Sounds familiar, right? J.F. Lawton came to our 1988 Directors and Screenwriters Labs with his script for Three Thousand, which was released twenty-five years ago this spring as Pretty Woman. Three Thousand was a much darker story than Pretty Woman; Vivian was addicted to crack, and the original script ends with Vivian returned to the street, emotionally broken and back on drugs after a week with Edward at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel.
After its Institute support in 1988, the script was purchased by Touchstone Pictures, a new division of Walt Disney Studios. Touchstone gave the project to writer/director Garry Marshall (who, among other things, had created Happy Days and Mork & Mindy), and asked him to temper the script’s bleak tone. So, Edward turning his limo around and climbing the fire escape to be with Vivian? A great ending, but not the one workshopped at the 1988 Labs!
Bonus fact: Touchstone’s very first film was Splash, the 1984 film starring Tom Hanks and Daryl Hannah. Originally scheduled to premiere at the 1984 United States Film and Video Festival, Splash was withdrawn at the last moment, but the Festival’s catalog had already gone to print. Like Three Thousand, the Festival had a title change of its own after Sundance Institute took over its management in 1985; in 1991, it officially became the Sundance Film Festival.