Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy is a ridiculous yet hilarious film, I consider it one of my personal favorite Will Ferrell films from the 2000s. From Ron Burgundy’s outrageous exclamations to Brian Fantana’s toxic cologne to a melee battle breaking out between San Diego’s news teams, the 2004 comedy is widely considered appealing because of its absurdity. However, a strange as it may sound, Anchorman could have been a lot weirder had the creative team gone with the original plot idea, which involved the main characters trying to survive being killed by orangutans in the mountains. Will Ferrell explained:
“The first version of Anchorman is basically the movie Alive. The year is 1976, and we are flying to Philadelphia to celebrate the bicentennial, and all the newsmen from around the country are flying in from their affiliates to have some big convention. And Ron convinces the pilot that he knows how to fly the charter jet, and he immediately crash-lands it in the mountains. And it’s just the story of them surviving and trying to get off the mountainside. They clipped a cargo plane, and the cargo plane crashed as well, close to them, and it was carrying only boxes of orangutans and Chinese throwing stars.”
Brick Tamland killing a man with a trident doesn’t sound quite as bizarre when you when you compare it to orangutans armed with Chinese throwing stars. Will Ferrell revealed what the first idea for Anchorman was while appearing on The Bill Simmons Podcast, and as the actor later stated, the idea was “a little too kooky.” That said, despite the different setting, this earlier tale hits one of the same beats as the finalized version did: Ron, Brian Champ and Brick being unfairly dismissive of Veronica. Ferrell continued:
“So throughout the movie we’re being stalked by orangutans who are killing, one by one, the team off with throwing stars. And Veronica Corningstone keeps saying things like, ‘Guys, I know if we just head down we’ll hit civilization.’ And we keep telling her, ‘Wrong.’ She doesn’t know what we’re talking about. So that was the first version of the movie.”
While this version of Anchorman never made it past the idea stage, there was an different cut of the movie released on home media called Wake Up, Ron Burgundy: The Lost Movie to accompany the theatrical version. Wake Up was made up of deleted scenes and excised storylines, like the news team tracking a gang of bank robbers called The Alarm Clock. While it’s considered by some to be a sequel, it’s really just an alternative way the main plot played out. The true sequel, Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, was released in 2013.
Personally, I’m kinda glad that we’ve received the version of Anchorman that we got. If they went to the original planned story, well, we would had never have gotten this scene!