Yes they did. This is a matter of record.
Anno: I also [thought] it would be a topic of discussion, even after it was finished. A part of it was that, for me, providing that discussion would be [a form of] service. [An] unprecedented [service]. Working assiduously at it, we got that kind of ending. [?]
Oizumi: This has to do with the fact that you ended up spending all your money… From an economic standpoint, it's a well-known story that little money remains to be passed down to the animators, or those occupying the lowest positions [among the staff].
Anno: Right. [What they get] is not at all proportionate to the [amount of] content [they create]. All they get to compensate for that [insufficient amount of money] is something psychological. _only have them be pleased with the fact, when they see the finished work, that it is interesting and they are glad to have worked on it. I could only arrange for them to receive a psychological [form of] remuneration. But that becomes a kind of pressure in its own way, because they may stop working on it if it becomes uninteresting. I always have to provide something interesting. It was a game played in earnest.
the "anno made EoE to spite fans" is also a myth made by insecure western anime fans. i can't believe I have to explain this in the year 2021 but EoE is by all means the original plan for the ending, down to episode 24 showing unfinished previews of scenes that are in EoE two years later. honestly if you think otherwise you literally just did not pay attention, because all threads that were set up in the show tie into EoE. It's also not a bleak movie because it has the same essential message as the TV ending, which is a hopeful one.
reducing End of Evangelion, one of the most beautiful affirmations of life and human connection to a hate letter because of angry fans is beyond disrespectful, it's ignorant and i honestly resent it.
they resolve everything worth resolving and answered everything worth answering in EoE, the TV ending and the movie aren't separate you can't judge the overall story by the TV ending because it's more like a bonus to go with EoE so it can only add to the experience.
Ok no, this definitely isn't true.
It's probable that the basic outline of what happens in EoE was the original plan.
Shinji is in a near comatose state, SELEE turns on NERV and dispatches the Mass Production Evas, Asuka fights them in Unit 02, Shinji eventually snaps out of his funk and goes to save her, Third Impact ends up happening and Shinji ultimately is given a choice to reject Instrumentality or not. He choses to reject.
In a purely mechanical standpoint, that was likely the plan.
The thematic and emotional direction however is MARKEDLY different and the TV version of the ending absolutely do not gel with the movie version of in this way.
@Shinji rejecting Instrumentality in The TV Show.:
"I hate myself. But I could love myself. Maybe my life could have a greater value. That's right! I am no more or less than myself. I am me! I want to be myself! I want to continue existing in this world! I am worth living here!"
@Shinji rejecting Instrumentality in EoE.:
in response to being told Rei and Kaworu represent "the hope that people will one day be able to understand each other" and the words "I love you" Shinji responds:
"But that's just a pretense… A selfish belief. Like some kind of prayer. It can't possibly last forever. Eventually, I'll be betrayed and it will abandon me. But still, I want to see them again, Because at the time I knew my feelings were real."
These are fundamentally incompatible with each other.
One is unambiguously hopeful. Shinji maybe not defeating his depression but coming to an understanding of it and a resolve that he has value and could be capable of loving himself.
The other, he ends it bitterly believing that other people will eventually betray and abandon him and only choosing to reject instrumentality because other people will be able to feel fear again and at least that's "real". Then he chokes Asuka on the LCL beach and she calls him disgusting. and that's how it ends.
There is a book called the "Red Cross Book" that was a booklet, a pamphlet that you could buy with your movie ticket when you saw the movie in Japan that outright says that the only reason the movie exists is because of loud outcry and fan dissatisfaction.
to underscore this: The manga actually adapts the basic outline of everything that happened in EoE, but shifts things to the more hopeful tone of the end of the TV series.
In THIS version when Shinji rejects Instrumentality he focusses on the JOY that he and others can feel if they're separated.
"If we continue to be joined together like this… we won't feel anything. No happiness... No joy... let's go back to the former world.
Rei: "Their voices are going to hurt you again"
"That's Okay. Just like you said. People's hands could hurt me... My hands could hurt others... even the hands that connect us could come separated. But Ayanami... I... even then, I still want to hold your hand just one more time"
This shows that the more hopeful tone IS possible with the basic outline of what happens and that Shinji's characterization specifically could have been handled the same way as the TV series without much changing.
You can like what was ultimately released, I'm not saying you can't or you shouldn't, but blindly ignoring the obvious issues with its production and pretending people who acknowledge those things and came to different conclusions about the material than you are malicious is willfully ignorant and insulting._