What Was the Original Twist of the 'Groundhog Day' Ending?

Groundhog Day is a perfect movie. But the original ending packed quite a punch. 

To me, every day of this pandemic has felt like Groundhog Day. I get up, I write some articles, I work on my script, I wander my neighborhood, and I go to bed doing the same thing again and again and again. 

Still, it's hard to think about a movie as culturally significant as Groundhog Day. It created a whole genre of comedy where people relive the same day over and over. While at the end of the movie Bill Murray has learned to be a good person, the main thing I've learned about the movie during my repetitive quarantine is that the original ending was very different. 

The movie was written by Danny Rubin with work also done by the film's director, Harold Ramis. In the original spec, we just have a guy who keeps waking up on February 2nd, without and introduction until the first time it happened. 

Ramis thought showing the day Phil realizes he's stuck in a day would really make the movie more relatable for us. We can see who Phil was before and understand the way he arcs.

That wasn't the only change he made. 

There was also a voiceover from Phil explaining his predicament and another big twist ending you never saw coming... 

If you don't have time to watch that interview, all you need to know is that Rubin described this initial ending at a screening of the film this way...

"At the very end, he wakes up with Rita just like this. And then a second later, Rita is out of there. She can’t wait to leave. And it turns out that she’s been reliving February 3 over and over again. But the thing is it switches over to her story, at the very end as we’re realizing she’s been repeating that day over and over again, there’s a Rita voiceover. So the movie actually switches point of view from his voiceover to hers."

Point of view change! 

While I think Groundhog Day made the right changes, this ending sounds like a really fun way to mirror the original opening and voiceover. Also, it's interesting to note the similarities to Palm Springs, which uses a similar dynamic as the driving for the movie. 

Obviously in sequel-driven Hollywood, the Rubin ending makes much more sense and is favorable today. 

But I am glad we got the version we know today. 

What do you think? 

Let us know in the comments.      

Your Comment

4 Comments

I wouldn't mind seeing a sequel to GHD in that fashion. Even if they ended it perfectly, it'd be interesting to see Rita repeating the 3rd of February, or maybe even July 4th a few years into their relationship.

August 6, 2020 at 9:37AM

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Justin Gladden
Producer
455

I definitely prefer how it is - Phil needs to change, that’s the whole point of the film, Rita doesn’t need to. I get how it’s a quirky ending but to me the way it’s been filmed makes more sense. I guess there’s always the argument that everyone’s got a part of themselves they need to work on though :)

August 7, 2020 at 2:31AM

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Garry Jenkins
Filmmaker
74

I agree with Garry - there's no point to it happening with her as she didn't need that journey to begin with. It would be a shallow/novelty ending, just to have a twist. But it betrays the character.

And I don't know that I'd lean so hard on the segue. You can argue easily that the regular pre-Covid daily grind where the only difference is you sit in a tin can to get to another box before returning to your own, is every bit as "Groundhog Day".

I also think this is a terribly written piece! I know this might sound snippy, but whether writing an article or a screenplay, you might want to start proofreading your work. Cheers.

August 10, 2020 at 2:46AM

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Matt, I don't think you're being "snippy" at all. Having so many word omissions and incomplete sentences in such a short article is very annoying - and completely avoidable.
Come on Jason, you can do better.

August 13, 2020 at 11:56AM

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Steve Young
Sound Mixer, G&E
152