Although there hasn’t been an official announcement yet, it is looking as if the upcoming blu-ray release of director Frank Oz’s adaption of the off-Broadway musical Little Shop Of Horrors may contain something that fans have been waiting years to see – the film’s original, far more comically darker ending.
The Wall Street Journal spoke to Oz at a screening of the film at the Brooklyn Academy of Music over the weekend and the director confirmed that a new blu-ray of the film was being prepared for release later this year. The Journal followed up with a call to Warner Home Video who confirmed the upcoming release and while she didn’t say that the film would contain the original ending she did state ““We do plan on releasing the director’s cut.” If you are reading that the same way that I am, then this is great news indeed for fans of the film.
Filmed at an expense of around $5 million, the approximately 23-minute original ending to Little Shop Of Horrors faithfully translated and then expanded upon the stage version’s finale. I won’t spoil how things play out, but you should know that test audiences may have responded negatively to such a dark finale. Some quick rewrites and reshoots later and the film had the happier ending with which we’re familiar.
But outside of those few test screenings, the film’s original ending was only ever available to be seen on the initial DVD release of the film.
It turns out that when the film’s producer, David Geffen, saw that Warners only had access to a grainy-looking, black and white work print of the finale, lacking some finished effects, postproduction sound and other tweaks, and that was the version that they placed on the DVD release, he blew his stack. Warners responded by quickly recalling the discs off shelves. Promises were made that a better, more complete and in-color version would eventually be added to a new release, but it never materialized. A search of studio materials in 2007 revealed that Warner Brothers’ copy of the ending was lost in a fire in 2002. While Geffen claimed to have a copy of the finale, it has never been released.
In the meantime, we have relief for those of you who want to see the original ending, but don’t have the $150 to pickup a copy of the quickly recalled Little Shop DVD off eBay. We wrote about it a few years back and included the entire sequence as it appeared on YouTube in three parts. You can view it here. Personally, I like it. It is big, epic and bold. And I can also see how most people would be ticked off by it, which I think is another reason why I like it.