Watching Castaway, with Tom Hanks, last Friday on the Teev reminded me that director Robert Zemeckis was once asked what was in the unopened package. He replied that it was a waterproof, solar-powered satellite phone.
A FedEx commercial during the US 2003 Super Bowl went a little further. It featured the final scene of the film, in which Chuck returns a package to its sender. In this version, the woman answers the door, and when Chuck asks what was in the box, the woman replies: "Just a satellite phone, GPS locator, fishing road, water purifier and some seeds. Just silly stuff." See it by clicking on:
Want to know what was really in the box?
Okay, I’ll tell you, it’s explained in the deleted scene in the script.
You will recall that Chuck Noland, the FedEx exec is stranded on the island and opens all the packages except one. He uses the contents of the packages in various ways to survive but doesn’t open the package with the angel’s wings. That package was sent by Bettina to her husband who is a cheating lowlife. At the end of the film Chuck delivers replacements for the stuff he has used to all the intended recipients. He also attends at Bettina’s home (Bettina is now divorced) to deliver the unopened package which he took with him on the raft. She is not home so he leaves the package with a note: “This package saved my life. Thank you. Chuck Noland.”
Speculation is that it saved his life by remaining unopened, giving him a purpose, to deliver the package as well as wanting to return to his beloved. Added to that, the section of plastic sheeting washed up on the beach resembles the wings on the box, giving him the idea of the means of escape from the island.
The third draft of Castaway, which was not the final version, had Wilson as a soccer ball, not a volley ball. Chuck's relationship with the Helen Hunt character was slightly different but the package is exactly the same as in the finished movie: the same angel wings, the same woman at the beginning, and the same determination to deliver it. However, on his 1,000th day on the island, Chuck goes "eh, what the hell" and opens the box and finds . . .
2 bottles of salsa verde with a note from Bettina to her husband:
Also, remember how in the closing moments Chuck is at a cross roads and Bettina stops and tells him where the 4 roads lead, then leaves and Chuck recognises the angel wings on the back of her truck as being identical to those on the package? Chuck stands in the middle and looks at each of the roads, lastly looking down the road where Bettina has driven and smiles.
In the third draft script, Chuck meets Bettina at the house and talks with her. She tells him that her hubby was a jerk so she doesn’t mind that he never received the salsa.
So there you are, happy, feel good ending.
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Btw, FedEx didn’t pay foor the product placement although they acknowledge that it was quite succe$$ful. Initially they were concerned at the depiction of FedEx but agreed to go with it.
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