One problem when one of your favorite books get adapted into a movie is that you already know how it’s going to end. Another problem is that 99% of the time, the book was better, but it’s always hard to cram the complexities of a novel into a 2-hour acted-out narrative. David Fincher and Gillian Flynn have circumvented the first problem by changing the ending of Gone Girl for the big screen. How much did they change?
First of all, the ending rewrite was done by the book’s author, Gillian Flynn, so there should be no worries that the original creator would be dissatisfied. That’s quite a thing to ask an author, but Flynn found the task exhilarating. “There was something thrilling about taking this piece of work that I’d spent about two years painstakingly putting together with all its eight million LEGO pieces and take a hammer to it and bash it apart and reassemble it into a movie,” she said of the rewrite.
“Ben [Affleck] was so shocked by it,” Flynn told Entertainment Weeky “He would say, ‘This is a whole new third act! She literally threw that third act out and started from scratch.'”
Once reason why they decided to change up the ending was that director David Fincher felt that his 2011 adaptation of the international bestseller Girl With the Dragon Tattoo was “too beholden to the source material.”
In a Reddit AMA, Flynn went back on some of the hyperbolic language she used in the EW interview, saying that the changes are incredibly dramatic.
Those reports have been greatly exaggerated! Of course, the script has to be different from the book in some ways—you have to find a way to externalize all those internal thoughts and you have to do more with less room and you just don’t have room for everything. But the mood, tone and spirit of the book are very much intact. I’ve been very involved in the film and loved it. Working with David Fincher is pretty much the best place to start for a screenwriter. Screenwriting definitely works different parts of your brain than writing a novel. I do love that with novels, you can really sprawl out–it feels quite decadent. With screenwriting, you have to justify every choice. It’s a nice discipline, but definitely not decadent.
Gone Girl starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike hits theaters Oct. 3.