Parodied in Film Film Film, showing how at the end of the production, there is little left of writer's original work.
Ralph Bakshi's Cool World suffered from perhaps the more extensive cases of Executive Meddling. Originally, the movie was supposed to be about half-doodle/half-human Debbie Dallas, out to kill her human father for causing her to exist. The executives secretly rewrote the script and handed it back to Bakshi, changing the animated horror/thriller story to one about an artist getting trapped by his own creation. Bakshi also intended to have Drew Barrymore as the female lead, but instead they stuck him with Kim Basinger, who thought that it was a children's movie.
As a result of the casting change, Basinger wanted to downgrade the film's original R rating to PG. The final version of the film ended up being PG-13.
On the topic of Ralph Bakshi, his version of The Lord Of The Rings was originally going to be a trilogy before becoming a theoretical Two Part Trilogy. Then these execs insisted on changing Saruman to Aruman but that didn't remain consistent; then they insisted on calling it The Lord of the Rings instead of The Lord of the Rings: Part I, assuming the audience wouldn't see half a movie; and finally, they rushed the film out the door. No wonder the movie is a Love It or Hate It film.
Happy Feet: An early cut of the film involved a subplot regarding actual extraterrestrial aliens, whose presence was made gradually more and more known throughout, and who were planning to siphon off the planet's resources gradually, placing the humans in the same light as the penguins. At the end, through the plight of the main character, their hand is stayed, and instead, first contact is made. This was chopped out during the last year of production at the behest of the studio executives, and has yet to see the light of day in a finished form, although concept art is available, and certain shots from these sequences do remain in the film, those of space being the most prominent, having become instead a constant visual motif. The film would've been somewhat longer, by extension. This also explains the bizarre closing credits, in which the names of the cast and crew were displayed over various planets and stars.
Disney has had many, many cases of this. One of the most notorious victims was The Black Cauldron. Then newly-installed Disney Studios chief Jeffery Katzenbergpersonally cut nearly twenty minutes off the finished film before it hit theaters. The film certainly has other problems — movies in Development Hell for twelve years tend to accumulate them. But anyone with even a vague knowledge of animation production can see how insane this decision was.
Toy Story was almost the victim of this thanks to Jeffrey Katzenberg. Katzenberg continually pushed for a more adult, cynicalToy Story, making Woody even more of a jerkass and relying heavily on insult humor. The result backfired horribly; at a screening for the Disney execs, Roy Disney declared it the worst thing he'd ever seen, and Disney was ready to scrap the whole project until the writers were finally left alone to write the story they wanted to write. The rest is history.
Later on, Pixar also had to deal with Michael Eisner. During the Disney v. Pixar negotiations, Eisner created Circle 7 Animation, which would have churned out Disney Brand Cheapquels to Pixar films including Toy Story 3. Thankfully, he was fired, the studio got shut down, and Pixar retained the rights to their characters, and Pixar's version of TS3 ended up being far better than what Circle 7's was going to be.
Robin Williams signed with Disney to do the character Genie in Aladdin, even receiving lower paychecks, demanding that his name wasn't used in advertisements, and that the ads didn't feature the Genie alone, or not feature him in over 25% of the space. (He had a prior commitment premiering around the same time and didn't want to screw the minds behind it.) As Disney executives realized the Genie was the soul of the movie, the second condition was promptly discarded, and by the time of Academy Award nominations, the first as well. Williams got angry and refused to work with the studio again, with the Aladdin sequel and TV series featuring Dan Castellaneta as Genie. Disney's change of president made Williams rethink, and he returned as the voice of Genie in the final Aladdin sequel (although it is rumored that a $20 million Picasso may have also helped Williams change his mind). And then it happened again (with Bicentennial Man). Robin Williams has never voiced the character since.
The "Aladdin and the King of Thieves" VHS cover including the subtitle "Starring Robin Williams" probably didn't help either.
During the making of Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, which features cameo appearances from characters from both the Disney and Warner Bros.. animation studios, it was mandated by executives of both companies that their characters could only be used as long as they received the exact amount of screen time as their competitors. For this reason, every time that Bugs Bunny and Mickey Mouse, the two figurehead representatives of WB and Disney respectively, appear on screen they are together — originally, Bugs had a solo scene, but for the reasons above, Disney raised a stink and it was cut. Fortunately, the writers were imaginative enough that viewers tend not to notice this unless it is pointed out to them. It is also rumored that the question mark that should logically form a part of the title was removed after the results of a market survey indicated that movies with question marks in the titles were more frequently failures at the box office. Evidently someone at the meeting table concluded, "Correlation may not equal causation, but why take chances?."
In a case of the meddling actually working out for the better, The Emperor's New Groove started out as a Prince and Pauper movie called Kingdom of the Sun, heavy on the aesoping. Due to heavy production issues and poor reception from test audiences, the plot of the entire movie was ordered to undergo an overhaul. The whole film was retooled in the space of about six months, becoming a zany buddy comedy with more in common with Looney Tunes than typical Disney fare. And it was AWESOME. The only thing it really lost in the retool was a rockin'Villain Song sung by Eartha Kitt, though the curious can still find it on the official soundtrack.
That said, many fans are still rather curious about the original version of the film. Sting wrote all the songs — which were later trashed in the new version — and his wife made a documentary entitled The Sweatbox about all the Executive Meddling during the making of the film, and it's one of the few chances one would have to see cuts from the original version. Thing is, Disney owns the rights to that documentary, and you can imagine how well it went over with them...
Although it was done pretty well, there was also some negative results from the change as well. For instance, because of their rewriting the story from scratch, Yzma became a fusion of a stereotypical backstabbing royal vizier and a mad scientist, when in the original tale, she was a vain sorceress who intended to bring about everlasting darkness to regain some beauty. This decision infuriated animator Andreas Dejas due to feeling that this was a step backwards, causing him to quit not just the production of The Emperor's New Groove, but also Burbank entirely.
The ending of The Lion King is an example of executive meddling done right. The original (like Hamlet) was going to be a total Downer Ending, but it was not liked by the execs. Interference from the higher-ups also lead the unfocused and unengaging script to become the basis of Disney's highest grossing film of all-time
The sequel, however, got several short, but fairly important scenes axed, including the original (much more emotionally charged) last moments of Nuka and Zira. These were removed due to being perceived as child-unfriendly, and others... for no particular reason, it seems. The idea that Kovu was actually Scar's son was dropped to merely being hinted at. This was presumably done so that Kovu & Kiara wouldn't be Kissing Cousins by the end (although the film also hints that the exact status of Kovu's relation to Scar was geared more towards adoption than being sired by him).
Somewhere out there in cutting-room floor land are the legendary million dollars' worth of finished animation cut mainly for time from The Land Before Time. Except for a few tantalizing clues, and edits that are awkward and obvious if you pay close attention, few fans have any idea what these scenes might have included. Bluth and Spielberg felt as if they were trying to make two different movies (For example, Spielberg's version would have had no talking dinosaurs at all) and much of the film we see today is the result of meddling.
Aardman Animation's Flushed Away suffered from meddling from the get-go; Aardman originally pitched it to Dream Works as being about pirates, but they claimed that there was no market for pirate films and were forced to modernize the idea. The movie was postponed for work to be done on The Curse of the Were-Rabbit. Ironically, when Flushed Away was finally released, Pirates of the Caribbean already had its first sequel under its belt.
DreamWorks weren't done with their meddling there; the singing/whistling slugs that recur regularly in the movie were originally just in one scene, but the producers apparently thought it was comedy gold and insisted that if a significant amount of time had passed without any big laughs, they were to slot in the slugs in some way. Depending on the viewer, the slugs either became an Overused Running Gag by the film's end or made the film funnier. The experience working with DreamWorks (along with the poor box-office receipts) was enough to make Aardman Animation break off from them completely and later join Sony Pictures, who eventually did greenlight and release that aforementioned Pirates project.
Similarly, the fact that the animation is computer-generated, versus Aardman's signature stop-motion animation. This is because Katzenberg believed no-one would want to watch anything but CG. The result, among the many, MANY problems with the film, was a complaint from viewers that the film "looked weird" and the characters didn't "move right." The film turned into a litmus test that CG and other forms of animation all have their own aesthetics, and do not play well with one another.
It wasn't just Flushed Away they meddled with; The Curse of the Were-Rabbit had many attempts at meddling made towards it. DreamWorks wanted Wallace's voice actor to be changed to a well-known American, which Aardman quite rightly fought against. Luckily, DreamWorks dropped the issue.
Perhaps the most extreme case of meddling in an animated film happened to Richard Williams' masterpiece, The Thief And The Cobbler. There is no nice word for how this film was treated. It was butchered. Shelved for years, altered to make it look more like Disney's Aladdin, redrawn by different animators... the film has never gotten the respect it deserves. The only way people know of these injustices are through the effort of film editor Garrett Gilchrist, who compiled multiple versions of the film into a "Recobbled Cut", which he distributes freely online.
Averted with BIONICLE: Mask of Light. One of the original ideas they had for the movie was that a live-acted kid would wind up in the Bionicle universe and become the Seventh Toa, instead of the Chronicler Takua. The idea was abandoned in very early stages of development, and none of the several other Direct-to-VideoLEGO films featured any live actors. However this still remains one of the main reasons why Bionicle will never see a big-screen movie adaptation, unless one of the fans gets to be a very big-name in Hollywood. The execs would not let go of their idea that human kids would make the movie easier to promote, while LEGO would not let go of their absolutely NO humans rule. At least in Bionicle — its Spiritual SuccessorHero Factory takes place in a world that has our Earth in it, but aside from a couple of jokes on the website, the story focuses solely on planets inhabited by robots.
In-universe: In the Disney movie, Bolt, a character named Mindy Parker is a fine example of this trope. As a network executive, when the ratings start going down, she tells the director that the 18-35 year-old are unhappy with "happy" and tells him if they lose a single rating, she would fire everyone in the room, leading to the idea of a cliffhanger episode (which freaks Bolt out, thinking that Penny is still in danger and cannot save her). Later in the film, when Bolt goes missing, she tells Penny that they have to make a "grown-up" decision of forgetting about Bolt and using a double instead.
Things that happened with this movie out-of-universe: Almost all of the already completed voice performance of Chloe Moretz were thrown in the trash for no reason, replacing her with Miley Cyrus. Also, the movie was originally going to be called American Dog, be written by the writers of Lilo & Stitch, and the plot would've been about a self-centered dog who was stranded in the middle of the Arizona desert, meeting quirky characters and learning the error of his ways. Disney didn't really like this concept because they thought it was too similar to Cars, and so it was re-tooled into the film we see today. While the final product is very well-liked, there are quite a few Disney fans who would've preferred the original incarnation.
In G.I. Joe: the Movie, Duke was supposed to have died from Serpentor's snake javelin. The executives liked this idea so much they decided to kill off Optimus Prime, too. After the traumatic response from the latter, they quickly backpedaled and made the GI Joe writers change Duke's death to only being in a coma.
Which was done with just one changed line of dialogue and one line added in voiceover to a crowd scene. You can still get cuts of the film where Duke dies.
According to Dan Abnett, who wrote the script for Ultramarines, he had no information about the project's budget, the team had different interpretations of his script, and his executives told him what to include and what he could not.
Films — Live Action
Kingdom of Heaven... one of the biggest examples on how Executive Meddling can ruin a film. It was originally more than 3 hours and cut after the studio forced Ridley Scott to do so. Complete elements of the story went out the window; many characters and much of the plot were altered with this move, none more than the character of Sibylla. King Baldwin V, Sibylla's son, was cut completely from the movie. Depth for many characters was cut, such as much of Balian's backstory. When this movie opened in theaters, it was met with mostly poor reviews.
The Director's Cut however, was critically acclaimed, some calling it the most significant DC of all time. Ridley Scott has disowned the theatrical version and calls this version the "real" version.
Blade Runner. Amongst the things the executives tried to change was adding narration by the protagonist, Deckard, to explain the story, because they felt the viewers wouldn't understand the movie otherwise. Executive meddling also changed the ending to have Deckard and Rachael driving off, using footage from a different movie. Luckily, several versions have since been released that removed all these changes.
The movie Hellboy was almost a victim of Executive Meddling. While the movie was in its infant stages, executives felt that Hellboy should be changed from an out-and-out demon to a human who was somehow inexplicably born in Hell, or a human who turned into Hellboy when he got angry, a la the Hulk. Thankfully, the director vetoed all attempts to change the character.
Executive Meddling succeeded in destroying Guillermo Del Toro's earlier film, Mimic. He compared it to "... having a beautiful daughter and watching her arms get cut off," possibly a Titus Andronicus reference.
...and has now managed to obliterate Del Toro's adaptation of At the Mountains of Madness before filming even started. The reason? The Wolfman 2010 got poor reviews, and executives assumed this meant there was no market at all for gothic horror films.
He's not the only one: He's Mexican and Mexican directors are famous for sticking to their guns (or at least trying), especially toward higher-ups and very especially towards American movie companies due to cultural, racial and historical reasons. That's the reason why only three Mexican directors (the other two are Alfonso Cuarón and Alejandro González Iñárritu) work in Hollywood. Other Mexicans either didn't accept any kind of American meddling or hate Hollywood with a passion.
Alan Moore has had no direct involvement with film adaptations of his comics. However, film executives have made changes, to the point where, early on Mr. Moore has not only distanced himself from any further attempts to make film translations of his works, he has also voluntarily relinquished all rights to the profits from them. (He has also asked to have his name taken off the adaptations. Starting with Watchmen, they seem to be listening.)
Speaking of Watchmen, Fox's version certainly counts here. The film was updated to take place during the War on Terror, it went from a character study to a straight action flick, and Ozy's big plot went from killing half of New York to bring about world peace to simply going back in time to kill Dr. Manhattan, thus somehow transporting the characters into the "real world", where they're known as comic-book characters. Be thankful for Development Hell, folks; Love It or Hate It, WB's version is certainly more faithful, challenging, and involved than it could have been.
Even that movie was close to suffering extreme Executive Meddling. Originally, they wanted to set it today, and Snyder said "If you change anything, I'm out." He was also the one who insisted on using David Hayter's script (which was endorsed by Alan Moore while he still believed that Hollywood could make a good movie), though it was amended slightly by Alex Tse.
After almost finishing production on Superman II, director Richard Donner was fired by producer Alexander Salkind, who wanted a lower-budget movie with more camp. The result on the franchise was disastrous — many of the stars, including Marlon Brando and Gene Hackman, refused to work with new director Richard Lester, and the 3rd and 4th movies in the series were so critically disliked that the psuedo-reboot/sequel Superman Returnsignores them entirely.
The production of what would eventually become Superman Returns was similarly fraught with meddling from above. When Kevin Smith was recruited to write a screenplay for the film in 1997, he was met with a number of increasingly bizarre demands by producer Jon Peters, among which were that Superman not fly or wear the iconic tights (this latter on the grounds that it was "too faggy"), that the film's villain, Brainiac, speak with a "homosexual lisp" and have a robot sidekick (described by Peters as "a gay R2-D2 with attitude"), in addition to a fight scene between Brainiac and two polar bears and a marketable space dog pet, Chewbacca a la mode. His choice for the actor to portray the Man of Steel? Sean Penn, based on Penn's performance as a violent death row inmate in Dead Man Walking saying that Penn had the eyes of a "caged animal, a fucking killer." And, the infamous Giant Spider; listen to him talking about it all here. J. J. Abrams, also at Peters' instruction, created a treatment featuring Superman as an ordinary human being who got his powers from his suit, a living creature that crawled out of a tennis ball tube. (It is said that Peters is not a fan of comic books, which may explain his apparent unawareness that he had ordered Superman to be turned into Venom.) It wasn't until Bryan Singer was handed the project in 2003, and steadfastly refused to make any alterations to the mythos, that production actually got underway.
Speaking of Jon Peters' involvement in Superman, there's the legendary Saga of the Giant Spider. He seems to have something of an obsession with monstrous arachnids:
Peters had requested of Neil Gaiman that Dream fistfight a Giant Spider, among others, in the proposed and quickly abandoned original The Sandman adaptation attempt.
According to Kevin Smith, Peters had wanted Superman to fight a giant spider in an homage to King Kong.
Peters finally got his Giant Spider fix when he produced the movie of Wild Wild West.
In Comic Book The Movie, Mark Hamill's character at one point interviews Kevin Smith about the film adaptation of his favorite superhero, where Smith mentions how executives wanted him to add a scene with a giant mechanical spider. Later, he acquires a copy of the shooting script with one shot of him looking up after reading "Scene 37: The Giant Mechanical Spider".
The giant spider would also make a brief appearance in the comic Superman: Birthright, which managed to make it spectacular.
And possibly due to Jon Peters' ridiculous request for Brainiac to fight a polar bear, the miniseries Superman: Kryptonite has perhaps a very subtle joke where Superman is outside his Fortress of Solitude, talking about his relationship problems with Lois Lane. His lone listener, as it turns out, is a resting polar bear. Strangely enough Jon Peters produced Tim Burton's Batman which ironically has neither a giant spider, nor any executive meddling beyond the Prince songs.
An even better reference to Brainiac fighting a polar bear would be the Superman: The Animated Series episode in which Superman meets Brainiac for the first time and steals an orb with all information about Krypton which he places in the Fortress of Solitude and jokingly says to a polar bear next to it he should guard it.
After four years of work on his dream project, The Island Of Doctor Moreau, up-and-coming director Richard Stanley had attracted enough star power (Marlon Brando, Val Kilmer) to make his picture... only for star Kilmer, going through a divorce at the time, to request a role swap with Rob Morrow (playing the part of Montgomery), so as to make his load a little easier. To make matters worse, Kilmer ended up coming on set two days late, right in the middle of filming scenes his character was required for, and due to all this pressure, the dailies the studio received were abysmal; as a result, Stanley was fired from his own project.
Rob Morrow left shortly thereafter, to be replaced by David Thewlis. The studio subsequently handed the film over to veteran director John Frankenheimer, who rewrote the entire screenplay and managed to make enemies out of both Thewlis and Kilmer. The shoot became a disorganized mess; not surprisingly, the finished film bombed horribly.
Russell Mulcahy, the director of Highlander II The Quickening, has blamed the incredible crappiness that is the film on the fact that the film's insurance company took over production after he repeatedly came in late and over-budget. They made numerous changes to the movie, including changing the Immortals' Back Story, and merging together the two fight scenes between MacLeod and the villainous Katana. Mulcahy tried to salvage the movie later by re-cutting it to match his original vision as best he could and releasing it as Highlander II: The Renegade Version.
Producer/distributor Harvey Weinstein is infamous for recutting films without the consent of their directors, to the point that he has been nicknamed "Harvey Scissorhands" and "Darth Weinstein".
The film Fanboys. You can listen to its director recount the entire spectacular debacle in this podcast. The version of the film on DVD is as close as we'll ever get to the original cut — which the director still has a print of that he is not allowed to show anyone. It is unspeakably frustrating. The version on DVD is still pretty good, but it is ridiculously obvious which scenes survive from the original version and which scenes were ordered from the executives; there are whole swathes of subplot that make zero sense unless you ignore them.
The traitorous Lt. Valeris in 1991's Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country was originally written to be Lt. Saavik from the three previous films, so that her betrayal would have a more profound impact. However, Gene Roddenberry overruled writer/director Nicholas Meyer in what was by all accounts an epic battle of rank-pulling, and forced the creation of a "new" protégé for Spock. In this case, it was Creator Meddling!
The supreme irony being, as Nicholas Meyer is reported to have pointed out in Leonard Nimoy's book I am Spock, was that Roddenberry was pontificating over the storyline of a character he did not create. Nicholas Meyer wroteStar Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, and that is the first instance of Saavik appearing.
However, Roddenberry had been a victim of pretty extreme executive meddling himself after the quasi-failure of The Motion Picture in 1979. Paramount execs, enraged by the first film's price tag (Charles Bludhorn [a fairly important man at the studio in that he owned Paramount's (then) parent company Gulf + Western], when interviewing Harve Bennett for the job of replacing Roddenberry as Executive Producer, flat out asked "Can you make it for less than forty-five-fucking-million dollars?") and outraged by a script Roddenberry was shopping which would have had the Enterprise crew have to ensure the assassination of John F. Kennedy, kicked Roddenberry upstairs, taking him completely out of the day-to-day running of the next three movies. Helmed by two people unfamiliar with Star Trek, they are commonly considered some of the best movies in the series.
We would like to better establish why the future of six hundred Ba'Ku is so important. Currently it is unclear why Picard is so passionate about the future of this particular race. The "Blood Feud" between a few hundred Son'a and six hundred Ba'Ku seems like nothing more than a gang fight. Numerous civilizations have been eliminated by previous Star Trek megalomaniacs, so what makes the Ba'Ku special? To be blunt, with only six hundred people in the gene pool, The Ba'Ku would inbreed themselves into extinction in a few generations.
They were ignored.
Another example of Executive Meddling having a positive effect; when he completed Clerks, first-time director Kevin Smith initially experienced a lot of trouble raising interest from a distributor in order to sell it. It was suggested that he remove the unnecessary and out-of-placeDowner Ending in which Dante is killed by a robber. The rest is history.
Spider-Man 3: Sam Raimi wanted to do a movie focusing on a hero with negative qualities and a villain with positive qualities, while wrapping up sub-plots involving Mary Jane and Harry "Goblin Jr." Osborne. The story was packed as it was, but producer Avi Arad insisted that fan-favorite Venom also be added into the film. Sam Raimi, who disliked the character, at first refused but eventually gave in and shoehorned Eddie Brock and Venom into the script. Gwen Stacy was also shoehorned into the film, filling a role originally to have been played by a random woman.
On the other hand, it's rumored that Topher Grace's casting as Venom, which elicited a negative reaction from many fans, was in response to the above, with Raimi casting someone as different from the comics as possible in the role to spite Arad.
Now, things are even worse: Raimi was not satisfied with the scripts offered, production had to start soon... and since Sony wanted a new Spider-Man no matter what, Raimi and Tobey Maguire were left behind and a Continuity Reboot was made in its place.
As part of the movie's general spoofing of "underdog sports hero" movies, the script for Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story originally had the likeable underdog heroes lose the final dodgeball round to the Jerkass villain, but nevertheless recover some of their losses thanks to one of their number winning big in Vegas. The suits forced them to change this to an ending where the heroes ended up winning after all. In response, the director turned this into an over-complicated Deus ex Machina-strewn ending, and later had a scene over the credits with the villain whining about how he only lost because "audiences can't cope with anything challenging, can you?" It's also spoofed on the DVD, which features an "alternate ending" which, if it had been genuine, would have been the cruelest ending ever.
They even play with the Deus ex Machina ending: the movie even puts a small sign that says "Deus Ex Machina" on the treasure chest at the end!
The Daredevil film is a pretty clear version of this: the director filmed one version of the movie, only for Fox executives to think that Jennifer Garner's Elektra had potential as a spinoff once they saw early footage. So the movie had a hacksaw taken to it as a result, with a lengthy subplot revolving around Matt Murdock defending a murder victim removed (with the consequence of the movie's ending now making no sense and leaving virtually no mention of the iconic Nelson & Murdock law firm in the movie), Elektra given prominence, and most of Daredevil's origins shunted to the side. As a result, the theatrical cut was panned, and then Elektra also didn't do well in theatres. Thankfully, the director's cut has become quite popular on DVD, and holds up as one of the better Marvel movies.
Quite a lot of the film adaptation of The Golden Compass resides somewhere on the cutting room floor, mainly because the studio was dead set on making this their new PG-13-rated fun-for-the-whole-family blockbuster franchise (His Dark Materials fans take a minute and let that sink in). Can't have anything remotely edgy in a PG-13-rated fun-for-the-whole-family blockbuster franchise, can we?
Chris Weitz's initial cut of The Golden Compass ran approximately three hours. New Line was banking on this new His Dark Materials trilogy to be their next The Lord of the Rings. Unfortunately, the studio got cold feet at the 11th hour. They felt that not only was the film running too long (ironic considering how long each of the The Lord of the Rings films ran in their theatrical cuts), but they were worried about the Downer Ending in which Lord Asriel kidnaps Roger and tears him apart from his daemon, effectively killing him in the process in order to rip open the barrier between worlds. Without Weitz's involvement, the studio cut this ending out along with approximately 45 minutes' worth of other scenes. This created such glaring gaps in the storyline that reshoots were promptly made to help smoothen these out, including an extremely self-conscious Sequel Hook. Scenes (particularly during the last third) were re-ordered since the real climax of the film had been excised, resulting in the battle of Bolvangar becoming the climax when it was meant to be a skirmish. To help drive home that this was their next The Lord of the Rings, Christopher Lee was given a cameo during the reshoots as one of Magisterium leaders, and Ian McKellen was brought in to voice Iorek Byrnison despite Nonso Anonzie having already completed his work in the role. The film had gone so far over budget that they sold the foreign distribution rights in order to finish post-production. All of this blew up in New Line's face when the film did poorly domestically but was a smash hit internationally, resulting in the studio getting swallowed up by parent company Warner Brothers. When asked if we'll ever see his original director's cut for the film, Chris Weitz answered that it's not likely as the missing hour of footage requires another $2 million of effects to complete.
Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale bowed down to a lot of Executive Meddling in order to get Back to the Future made, but they stopped short of renaming the movie Spaceman from Pluto. Steven Spielberg handled this by answering the memo that suggested the new title with another one that read: "Thanks for the joke memo, guys: it's the funniest thing ever. We're still laughing about it." It actually worked, as the executive behind this was too proud to admit he was serious.
The sequels only exist because of this. After the runaway success of the first film, Zemeckis and Gale were told "We're making more and either you'll make them or we'll get someone else." They opted to do the sequels.
In The Matrix, the Wachowski brothers had wanted to have the machines use the humans plugged into the Matrix as a gigantic neural network computer. However, executives thought that the audience wouldn't understand this, so they changed it to using the humans to generate electricity, even though this violates the laws of thermodynamics and creates several plot holes (though some fans find it decent as a metaphor).
In the stoner flick Harold And Kumar Go To White Castle, one of the main focuses in the movie is about the subtle but ever-present racial issues that the racial minorities face in a hilarious manner. The execs wanted the director to change their ethnicity to them both being Jewish, which would have effectively nullified the central concept of the characters and, at the same time, ironically proven the point of the film. The director/writer said no and, as a compromise, placed a Jewish buddy duo into the movie as the lead characters' close friends.
Perhaps as a reaction to this, the film's sequel places the racial issues completely front and center, with a plot that involves Harold and Kumar being arrested as terrorists.
The scene where the narrator severely beats another member of the club out of jealousy for the apparent attention he was getting from Tyler Durden originally focused more on the beating. Censors deemed this unacceptable, so the scene was altered to focus more on the narrator's face. Many considered the alteration to be more disturbing than the original scene.
During the scene where Tyler is discussing with the narrator the night of sex he has just had with Marla Singer, there was originally a flashback line where she intimately whispers to Tyler that she "wants to have [his] abortion". Studio executives were outraged by this line and demanded that it be changed. The director complied; and the studio executives begged for it to be changed back when it turned into Marla nostalgically exclaiming that "[she] hadn't been fucked like that since grade school".
According to the commmentary track, Helena Bonham Carter (who played Marla) didn't quite realize the implications of the line, since the term "grade school" is never used in England. When someone pointed out that she was implying that Marla had had sex before the age of thirteen, she was horrified.
The films ends with the success of Project Mayhem and what appears to be a sort of reconciliation between Marla and Tyler, which differs rather greatly from the novel's ending. Even the book's author, Chuck Palahniuk, is said to have liked it better than his own ending, though he also mentions in his book "Non-Fiction" that the process of watching the book become the movie was deeply depressing, most especially the way actors such as Pitt and Norton wrote in their own bits of dialogue.
The Alien series has the distinct honor of having one example of this spread over two media: with both the original movie's Adult Alien action figure and the "Newborn" Alien in Alien: Resurrection, the sculptors and director, respectively, wanted to add actual genitals to them, but were slapped down as being "too much". Heavy meddling by Walter Hill and David Giler turned the Dan O'Bannon/Ronald Shusett version from crap to great.
Alien³'s production problems are the stuff of industry legend, and are chronicled in interviews and the "Wreckage And Rage" documentary on the Alien Anthology setnote Even this is the result of Executive Meddling. The original title was the much more emotive and accusatory "Wreckage and Rape". 20th Century Fox spent millions of dollars (over a period of four years) to try and get the script up and running - and every director who signed up ended up leaving due to creative differences and/or Fox attempting to stifle their creative process (Renny Harlin and Vincent Ward both expressed concerns when the studio tried to micromanage their planned directorial efforts) by forcing mandates (like the inclusion of Sigourney Weaver) onto them. Fox executives then brought on rookie director David Fincher, who they believed they could control. Fincher had other plans, and what resulted were back-and-forth battles between the two parties. Fox prevented Fincher from shooting key scenes (which he shot anyway), sent him back for reshoots after a deliberately botched test screening (using, as actor Ralph Brown put it, "brain-dead kids from Southern California"), insulted him on several occasions and eventually locked him out of the editing room. They even attempted to hide the story of the film's production from the public for years - DVD producer Charles Lauzirika was barred from featuring the original version of "Wreckage and Rage" on the Alien Quadrilogy set by Fox executives.
Tropes Are Not Bad! Sort of. Inadvertently. The Nazi propaganda film Der ewige Jude (The Eternal Jew) was envisioned by Joseph Goebbels as an understated and subtle (by the standards of Nazi Propaganda) demonstration of the "evils" of Jewry, in keeping with Goebbels' (mostly correct) theory that the best propaganda was primarily entertainment and not obviously political. However, Hitler demanded more polemical material, such as laughably (even to the Nazis) crude comparisons of Jews to rats. It was a box-office flop, and some viewers fainted at the crudity. Inadvertently, executive meddling transformed what might be a chilling piece of propaganda into an embarrassing farce. Unfortunately, Goebbels had got his way with the much more effective and successful Jud Suss which was re-released to compensate for the failure of Der ewige Jude.
The planned ending of the 2007 film of I Am Legend tested poorly and, at the studio's insistence, was replaced with one that was both nothing like the book and completely against the point of the original film. Among other things, it introduces some serious plot holes, skips the shocking twist that made the book so successful (while still heavily foreshadowing the now-nonexistent twist), and removes the reason for the movie to be called "I Am Legend" — Which, really, seems to be par for the course of every adaptation of the book.
A planned adaptation of Terry Pratchett's Mort was nixed when producers wanted to "lose the Death angle". Here is Pratchett's comment about it:
"What you have to remember is that in the movies there are two types of people 1) the directors, artists, actors and so on who have to do things and are often quite human and 2) the other lifeforms. Unfortunately you have to deal with the other lifeforms first. It is impossible to exaggerate their baleful stupidity."
Despite marketing The Colour of Magic in the film and TV tie-in section of bookstores. Someone must pay.
There was also a film version of The Wee Free Men in the pipes, but according to Terry the script he was shown "had all the hallmarks of something that had been good, and then the studio had got involved," and the project is now mired in Development Hell.
The BBC wanted to do seven series of thirteen episodes of the Watch novels. Unfortunately, according to Terry, they had the attitude "We cannot be bound by anything in the books because we are the BBC." So a Bible was written, which contained the absolute immutables. And back came the letter "Thank you for the Bible. If we feel the need to change anything in it, we'll be sure to let you know afterwards." The Watch-Novels-as-BBC-series has been canned.
In the original The Day The Earth Stood Still 1951, Klaatu was initially supposed to survive the barrage of bullets via the Applied Phlebotinum that brought him back to temporary life in the final cut to reinforce his God-like powers. Unfortunately the censors didn't like the ending, suggesting it was too left-wing of a movie, forcing the line, "That power is reserved for the Almighty Spirit." Given that the new Klaatu is Keanu Reeves, who did the same thing in The Matrix, someone must love irony...
Although this was a product of the Hays Code, and was not specifically directed at Casablanca.
Ingrid Bergman was always going to get on the plane; the ending that was changed was Bogart's character getting arrested by his French police friend (changed to him saying: "Round up the usual suspects" instead.)
The movie of Robert A. Heinlein's The Puppet Masters suffered from this. Executives who wanted to change the slugs to spores from space and other disgraces are listed in this essay by the script writer.
Babylon AD, which evidently made sense at some point, was reportedly disowned by its director over an egregious example of this. The full story can be found here. The studio in question? Fox.
"The film's production was reportedly riddled with problems, from vast delays to budgetary concerns to weather setbacks. Kassovitz points to the studio, 'Fox was sending lawyers who were only looking at all the commas and the dots,' he says. 'They made everything difficult from A to Z.' The last stroke, Kassovitz says, was when Fox interfered with the editing of the film, paring it down to a confusing 93 minutes. Diesel too was astounded at the film's length. Having just completed production of the fourth installment of The Fast and the Furious, he had not seen a cut of the film in six months. 'Am I even in the movie any more, or am I on the cutting room floor?' the actor joked. Fox could not be reached for comment on this story."
The Hitman movie was severely meddled with, at least according to well-substantiated rumors. If you watch the trailers (and promotional stills) carefully, you can see the remains of a different "train station" scene. It is said that the producers ordered the editor (Nicolas de Toth) to actually direct the re-shoot (the infamous swordfight scene) without even notifying the director Xavier Gens about it. Also, the leaked near-final script contains scenes that could be matched to the remains seen in trailers and promotional photos. The studio in question? Fox. Again.
One of the Godzilla series's more infamous Special Effect Failures is the incredibly obvious strings holding up the prop for the titular airborne antagonist of Godzilla Vs Megaguirus - made much worse by the fact that the film was made in 2000, even though Toho's giant monstermovies have hid their the wires very well ever since the early 1960s. As it turns out, the effect is perfectly convincing in the Japanese print of the film; when Sony released it on DVD in America, however, they used a much brighter print for some reason, rendering the strings extremely visible.
While the Ed Wood "masterpiece" Glen or Glenda? would have been a horrible movie regardless, the suits pulled the strings behind the scenes, adding softcore bondage so the film could draw more publicity as an adults-only extravaganza. Ironically this meant that the film didn't make much of a profit and only gained national attention when it was re-released in theatres in the coming decades.
The Orange Cinema adverts reference this. In one example, Macaulay Culkin (the actor who played the boy from Home Alone) is acting in a deep-sounding film about a guy in jail writing a diary/letter about his experiences/history. Then a director comes on, and pitches a Home Alone sequel. Next thing we know people are thumping into each other and paint cans are knocking their heads (like in the movies). Mac is not amused. (The advert could also be in reference to Home Alone'sSequelitis.)
The fantasy-based production of Super Mario Bros. that predated the second, sci-fi-oriented production had already drained $10 million of the total budget in the six months under former director Greg Beeman. The producers scrambled for nearly a year to get another director before finally settling on Rocky Morton and Annabel Jankel (formerly of Max Headroom fame) because they were the only directors interested in the property. With already $10 million in the can, the new writers working with Rocky and Annabel were dictated to severely limit any action sequences or concepts that would require special effects. They ignored this mandate and wrote a very hardcore version of the film that was later re-written twice, the second time actually being filmed. Faced with a massive delay, the producers had over half the shooting script trimmed of sub-plots and backstory to save time. Rocky and Annabel were also rarely allowed to direct under their own style and forced to send daily updates to the producers so they could dictate further changes. In the end, over 20 minutes of deleted scenes were removed to get Mario and Luigi into the parallel world quicker and to get the rating down, including a scene at the Boom Boom Bar where Iggy and Spike rap while Stripperiffic girls dance around them. Finally, the producers had the atrocious animated intro made to make-up for the backstory clarified in the deleted scenes.
A Streetcar Named Desire had a fair amount of this going on during production. Some of the jazzy, brass-heavy music was deemed "too suggestive" and re-scored with strings. The ending was also changed, to show Stella leaving Stanley after he rapes Blanche.
In the movie, Blanche's monologue about her husband had been toyed around, making it nearly impossible to realize he was homosexual if you hadn't read or seen the play. In fact, it ruins the reason why he kills himself.
The movie version of the stage musical 1776 — which was actually commissioned by the US government as part of the runup to the bicentennial — was subjected to executive branch meddling: Richard Nixon disliked the modern-day parallels/implications of the Villain Song (or at least Antagonist Song) "Cool Considerate Men," which was an ode to the wealthy, risk-averse conservatives who opposed the Independence movement ("To the right, ever to the right! Never to the left, forever to the right!"). He pressured his old buddy movie producer Jack Warner to not only expunge the number from the film but to destroy the footage as well. However, Warner was no longer directly in charge at the studio and the negatives were simply packed into unmarked boxes. The song was restored to its rightful place in the movie for the Special Edition DVD release.
And it wasn't the first time he'd tried to have the song killed. Nixon had earlier attempted to pressure playwright Sherman Edwards into removing the number after seeing a performance of the play at the White House, but Edwards refused.
According to the commentary on the extended edition DVD, the creative team behind Underworld was pressured by the studio to keep Viktor a sympathetic character throughout, and have Lucian be a straight villain. (One wonders what would have actually happened in said meddled-with movie, since that would have negated the story and the bulk of the action.) The writing/directing team luckily prevailed, keeping the revelation of Lucian as a sympathetic figure and Viktor as a lying murderous jerk.
Brazil. Dear Lord, Brazil. Universal tried to hack this film — now considered one of the greatest, most intelligent sci-fi films ever made — down from 142 minutes to 97 (that's 45 minutes there, folks) give it a happy ending, turn it into a love story, and replace Michael Kamen's orchestral score with hit rock music to "attract the teens". Director Terry Gilliam fought for and secured a theatrical release of his preferred 132-minute cut, without the studio's permission, and it is this version which is the standard on home video as opposed to the studio's "Love Conquers All" cut.
Brazil is considered one of the more prominent examples of Executive Meddling in recent years, so much so a whole book has been written on how much Universal screwed Terry Gilliam over.
The film's original screenplay, which was written by Brian Clemens, was deemed too intense by Disney; the company hired first Rosemary Anne Sisson and then Gerry Day to revise it.
It didn't help the film that producers Ron Miller and Tom Leetch would argue over some of the film's scenes, with Miller wanting to tone down some of the film's more intense moments. An example of this includes a scene where the film's heroine receives a Bright Slap from her mother, which was toned down to have the mother shake her shoulders instead.
The film's intended ending was to have the Watcher appear and take the heroine to his spaceship, which contained the girl who was haunting the heroine throughout the film. However, Disney wanted to rush the film's release to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Bette Davis's acting career (Bette Davis played the role of the missing girl's mother). As a result, the scenes involving the spaceship, which weren't even finished at the time, were left out of the film, and the ending became unintelligible. After receiving a poor response by critics, the film was pulled from theaters and wouldn't be officially released for over a year.
Rather than finish the special effects shots required for the film's intended ending, Disney instead changed the ending in which the Watcher is now a pillar of light (instead of an insectoid alien), with the events of the missing girl's disappearance and the Watcher's presence being explained by the heroine's younger sister (who is possessed by the Watcher). In the process, Disney also cut twenty minutes off the film's run time and changed the film's opening credits sequence (the original sequence was darker and featured the Watcher scaring a girl and incinerating her doll, with the credits appearing on screen while the doll's head was melting).
When Anchor Bay was releasing Disney films on DVD, the company enlisted the film's the director, John Hough, to re-edit the film, with the plans being to release a two-disc version of the film that would contain the original 1981 release and a director's cut, which would include the original opening credits sequence and a finished version of the film's intended ending. Disney showed great resistance to this (with most of it probably being because Anchor Bay's releases of Disney films were of much better quality than Disney's own DVD releases). In the end, while Anchor Bay was eventually able to release The Watcher in the Woods on DVD, only the original 1981 version of the film was used, with a rough cut of the spaceship ending appearing on the DVD as an "alternate ending" (along with a second "alternate ending" that is an approximation of the ending that appeared in the original version of the film). Both endings would eventually appear on the Disney DVD version of the film.
Times Square was a victim of this. The original cut contained lesbian content, which the producers wanted removed. Additionally, the producers wanted additional songs added so that the soundtrack would be a double album. Director Allan Moyle resisted, and ended up getting fired. The deleted footage is apparently lost.
Rob Zombie's 2003 horror film House of 1000 Corpses was initially filmed while Rob was negotiating for Universal Pictures to distribute it. When Universal execs saw the final cut, they turned pale and refused to release it, though it was eventually picked up by Lionsgate. Rob groused to Guitar World magazine shortly thereafter, "I called it House of 1,000 Corpses; what did they think it was going to be about?"
Dino De Laurentiis pared Dune down by hours and the result was a confusing mess to many people who didn't read the book.
A rare good case occurred with Monty Python's Life of Brian. The initial studio abandoned the film just as the Pythons were getting ready to shoot ("when they finally read the script," according to Michael Palin). Enter former BeatleGeorge Harrison, who happened to be a) extremely rich and b) a total Python fanboy. He founded a production company for the sole purpose of financing the film and more or less let the Pythons do whatever they wanted. When asked why, Harrison said, "Well, I wanted to see the movie." Eric Idle later called it "the most expensive movie ticket ever purchased."
Another good case of Tropes Are Not Bad is they wanted to use a screamer in one of their sketches. Basically, the sound volume will be gradually lowered during the sketch so the viewers would turn the volume to the maximum. After that, they wanted to produce a very loud sound. They weren't allowed to do so...
The original Army of Darkness ending had Ash drinking too much of a sleeping potion and, instead of waking up in the present, arriving in the post-apocalyptic future and screaming through the credits. When test audiences complained about the ending, meddling executives stepped in to request a new, much happier ending be filmed in its place. It does make a case for Tropes Are Not Bad, though, as the theatrical ending's counted by many fans as Ash's Crowning Moment of Awesome.
It also benefits from the lack of a fourth movie. The original ending has a very obvious Sequel Hook, while the S-Mart ending gives Ash some closure.
Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan was supposed to be one-third on the boat, and two-thirds in New York, and the studio forced the director to reverse the ratio. The main reason the studio forced this decision was because they simply didn't enough of a budget to be able to film all the New York scenes.
The seventh movie was originally going to pit Jason against Freddy himself. However, the two were owned by Paramount and New Line, respectively, and neither side could come to an agreement over how to proceed. It took New Line getting a hold of the rights to Jason (plus years of Development Hell) for Freddy vs. Jason to come along.
Halloween The Curse Of Michael Myers has the most stunning example of this trope. Apparently, the film ran over time and budget, so the suits decided to take it over to see how they could "salvage it". Their version is the Theatrical Cut. When the film was shown on TV, someone got a hold of the now infamous Producer's Cut. While the violence and cursing were trimmed, an assload of alternate takes and different opening narration were shown, and the entire last 20 minutes of the film is RADICALLY different from the Theatrical Cut. The main change is that the explanation for Michael's killing ways is altered: The Theatrical version offered a scientific reason, but the Producer's Cut says the reason is supernatural (which also explains why Micheal is also growing bigger in each previous film. It's because his power is growing). It also shows a final scene with Dr. Loomis realizing that he has been cursed by Thorn. This was likely altered when Donald Pleasance died. An early trailer showed that the film was originally going to called "Halloween 666: The Curse of Michael Myers." This version is only available through bootleg video releases.
Halloween II 1981 to a lesser extent. John Carpenter didn't want to do a sequel, but when the producers said that they were doing one with or without him, he figured that if someone was going to be paid to write the script, it might as well be him. Rick Rosenthal was then brought in to direct, but the producers didn't like his decision to make it more of a thriller than a slasher, so they got Carpenter to shoot some extra scenes, mostly involving killings. As a result, Rosenthal is not a fan of the released version.
Schumacher's planned screenplay had assistance from Frank Miller, and some cut scenes from the original version appear in the promotional music videos, namely an encounter with a giant bat.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine: The Fox executives decided that it would be a brilliant idea to take Deadpool, the Merc with the Mouth and possibly the most popular character appearing in the movie (people are getting tired of Wolverine), introduce him and then remove him quickly, and then sew his mouth shut. Because he would be too entertaining and take attention away from Wolverine or something (no-one knows the exact reason), even though Wolvie had already had three movies to himself.
Director Gavin Hood and top Fox executive Tom Rothman reportedly had clashes over the film's creative direction. One infamous incident happened while Hood was off-set, at which point Rothman took it upon himself to have one of the sets repainted from Hood's original Darker and Edgier theme into something more Lighter and Softer.
Aaaaand now it looks like it's going on with The Wolverine, with Darren Aronofsky attached to direct...only to leave the production because he "didn't want to do location shoots". Riiiight.
The 1967 spy comedy In Like Flint has agent Flint uncovering a plot by a group of powerful women executives (in those pre-liberation days they were heads of cosmetic companies, fashion houses, etc.) who commandeer and arm a space station to take the reins of power from men and run the world their way. As originally scripted, Flint argues with them that even though they had been dealt an unfair deal in life, their plan was simply the other side of the coin, adding that "if it's a slug on one side it's a slug on the other". Someone in the studio hierarchy trimmed his eloquent case down to "Ladies...forget it!" and the movie's producer quit in protest.
Terminator 2 goes to great lengths in its introduction to imply that Arnold is the bad guy again and Robert Patrick John's protector. The production crew were rather disappointed when the advertisers decided to make a point of stating outright that Arnold was the good guy in every trailer.
Erich von Stroheim's Greed reduced from five hours and a half (!) to 2 hours by MGM.
It's worse than that. The first cut of the film was nine and a half hours! And it's all gone as far as we know.
There were two cuts of Michael Cimino's Heaven's Gate; a 5 hour cut and a studio-mandated 3 1/2 hour cut. This was the only successful implementation of this trope; all others were either considered and dropped or rebuffed by Michael Cimino.
The film of Buffy the Vampire Slayer was intended to be entirely different. Apparently, a version of the original script is available in one form or another, and is considered canon in the continuity of the series. However, the meddling was so bad that Joss Whedon reportedly walked off set one day and never went back. As several entries in the TV section suggest, Whedon is a regular target for Executive Meddling.
Specifically, the Origin comic miniseries is, according to Joss, still not quite right, but close enough to be accepted as canon.
Joss has stated in interviews that Frans Kazui purposely played up the comedy aspect of the script into the movie as opposed to the B Movie Horror aspect, as originally intended by Whedon.
The TV Set takes executive meddling as its focus. A fellow whose brother has just committed suicide wants to make a thoughtful Dramedy TV show that would serve as a fictional account of their relationship, and a way of coming to terms with suicide in general. A particularly pushy executive gets involved, and it gets turned into a Lowest Common Denominator comedy called Call Me Crazy! Oh, and does the brother have to commit suicide?
Lenny: "Suicide is depressing to, like, 82% of people!"
Roman Polanski's The Fearless Vampire Killers suffered terribly from this when it was released in America. For starters, America is the only country in which that was the title. In Europe, it was released under Polanski's original title, Dance of the Vampires. But the executives didn't stop there: they also cut out 20 minutes of footage (from a film that was only 107 minutes to begin with), gave all the characters bad dubbing to make them sound American, and added a cheerful little slapstick cartoon short to the beginning, which clashed badly with the tone Polanski was reaching for. The finished product was so bad that Roger Ebert would simply say that, in the screening he attended, no one laughed even once, although a couple of people cried.
Independence Day removed a very important scene where Jeff Goldblum's character explained a bit about what was going on with the TV signal, as it gave an early hint as to how the aliens are going to attack Earth, because Harvey Fierstein's character placed an ad-libbed kiss on Jeff Goldblum's character. Apparently, this was Roland Emmerich's decision as it would have apparently angered the MPAA if he kept it in, despite the fact that the kiss in question wasn't even close to being long enough to carry any romantic implications from Fierstein's character and another acting job that he did allowed him to get away with kissing another guy despite TV stations being even stricter in regards to content than Movies.
Averted with Gremlins, in a similar case to Back to the Future. Warner Bros. thought that the movie focused too heavily on the gremlins and wanted most of their scenes cut. Steven Spielberg, the movie's producer, asked the studio why they didn't just cut every scene with a gremlin in it and call the movie People, and they wisely backed down.
The classic Film NoirThe Big Sleep had positive executive meddling. The film was completed in 1944, but then shelved so the studio could push through its backlog of WWII movies. It was finally released in 1946. In the meantime, stars Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall had married, and the pair's first film, To Have and Have Not, had been released, demonstrating their bankable chemistry. The Big Sleep was recut and new scenes, mainly featuring the two leads flirting, were inserted. This made the movie even more confusing, but the results were worth it.
The original 1944 version survives because it was shown to US troops overseas during the war. The modern DVD release features both versions on a double-sided disc.
There are rumors that less beneficial executive meddling occurred during the original shoot, because the actress playing the younger sister of Bacall's character was upstaging the lead.
The first live-action Scooby Doo movies suffered from executing meddling. Writer James Gunn (yes, THAT James Gunn) wrote a PG-13 movie that rewarded its fans with many urban legends and Wild Mass Guessing developed by said fans being acknowledged on screen. Despite these elements being filmed, Warner Bros. forced many of them to be cut to get a PG rating. The final film is a case where the deleted scenes are actually better than what's shown on screen. Later on, Gunn's contract mandated that he write a sequel and he was forced to leave the Dawn Of The Dead 2004 remake as a result (that script ended up being finished Scott Frank and Michael Tolkin).
The Red Dawn 2012 remake is centered around a Chinese invasion of America. However, after the movie was completed, the executives decided to change the villain from China to North Korea, and went so far as to digitally alter every Chinese symbol into a North Korean one and add additional scenes. The executives initially claimed that North Korea would be a more plausible enemy than China, but they later admitted the real reason for the changes was because the idea of the Chinese invading scared off distributors, no one would touch the film until the changes were made, and it took almost a year to find a distributor.
A scene in The Santa Clause ended up deleted in the DVD releases because of complaints from one of the parents of the children who watched the film, tried to dial the number that Scott Calvin sarcastically gave (1-800-SPANK-ME), and discovered that it was a phone sex hotline.
During the casting process for Tremors, the studio suggested Michael Gross to play Burt Gummer. Gross was practically a household name due to Family Ties, which was why the studio wanted him. However, production was nervous because Gross was known for playing a laid back father with a hippie past - a far cry from the paranoid, trigger-happy Gummer. All that nervousness changed, though, when Gross auditioned - reportedly blowing production away with his range. A truly positive example of the trope, as production was thrilled to have Gross and Burt Gummer became the Ensemble Dark Horse of the franchise.
Not even the much lauded Marvel superhero movies are immune to this. For Iron Man 2, Terrence Howard was replaced by Don Cheadle due to a number of disagreements between the studio and Howard's agents. Jon Favreau also decided not to direct Iron Man 3 due to creative differences with Marvel, allegedly because Marvel wanted to increase the number of cameos.
Similarly, Marvel decided not to have Edward Norton reprise his role as The Incredible Hulk in The Avengers film, replacing him with Mark Ruffalo. This is because Norton is notoriously difficult to work with.
Which ended up being a positive example, as Ruffalo's portrayal as the Hulk was praised by critics and audiences.
The Avengers movie and Iron Man 3, unlike the previous Marvel Studios movies (bar Hulk), are made by Marvel's parent company Disney, but distributed through Paramount. The Avengers and Iron Man 3 were part of a five-picture distribution deal Marvel made with Paramount prior to Disney's acquisition of Marvel. As part of the acquisition, Disney purchased the rights to those two films, but Paramount's logo appears instead of any Disney logo as part of the deal transferring the distribution rights. Needless to say, it's quite jarring watching The Avengers on home video, where Paramount's logo is everywhere... but the box and menu layout resembles Disney DVDs, the trailer that plays is for Frankenweenie, and the print ads inside the box are for Avengers kids toys and Epic Mickey 2, showing that Disney is calling the shots from behind the scenes. Ironically, marketing materials for Thor: The Dark World—the first Marvel film distributed by Disney with its own logo—do not bear any indication that is by them.
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is actually a triumphant example. The producers thought the original ending was too anti-authoritarian, so they changed it—thereby inventing the cinematic Twist Ending.
DreamWorks decided that Cameron Crowe's original vision of Almost Famous as a 'band on the road' movie wouldn't appeal to audiences, so the theatrical version removed a large amount of Stillwater material in order to reshape the film as a love story between William and Penny. To compensate for tampering with the film, Dreamworks later released the "Almost Famous Untitled: The Bootleg Cut" DVD, which features the film as Crowe intended.
Crowe also planned for the film to be released as "Untitled," but Dreamworks demanded a more unique name. Extras were allowed to submit potential titles ("Saving William's Privates" was one), until Crowe settled on "Almost Famous."
The brief topless shot of Joey Lauren Adams in Mallrats was not part of the script, but insisted upon by Universal. In fact, when Adams refused to be filmed topless, Universal threatened to fire her from the film. Then-boyfriend Kevin Smith persuaded her otherwise.
Executive meddling with Mallrats also resulted in the removal of a 'semen as hair gel' joke (deemed too gross, only a couple years before There's Something About Mary), and almost resulted in the replacement of Jason Mewes with Seth Green as Jay. Obviously, the latter would have been a disaster, as Jay is nothing more than a scripted portrayal of Jason's actual personality and manner of speaking.
Jacques Tourneur famously directed a number of atmospheric movies of supernatural nature that delivered chills while leaving much unseen and to the imagination. With 1957's Night of the Demon, he intended to show said demon, at most, in a brief "did I see that?" glimpse toward the end, but the producer insisted on a full-on rubber suit creature, very visible at both the beginning and the end. Opinions vary on its inclusion, but many feel it's a fine movie regardless.
Shown in a subverted form in the movie Morning Glory.Rachel McAdams' character is hired to be the Executive Producer and given free reign to do whatever she wanted with the show with in a show as long as it was in the budget.
Tank Girl suffered badly from this according to Rachel Talalay, they fought over the film and the studio cut out a ton of stuff, and like in Blade Runner, it had an opening narration tacked on (which Lori Petty hated) the studio also insisted on removing scenes of Tank Girl in bed with Booga from the video releases, the studio intereference may have been the main reason why Talalay hasn't helmed a feature film since and now mostly works in directing episodes of various TV shows.
James Brooks' I'll Do Anything was originally written and filmed as an Old Hollywood-style musical. Then it was shown to test audiences, who believed the musical numbers should be cut. Brooks was forced to remove the songs and shoot several new scenes in their place, releasing the film months later as a non-musical.
This is the reason why Pete Travis was fired from the post-production of Dredd, and replaced with screenwriter Alex Garland. Reportedly, Travis's cut was not the action-filled film that the studio and producers wanted so he was locked out of the editing room and eventually let go. Garland could even seek co-director credit, but he and Travis managed a deal.
This occurred heavily in The Core, John Rogers originally wanted to have a magnetic reversal occur but was told that it was too far fetched. The capsule that drilled into the core was also expected to have a window.
That Lady In Ermine had its ending changed from the original operetta and its adaptations. Angelina was supposed to be back with her husband after her identical ancestor convinced the Colonel of an invading army to leave. Execs thought it meant Angelina got away with cheating, so the ending was changed to the marriage being annulled and Angelina and the Colonel ending up together.
Disturbing Behavior was practically shredded in the editing room, having nearly twenty minutes cut (the theatrical edit is just 84 minutes long) and a different ending put in by the studio over the objections of director David Nutter. Among the scenes cut include numerous story and Character Development scenes whose absence the film greatly suffers for, which perhaps explains the film's tepid reception by critics and at the box office. Fortunately, all of the scenes in question are included on the DVD. The Sci Fi Channel's edited-for-TV version of the movie often reinstates the deleted scenes, making it something of an unofficial director's cut, though it leaves the theatrical ending.
The Lord of the Rings almost suffered this fate. Peter Jackson originally came up with a two-movie treatment since he knew a proper trilogy was going to be a hard sell, but when he showed it to Miramax, their suggestions were to, among other things, "use or lose" Saruman, combine Rohan and Gondor (so that Éowyn would be Boromir's sister), and mash everything into a single film. Instead Jackson went to New Line, who again said that it shouldn't be two films... it should(obviously) bethreefilms.
But then came The Hobbit, that after the Development Hell saw its expansion into three movies - when it's a single novel, that as much as a Door Stopper isn't comparable to the Ring trilogy.
Zulu on a governmental level. The film company was forbidden to actually pay the Zulus acting as extras, under apartheid laws. Director Cy Enfield, who'd struck up a friendship with the Zulus acting in the film, was upset with this and decided to leave them the cattle used in the film, which was more valuable to them than money anyway.
Mystery Science Theater 3000The Movie. Hoo, boy. The movie was originally envisioned as an origin movie meant to reveal how Joel got stuck on the Satellite of Love beyond what was mentioned in the theme, but the executives wanted very little to none movie riffing, which would be one of the reasons why creator Joel Hodgson left the series. Universal insisted on only using their collection of movies, they were forced to "dumb down" various riffs, wanted more cursing (which wasn't too bad - one good riff had Tom utter "What kind of shithole planet is this?!" upon seeing Metaluna), was forced to rewrite the ending which made the scene where Crow finds the chainsaw a one-off gag (he was supposed to use the chainsaw to resume digging to Earth) and for the biggest slap in the face, they ended up with Invisible Advertising as distributor Gramercy chose to put more attention on Barb Wire over this.
Blazing Saddles: They tried. Mel Brooks was called into a meeting with the film company executives where they had a long list of changes that they wanted to make, including removing all instances of the N-word, and cutting the beans scene entirely. Mel took careful notes of all their requests, and when the meeting was over he dumped his notes in the garbage, because his contract gave him final cut on the film.
Remember the infamous Predator scene where the group freaks out and fires their guns wildly into the jungle? This was put into the film after the studio told John Mctiernan that they felt the movie needed more 'gun shooting scenes'. So he added a scene where the gun shooting was pointless.
G.I. Joe: Retaliation became a victim of this. Just weeks before its scheduled release, the film was pulled for reshoots to give Channing Tatum's character, Duke, more screentime (as a response to Tatum's increased box-office draw). It is also believed that the film was, in part, rescheduled over the studio's fears of the film bombing in an already-crowded fall 2012 movie market.
Happened with The Wizard of Oz. In the original script, Oz was indeed a real place that Dorothy had really visited, but execs thought that audiences would be too "sophisticated" to accept a fantasy land like Oz, so they changed it to its now famous All Just a Dream ending. Whether this was a good thing depends on your interperetation.
The execs also pressured the director to cut the 'Over The Rainbow' song, not liking the idea of their star singing in a farmyard. Fortunately, the song stayed in.
I know that those who have read my Conan shooting script agree that much of the work I did on story and character never made it to screen. I myself know that given the difficulties of rewriting a script in the middle of production, I made vast improvements on the draft that came before me.
A draft of the first Charlies Angels film was written by Men In Black director Barry Sonnenfeld, but a subsequent rewrite trashed everything except the opening scene, which doesn't inform the plot. Sonnenfeld joked that he wrote everything except the plot, dialogue and characters.
Gigli was originally intended to be a black comedy. Producers, however, made it into a Rom Com to cash in on J-Lo/Ben Affleck romance at the time. Seven Razzies ensued.
The Crow is notable for averting Executive Meddling for the most part and for being endorsed by the comic's creator James O'Barr. O'Barr once mentioned in an interview an executive who tried to meddle, suggesting it be adapted as a musical starring Michael Jackson. O'Barr thought the guy was joking; when insisted he was serious, O'Barr showed him the door.
The first sequel, on the other hand, is infamous for being cut in half in an attempt to make it more like the first. Director Tim Pope and script writer David Goyer have both renounced the theatrical version, and the supposed "Director's Cut" only has ten more minutes of footage. The novelization and comic adaptation, however, kept the script in tact.
Peter Bogdanovich'sTexasville, the long-awaited sequel of The Last Picture Show, was originally 2½ hours, but was cut by 25 minutes at the behest of Columbia Pictures.note When Bogdanovich pitched the film to Columbia, they didn't even want the film; they ended up with it because they had a distribution deal with the producers that gave Bogdanovich the funding. Columbia subsequently dumped Texasville with limited distribution, making it also an example of Screwed by the Studio. The result was a film with more comedy and less serious moments. A director's cut was released on Laserdisc, and nowhere else.
During filming of The Blues Brothers, Universal kept pressuring John Landis to replace some of the African American musical stars in the cast like Cab Calloway and Aretha Franklin with acts like Rose Royce who were more contemporary and successful (The notable exception was Ray Charles). He refused, but as a result some theater chains refused to book it into their theaters in white neighborhoods.
Which, of course, would go against much of the Aesop behind the movie, to give respect and attention to blues, jazz and R&B's rich history and traditions, which were being neglected as new trends in music were emerging and traditional black musicians like James Brown and Cab Calloway were being forgotten about.
Scream 4 was another victim of Weinstein tampering, with both Hayden Panettiere and director Wes Craven reportedly complaining about script changes; the DVD Commentary brings up a number of instances, particularly noting that the film originally ended with a "We got a heartbeat!" scene involving Panettiere's character Kirby. Given that the finished version has the most/only downbeat ending of the series and was the least successful at the box office, and given both audiences and critics gave Panettiere major props, leaving Kirby writhing on the ground in agony with her fate left in the air might have been a mistake.
Sam Peckinpah's Major Dundee also got this treatment. He wanted to make the film similar to his later The Wild Bunch, but the studio wanted a regular "Calvary vs. Indians"-like Western and Peckinpah lost out.
The film was originally intended to be much closer to a true Alien prequel, with Jon Spaihts' original script ("Alien: Engineers") being much more coherent and logical - among other things, it gave many of the supporting characters much clearer motivations, answered commonly-addressed moments of idiocy (the expedition team keeps their helmets on inside the ship at all times) and tied in much better to the Alien canon (the team originally discovered the Engineer outpost on LV-426, and Holloway gave birth to a proto-chestburster). Midway through pre-production, 20th Century Fox brought Damon Lindelof (LOST) onboard as a "name" writer to rework Spaihts' script, jettisoning a large amount of context, explanation and connections with the main franchise in the process. Interestingly, the Blu-Ray special features have the cast and crew explicitly describing the film as an Alien prequel, despite the marketing and trailers distancing the film from the source material.
The character of Shaw was originallly going to be named Elizabeth Watts, but this was changed by executives for fear of confusion with 20th Century Fox's President of Production, Emma Watts.
Ian McEwan claimed of his work on The Good Son, that such instances occurred once Macaulay Culkin stepped into the project. The script was subsequently taken out of McEwan's hands and rewritten.
Sergio Leone's Once Upona A Time In America deserves mention. The initial US release was cut by more than an hour and a half and re-edited from an original non-linear story line that would have given Pulp Fiction's editor nightmares into straight chronological sequence - with the result that the film's stars (Robert di Niro and James Woods) don't even show up on-screen until something like forty minutes in.