Making its way around the internet today is a clip of the original ending to last year’s I Am Legend starring Will Smith. If anything, this clip serves to illustrate the absolute danger that the test audience process can be to a film.
Legend, as seen in theaters, ended with Will Smith suicidally sacrificing himself so that two other people uninfected with the plague that has killed nearly all of humanity and turned the remainder into crazed, rabid creatures can escape. It was a rediculous action on his character’s part, entirely unmotivated by what had gone before.
Well, it turns out that the original ending below, was rejected by test audience, forcing the filmmakers to go back and create the ending we saw in theaters. Why didn’t they like it? Who can say? But the fact that the new version has explosions and the original version tried to go for a more emtional and contemplative ending may say something about the people in the test group.
I personally find this ending much more interesting, and while it wouldn’t have totally redeemed all of the film’s problems – the third act would still have felt rushed – it at least would have won more goodwill with this moviegoer than the stupid ending the studio and its audience research did.