Writer-director Steven Antin tells EW what happened in the film's original ending.
Screen Gems' BURLESQUE; Burlesque Movie
Credit: STEPHEN VAUGHAN/Screen Gems; Jeff Errico

Speaking to EW as part of our oral history for the beloved film's 10-year anniversary, writer-director Steven Antin revealed that he originally shot a much different conclusion to the Cher/Christina Aguilera musical.

"The first ending for the film I shot wasn't good. I hated it. I didn't like the way it was written, and I didn't like the set," Antin candidly revealed, adding that he initially envisioned his story — about Aguilera's Ali, a small-town woman with a big voice who moves to Los Angeles to make it as a showgirl in an underground club run by Cher's no-nonsense Tess before falling for a hunky, songwriting bartender named Jack (Cam Gigandet) — finishing with an ode to 1990's Pretty Woman.

"It was Jack and Ali saying goodbye, and then he gets into a taxi to go to the airport to go somewhere. I can't even remember where," Antin remembered. "Ali runs out onto the fire escape and calls his name, and he jumps out of the taxi and climbs the fire escape to her, and they have this big, romantic kiss. Then, we cut to the big musical finale, 'Show Me How You Burlesque,' which is still the same."

As it stands, the film ends with Ali and Jack reuniting backstage at Tess' club after a fiery breakup in the latter's apartment, exchanging sweet words before Jack finally presents Ali with a finished version of a song he'd long been working on.

"We tested [the original ending] with an audience, and everyone agreed… reshoot it!" Antin finished. And the retooling apparently worked: "We tested the movie several times, of course, and the final test was with an audience in Arizona. The movie tested through the roof. It was insane. It was in the high 90s, and that's rare."

The film would go on to gross over $90 million at the global box office before becoming a cult phenomenon.

Read EW's full oral history on Burlesque — featuring behind-the-scenes memories with Aguilera, Cher, Antin, and more of the film's crew.

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