The Departed alternative ending would've ruined the movie
Director Martin Scorsese revealed that the producers had something very different in mind for The Departed finale.
If you haven't seen The Departed, we're going to be spoiling the ending to it in the coming paragraphs, so maybe head off and check out the movie that finally won Martin Scorsese the Best Director Oscar before reading on.
Still here? Okay, on we go. At the end of the movie, undercover cop Billy Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio) is shot dead right after he has arrested undercover mob enforcer Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon), only for Sullivan to then be shot dead by Costigan's colleague Sean Dignam (Mark Wahlberg).
So, effectively, both of the movie's leads were killed off by the end credits, an ending where the test screening had everyone - the audience, the filmmakers - walking out ecstatic. Everyone except the movie's producers. In a recent interview with GQ, Scorsese revealed the following:
"What they wanted was a franchise. It wasn’t about a moral issue of a person living or dying. [The] studio guys walked out and they were very sad, because they just didn’t want that movie. They wanted the franchise. Which means: I can’t work here anymore."
Warner Bros. apparently wanted either DiCaprio or Damon to survive so they could continue the story in a sequel or a number of sequels, but Scorsese stuck with his guns and we got the ending he wanted. Of course it paid off, with the movie making over $290 million worldwide and winning four Oscars, including Best Picture.
As late as 2016, a full ten years after the first movie, there was still talk of trying to get a sequel to work, rumoured to be centred around Wahlberg's character, but producer Roy Lee finally put that idea to bed in an interview with Collider, where he revealed William Monahan, the screenwriter for the original, "came up with an amazing idea to make it work, but it would be so expensive and Scorsese didn’t want to do a sequel."
The Departed is currently available to rent at home on Rakuten TV and Apple TV.
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