We’ve all seem movies or read books with bad endings. I still haven’t forgiven Lionsgate for the original Saw. Great movie, no ending. Don’t even get me started on Hannibal. Thomas Harris wrote a great book, but they ruined the ending for moviegoing audiences.
I’ve just heard that they re-filmed that last 4o minutes of World War Z after it got bad reviews from test audiences. Is this really how Hollywood does things? They take a book that people enjoyed, and make it into a movie because they have a built-in audience, but change the ending because now, suddenly, people didn’t like it?
Sometimes we have to take risks. As authors (and presumably readers), we know what feels right as far as endings. I’ve read books and watched movies that seemed to have discordant endings at first, but on further reflection, were just right. I love it when I have to think it through.
That being said, I don’t want to have to think about things when I’m reading or watching things I consider “junk food” for the brain. I love romance novels, but they’re not exactly cerebral, and I don’t want them to be. If I’m reading a romance novel, it’s because I want a sexy, strong hero, a stubborn, strong woman, and a happily ever after ending. If I’m reading a horror novel or watching a horror movie, I don’t mind as everyone dies, as long as it fits. And my biggest pet peeve is that I want it to end! Not everything has to be tied up neatly for me, but the ending has to feel purposeful, not lazy, and not as if they’re gratuitously leaving it open-ended so that it it’s popular, there can be a sequel.
Personally, I think endings are just about the most important part of the book/ movie. Because if I dislike the ending, even if I loved every other bit of the story, I write off the whole thing.