SPOILERS for Get Out follow
To call Get Out – the feature directing debut of former Key & Peele star Jordan Peele – a big success would be an understatement. A mix of straight horror and very dark comedy, Get Out was first a huge hit with critics – hanging onto a 100% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes for quite some time – and went on to do just as well with audiences, raking in an over $30 million opening weekend. With a current box office total of $46.2 million on a budget of only $4.5 million, Get Out is 2017’s second runaway hit for prolific horror producer Blumhouse, following M. Night Shyamalan’s Split.
While Get Out’s quasi-comedic first act tone eventually gives way to a dark tale of racially-based mad science and mind violation, many viewers likely found themselves surprised by just how happy the ending ended up being. For a long time, things look nearly hopeless for Chris, and even after he succeeds in killing his captors, one wonders if he is truly out of the woods. Thankfully, Chris’ friend Rod arrives to the rescue in his TSA officer car, and presumably corroborates Chris’ story concerning what happened to the authorities. Rod even breaks the tension by ending things on a joke.
Interestingly enough though, Get Out was not always slated to end Chris’ ordeal in such a cathartic fashion. As revealed by writer/director Peele during an appearance on Buzzfeed’s Another Round podcast (hat tip Screen Crush), in one proposed alternate ending, the real cops do indeed show up and things go about as well as one might expect. Chris is arrested for the murders of the sinister Armitage family, and is seemingly destined to spend the rest of his life behind bars. Peele says that this darker ending was influenced by the American racial climate back when he began writing Get Out, near the beginning of the Obama administration.
In the beginning when I was first making this movie the idea was, ‘OK, we’re in this post-racial world, apparently. That was the whole idea. People were saying, ‘We’ve got Obama so racism is over, let’s not talk about it.’ That’s what the movie was meant to address. Like look, you recognize this interaction. These are all clues, if you don’t already know, that racism isn’t over. […] So the ending in that era was meant to say, look, ‘You think race isn’t an issue? Well at the end, we all know this is how this movie would end right here.’
As the years went on though, and the captured on camera killings of multiple unarmed black men by police helped to raise overall societal awareness of just how much of a problem racism still was in America, Peele changed his mind, deciding that a more upbeat ending was appropriate.
It was very clear that the ending needed to transform into something that gives us a hero, that gives us an escape, gives us a positive feeling when we leave this movie. […] There’s nothing more satisfying than seeing the audience go crazy when Rod shows up.
In addition to the ending described above, Peele says that he went through several more potential conclusions before Get Out’s script was finalized, although what exactly those other endings entailed remains a mystery for now. Judging by the general response to Get Out’s theatrical ending, it would seem that Peele made the right call.