20 years on, Will Ferrell reveals Anchorman had to change its ending after negative test screenings: "We just lost the audience"

(Image credit: Paramount/Dreamworks)

20 years after release, Will Ferrell has revealed that Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy had its ending changed after a negative test screening. 

"We put the movie together [and] we did our first test screening," Ferrell told the Messy podcast (H/T IndieWire), hosted by Anchorman co-star Christina Applegate and The Sopranos’ Jamie-Lynn Sigler. "You test screen your movie and it’s a score from zero to 100. We were like, ‘That seemed to play pretty great.’ We get the score back: it’s a 50. Not good. It’s not good."

"And that can either go one way or the other. There’s a panic button that’s hit, or, luckily, the studio was like, ‘Let’s figure it out.’ They gave us a budget for reshoots," Ferrell recalled. "[Producer] Judd [Apatow] really helped to be a steady hand in that regard. And so all of that, the whole pandas and the bears and all that, that’s five days of a re-shoot. An entirely new ending was shot."

As Ferrell explains, the original ending features Applegate’s KVWN anchor Veronica Corningstone being abducted, something which is described as a "comedic version" of Patty Hearst, the real-life kidnapping of William Hearst's daughter.

"They just didn’t like that storyline at all," Ferrell said. "We just lost the audience. When it was the news team and all of us interacting, we would get them back. We had to basically reshoot the ending."

Proof enough, then, that 50% of the time, it works every time. Anchorman released in 2004 to solid box office takings and a positive critical response, something which later snowballed into the comedy film turning into a cult classic. A sequel, The Legend Continues, was released in 2013.

Will Ferrell, meanwhile, recently made a guest cameo in The Boys season 4 as a fictional version of himself acting in a movie alongside A-Train. Stay classy, Vought.

For more, check out The Boys season 4 release schedule.

Bradley Russell

I'm the Senior Entertainment Writer here at GamesRadar+, focusing on news, features, and interviews with some of the biggest names in film and TV. On-site, you'll find me marveling at Marvel and providing analysis and room temperature takes on the newest films, Star Wars and, of course, anime. Outside of GR, I love getting lost in a good 100-hour JRPG, Warzone, and kicking back on the (virtual) field with Football Manager. My work has also been featured in OPM, FourFourTwo, and Game Revolution.