The 2007 version of ‘I Am Legend’ ended up being with strong reviews and box office sales but over time the novelty of the movie has worn off for many. Now, director Francis Lawrence, who hasn’t been too talkative about the film, has reflected on what he would have done differently with both the story and the ending if he had the chance.
‘I am Legend’ was loosely based on the 1954 novella by Richard Matheson and according to Lawrence, the source material was strong enough to hold its own as a feature film:
“Looking back at it now, I think that we could have just done basically the story of the novella straight up and made the same amount of money in terms of ticket sales because people went I think for the last man on earth. They would have accepted the nihilistic ending, they would have accepted vampires instead of people with infections. We could have literally made the book, which I would have been much happier with, but you know when you’re spending that much money you’re panicking that you’re making this weird little kind of art film about a guy alone with a dog in New York and you’re trying to you know sort of create that spectacle.”
I’m sure vampires could have worked much better here. The bleak ending though is what made the book and almost made its way into the movie as well! Here is the ending we almost got but since it didn’t play well with test audiences never made its way to the big screen:
“I agree it’s the better ending. I mean, it’s the more philosophical version of the end, but in terms of story math we’re doing everything you’re not supposed to do, right? The hero doesn’t find the cure, right? They drive off into the unknown and the creatures you’ve been saying are the bad ones the whole time you learn actually have humanity and aren’t the bad ones – the hero’s the bad one. And so you’ve basically turned everything on its head. We tested it twice and it got wildly rejected, wildly rejected, which is why we came out with the other one.”
I honestly feel that an emotional gut punch like this, as long as it remains rare, can be a powerful way to end a film. The source material had a darker ending, and I feel as if the cinematic take should have followed through as well.
Are you happy with ‘I Am Legend’ as is or do you wish Francis Lawrence had been able to make one of these changes? Would you have preferred that the film stayed true to the vampires in the book, the darker ending, or both? Share your thoughts below!
Source: Screen Rant