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The Surprising Way Steven Spielberg Changed Paranormal Activity Forever

The hit 2007 horror movie "Paranormal Activity" focuses on a woman named Katie (Katie Featherston), whose most notable traits are having a fondness for crafts and being terrorized by a demonic entity throughout most of her life. Her boyfriend, Micah (Micah Sloat), is eager to film the haunting and decides to repeatedly provoke the supernatural force. By the end of the film, the demon is over Micah's shenanigans and fully possesses Katie, leading to a shocking finale. In the final scene, the protagonist bolts upright from her bed and watches her boyfriend as he sleeps. After a few hours, she exits the bedroom and proceeds to make alarming noises, waking Micah, who runs after her. 

A bloodied Kate then reappears on screen and throws her boyfriend's lifeless body with ease, before moving unnaturally towards the camera and giving the audience a menacing smile. After the film ends, a title card appears, letting viewers know that "Micah's body was discovered by police" and Katie is missing. The 2007 indie horror film spawned a major movie franchise, which is now getting a new sequel in 2021 after six years. With an 83% on Rotten Tomatoes and a profit of over $193 million worldwide at the box office (via Box Office Mojo), "Paranormal Activity" was a surprise hit, with many in awe of the filmmaking choices — and in particular, the ending. Well, according to Entertainment Weekly, fans of the film can thank Steven Spielberg for the final sequence.

Director Oren Peli revealed that Spielberg requested he change the ending

During a November 2017 appearance on the "Post Mortem with Mick Garris" podcast, as reported by EW, the movie's director, Oren Peli, stated that once he finished the post-production of his low-budget film, he submitted it to the Screamfest Horror Film Festival. Following the screening, he received a call from the highly successful talent agency called Creative Artists Agency, which he deemed to be a "turning point" for the film. During the interview, Garris noted that Peli was then informed that "Dreamworks, Steven Spielberg's company, want[ed] to take ['Paranormal Activity'] and distribute through Paramount." But this came with one condition — the production company requested Peli make changes to the end of the film. 

Spielberg reportedly found the film's original final moments, which involve police officers arriving at Katie's house, to be lackluster. While Peli was hesitant about making changes to "Paranormal Activity," he managed to come up with the theatrical ending that Paramount found suitable. However, Peli asserted that he would have been happier with his original idea "where the cops enter and end up shooting Katie." He explained during the podcast that having to make edits to his film was "not the greatest feeling." "I tried to fight for my ending, but at the end of the day, the movie did work as a whole with the new ending ... Still prefer my ending, but I'm totally okay with the new ending," explained the director. As the film went on to find extreme success with many sequels, it's possible that Peli made the right call.