Entertainment NewsUnveiling the Untold Story of Brian De Palma's 'Snake Eyes'

Unveiling the Untold Story of Brian De Palma’s ‘Snake Eyes’


Key Takeaways:
– Brian De Palma's 1998 film “Snake Eyes” faced a of challenges, changing its climactic finale from a tidal wave to a controversial suicide scene.
– Paramount's heavy reshoot requirement resulted from a poor test screening audience response.
and Gary Sinise were the leads, but Al Pacino and Will Smith were the initial considerations for Sinise's role.
– The movie's opening Steadicam shot has been recognized as an iconic cinematic contribution.
– Despite commercial success, the film was not well received critically and domestically.


Brian De Palma's 1998 thriller “Snake Eyes” has been surrounded with a cloud of controversy ever since its creation. The film, starring Nicolas Cage as volatile Police Detective Rick Santoro, was marked by numerous production woes, dramas, and changes to its original conclusion that have left many wondering what could have been. Despite an impressive Steadicam opening, the film's revised ending seemed to miss the mark and affect the movie's critical reception and box-office performance.

Behind the Scenes Drama

Casting dilemmas were among issues. While Cage was always the first choice for the role of Santoro, Al Pacino was initially considered to play Commander Kevin Dunn. Pacino declined and the role was subsequently offered to Will Smith, who requested a $12 million fee. Eventually, the role went to Gary Sinise after Paramount refused Smith's hefty demand.

Further confusion ensued as the actor Kevin Dunn in a separate role in the film, leading to mix-ups on set and inadvertently assigning Gary Sinise's luxury accommodation to Kevin Dunn, causing the latter to be relocated to a modest chain hotel during the rest of the shoot.

Production Magic and the Iconic Steadicam Shot

Despite the off-screen drama, brilliance was a part of “Snake Eyes” too. Larry McConkey, responsible for the Copacabana nightclub tracking shot in “Goodfellas”, executed a mesmerizing 20-minute Steadicam shot at the start of the film, setting a high bar for the rest of the movie.

The True Vision of Snake Eyes

However, the ending of “Snake Eyes”, drastically revised from De Palma's original vision, has become a topic of debate. Initially set to feature a tidal wave destroying City and flooding the casino where most action happens, test audiences responded poorly, leading Paramount to pressurize De Palma for reshoots and a complete overhaul of the ending.

The intended climactic wave was conceived as a metaphor for divine judgment, washing away the city's corruption—an element that was entirely dragged from the final product. This unexpected twist was left on the cutting room floor, leaving De Palma and film pundits worldwide unsatisfied.

“It's Not About Who Did It…”

De Palma, talking about the criticism the film drew for revealing the killer too soon, responded that “Snake Eyes” was more a narrative about relationships than a whodunit. Unfortunately, the rehashed ending radically departed from his original intentions, making the film a focus of heated debates among the fandom.

In spite of the backstage tumult, film aficionados will be intrigued that the original ending, although discarded, is still visible in various parts of the film and is available for viewing online. However, De Palma's altered finale serves as a reminder of the creative trammels within big-name studios and their effect on final products.

While commercially successful, creating over $100 million globally, “Snake Eyes” it could not replicate the success domestically, making a mere $55 million in North America. Twenty-six years on, it's worth re-evaluating whether the climactic tidal wave spectacle, had it been retained, would have made a profound impact on the film's critical and commercial acclaim.


Megan Dianehttps://www.projectcasting.com
Hi, I'm Megan Browne, the Head of Partnerships at Project Casting - a job board for the entertainment industry. As Head of Partnerships, I help businesses find the best talent for their influencer campaigns, photo shoots, and film productions. Creating these partnerships has enabled me to help businesses scale and reach their true potential. I'm excited to continue driving growth by connecting people with projects they're passionate about.


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