The original draft of ‘Groundhog Day’ had a shocking twist ending

A movie screen at a drive-in movie theater in Las Vegas advertises a showing of “Groundhog Day” in 2021. The film’s screenwriter has said the movie originally had a twist ending that didn’t end up in the finished film. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

(NEXSTAR) – Just like its protagonist, the 1993 film “Groundhog Day” was noticeably more miserable in its earlier iterations.

The film was always intended to be a “whimsical” picture, according to screenwriter Danny Rubin. But the first draft of the script wasn’t as much of a conventional comedy, seeing as weatherman Phil Connors (played by Bill Murray in the finished film) was already stuck in a time loop as the movie begins — and understandably depressed about it.

“It didn’t emphasize the same kind of set up that a romantic comedy has … the same level of sentimentality,” Rubin once told The Wrap about his initial screenplay. He also credited director Harold Ramis with softening the edges, and bringing “a certain warmth to it where I was a little snide or arrogant in the way I presented it.”

Perhaps the biggest change to Rubin’s original draft, however, was the removal of a twist ending that, on paper, feels much eerier than what ended up on screen. (Warning: Spoilers ahead.)

In the version that made it to theaters, Phil is forced to relive the same day — Groundhog Day — over on a seemingly endless loop, waking up each morning (and even after several suicide attempts) in his room at a bed-and-breakfast in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. After being stuck in the time loop for decades, Phil learns he has fallen in love with his producer Rita (Andie MacDowell) and confesses his feelings. The next morning, Phil wakes to find Rita in bed next to him on Feb. 3, the curse apparently broken.

According to Rubin this is where his original twist would have been revealed.

“At the very end, [Phil] wakes up with Rita … and then a second later, Rita is out of there. She can’t wait to leave. And it turns out that she’s been reliving February 3 over and over again,” Rubin revealed at a post-screening Q&A in 2012.

Up until this point in the original draft, Phil had also been narrating the events of his endless “day” via voiceover (another element that was ultimately nixed from Rubin’s screenplay). But in the final moments, the voiceover would be heard from Rita’s point of view, and she would be explaining how she’s not quite ready to reciprocate Phil’s feelings, Rubin explained in “How To Write Groundhog Day,” released in 2012.

“I think it would have been great,” Rubin said of his original ending during the post-screening Q&A. “But we don’t know. And we’ll never know. And this movie did [become great], and that’s OK by me.”


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