The 1985 film Clue, based on the popular Parker Brothers board game released in 1949, was an abysmal failure at the box office when it debuted 30 years ago this week. With an estimated budget of $15 million, the movie grossed precisely $14,643,997 in the United States — meaning that it wasn’t going to be making back its full investment (nor a profit) in theaters.
Even so, Clue has since developed quite the cult following. While most will assume this has something to do with Tim Curry’s penchant for starring in cult favorites, it also owes something to the movie’s unusual multiple endings. Three different endings exist, and each presents a unique outcome for all the twists, turns and murders that stem from the death of Mr. Boddy.
Most modern-day fans of the film have seen all three, and that’s because the VHS and DVD releases played all of them back-to-back. The first two, dubbed Endings A and B during the film’s theatrical run, are presented as possible outcomes to the dinner party-turned-murder investigation. After Ending B reveals Mrs. Peacock to be the killer, however, the screen indicates Ending C is really how things played out. That every single dinner guest committed one of the murders and the butler Wadsworth (Curry), who is the real Mr. Boddy, is going to blackmail them.
Audiences lucky enough to catch Clue in theaters didn’t experience this cut. Instead, moviegoers were treated to only one of the three endings made for the film, and whether they saw A, B or C depended on which theater they attended.
“[John Landis] thought it would be really great box office,” director Jonathan Lynn told BuzzFeed. “He thought that what would happen was that people, having enjoyed the film so much, would then go back and pay again and see the other endings.”