martin Scorsese as possible (against the missus' wishes). General video game, TV and film nut. Occasional sports fan. Full time loon.