It’s going on 11 years since I Am Legend sunk its fangs into the global box office, collecting more than $580 million worldwide and scores of mixed reviews.
Because make no mistake, Francis Lawrence’s rendition of the Richard Matheson literary classic, one that had been adapted for Hollywood twice before in The Last Man on Earth and The Omega Man, split audiences right down the middle, even resulting in an alternate ending being filmed at the 11th hour.
For the record, it’s one in which Neville (Will Smith) allows Ben Cortman and his flock of vampires to leave unharmed. No grenades. No silly tricks. Just a silent handshake between two species.
History tells us that Warner Bros. decided to shelve the pacifist ending, but it turns out the studio was still pretty keen on launching a sequel to I Am Legend, as Lawrence recalled on a recent episode of Happy Sad Confused (h/t Screen Rant).
Warners was really, really, REALLY into coming up with something, and I just didn’t know how to do it… I saw very quickly after the movie came out, and I went ‘People came to see the last man on earth. We’ve done the last man on earth, he died at the end of the movie, we can’t do it again.’ But people weren’t in love with him as a character. It’s not Indiana Jones, like this kind of iconic character that you just want to see again and again and again.
The director continued by saying that every pitch was inherently “dumb” because they involved resurrecting a character who, frankly, wasn’t all that memorable to begin with.
And it just felt forced to do a prequel, and that was basically, we would have been doing Contagion. And to do something that’s a follow-up either doesn’t have him in it, or you have to do something really dumb, which is, you know, ‘Scientists have taken his DNA and reanimated him somehow!’ And that would have been really dumb, and so I just kind of bowed out.
And that’s not the only point of contention for Lawrence, who recently expressed his own regrets about I Am Legend‘s ending – an ending he considers to be a missed opportunity.
Source: Happy Sad Confused