You’ll recall that 20th Century Fox had its first press screenings of Rise of the Planet of the Apes very late in the game, only days before it opened on 8.5. When some suggested that the film might have built up more opening-weekend steam if early positive reactions had circulated earlier, Fox reps said that a demanding post-production schedule kept them from showing it any sooner.

“I know for a fact it was about effects delivery,” a rep told me. “It was down to the wire as this was originally going to be a Thanksgiving release.”

Now it turns out the real reason for Rise of the Planet of the Apes not being ready to show until early August was because of a re-shoot of the film’s finale that happened over the July 4th weekend.

Badass Digest‘s Devin Faraci, drawing from a Hollywood Reporter story, has written that “the original ending had James Franco’s character dying. At the hands of humans, no less. Shot to death by armed humans who have chased the apes into the forest. [And then] the ape horde descends on the people and tears them to pieces, a reversal of the opening scene where Bright Eyes is captured in the jungle.

“This isn’t the only change from an early version of the script,” he writes. “Originally Rocket and Caesar had a big brawl at the end as well. In fact lots of things changed lots of times over the course of the script’s development.

In any event, “Everybody hurried back to set this summer, just a month before release, to reshoot the ending.”

During last weekend’s Visual Effects Society Production Summit in Beverly Hills, Fox’s president of postproduction Ted Gagliano said Franco was brought in for the re-shoot over the July 4th holiday weekend. “We shot for three hours and (Franco) was back on the plane,” Gagliano recalled. He added that this change led to a challenging final weeks of what was originally a 41-week post schedule that involved extensive visual effects work.”

The original discarded ending will apparently be included on the Bluray.