The first time I saw the movie Clue, I was ten years old. I remember flicking through the channels on the TV and catching the beginning credits of a movie with dark overtones and watching to see what it was all about. I thought it was going to be scary. But it was one of the funniest movies I’d ever seen. (Admittedly the bar was quite low when I was ten.)
Many years later, after the movie had gone from a box-office flop to a cult favourite, I sought it out to see if it was still as good as I remembered. (Spoiler: It was.) Not only is Clue still hilariously camp and funny, it’s also, without doubt, the best movie adaptation of a board game ever. (Again, admittedly a low bar.) Plus, it has another unique feature.
It has three endings.
When the movie was released in 1985, it was shipped off to theatres with each one getting only one of the endings. So a person going to Cinema A may find out that the culprit was one person, while somebody at Cinema B would emerge knowing that the murderer was somebody completely different.
This did not go down well with audiences. Or critics. The movie was criticized for relying on “gimmicks” that only served to distract people from the rest of the story.
When the movie was released on VHS and on TV, all three endings were included. This is the cut that I’d wager most of us have seen. It would have been quite a different experience, I imagine, watching only one of those iconic endings and then wondering whether you should pay to go to a different screening to possibly see another version.
As far as I’ve been able to work out, Clue is the only movie to have ever attempted multiple endings. I don’t mean post-credit scenes, or alternate endings created because the first one bombed with test audiences. I mean real, genuine, different-viewers-have-different-experiences multiple endings.
If things had been different and Clue had been a runaway success, I can only imagine that we would have had 3 versions of Avengers: Endgame released (can’t you just hear the dollar signs?) and at least five different winners of the Iron Throne.
But maybe that’s what the future holds…