Passengers Ending From The Script

With ten years of development, you’d be surprised how much of Jon Spaihts’ original Passengers script made it on screen in the new film. If I were to estimate, I’d say it’s 85-90% the same story and characters that are seen on the screen. So how was the Passenger ending in the original script different from the one that made it to the screen?

There aren’t a lot of big differences until the ending. Gus, the character played by Laurence Fishburne in the film, has a different ending in the final film. Instead of passing away, after giving Jim and Aurora the information they need to hopefully fix the ship, Gus decides to take his own life. Too ill to help, Gus would rather go out on his own two feet and lets himself fall into the vacuums of space through the airlock. Not a huge change.

The real turn comes when Jim and Aurora are able to get the ship to reboot, and the hibernation pods begin to unexpectedly eject from the Starliner as the ship believes it’s in port and in dry dock procedure. Jim runs down to the hibernation bay to try to stop it, working on one of the containment units as the pods in the distance eject, fastly approaching him. He tries, but is too late. He runs to the crew hibernation pod facility and is able to turn on the opening procedure on the captain’s pod before it’s ejected. The Captain opens his eyes, just before the pod ejects out into space. Imagine the horror of this situation.

The couple look out the window at the observation desk at the five thousand pods ejected into space. Imagine the hopelessness. Aurora comments that if it weren’t for Jim waking her up, she would be out in space right now with the other passengers. This line reasons that Jim’s horrible judgment earlier in the story was not-so-horrible in retrospect. But Jim didn’t know this would be the end result when he woke her up; it was still a morally and ethically horrible decision. But in the way it is framed in the original script, we are to think that it was not for the best?

Jim and Aurora ultimately decide they do love one another, and Jim brings Aurora for a walk on the outside of the ship (something that happens earlier in the final film). That’s the ending for them, but not the ending of the movie. Like the theatrical version of the film, the story cuts to eighty years later as the Starliner approaches the new colony. But in the script, the ship is actually landing on Homestead II, and we see the scene from the perspective of the colonists gathering to watch the new citizens arrive. The doors open and… Children of all ages and adults in smaller numbers exit.

You might be wondering how there are passengers aboard a ship which had ejected all of it’s hibernation pods. Early in the screenplay, Aurora finds the gene bank about the Starliner, containing five thousand sperm and egg samples on ice. She comments, “I should be glad they do that. By the time we get to Homestead II, that little capsule in the freezer is going to be all that’s left of me.” While it’s not stated in the original screenplay (which confused some readers), it’s implied that they repopulated the ship with the sperm and egg samples of the dead passengers.

We then, of course, see a similar scene to that in the final movie, with a century’s habitation overgrown through the ship. We also get a glimpse of Arthur slicing vegetables at the bar, and a high wall in the concourse listing all the births, deaths, marriages, catastrophes and achievements of the last century of space travel, alongside a table with a collection of artifacts from the story including Gus’s worn shipcard, a book Aurora has written about the experience.


Which Is Better?

The original ending from the script is a cop out, as if Spaihts got notes that the film couldn’t end with all of the ship’s inhabitants dying in the blackness of space. The hibernation pod ejection sequence is exercised from the final film but at the expense of Aurora’s realization that she would have died if Jim hadn’t woken her up early. The original script ending was confusing and felt shoehorned in. The theatrical ending of Jim presenting Aurora with the choice of the ship’s single hibernation pod is an interesting way to address the ethical problem at the nucleus of this relationship, but it is also thoroughly unsatisfying.

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