Watch: The Most Expensive Deleted Scenes Ever Filmed
These scenes, left on the cutting room floor, could have funded dozens of indie productions.
Every writer and director is familiar with the phrase "kill your darlings." Originally attributed to William Faulkner, the adage has been widely quoted by every author under the sun. Stephen King, in his seminal text On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, perhaps said it best: "Kill your darlings, kill your darlings. Even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings."
In movies, scenes are cut for understandable reasons—they may become superfluous once the first cut is assembled, or perhaps they are ultimately more confusing than enriching to the story. In big-budget Hollywood movies, scenes are often cut because studios decide they render the movie too grim.
A new video essay from Looper details some of the most expensive scene cuts in Hollywood history, including changes to the ending of Little Shop of Horrors, which test audiences originally found too depressing, and a dance sequence from The Wizard of Oz, which took five weeks to shoot.
In some instances, more than just scenes were cut; in the case of World War Z, the entire third act, complete with a Russian army of zombies, was gutted and replaced in post-production. Not only did Paramount forfeit the production budget of that final act, but the reshoots cost $25 million to boot.
In X-Men: Days of Future Past, Anna Paquin spent a week filming elaborate scenes for her character, Rogue—all of which were cut in the editing room. Director Bryan Singer described it as an "embarrassment of riches" that "just had to go."