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Battleship's Alternate Ending Would Have Had a Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid Moment

Battleship's alien showdown ending almost played out rather differently. 

By Matthew Jackson
A ship explodes in water in Battleship (2012).

Though we don't see them quite so much anymore, alternate endings used to be a huge part of the special features of your favorite blockbuster. Whether the changes were drastic or subtle, it seemed there was always some potential tweak that got left on the cutting room floor, or proved too ambitious to be shot in the first place, and that's also true of Battleship, Peter Berg's 2012 action film based on the classic board game of the same name (catch it airing this month on SYFY).

Though the film –– which made the board game's battle of two fleets a showdown between human and alien navies –– didn't perform very well upon its initial release more than a decade ago, time has been kind to Berg's movie, which starred a young cast led by Taylor Kitsch, Rihanna, and Brooklyn Decker. The film is now something of a cult classic, a film celebrated for its over-the-top tone, sense of fun, and devotion to propelling its plot forward with pure explosive adventure. That feeling extends to the ending, which of course sets up a final showdown between our intrepid naval heroes and the alien mothership floating out in the ocean. But as one special feature revealed, it almost played out rather differently. 

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How Is Battleship's Alternate Ending Different from the Original?

Screen ShaLieutenant Colonel Mick Canales (Gregory D. Gadson) wrestles a mechanical alien arm in Battleship (2012).

In both the original and the alternate ending, commanding officer Hopper (Kitsch) and his crew commandeer the U.S.S. Missouri, a decommissioned battleship, and sail out to battle the alien mothership in a last-ditch effort to stop an invasion of Earth, while Hopper's girlfriend Sam (Decker) and a small group of friends try to stop the aliens' use of a communications array on the island of Oahu nearby. There's a dual threat here, in that the mothership is of course an immediate threat, but if the aliens have their way, the communications array will be used to signal their home planet for even more ships. 

In the theatrical ending of the film, with their ship on its last legs, Hopper and his crew take the Missouri's final remaining shell to its last operable gun turret, and choose to fire on the communications array, knowing that they probably won't survive a mothership counterattack. Of course, at the last minute U.S. Navy fighters swoop in and stop the mothership, winning the whole battle. 

In the alternate ending, as you can see below, the same stakes are apparent, but this time Hopper and his rival, Japanese naval officer Nagata (Tadanobu Asano), use a pair of small boats to distract the mothership long enough to get the Missouri into position. In his introduction to the alternate ending previz reel, which you can also see in the video below, Berg explains that it was his attempt to have the two officers "play Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," enacting one last daring mission while facing down death and defeat. The end result is the same, but it doesn't quite have the same tension as the last-ditch effort to use one final shell to shut down the alien's communications. 

Check out Battleship's Alternate Ending

So, why wasn't the ending used? According to Berg, the biggest reason was quite simple.

"We thought about using this ending," Berg said. "For a variety of reasons, one being it was really expensive, we decided to go with the ending that you see in the film. I actually think that the ending we've got is a better ending."

So, Battleship ends with a group of sailors making what they think is a suicide run to cut off the aliens' communication, only to find out that backup has finally arrived and they all get to live happily ever after. Either ending would have worked in the context of the film, but Berg is probably right: The theatrical ending has a little more of a punch to it. 

Battleship is now airing on SYFY. Check the schedule for the next broadcast, or stream it with the SYFY app right now.

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