Star-Derailing Role: A temporary example. Omar Sharif had such a bad experience on the set of the film and was so disappointed by the final cut that he briefly retired from acting.
Star-Making Role: One of the best things about this film is that it helped jumpstart Vladimir Kulich's career.
Troubled Production: From all what's known, the film was reshot at least twice before test screenings. Two scores were written. Countless Executive Meddlings halted production a few times, forcing the crew and actors to start from scratch. Then there was another reshooting after unsatisfying results from test screenings. There was apparently poor teamwork between crew and actors (Omar Sharif said a lot of harsh words about McTiernan's skills as director) and open conflict between execs, McTiernan and Crichton about screenplay. A horse was killed during the production, slowing it even further. It's a wonder the film didn't end up in Development Hell.
Vindicated by Cable: Seems to be heading in this direction. The film's production issues may have crippled it as a blockbuster, but sandwiched between b-movies and Mockbusters as part of an afternoon movie marathon, it's a pleasant surprise.
The film was heavily cut after poor reactions to test screenings and this shows up badly in the theatrical version — it's very clear entire sections of the film have been left on the cutting room floor in an attempt to make the film more appealing to a popular audience. In a pre-Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings era, which proved audiences were perfectly happy to sit through long fantasy-themed films, it's obvious the studio panicked at the poor test screening results and butchered the film. Ironically the cut down version received poor reviews and performed badly at the box office whereas who's to say how the originally envisaged version might have been received?
The score written by Graeme Revell was replaced with the one written by Jerry Goldsmith. There are at least few fan-made montages using Revell's soundtrack, but since each track got only number, it's a wild guess where to fit which.
The earlier versions were apparently much closer to the book.