If These Hard-To-Watch Scenes Hadn’t Been Cut, These Blockbusters Could Have Been Huge Flops

Filmmakers sometimes shoot a scene only to later realize their movie is better off without it. Maybe it sends out the wrong message or perhaps there’s been a real-life incident that suddenly renders it hard to watch. Whatever the reason, intriguing clips often end up on the cutting room floor. But for these 20 films, that might well have been for the best.

20. The death of Agent Coulson in The Avengers

It was a shocking scene in superhero blockbuster The Avengers. As super-villain Loki flees, he murders the friendly Agent Coulson in cold blood with his blade. But even though the weapon obviously goes through Coulson’s back, you don’t see anything come out the other side. That would have been too violent for a family-friendly movie, so it had to be cut.

In 2014 Marvel executive Kevin Feige spoke to Movies.com about the scene. “When we submitted The Avengers, the first couple cuts of it came back from the MPAA rated R,” Feige explained. “That happened twice. So we went back and had to make adjustments. Well, whenever you impale somebody from their back and the blade comes out their chest, there are issues.”

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19. The original ending of The Lion King

Many children have been traumatized by The Lion King. Remember how horrible and sob-worthy Mufasa’s death was? Well, the movie could’ve been even more upsetting. Disney animators initially planned for the climactic fight between Simba and Scar to end with Scar burning to death at the bottom of Pride Rock while laughing dementedly.

To be fair, the death Scar eventually receives – killed and presumably eaten by his own hyena henchmen – is pretty horrific, too. But at least you don’t see it. Some folks wondered if Disney would put the original scene back for the CGI Lion King remake, but nope, once again the hyenas got their snack. A non-crispy version.

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18. The real footage from Bird Box

When you watch a movie you can usually rest assured that any carnage you’re seeing is special effects and that no-one was actually harmed. Well, not so with the Netflix horror film Bird Box. One of the clips used was of a real-life disaster, the 2013 Lac-Mégantic train explosion that led to almost 50 deaths.

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There was a lot of criticism aimed Netflix’s way, especially since it refused to cut the clip from the movie at first. Eventually, though – after two months had passed – the company removed the footage and released a statement to website The Wrap. It read: “We’re sorry for any pain caused to the Lac-Megantic community.”

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17. Star Wars’ Darth Maul could’ve been even more of a monster

The “Duel of the Fates” scene from The Phantom Menace is considered one of the best sequences in the whole Star Wars franchise. But it could have been a whole lot more violent and bloody than it actually is. (Light-sabers prevent bleeding by instantly cauterizing wounds, which is handy for a PG rating.) What Darth Maul actor Ray Park wanted was to cut Liam Neeson’s Qui-Gon open with his horns.

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During a 2016 Star Wars celebration reported by the GeekFeed website, Park revealed to fans, “In the fight with Liam I wanted to use my horns to slash his chest before I killed him. It felt natural to do so. But George [Lucas] was like, ‘No, that’s too violent Ray.’” As if that wasn’t enough, the original plan for Maul’s death was for him to be beheaded by Obi-Wan Kenobi.

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16. Deadpool was originally even more violent

The Ryan Reynolds Deadpool movie is a big, bloody, sometimes hilarious gore-fest. But originally it went even further with the violence. One bit that ended up being cut was a scene in Mexico that sees Wade horribly murder a con-artist doctor. It’s awful enough to make Wade and his girlfriend Vanessa end their relationship.

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In 2016 Deadpool co-writer Paul Wernick told IGN that in the end the filmmakers didn’t want to “undercut the humor.” He added, “We felt that perhaps that gruesome Guadalajara scene was just a bridge too far.” But according to co-writer Rhett Reese, it featured “some phenomenal acting on Ryan’s part.”

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15. Get Out almost had a far more horrible ending

It’s obviously not in the final movie, but a different ending to Get Out can be seen on the DVD. In it, the police arrive instead of Rod and arrest Chris for the murder of his partner’s family. Even though it was self-defense, Chris can’t recall what happened and will probably spend the rest of his life in prison.

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Director Jordan Peele ditched that plan because it was just too bleak. In the director’s commentary for the movie, he said, “By the time I was shooting it, it was quite clear the world had shifted, racism was being dealt with, people were woke, and people needed a release and hero, which is why I changed the ending and had Rod turn up at the end.”

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14. Paper Towns had to remove a whole theme park

In the original Paper Towns book, written by John Green, Margo wants to break into SeaWorld. But by the time the movie came out, the theme park in question had suffered a massive hit on its reputation. The documentary Blackfish came out in 2013 and revealed some disturbing secrets about SeaWorld practices.

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So it was decided to cut all mention of SeaWorld from the Paper Towns movie, even though it made for a cute scene in the book when Margo finally gets there. Producer Wyck Godfrey told The Hollywood Reporter in 2015, “Since [Green] wrote the book, the documentary [Blackfish] came out. I think it’s a little less playful to go to SeaWorld now.”

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13. Zootopia contained some disturbing scenes at first

Disney’s Zootopia is generally a pretty wholesome movie. It might not have turned out that way, though. Initially the plan for the movie was for all the predator creatures to have shock collars on, which they receive at special “taming parties.” This is what prevents them from ever killing their fellow creatures.

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In the end that whole plot was removed from the movie, though there’s still evidence of it in a deleted scene on the DVD. That clip features the unsettling scenario of a cute five-year-old predator being thrilled to receive his first shock collar, before being given an electric shock by it as he happily plays. Filmmaker Byron Howard admits on the DVD that the scene “stuck around a very, very long time because we found it emotionally compelling.”

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12. Batman was more morally dubious in Batman v Superman

Alas, neither critics nor fans particularly liked Batman v Superman. But they might’ve liked it even less if a certain deleted scene had been left in. The clip showed Batman, a superhero who traditionally refuses to kill people, causing a criminal to be riddled with bullets in order to protect himself.

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Second-unit director Damon Caro talked about that scene with the Screen Rant website in 2018. “He does use one of the [bad] guys as a shield in that [deleted scene], but it didn’t make the movie because it didn’t fit for the cut,” he said. “So that would have violated…” He cut himself off there and added, “But he uses him as a shield and the guy had a bulletproof vest on.”

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11. Team America could have been even ruder

The movie Team America: World Police is entirely acted out with puppets, which meant the creators had more leeway when it came to showing inappropriate stuff. Well, sort of. The filmmakers deliberately made the film’s now infamous puppet sex scene as gross as possible, which almost landed the movie a NC-17 rating.

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This was back in 2004, when cinemagoers were perhaps less used to that kind of thing. That year the film’s producer Scott Rudin told The Hollywood Reporter that he was contesting the NC-17 label. He added, “Our characters are made of wood and have no genitalia. If the puppets did to each other what we show them doing, all they’d get is splinters.” The original scene eventually found its way to DVD.

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10. A cinema massacre was cut from Gangster Squad

The trailer for the movie Gangster Squad came out at exactly the wrong time, unfortunately. It showed clips of people being shot in a cinema just as a similar event had happened in real life – the horrific mass murder in an Aurora, Colorado, movie theater. Twelve people died in all and many more were wounded.

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The film’s director Ruben Fleischer quickly worked to remove the scene from the movie, even though that meant pushing back the release date. At a December 2012 press conference he told the media, “The Aurora shooting was an unspeakable tragedy, and out of respect for the families of the victims, we felt it necessary to reshoot that sequence, and I’m proud of the fact that we did.”

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9. Little Shop of Horrors originally had a downer ending

In the 1986 version of Little Shop of Horrors, the evil plant Audrey II doesn’t see his plans succeed. Seymour and the human Audrey defeat him and go to live simpler lives in a cozy suburb. Granted, another alien plant monster is growing in their flowerbed, but the ending is generally happy. The original ending… not so much.

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In the deleted ending, Audrey II kills both Seymour and Audrey before setting about destroying our planet. That was the finale of both the original 1960 film and the 1982 stage musical. But the test audiences for the movie version were appalled. They gave the film such a low score that the ending had to be changed, and fast. A new, happier one was shot and the extremely costly original wasn’t restored until 2012.

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8. Divergent had a nasty stab

The movie Divergent is based on a book for young adults, so it was generally family-friendly. A certain deleted scene would’ve probably bumped up the rating, though. In the book, Tris (played by Shaliene Woodley in the movie) awakes to find that an associate has had a knife plunged into his eye socket.

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Film director Neil Burger says he didn’t remove the scene because of the violence, though. In a 2014 interview with the Cinema Blend website, he said, “That was mostly cut out because it was interrupting the flow of the story… even though it’s a good scene. That’s really the art of trying to figure out where the movie is working, and sometimes what’s slowing it down is one of your favorite scenes, and you’ve got to cut it out.”

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7. Osmosis Jones got a bit too personal

The movie Osmosis Jones is all about the inner workings of a human body. And it can be a bit difficult to present some things about a human body in a family-friendly way. A deleted scene probably would have outraged some parents of the kids in the audience. It shows the main character visiting, err, a certain part of Bill Murray’s anatomy.

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Osmosis Jones and Drix pay a visit to the “Gonad’s Gym,” which is inhabited by exactly what you’d expect: a bunch of sperm cells. Sure, they’re cartoon ones, but Warner Brothers still balked at the idea. Eagle-eyed viewers can spot Drix carrying a case with the Gonad’s Gym logo on it, though.

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6. Fatal Attraction almost had another ending

The intended climax of the movie Fatal Attraction saw Glenn Close’s Alex commit suicide, framing Michael Douglas’ Dan for her murder. This was changed after test audiences disliked it, and instead Alex attacks Dan’s family before being killed by his wife. Close herself always hated this new ending.

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In 2017 Close told The New York Times about filming the new scene against her will. “I fought it for two weeks. It was going to make a character I loved into a murdering psychopath,” she said. “My friend William Hurt said, ‘You’ve fought your battle, now be a team player.’ So I shot it.”

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5. Murphy’s death in Robocop was meant to be even worse

Lots of changes had to be made to Paul Verhoeven’s Robocop before it was given the all-important R rating. Murphy, played by Peter Weller, is killed in an incredibly horrific way. According to Verhoeven himself, that scene is meant to make viewers think of the crucifixion of Jesus. The movie rating board took a more pragmatic view, though.

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According to actor Kevin Page, who played the guy memorably gunned to pieces by a robot, there was meant to be even more gore in Murphy’s death scene. In 2017 he told The Hollywood Reporter, “[Verhoeven] finally got the R in the last round of submitting to the ratings board by cutting four seconds: two seconds of me being shot on the table and two seconds of the back of Peter Weller’s head coming off.” Eww.

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4. There were racist caricatures in Fantasia

Maybe it’s unsurprising considering how long the studio’s been around, but Disney doesn’t really have a great track record with racism. This is very well illustrated in a Fantasia sequence, the “Pastoral Symphony,” in which two black centaurs named Sunflower and Otika appear. They’re both offensive stereotypes.

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And in addition to that, Sunflower’s only purpose in the animated sequence is to attend to the white centaurs. She’s seen putting flowers in their hair and polishing their feet. It’s positively wince-worthy, and in 1969 – almost 30 years after the film’s release – Disney removed the Sunflower and Otika centaurs. You have absolutely no chance of ever seeing them on Disney merch.

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3. Pretty Woman almost had some darker elements

The Julia Roberts-starring Pretty Woman is considered to be a little problematic in its treatment of prostitution. The film hints that the world Vivian comes from is an unpleasant one full of narcotics and violence, but she herself is upbeat, happy and minus any drug problems. A deleted scene tries to invoke the reality of sex work, though.

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A sequence shot but then cut from the movie shows Vivian having to fend off some criminals outside a bar before Edward and Daryl rescue her. That’s nothing compared to the original script, though. The never-filmed version of Pretty Woman had Vivian as a drug addict who’s rejected by Edward at the end of the film.

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2. Men in Black II had to cut a Twin Towers scene

Before 9/11, the Twin Towers were a popular choice for action sequences. Men in Black II decided to use the iconic landmark for its finale – the towers would come apart to show that alien craft were concealed beneath them. But then the horrific terrorist attack took place and for obvious reasons the original ending had to go.

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The final action sequence of the movie was meant to take place at the summit of the World Trade Center, and some shooting had already been done. But the setting was then switched to be a generic skyscraper instead. And rather than the WTC having a secret function, this was changed so that the Statue of Liberty had an enormous neuralyzer device in its torch.

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1. Lots of gore was cut from Scream

It might not be all that surprising that Wes Craven had to make a few cuts to Scream. The opening scene, in which Drew Barrymore’s character’s boyfriend is murdered, was considered too violent by the MPAA. So Craven had to delete a shot where the audience would have seen the victim’s innards.

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In a 2011 interview with the Bloody Disgusting website, Craven said, “Initially [the MPAA’s] reaction to that film was that it was virtually obscene and that almost the entire third act had to be drastically altered.” So eventually Craven cut another blood-soaked moment and finally got the R rating he needed.

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