Learn about Deep Blue Sea's original ending and why it was changed

Everyone has those films they consider 'guilty pleasures'. Renny Harlin's DEEP BLUE SEA is one of mine. I just have a thing for shark films (JAWS being my favorite film of all time) and there is just something fun about Harlin's 1999 action/sci-fi/horror, even though it has plenty of laughable moments (like Samuel L. Jackson's big scene...you know the one!). If you're anything like me and have a soft spot for DEEP BLUE SEA then you'll probably find this next bit of info kinda cool.

It seems that the ending of DEEP BLUE SEA that we are all so familiar with wasn't the original ending that Harlin wanted to go with. Just so you are aware, here there be SPOILERS!

In the released film, Thomas Jane, LL Cool J, and Saffron Burrows all make it to the surface, only to have one supersmart shark make an instant meal of Burrows just as she's trying to swim to safety. The audience is on board with this death, though, because her character was the Dr. Frankenstein behind the entire operation that caused the sharks to become hyper-intelligent beasties and she deserved to get her comeuppance. 

However, in the original version of the film Burrow's Dr. Susan McCallister survived and, even worse, was the hero of the film.

Crave Online's Fred Topel happened to catch a test screening of DEEP BLUE SEA in 1999, and in the version he saw, Burrows not only survived, but pulls off the crucial harpoon shot at the climax of the film. The test audience hated this, though, and unfortunately for Harlin and the studio, this screening was only a month before the movie was set to open. Harlin was forced to schedule a very quick reshoot at Universal Studios' tank, creating a new ending where only Jane and Ladies Love Cool J survive, with the future Punisher getting to shoot the harpoon that saves the day shortly after Burrows gets devoured by the Einstein shark.

Topel actually got the chance to ask Harlin about the original ending a few weeks ago while discussing Harlin's most recent pic, the found footage horror film DEVIL'S PASS, and here's what he had to say:

Yeah, it was one of those great surprises where we thought, okay, we hope it works. At the test screening, as you might remember, the audience was really with the movie and when Sam Jackson gets eaten, the audience was screaming and laughing and we thought, okay, it’s a home run. When it came to the last seven minutes of the film, all of a sudden it just fell flat like a pancake and people kind of hated it. We were like, what the hell happened?

It just shows how sometimes you can be clueless and you’re so deep in the project that you can’t read the audience’s mind. Basically what had happened was that the audience felt so deeply that the scientist character, the woman who was behind the whole experiment with the sharks, that it was all her fault. In their minds, she was the bad guy and in our minds, she was the heroine and we thought saving her was the key. Basically, we had test cards that said, “Kill the bitch.” It was an amazing revelation.

I'm wondering if the footage of the original ending still exists, stored away in a vault somewhere. Hopefully it'll pop up as an extra on a Blu-Ray re-release someday (or, even better, just show up on the 'net). I'm curious to see it even though I'm sure I'll still prefer the ending we're all familiar with.

Extra Tidbit: Are you a fan of DEEP BLUE SEA? What is your favorite scene from the film?
Source: Crave Online



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