The Original Ending Of Pretty Woman Explained (And Why It Changed)

Pretty Woman is a well-known movie, starring Richard Gere and Julia Roberts. However, the original script had a not-so-happy ending.

Richard Gere and Julia Roberts looking at each other at the races in Pretty Woman

Famously starring Julia Roberts and Richard Gere, ’90s rom-com Pretty Woman‘s Pygmalion-inspired plot is widely known, but the original script’s ending isn’t. In the film, Roberts portrays sex worker Vivian Ward, who is hired by businessman Edward Lewis (Gere) to accompany him to various work meetings and posing as his girlfriend.

Their two worlds collide and slowly, romantic feelings develop and their relationship becomes more than just a business transaction. Pretty Woman may have a familiar plot, but Roberts and Gere’s captivating chemistry is full of authentic emotion, and the film offers up different viewpoints to an otherwise pre-judged lifestyle.

Pretty Woman grossed $11 million at the box office in its first weekend (via Box Office Mojo). However, it wasn’t just the money indicating its success. The film was nominated for numerous awards, including a Golden Globe win for Roberts, and Pretty Woman is easily considered Disney’s best rom-com.

Director Garry Marshall led the movie to instant triumph, later going on to direct Roberts and Gere in the less successful Runaway Bride (1999). But as with many movies, Pretty Woman went through major script rewrites, and the original ending was much different than what made it to the big screen.

The Original Pretty Woman Ending Was Much Darker

Julia Roberts and Richard Gere in Pretty Woman

In typical Disney fashion, Pretty Woman had a happily-ever-after ending, with Edward finding Vivian at her apartment, and the pair embracing. However, this is a stark contrast to the original script, which was titled “3000”. As discussed in the Netflix docuseries The Movies That Made Us, Edward throws Vivian out on the street with $3,000.

Gathering the money, she decides to take her friend Kit (Laura San Giacomo) to Disneyland. Kit explains she would like to buy a balloon with ears but says that’s silly, and Vivian responds as a true friend and tells her she should get a balloon.

Pretty Woman‘s original story was incredibly dark, and even if the core of the film remained as it is today, but with the alternate ending, it would’ve changed the whole outlook of the movie. Audiences are left with a feel-good conclusion, that even gives food for thought about how people are perceived because of the way they live.

The original would have shattered any hopeful feeling that had been conjured by the narrative. As a Disney movie, such a dramatic end (despite Vivian taking Kit to Disneyland) would have been wholly unexpected, and arguably off-putting for a hopeful rom-com audience.

Different Casting Would’ve Changed Pretty Woman

As well as a swap in the narrative, different casting choices would’ve changed the movie. Several other actors were considered to play Vivian and Edward, and Roberts was far from Disney’s first choice, as she was essentially an unknown at that point in her career.

But after a number of more famous actresses turned the part down, Roberts was cast. She in turn persuaded Gere to work on the movie by pleading with him on a Post-It note (via Cinema Blend), and the rest is history. The duo embodied their parts perfectly, bringing subtlety, humor, and romance to the screen.

Had other actors been cast, they could have easily taken the film in another direction. If Al Pacino, who was offered the role, had taken it, Edward may have become more threatening or serious, based on Pacino’s catalog of work.

And if the chemistry had been missing between the two leads, the narrative wouldn’t have made sense and would have lacked authenticity.

The rom-com genre suits both Gere and Roberts’ style of acting, which enabled them to hit on every beat together. Thankfully, Disney made all the right choices, and new rom-com fans can discover Pretty Woman online through streaming.