In an opinion piece for Dutch magazine De FILMkrant in 1999, director George Sluizer said that he'd initially signed a contractual agreement with 20th Century Fox producer Joe Roth to keep the original ending. When Roth left for Disney during production, the contract was canceled. Negative audience previews during editing led to more changes because viewers had trouble understanding the flashback structure.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
When George Sluizer was told he could direct an American version of the book "Het Gouden Ei" (which had already been made in the Netherlands as The Vanishing (1988)), he was told that it would only happen if the ending was changed because American audiences wouldn't approve of the original. In the original ending, Jeff leaves Rita without telling where he went. Jeff dies in the coffin, and Barney survives without being caught.