Bill & Ted Face the Music Almost Had a Way Different Ending + a Role for Santa Claus
WARNING: This post contains spoilers for Bill & Ted Face the Music. The movie has been out for almost three weeks already. If you haven’t seen it yet, I assume you don’t want to.
I don’t know why, but the Bill & Ted movies always seem to have issues with their endings. I don’t mean the endings suck — I mean the endings seems to narrowly avoid sucking thanks to re-shoots. Excellent Adventure originally ended in a class room, not the school auditorium, which would have felt much less triumphant; meanwhile, Bogus Journey brought back the characters Bill & Ted are forced to face in Hell (the Easter Bunny, Bill grandma, and the military school drill sergeant) for a final confrontation that would have been overkill. It was a smart choice, in both instances, to re-think the movie’s conclusion.
Did Bill & Ted Face the Music, the recently released, long anticipated third entry in the franchise suffer from the problem? Not quite… but in a new interview with The Collider Podcast, co-screenwriter Ed Solomon — who, along with Chris Matheson, has written all three B&T flicks — reveals that they almost ran into the same exact issue:
“Our first draft that we wrote in 2010, the ending of the movie was really small. We had a scene at the beginning where 20 years ago they had put $100,000 down to rent the Rose Bowl for their triumphant 20th Reunion Tour, and when we meet them in the movie when it opens they have sold literally zero tickets. We had a scene where they went to negotiate with the guy to try and get their money back and the guy was like, ‘No, you’re stuck’. The whole movie was moving towards this ending, and the guys were thinking, ‘Well obviously it must be at the Rose Bowl. Obviously we’re gonna fill the Rose Bowl with this triumphant song, we just don’t know how.’ And the whole movie happens like it happens [in Face the Music], they go into the future, their lives get worse and worse, and they arrive at the Rose Bowl and it’s empty. There’s no instruments there. It didn’t happen. They failed. And they go home and they sit down in their living room, and you’re like one minute from the end of the movie. And they realize they failed, they feel like they failed, and then they hear music coming from the other room and they walk in and they look and see their kids and they realize it was never them, and the movie’s over.”
Solomon says that, fortunately, co-stars Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter shot the idea down:
“That was the first ending that we had, and Alex and Keanu were, I think correctly, like, ‘Uh, that’s sort of a bummer’ (laughs). We’ve had this experience on the first two Bill and Ted movies, where I thought a smaller ending [would be better]. In Excellent Adventure the movie ended in the classroom, [with Bill and Ted bringing the historical figures in]… We went in and we reshot with the rock concert-y ending, and we rewrote the ending scene to make it bigger and more triumphant. And then we had to reshoot the ending of Bogus Journey as well, so we thought, ‘Alright, here at the end of Face the Music, are we gonna walk into this knowing we’re gonna have to reshoot it or are we actually gonna make it bigger and better?’ So we did.”
Solomon also revealed one totally bizarro ending which was nixed after a single draft, and involved… Santa Claus.
“We had a version that I really loved that did not last very long, it lasted for one draft. Bill and Ted had to get instruments to everyone in the world throughout all space and time in one evening, and they were like, ‘How are we gonna possibly do that? We have no way to do that!’ and they say, ‘Well we can’t, but there’s one man who can,’ and then we cut to, ‘Ho ho ho!’ and a sleigh, and it was Bill and Ted and the Princesses on Santa’s sleigh using Santa magic because Santa can go around the world in one night. They were actually going down chimneys and they were having a great time, and it was this crazy montage that we had written. That did not last. I thought because the antecedents to this movie were A Christmas Carol and It’s a Wonderful Life, so maybe it’s a Christmas movie and we have Santa at the end? I think Alex Winter liked it briefly, but I don’t think anyone else thought it was a good idea, then we ended up scrapping that.”
Part of me is like, “Why not? They had the Easter Bunny in Bogus Journey.” But a bigger part of me is glad the filmmakers eventually figured out that the dudes and the Princesses could deliver instruments to people via their magic phone booth (which is what happens in the finished film).
Also interesting: Solomon says they had to scrap planned reshoots because of the pandemic.
“Once the third act was edited, we were gonna see what we needed and add in a few things to add more context to it, and have a wrap-up for the characters. We had all this planned and written, but with COVID we were unable to do any of that so we had to work editorially to get what we were hoping to get from a narrative level.”
That makes me wonder if the Princesses subplot was gonna be more fleshed out at one point; as it stands, I’ve said, it feels like part of their role was cut out of the movie, because their storyline is resolved so abruptly.
Still, Bill & Ted Face the Music is a whole lotta fun, and it’s a testament to all involved that they pulled it off despite not being able to rethink some things about the initial shoot.
You can check out the full interview with Solomon below.
Bill & Ted Face the Music is out now in theaters and on VOD. The soundtrack includes Lamb of God, Mastodon, and Animals as Leaders. You can read our review of the movie here, and read our interview with co-star William Sadler, who plays the Grim Reaper, here.