Fans are just finding out about the original Pretty Woman ending, and it is mind-blowing

Pretty Woman could have been a very, very different movie

Pretty Woman's original ending really changes the whole film
(Image credit: Buena Vista/Getty Images)

The original treatment for Pretty Woman would’ve been a big mistake. Big. Huge.

The superstar had a rom-com break – much to our dismay – but she made her triumphant return alongside George Clooney last year. 

However, she might never have got started in romcoms at all if Pretty Woman turned out the way it was originally planned.

Pretty Woman almost didnt star Julia Roberts and Richard Gere, or have a happy ending

(Image credit: Buena Vista/Getty Images)

As we’re all familiar with, Pretty Woman ends with Richard Gere rescuing Julia’s Vivian from her life of prostitution, turning up in a limo and blasting their special opera song. Vivian then promises to “rescue him right back.”

Cue happy ending, cue tears.

However, Pretty Woman was originally slated to be a gritty, dark drama with an ending that we’d all need rescuing from.

The original plans for the movie have resurfaced as fans discover older interviews starring Julia, including her Actors on Actors chat with Patricia Arquette.

In the interview and details shared in other reports, it’s revealed that Pretty Woman was originally meant to be called 3000 - a reference to the amount of money Richard Gere’s character paid Vivian to be his escort for the week.

Instead of the Cinderella story that hit theaters in 1990 – becoming an instant classic and cementing Julia Roberts as a Hollywood star - screenwriter J.F. Lawton had conceived the story in the late 1980s as a dark, depressing drama centering on the dangers facing Hollywood sex workers at the time.

Instead of Richard Gere’s character’s swoon-worthy climb from his limousine to "rescue" Vivian from her fire escape, Julia explains that the film ended with her being thrown "out of the car, [he] threw the money on top of her, as memory serves, and just drove away, leaving her in some dirty alley."

The original ending left viewers with a final shot of Vivian on a bus with best friend and fellow prostitute Kit De Luca headed to Disneyland as she "stares out emptily ahead."

Julia Roberts being cast by Garry Marshall helped them reimagine Pretty Woman together

(Image credit: Buena Vista/Getty Images)

So how was the romcom rescued and turned into the beloved classic?

This small movie company who originally owned the rights to the film ended up going broke.

In the interview, Julia jokes “it folded over the weekend, and by Monday, I didn’t have a job.”

Garry Marshall, fresh from his win with Bette Midler’s Beaches, was tapped in to save the movie, but he didn’t necessarily have Julia Roberts in mind for the cast.

Screenwriter J.F. Lawton once told Vanity Fair, "They had auditioned Al Pacino, they had auditioned Michelle Pfeiffer, and it would definitely have been a different movie if had it been Al Pacino and Michelle Pfeiffer,” he told Vanity Fair. "It might have been closer to the original script and maybe not have had a happy ending."

"But the chemistry between Julia and Gere, it is palpable on the screen, it was palpable in auditions. You can’t really see how it could end any other way, because they just light up with each other."

The rest, as they say, is pop culture history. 

Julia Roberts went on to receive an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress and the movie is one of the most enduring romcoms of all time.

Jack Slater
Freelance writer

Jack Slater is not the Last Action Hero, but that's what comes up first when you Google him. Preferring a much more sedentary life, Jack gets his thrills by covering news, entertainment, celebrity, film and culture for woman&home, and other digital publications.

Having written for various print and online publications—ranging from national syndicates to niche magazines—Jack has written about nearly everything there is to write about, covering LGBTQ+ news, celebrity features, TV and film scoops, reviewing the latest theatre shows lighting up London’s West End and the most pressing of SEO based stories.