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Test nerves, choose film ending

Los Angeles, July 28: A new film by Danny Boyle, the director of Trainspotting, with an apocalyptic vision of England all but wiped out by a killer virus, has become such a cult hit in the US that, in a unique marketing strategy, cinemagoers are being offered a second ending.

Shot in digital for only £4.5 million, 28 Days Later has already grossed £22.5 million in the US, with a screenplay written by Alex Garland, author of The Beach. The hope is to push the film beyond the £30 million mark.

Now, after 28 days in cinemas its distributor, Fox Searchlight, a branch of 20th Century Fox, has added what it describes in posters as “the ending so terrifying, it will haunt you for days”.

The R-rated film is about a virus, accidentally released from a British research facility, that locks those infected into a permanent killing rage.

Carried by animals and humans, the virus is impossible to contain. Twenty-eight days later, a small group of survivors who are trapped in London fight to protect themselves against the infected.

One of the better reviewed movies in the current season of failing blockbusters, is it has also proved popular in Britain and Germany, with a worldwide gross so far of £64.5 million, ranking it one of the most successful low-budget pictures of all time.

Cinemagoers can choose how unsparing they want the end to be. They can leave the cinema in good spirits after an apparently happy conclusion.

In this, the hero is nursed back to health as he and two other survivors await rescue in a seaside cottage with a plane appearing on the horizon, apparently to deliver them from their plague-ridden homeland.

Or, those who stay seated after the closing credits can see five minutes more of Boyle footage, starting with the words “But what if”, of a darker, more desperate conclusion in which the leading character dies heroically. The end, while tragic, retains a sliver of optimism.

Favourable reviewers of the film had suggested that a darker ending would improve it, with one Internet site saying that if only Boyle had not “wimped out with a syrupy ending” the film would be remembered as “a true masterpiece of zombie horror”.

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