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Lost Alternate Ending Of ‘The Shining’ Revealed In Recently Unearthed Script Pages

The Shining Image (1980)

The world of cinema has not been the same since Stanley Kubrick died in March 1999, several months before the theatrical release of what turned out to be his final film, Eyes Wide Shut. There is no denying that Kubrick’s passing left many a devoted follower of his work in total shock, but the legacy of classic films the director left behind helped them to deal with the loss very well.

One of Kubrick’s most popular movies was his 1980 Stephen King adaptation The Shining and since its release more than three decades ago, the film has been widely hailed as one of the greatest horror movies of all time. It has inspired countless parodies, most memorably being the segment “The Shinning” in the “Treehouse of Horror V” episode of The Simpsons, and documentaries devoted to playfully deconstructing the minutiae of the director’s meticulously crafted vision of terror and isolation in a snowbound Colorado hotel. The box office success of The Shining cemented Kubrick’s reputation as a master filmmaker who could work in practically any genre with amazing results and further established lead actor Jack Nicholson as one of the most unconventional and watchable movie stars in show business and worth every dollar of his generous salary.

Kubrick was known for being a great perfectionist when it came to his movies and scenes cut from those films for any reason whatsoever have either been lost probably for all time or discovered but not permitted to be released on any home video format. The legendary deleted pie fight scene from Dr. Strangelove exists today only in the form of a few scattered production stills, while recently unearthed cut footage from 2001: A Space Odyssey has yet to be seen by the general public. In one of the rarest instances of a film being reedited even after it has been released to theaters, Kubrick sent out assistants to trim an epilogue in the last minutes of The Shining from the final print while it was playing in limited release in New York and Los Angeles the week after it had already opened. Though the footage is reported to see exist somewhere in the vaults at Warner Bros., rumors have persisted for years that it would see the light of day in either a theatrical re-release of the movie or as a DVD/Blu-ray bonus feature. So far neither has come to pass.

Lee Unkrich, an editor and director at Pixar whose credits include all three Toy Story movies, is a huge fan of The Shining and even has his own website devoted to all things related to the movie called The Overlook Hotel. Recently Unkrich posted four pages from the screenplay Kubrick co-wrote with Diane Johnson that is in all likelihood the closest we will ever come to seeing that lost ending unless Warner Bros. and the director’s estate decide to unearth and restore the footage for all fans of The Shining and the rest of Kubrick’s filmography to finally see.

You can check out one of those pages here below.

This scene was meant to take place between the escape of Wendy Torrance (Shelley Duvall) and her son Danny (Danny Lloyd) from the homicidal clutches of her deranged husband Jack, played by Nicholson, and the Overlook Hotel and the final images showing a young Jack in a photograph taken on July 4, 1921 at the hotel. After their escape, the scene cuts to a hospital where Wendy is recovering from his horrific ordeal. Stuart Ullman, Jack’s boss at the Overlook (played by the late Barry Nelson, the first actor to play James Bond – Wikipedia it), visits her in her room to see how she is recuperating and to invite her and Danny to spend some time at his home in Los Angeles. He then departs but not before giving Danny a green tennis ball. In the scene it is revealed that the police checked the entire grounds of the Overlook and could not find Jack’s body, which creates more questions than it actually answers.

The Shining

Film critic Roger Ebert voiced his approval of Kubrick’s decision to remove the epilogue from the final film in a June 2006 article for the Chicago Sun-Times:

If Jack did indeed freeze to death in the labyrinth, of course his body was found-and sooner rather than later, since Dick Hallorann alerted the forest rangers to serious trouble at the hotel. If Jack’s body was not found, what happened to it? Was it never there? Was it absorbed into the past and does that explain Jack’s presence in that final photograph of a group of hotel party-goers in 1921? Did Jack’s violent pursuit of his wife and child exist entirely in Wendy’s imagination, or Danny’s, or theirs?… Kubrick was wise to remove that epilogue. It pulled one rug too many out from under the story. At some level, it is necessary for us to believe the three members of the Torrance family are actually residents in the hotel during that winter, whatever happens or whatever they think happens.

Ebert makes a strong point. The epilogue was simply one beat too many and Kubrick was completely justified in cutting it out of The Shining. Hopefully one day we will see the deleted scene in all its glory and the rest of us can decide for ourselves if the late, great filmmaker made the right call. In the meantime, we can read these script pages and wonder.

To view the rest of the alternate ending script pages head over to Unkrich’s page.

As a bonus here are a set of rare continuity Polaroids from the filming of the deleted epilogue. Click on the image below for a better look.

The Shining

[Source: io9]


  1. My father handled and has seen the uncut version… it is probably still out there

    Comment by Heather — February 8, 2014 @ 12:49 am

  2. Ebert was a twat who just liked to hear himself talk. What question does his body being missing raise? Or does it now make sense that that’s the reason the picture is on the wall – that Jack belonged there and is now back home…

    Comment by Jeff Rittenour — February 13, 2014 @ 10:08 pm

  3. The only problem being that at that point in time Ebert could no longer physically speak.

    Comment by Me — April 21, 2014 @ 4:24 pm

  4. I hope the removed footage got saved. According to what I’ve read, it was sent back to the studio. I have a hard time believing it was destroyed since Kubrick was already a very prominent director at this point. Its very likely on a shelf somewhere. The Kubrick family no doubt have a print of it, I mean let’s face it.

    Comment by RyanTee82 — September 8, 2014 @ 2:09 am

  5. I saw the movie the day it opened at the Cinema 46 in Totowa, NJ, so I got to see the infamous scene and remember it well. It is definitely unusual to cut a scene from prints as it is still playing in theaters-it’s hard to imagine that happening today. I would think that the scene does exist-certainly some of those excised film strips were saved somewhere.

    Comment by Brian de Castro — December 22, 2014 @ 2:12 am

  6. I may not agree with Ebert all the time but he was pretty good writer and I would say a very good critic.

    Comment by Inn Settle — January 9, 2016 @ 7:21 am

  7. Did this change your enjoyment/perception of the movie at all?

    Comment by Inn Settle — January 9, 2016 @ 7:21 am

  8. That’s hard to say since the only perception I had at the time was seeing it with that scene included. When I saw it again years later, I guess it felt like something was missing. So I would like to see it back in. The movie is great regardless, and I don’t think that particular scene affects the movie overall either way. But you just never forget your first!

    Comment by Brian de Castro — January 11, 2016 @ 7:05 pm

  9. I can confirm for a fact that the story about the scene in “The Shining” is true. I was the guy who ran around to all of the theatres in the New York area cutting the scene out. One of the great stories of my life: being woken up by a mutual friend of mine and Kubrick’s early on a Saturday morning. It was the day after the film had opened. My friend said that Stanley Kubrick was going to be calling me in a 1/2 hour. I cursed my friend repeatedly, thinking this was his excuse for waking me way too early on a Saturday morning. Kubrick called 1/2 hour later. The rest, is a not too well known history, though I do get a lot of mileage on the story. Kubrick spent some time explaining to me why he wanted to remove the scene and gave me very detailed instructions on what exact frames to cut on. In those days, sound and picture were physically married but the sound was 1 1/2 feet ahead of the picture so he had very carefully worked out what frames the cut would actually work on.

    Comment by Jay Friedkin — February 13, 2016 @ 8:25 pm

  10. Heather, I was wondering who your father is. I was the guy who ran around to all of the theatres in the NY area to cut the scene out.

    Comment by Jay Friedkin — February 13, 2016 @ 8:27 pm

  11. I saw that scene! Saw the movie as soon as it was released, then again a few weeks later, with a different ending. No one believes me that there was an “original”, alternate ending. Now I know I wasn’t crazy.

    Comment by Laura Beth Gerhard — February 19, 2016 @ 6:44 pm

  12. well at least about ;•)

    Comment by Jay Friedkin — February 22, 2016 @ 12:15 pm

  13. So true….

    Comment by Laura Beth Gerhard — February 23, 2016 @ 7:22 pm

  14. Not sure this scene actually meant there were no bodies? Doesn’t actually say that- maybe it was a just a reference to the more supernatural elements eg the blood from the elevator

    Comment by velcro — December 11, 2016 @ 10:31 am

  15. Jay, what did you do with the excised footage? How many theaters did you have to visit in NY?
    Surely, some of the physically cut footage was preserved by someone who was charged by Kubrick in NY or LA to execute his wishes. I believe SK’s will should be honored and the footage never restored to the film, but it should be available to film historians and critics, just as early drafts of literature by significant writers is preserved and studied, for insight into the creative process.

    Comment by Jeff Kiddin — March 31, 2017 @ 5:04 pm

  16. This happened before the wide release. I remember saying 6 theatres for so long but can only specifically remember 2 in Manhattan, 1 on Long Island, one in New Jersey but… I handed over the physical film to Warner Brothers and have no idea what happened to it. They would have cut it out of the printing negatives before it went to wide release. I have no idea who did the extracting in Los Angeles area.

    Comment by Jay Friedkin — March 31, 2017 @ 5:46 pm

  17. Thanks for sharing your experience so openly. It follows that SK and WB would have wanted the cut footage returned to their possession.

    As time goes on, any footage shot by SK gains more and more in value to film critics, historians and theorists. Perhaps his estate will one day make more such material available to them.

    Comment by Jeff Kiddin — March 31, 2017 @ 7:06 pm

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