The Fateful Decision

edited February 2012 in Theater
I'm wondering who's idea it was to change the ending of Little Shop of Horrors (the film). Was it Frank Oz, the director? David Geffen, the producer? Was it the collective consciousness of executives that runs Warner Bros.?


  • I think it was a confused focus group...
  • Well, it's a hard ending for people to take. It took me a couple of viewings to fall in love with it. And, when I watched the movie with my dad, with the original ending, he seemed to reject it.
  • From what I read, David Geffen suggested the happy ending because the audience wouldn't like it; but they filmed the original ending regardless and showed it a test audience who rejected it. So, in a ways, while some people would suggest David Geffen, I would say it was the people in the test audience. But to be fair, while I still prefer the original ending, the movie's ending doesn't bother me. I don't really mind it at all; but if someone were to remake the musical today, I think people would accept the original dark ending. Besides, we've had musical movies like Moulon Ruge (however you spell it) and Sweeney Todd where there's a sad, dark ending, so why shouldn't this?
  • And, I would be completely fine with a remake. Just as long as it's animated. :)
  • I know there was a negative test audience screening, but who's decision was it to change the ending to appease them? Who made the decision to rewrite the script, reconstruct the set, and reshoot the film? I doubt everyone was immediately in agreement that the ending had to be changed. There had to be some discussion.
  • "Besides, we've had musical movies like Moulon Ruge (however you spell it) and Sweeney Todd where there's a sad, dark ending, so why shouldn't this? "

    You will note that both of these are from the past ten years or so - NOT from the 1980s.
  • Do remember that this was Howard's first movie-making experience. He was more comfortable fuming in private than refusing to make changes. That soon changed.
  • Tacowiz-

    Reading around the internet, in several interviews by Frank Oz, it was due to the test audience scores. They loved the musical numbers and the story, but when the lead characters died and the plant took over, the audience just didn't like it.

    Frank Oz explains in one interview, that there is no curtain call in a movie. Audrey and Seymour were 'dead,' and they were not coming back. These two characters you wanted to see live happily ever after, and to have them snuffed out, well, they weren't buying it. It also seemed they were fine without the Faustian lesson (of Seymour being punished for what he did, and losing everything), but hey, it was the 80's.

    Also, I can't recall many films in the 80's that allowed bleak endings. Take Terry Gilliam's 'Brazil.' Terry had a much darker ending, and the head of Universal said, 'we can't release the film like this, even if the critics like it.' They then cut out 40-60 minutes and left you with a 1 1/2 hour film with a 'love conquers all' ending, that just made Terry fume.

    I really wish I could know what Howard thought of the big B-movie ending that Frank had with 'Don't Feed the Plants,' where this simple stage production suddenly exploded into world-dominating carnage.
  • edited September 2012
    I really, sincerely think that the ending would have gotten much better scores if The Meek Shall Inherit hadn't been cut. From what I've heard, it hasn't been reinstated in the Director's Cut, and I can only imagine that this is pure stubbornness on Frank Oz's part. I hope that it's available as a deleted scene on the Blu-Ray, and I hope that some LSOH fan with more knowledge of technology than me restores it.
  • edited October 2012
    I'm my opinion, I think he had a valid reason to cut it. I don't agree with it, but I can see why he did it.

    In the theater, and I don't know why, audiences are a bit more forgiving about going over the same material twice. It's why Tuptim's second love song was cut in The King and I film and why The King of Broadway was cut from The Producers film. They go over material that was either covered in act one (The King and I) or material that'll be covered in the next scene (The Producers) and they just end up feeling like extra, unneeded fat.

    This is why Frank Oz (says) he cut it; In his opinion, Seymour's Meek sequence just sets up the idea of him doing it for Audrey, an idea that's touched upon later in the film. ("If I don't feed it, then it'll die. I'll lose her, I'll loose everything.") To him, the sequence just wasn't that necessary.

    Now, I don't completely agree with him on that, and I think it would've helped, but there are much deeper problems with the film that got the ending taken out.
  • The part of the screenplay that reiterates Meek Shall Inherit is not in the stage version. I think the real issue is that a fuller Meek Shall Inherit might have been more affective at telling that part of the story than the scene he ended up going with.

    I for one think it would be interesting if they had shot a version of Seymour's death that played more like the stage version, without "Mean Green Mother from Outer Space." While a great song (and I certainly understand the desire to write a song like that for that place in the story), I think it ends up drawing out Seymour's demise in a way that is detrimental to the audience's emotions and the flow of the story. Audrey II over the course of the number keeps making the situation worse and worse for Seymour. Similar sequences in other stories traditionally lead to catharsis through the protagonist/underdog suddenly triumphing over their enemy. In the original ending of the Little Shop Movie, things get worse and worse for Seymour, and then he gets eaten. Not only does this distress the audience at watching his prolonged defeat, it also creates a kind of anti-climax. The stage version avoids this by getting through this part of the story much faster, building instead to "Don't Feed the Plants," and ultimately the vines falling down on the audience, as its climax. The sad thing is, the visuals of the film's "Don't Feed the Plants" are incredible and hilarious. I just don't feel they are allowed to pay off as fully as they could because of the scene previous.

    That being said, who knows if that would make the film's original ending play better. It's certainly valid what Frank Oz said about the lack of curtain call in a movie. You're also contending with a much more realistic telling of the story in this film, despite all of its fanciful elements--specifically, that plant looks very real, and very menacing.
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