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The Most Expensive Deleted Scenes Filmed

Filmmaking is a tricky business. It's a long journey from the script to the screen, and a lot of great and not-so-great scenes get left on the cutting room floor, costing the studio time and money. Here's a look at some of our favorite films whose deleted scenes came at a high price—creatively and financially.

World War Z's darker final act

If you watched World War Z and thought the ending seemed out of place, there's a good reason why. After the battle in Jerusalem, the movie ended on a jarring small-scale switch, with Gerry wandering around a research laboratory—but the ending we got was the backup option for the original script, which finished things off in far more epic fashion.

In the original ending, Gerry and his sidekick Segen made it to Russia and joined the anti-zombie army. The story then skipped ahead to the winter, showing Gerry leading the Russian army into massive zombie battles. He contacted his wife Karin, who revealed she'd turned to prostitution for survival—and that she'd left him and was in a relationship with one of the soldiers we saw at the beginning of the film. Not about to lose his family, Gerry embarked on a quest across Siberia, trying to reach the Pacific Ocean and find a way to his wife's camp in America.

It's a downer ending that would've set up a whole trilogy of World War Z films, but this wasn't just a script idea—most of the third act was actually filmed, but at the last minute, Paramount decided to go with a lighter, more hopeful ending. The reshoots ended up costing $25 million. That's a huge amount of money, especially since none of the original third act was used in the final cut. Frankly, the original version sounds awesome. We never knew we needed a bearded Brad Pitt leading the Russians into epic zombie battles, but now they've got to make a sequel featuring that storyline.

The octopus scene from The Goonies

In the original version of this 1985 cult classic, the Goonies careen down waterslides and land in a lagoon only to be attacked by a rubbery giant octopus. Just when you thought that wasn't ridiculous enough, Data (Ke Huy Quan) stuffs his Walkman cassette player into its mouth while blasting a pop track written for the film entitled "Eight Arms to Hold You," and the octopus swims away. Most likely the fabled scene was cut for time—and/or deemed unnecessary and cheesy-looking. When the Disney Channel acquired the TV rights to the film in the 90s, the network added the scene back in to make up for lost airtime after deleting scenes deemed "inappropriate for young children." While the scene is only included in the DVD extras, one remnant still remains in the final cut of the film.

When reporters are interviewing the Goonies at the end, Data tells them, "The octopus was very scary!" Though it comes off to both the reporters and the audience as one of the teen's tall tales, it turns out the gang really did have a close encounter of the eight-armed kind. For his part, director Richard Donner was good-natured about the whole thing, joking to Empire in 2009, "I guess the company that was using the water tank before us had stupidly left an octopus in there."

Stairway to Heaven in Almost Famous

There's a lot of great rock n' roll featured in Cameron Crowe's cinematic ode to his own past as an adolescent journalist for Rolling Stone in the early '70s, but one major band didn't make the final cut. When offered a chance to write a story about Stillwater, a group on the brink of stardom, 15-year-old William Miller (Patrick Fugit) must convince his mother (Frances McDormand) to let him travel with the band for weeks. In the original theatrical version, William winds up getting her on board by promising to call her from every town and vowing he won't miss a single test.

However, Crowe originally shot a sequence in which William, two nameless women, and his sister's ex-boyfriend play Led Zeppelin's masterpiece "Stairway to Heaven" for her in an effort to show just how much music means to William. The ex-boyfriend hilariously lip syncs and air-drums, but the 11-minute sequence kills the momentum of the film—and feels self-indulgent and awkward. Crowe ultimately cut it because he couldn't afford the licensing rights to the track.

Rogue's scenes in X-Men: Days of Future Past

With its crazy time-travel plot, X-Men: Days of Future Past is packed with familiar faces, but unfortunately, that means limited screen time for some of our favorite characters, including Anna Paquin's Rogue. The True Blood actress spent a week filming several elaborate scenes for the 2014 blockbuster alongside original trilogy vets Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart, and Shawn Ashmore, but none of it wound up in the finished film. Director Bryan Singer told Entertainment Weekly, "Through the editing process, the sequence became extraneous...like many things in the editing process, it was an embarrassment of riches and it was just one of the things that had to go."

Paquin didn't sound too disappointed in an interview with Yahoo!, saying, "I got to hang out with my friends for five days in Montreal, see people I've known for two decades, and go play. Did it end up in the movie? No. Well, it was fun anyway." But after fan outcry, Singer and 20th Century Fox released a Rogue Cut of the film on DVD, restoring 17 minutes of previously cut footage that included Paquin's sequences.

The original tragic ending of Little Shop of Horrors

If all had gone as director Frank Oz and screenwriter Howard Ashman had initially planned, this 1986 adaptation of the Broadway musical wouldn't have ended quite as happily. The pair intended to use the ending from the stage version of Little Shop of Horrors, with the Audrey II eating Audrey (Ellen Greene) and Seymour (Rick Moranis) and terrorizing the world, but test audiences hated it. Oz recalled to Entertainment Weekly, "For every musical number there was applause, they loved it, it was just fantastic...until we killed our two leads. And then the theater became a refrigerator, an ice box. It was awful and the cards were just awful. They were saying that they hated us killing them. You have to have a 55 percent 'recommend' to really be released, and we got a 13."

The elaborate 23-minute sequence, which cost a reported $5 million, was scrapped and a new ending was shot with the two leads alive and well. Though a black-and-white version of the original ending was included on a 1998 DVD release, full-color footage was finally included in a Director's Cut edition Blu-ray in 2012.

The Jitterbug dance number from The Wizard of Oz

The Wicked Witch (Margaret Hamilton) uses a lot of different tactics to try to stop Dorothy (Judy Garland) and her friends in The Wizard of Oz, but one never made it into the final version of the film. In the lost "Jitterbug" sequence, Dorothy, the Scarecrow (Ray Bolger), Tin Man (Jack Haley), and Cowardly Lion (Bert Lahr) travel through the Haunted Woods only to be attacked by evil bugs that cause them to break out in song and dance, i.e. get the "jitters." Also a popular dance style at the time, the "Jitterbug" was actually a remnant of an older version of the script that was tossed out. The whole number cost about $80,000 and took five weeks to shoot, but it was excised when producers deemed the film too long. Though the actual footage was destroyed, composer Harold Arlen captured a dress rehearsal of the number on home video, later included as an extra on the DVD version of the film.

Chris Hemsworth's disco dance from Ghostbusters (2016)

Dreamy, dimwitted secretary Kevin (Chris Hemsworth) isn't much help around the Ghostbusters office. He's more concerned with picking out his best audition headshot and flirting with the ladies than answering the phone. But when he's possessed by bad guy Rowan during the film's climax, he uses his spellbinding looks to literally make hordes of Army personnel and police officers do whatever he wants, including a Saturday Night Fever-esque disco pose. If you think it feels like the perfect segue into a dance number, you'd be right. Director Paul Feig spent two days and somewhere in the vicinity of seven figures shooting an entire dance number with Hemsworth and extras to the Bee Gees' "You Should Be Dancing." The scene turns Times Square into a "giant discotheque," Feig told Vulture, but it was ultimately cut.

"It was stopping the flow for the audience," Feig recalled, "because even though they really loved it, they were having trouble coming back out of it. It was making the rhythm a little too goofy, in a weird way, and it was hurting our story a little bit ... but it was Chris Hemsworth doing this amazing dance sequence!" Rather than completely scrap the footage, Feig re-edited it and used it during the film's credits, so audiences would still get to see Hemsworth busting a move.

Superman returns to Krypton in Superman Returns

Before DC decided to reboot the Superman franchise yet again in 2013 with Zack Snyder at the helm, Bryan Singer's 2006 entry starring Brandon Routh as the caped superhero flew into movie theaters with fairly mixed reviews. Superman Returns also nearly arrived with a completely different opening sequence.

While the basic plot of the film deals with Superman's return to Earth after a five-year absence, Singer shot a wordless, visually stunning five-minute opening sequence with Routh's Kal-El returning to Krypton. The scene, which cost an estimated $10 million, feels like something closer to Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey than a slick superhero film. It's slow and contemplative rather than bombastic, and perhaps this is why producers ultimately had Singer cut it. The scene was finally released as an extra on the 2011 Superman Anthology Blu-ray set, further dividing critics and fans on the one-off superhero flick.

The pie fight from Dr. Strangelove

At the end of Dr. Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, the U.S. dispatches a group of B-52s to drop H-bombs on the Soviet Union, but winds up abandoning the plan at the last minute. Unfortunately, one plane manages to drop its bombs, which triggers a nuclear chain reaction to the elegant strains of "We'll Meet Again." However, director Stanley Kubrick envisioned a much different and messier ending to his 1964 satirical masterpiece. In an effort to show the complete absurdity of war, Kubrick filmed a giant pie fight between his principal cast in the War Room in just one take due to the mess and the expense of shooting. Editor Anthony Harvey recalled, "It devolved into a kind of silent Mack Sennett sort of thing, with everybody getting hit by custard pies."

After a test screening on the day of John F. Kennedy's assassination, Kubrick agreed, "it was too farcical and not consistent with the satiric tone of the rest of the film" and cut the scene for both creative and political reasons. Though it's unknown if the actual footage still exists, still photos of the scene are included in the DVD extras.

Movie theater shooting scene from Gangster Squad

The 1940s mob movie starring Sean Penn, Ryan Gosling, Josh Brolin, and Emma Stone once featured a key scene set at Grauman's in Los Angeles during which a pack of gangsters open fire on the audience, causing the theater to erupt in mayhem. The film was set to be released in early September of 2012, but tragedy struck. That July in Aurora, CO, a deranged gunman opened fire on a theater full of moviegoers at a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises, killing 12 people and injuring 70 more. Warner Bros., the studio behind both The Dark Knight Rises and Gangster Squad, immediately pulled the latter's trailer from theaters and pushed back its release date in order to allow for extensive rewrites and reshoots.

Released in early 2013, Gangster Squad featured an all-new ending, and director Ruben Fleischer had no problem with it, telling IndieWire during a press conference, "We felt it necessary to reshoot that sequence, and I'm proud of the fact that we did. I think that we didn't compromise the film or our intent, and I think the [newly shot] Chinatown sequence is really well done, and that we should all respect the tragedy and not draw associations to our film."

Eric Stoltz's scenes from Back to the Future

As most Back to the Future fans know, Eric Stoltz was originally cast as Marty McFly, the puffy vest-wearing teenager sent back to 1955 in a souped-up DeLorean. Director Robert Zemeckis initially wanted to hire Michael J. Fox, but his Family Ties shooting schedule was too demanding at the time, and hired Stoltz instead. Five weeks into filming, Zemeckis and Steven Spielberg knew they needed to replace Stoltz.

In an excerpt of a book on the making of the film called We Don't Need Roads: The Making of the Back to the Future Trilogy (via Vulture), co-star Lea Thompson remarked, "Eric had such an intensity. He saw drama in things. He wasn't really a comedian, and they needed a comedian. He's super-funny in real life, but he didn't approach his work like that, and they really needed somebody who had those chops." Zemeckis and Spielberg quickly negotiated with Universal to replace Stoltz with Fox, adding a reported $3 million to the film's budget and extra time onto its shooting schedule. Soon Fox was on set at the Twin Pines Mall shooting with Christopher Lloyd, and the rest is history.

Aside from a few clips included in "Making of" featurettes on DVD and an assortment of set photos, Stoltz's take on Marty McFly remains largely under wraps to the public, though fans have shown interest in its release over the years. If we've learned anything from Marty and Doc Brown, it's that sometimes going back in time isn't all it's cracked up to be.