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"I've worked on 15 feature films and every one of them was a disaster at some point or another. Some stay stuck in the disaster zone and never recover, others turn out to be classics (but may have still been in the disaster zone almost to the end of production)."
—Disney animator David T. Nethery

Animation is not cheap and takes long to finish. If it's feature length, it can get even worse, as all these animated Troubled Productions show.


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     Disney Animated Canon 
  • Disney is notorious for having multiple movies that went through this. Some went on to become their finest works, while others they would much rather forget. Moreover, during the reign of Michael Eisner and Jeffrey Katzenberg, it was even chronic:
    • Dumbo was Disney's first seriously problematic production, as they had to make it on a lower than usual budget due to financial troubles. Then things really hit the fan when most of the studio's animation staff went on strike over atrocious working conditions, resulting in a lot of the film being completed by junior animators who weren't financially secure enough to go on strike, as well as a few more experienced animators who crossed the picket lines knowing that the studio would more than likely be forced to close down if they didn't get the film out on time, although even then Disney would only accept produced work that met the bare minimum standard. The end product was the biggest critical and commercial success Disney had since their first feature Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, but Walt Disney himself looked back on it with disdain afterwards, and to really stick the boot in, he reported all the animators who had gone on strike as potential communists — only the ringleaders were actually dragged before the House Un-American Activities Committee, but it still resulted in more than a few careers being put on hold or ended permanently.
    • Sleeping Beauty wasn't as problematic as some of Disney's other productions, but suffered from quite a few conflicts of ego behind the scenes, mostly stemming from lead background designer Eyvind Earle inserting himself into more and more aspects of production with Walt Disney's encouragement, in an attempt to produce a more stylized and modern-looking Disney animated feature. As for the voice cast, in regards to the role of King Stefan, they replaced Hans Conried (who was working on this film when he was responsible for performing live-action reference as King Stefan for animators to capture his expressions and movements for the character) with Taylor Holmes for no apparent reason, making it unknown who voiced Lord Duke and fueling off unanswered questions. This led to the production being prolonged and the budget to balloon massively, and despite being second only to Ben-Hur at the 1959 box office because of its reissues, the film received mixed critical reviews and became the worst financial failure in the Disney animated canon until The Black Cauldron nearly a quarter-century later, resulting in the animation department being heavily downsized and nearly causing the studio to go bankrupt until The Great Mouse Detective helped save the studio, thanks to it’s critical and financial success. It wasn't until after Walt's death that the film was Vindicated by History and Disney would resume making fairy tale films with The Little Mermaid, which kicked off its Renaissance period.
    • Robin Hood (1973) marked the start of a sustained period of troublesome productions that would last until well into the following decade. The story had a long and difficult gestation; originally conceived as a modernized take set in the southern United States, director Wolfgang Reitherman and Disney's executives became concerned that such an adaptation would have limited appeal outside of North America, and retooled it into a more standard story. However, this forced them to scrap virtually everything they had done up to that point, putting the production well behind schedule. When animation finally did begin, Disney had fallen on financial troubles, forcing them to recycle animation from earlier films, most notably from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and The Jungle Book. Much resentment was also generated among the animators by Reitherman's inflexible attitude, which led him to consistently refuse any suggestions that would have freshened up what they saw as an overly safe, stale take on the source material. On top of all of that, the studio was unhappy with Tommy Steele's performance as the title character, leading to him being replaced by Brian Bedford. The film was a success at the box office (especially in Europe), but was regarded by an Old Shame by many of the animators who worked on it.
    • The Fox and the Hound had many troubles during production. Several veteran animators either retired or died early in production, and batches of animation drawings were stolen, leaving several scenes to be redrawn from pencil tests. Many of the studio's new young animators clashed with original director Wolfgang Reitherman's tough style, and while co-director Art Stevens usually sided with the younger animators, even he was adamantly against their insistence that the character of Chief should die in the film (Chief survives with a broken leg). These clashes drove Don Bluth to lead an exodus of practically half the animation team, delaying its release by six months and turning him into Disney's Arch-Enemy for a long while. Clashes still occurred between Reitherman, Stevens and Disney CEO Ron Miller when Stevens scrapped a planned song for the film performed by Phil Harris and Charo that Reitherman claimed was needed, believing the film did not have a strong second act. This ultimately led to Reitherman, who had directed nearly all of Disney's animated films since the 1960s and produced them since Walt Disney's death, to be Kicked Upstairs. The Fox and the Hound would still turn a decent profit, but the after effects of its production would carry over to...
    • The Black Cauldron. Original producer Art Stevens was kicked off the project early on (and subsequently left Disney) after his planned version was deemed too lighthearted. In addition, original directors Dave Michener and John Musker left to work on The Great Mouse Detective, and were replaced by The Fox and the Hound directors Ted Berman and Richard Rich. Production was divided into units that had little contact with one another, resulting in a lack of direction for the animators, a miserable working environment, and a revolving door of personnel. The task of animating the film was also arduous, thanks to the brand-new APT (animated photo transfer) process, its use of computer animation (the first animated feature to do so), and being shot in Cinerama. As a result, its budget ballooned to $44 million, making it the most expensive animated feature ever produced at the time. Meanwhile, in 1984, Walt Disney Productions President and CEO Ron W. Miller was ousted by the Disney board of directors (partly due to the constant budget overruns on The Black Cauldron), and replaced in the latter capacity by Michael Eisner, who brought in Jeff Katzenberg to head the animation department. After a test screening of the film's rough cut proved far too frightening for children in the audience, Katzenberg ordered heavy cuts on the film; when producer Joe Hale objected to the demands, Katzenberg responded by editing the film himself. When informed by Hale of what Katzenberg was doing, Eisner told him to stop, and while he obeyed, he requested that the film be delayed from its intended Christmas 1984 release date to July 1985 so that it could be reworked. In the end, the film's inflated budget and an unusually dark nature that made it difficult to market caused The Black Cauldron to become one of the biggest box-office bombs in Disney history, not only making back less than half its budget, but nearly killing Disney itself. Hale was subsequently fired from the company, with Berman only avoiding the same fate because he left voluntarily around the time the film was released, and neither they nor Miller would ever work in animation again; Rich lasted a little bit longer and was put to work on Oliver & Company, only to be fired after falling out with the new studio management. In 2016, the company announced they were looking into doing a more faithful adaptation of the source material The Chronicles of Prydain in live-action, but little has been heard of it since as the film's reputation continues to make people wary of having anything to do with it.
    • Oliver & Company had a troublesome production at first, having its budget drastically reduced as a result of the spectacular failure of The Black Cauldron, then having one of its co-directors, Peter Young, die barely a month into production. Richard Rich was put on the project to replace Young, but busied himself feuding with the new Disney management rather than actually getting anything useful done, and was fired from the company altogether. Things smoothed out once the remaining co-director, George Scribner, was allowed to take over as sole director, but a combination of a middling-at-best critical response, poor overseas performance, and the film being released on the same day as The Land Before Time meant it only barely broke even, and has since received little attention among the wider Disney canon. If nothing else, however, many future Disney and Pixar veterans managed to break into the industry in working on this movie, meaning that it did at least help lead to longer-term success for the company.
    • The Little Mermaid: Because of how labor intensive it would have been, Disney sent the animation of the bubbles to a Chinese-based facility that just so happened to be located near Tiananmen Square just as the Beijing student uprising occurred. Everything ultimately went according to plan, but the labor was what convinced the studio to make the full transition to the CAPS digital ink-and-paint process for future films.
    • Beauty and the Beast: The animators were given no vacation time during the film's production in order for everything to be absolutely flawless, partially owing to Jeffrey Katzenberg's admitted impatience with the medium. Several of the artists' marriages were broken up as a result; some artists even claimed to buying new clothing on their break time because they couldn't go home to do laundry, and plenty more up and quit. The grueling work clearly shows, but Katzenberg decided not to do this again when he saw how miserable his staff was as a result.
    • The Lion King first suffered from lack of internal faith; only up-and-coming animators or people who wanted to draw animals picked up the project, with most going to work on Pocahontas instead. One of the directors, Oliver & Company director George Scribner, who had even traveled with the other director Roger Allers and others to Africa for reference, left as he disagreed with turning the film into a musical while his intention was focusing on the natural aspects. The script was so bad that it needed a reworking with the help of the directors of Beauty and the Beast, and still was being fine-tuned during production, with completed scenes being reanimated due to dialogue changes. And just months before release, the Northridge earthquake hit Los Angeles, shutting off the studio and forcing animators to finish their work from home. Thankfully it was all worth it in the end.
    • Pocahontas: According to Susannah Grant, one of the writers, no scene was rewritten "less than thirty five times" until it was perfect. Irene Bedard said she had to record her lines for Pocahontas about five different times over a period of two years. The story was constantly changing and whole characters and plots were dropped.
    • The Emperor's New Groove started as Kingdom of the Sun, a Prince and Pauper epic directed by Roger Allers. Since the writers weren't very successful in adding original material and test audiences weren't reacting well, another director, Mark Dindal, was hired to see if things evolved. As the deadline came closer and Allers and Dindal were basically working on two movies simultaneously (the former on a drama and the latter on a comedy), the higher-ups intervened and Allers quit. After a six-month interval where Dindal and some writers reworked the movie, the film became the screwball comedy that eventually saw the light of day. The ending then had to be rewritten just before release because composer Sting disagreed with the moral message and was going to quit the project. All of this was documented in The Sweatbox, a film shot by Sting's wife Trudie Styler, and this oral history in 2020.
    • Meet the Robinsons started under the guidance of Michael Eisner and David Stainton, who were both kicked out and replaced with John Lasseter, who asked for a reworking of about 60% of the film, hence why its release was held back a year.
    • Bolt suffered from this in spades. The film was originally helmed by Lilo & Stitch writer/director Chris Sanders, who wanted to make another quirky animated family film. To that end, he envisioned American Dog, which followed a popular television star dog named Henry who (after being knocked out and waking up on a train to Nevada) enlists the help of two other talking animals, a cat and oversized bunny rabbit, to drive him back home (while believing he's still in a television show). The film went through several different cuts (and suggestions from John Lasseter and other Pixar directors on how to improve the film), but Sanders reportedly rejected all of the changes. Lasseter then fired Sanders from the project, leading the latter to jump ship to DreamWorks, and the film was drastically reworked (under a constrained timeframe) into the final product. Tellingly, American Dog is not mentioned anywhere on the film's DVD features, and only receives a passing reference in the making-of book The Art of Bolt.
    • Tangled took six years, a change in directors, a complete overhaul of its original Fractured Fairy Tale premise, and a cost of $260 million to see the light of day. It currently ranks as the sixth most expensive film in Hollywood history, behind Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, Justice League (2017), Avengers: Age of Ultron and John Carter. Fortunately for the future of other Disney fairy tale adaptations, it became Disney's biggest hit since The Lion King.
    • Wreck-It Ralph went through a number of problems along the way. Originally planned to have been screened before Tangled, it had went through a number of cancelled and uncancelled calls along the way before finally getting the go-ahead. Also, the many video game companies (especially Japanese ones) had strict guidelines as to how their characters should act; Nintendo had guides as to how Bowser should drink a cup of coffee, Sega had them reanimate a scene were Sonic loses some rings because they said he could only lose rings if he were hit, and the only reason Q*Bert got prominence in the movie was because Namco took offence at Dig Dug being depicted as destitute.
    • Frozen actually had a relatively easygoing production, at least in terms of the people involved getting along with each other. The problem was instead the story.
      • They spent several years changing the plot over and over. Once production had gotten well underway, they were inspired by Idina Menzel's performance of "Let It Go" (which was written as a Villain Song accompanying a "Then Let Me Be Evil" epiphany for Elsa, but turned out far more uplifting than they intended, even for what was meant to be a sympathetic Tragic Villain) to rewrite Elsa as a hero rather than a villain. Making sweeping changes to the plot to accommodate this new characterization, they were left with less than fifteen months to finish the film.
      • Due to this change in mid-development, there has been a lot of information and concept art on the "Evil Elsa" plot that's been dumped around compared to most Disney films, including concept art for Disney Infinity, unused models, a lot of concept art, and many unused songs.

     Don Bluth 
  • Every single film made by Don Bluth, enough to force him into retirement in 2000.
    • Banjo the Woodpile Cat was an attempt by Bluth and his Ragtag Bunch of Misfits working with him at Disney during The Dark Age of Animation to teach themselves how to make the kind of movies Disney wouldn't make anymore. To do so required a lot of after-hours work done on a shoe-string budget over the span of six years, working entirely out of Bluth's garage and using secondhand equipment that was beginning to fall apart. At one point, a malfunctioning moviola used for pencil tests pissed Don off to the point that he kicked it, resulting in the machine eating the film, at which point they finally scrounged together enough for a new one.
    • The Secret of NIMH was similarly made in Bluth's garage with a budget so small that the last quarter of production was funded by Bluth, Gary Goldman and John Pomeroy mortgaging their houses. The high-quality animation Bluth was aiming for required the animators to work 16 hours a day, sometimes even taking work home with them. The film was then ultimately given too small of a release to profit on even its meager budget, not helped by the fact that it was competing with E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. However, it was well-reviewed enough to become a Cult Classic, gaining the attention of a certain rival director which led to the creation of Bluth's more successful second film.
    • Development on The Land Before Time was an utter mess. With so many consultants, writers and directors working onboard, Executive Meddling was inevitable. Upon closer analysis and the weird pacing/transitioning of scenes, one may appreciate the film's story was trying to pull in three directions: the Great Valley being the dinosaur's version of Heaven, which Don Bluth vehemently opposed as it would undermine All Dogs Go to Heaven (see below), not to mention Steven Spielberg and George Lucas' concerns that the original plot would traumatize children. Don's original vision sees Littlefoot's herd encounter various inequalities and racism from other dinosaurs along their travels. However, this version has Littlefoot (and the viewer) find the Great Valley twice as, to his horror, he realizes the Sharptooth has followed them right there, which Spielberg and Lucas felt diminished the film's climactic score and ending in finding the sanctuary. Despite all this, the film was a success.
    • All Dogs Go to Heaven had a few significant snags. First, Bluth and co. repeatedly hit walls trying to get an adaptation of the original Beth Brown story to work, ultimately deciding to scrap it and come up with a different story based on the title alone. Then, Bluth butted egos with original producer Steven Spielberg over Spielberg always having the final say in their collaborations, leading to Bluth eventually deciding to produce the film independently. And lastly was the murder of their lead actress after she had recorded all of her lines, forcing certain violent aspects of the film to be toned down, such as Killer's tommy gun becoming a laser blaster. Bluth also took umbrage with leads Burt Reynolds and Dom De Luise constantly ad libbing, but relented when he realized how much funnier their ad libs were than the script itself. Production otherwise went smoothly, and the film met its intended release date of November 17, 1989...when it was promptly curbstomped by The Little Mermaid.
    • Then came several films which kicked off Bluth's notorious curse of Executive Meddling. Starting with Rock-A-Doodle, what few investors Bluth had left forced him to tone down his trademark darkness in favor of a lighter, more marketable and, most importantly, Disney-esque style which completely contradicted his own philosophy of creating films which were dark, but had catharsis. Phil Harris's Captain Obvious narration was forced upon him at the last minute after test audiences, ironically, complained about certain things not making enough sense. It ended up bombing hard enough to close down Bluth's homegrown studio, taking the rights to all of his films with it.
    • Pre-production of Thumbelina was slowed due to seemingly perpetual rewrites that lasted over a year. The original screenwriter had to be fired just to get physical production going, with Bluth writing the script himself and receiving his only solo screen writing credit. In addition, original distributor Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer outright refused to release the film due to the company's financial stability. After initially attempting to sell the film to Disney (all the more ironic as the film borrows heavily from their Renaissance-era films, seemingly trying to invoke All Animation Is Disney; humorously, the film received higher reviews in test screenings when shown with their logo, and after the film was sold to 20th Century Fox, the film would ultimately become theirs upon their acquisition of the company in 2019), the film would ultimately go to Warner Bros., where it would flop in the spring of 1994.
    • For A Troll in Central Park, Bluth made the mistake of shortening production in the hopes that it would inspire more spontaneity among his crew. It wound up being his worst-reviewed and lowest-grossing film after Warner Bros. screwed over its release.
    • Late into the production of The Pebble and the Penguin, Bluth had a falling out with Warner Bros. over the failure of his last two films, control of the project was seized by MGM/United Artists, and everything went to hell. Animation was farmed out for rushed completion, resulting in Off-Model or outright incomplete shots being approved, fully animated scenes were cut, and several voices had to be re-recorded. Bluth was so furious with how badly the finished film looked that he and Gary Goldman outright abandoned ship, with Bluth taking his director credit with him, to start up a new animation unit at 20th Century Fox. The first project, Anastasia, went well, but then...
    • For Bluth's final film, Titan A.E., Bluth and Goldman were handed an already-floundering project which had already blown through 18 other directors and $30 million on pre-production alone. The two were forced to scrap the whole thing and start over with a $55 million budget and less than two years to deliver. Much of the effects and post-production were done two weeks before the film's release in June 2000. Just before its premiere, Fox lost faith in the project, foresaw the rising trend of computer animation, and closed down its barely six-year-old 2D animation unit. Bluth temporarily retired from animation shortly thereafter, publicly stating that he would "never draw another character and hand the rights over to someone else".
    • And this isn't even taking into account all of his projects that were abruptly canceled during pre-production either from funding being withdrawn or new animation units being shut down.
    • Bluth and Goldman have since taken to crowd-funding a prequel film to their 1983 arcade game Dragon's Lair in the hopes of making a proper comeback, after years in Development Hell. As of this writing, however, production has been slow.

  • The Toy Story films are all well-known for this.
    • The first film was subject to constant Executive Meddling, with Disney pushing to make it more adult and cynical. This being their first feature, Pixar dutifully followed Disney's notes even if they didn't agree with them. When a preview cut was declared unwatchable, Jeffrey Katzenberg, then-head of animation at Disney, asked with some concern why on earth Pixar had followed all the notes he and the others had sent. Production was shut down for two weeks while Lasseter and the others basically rewrote the entire film into pretty much what they wanted it to be in the first place. The film would survive and be finished in time for release, although Katzenberg's job did not (he ended up quitting Disney a year before its release to start DreamWorks).
    • Toy Story 2 didn't have it any better. The project had started as a Direct-to-Video sequel handled by a smaller division of Pixar that had made the Toy Story computer games while the main staff worked on A Bug's Life. Once they saw what had been done of the DTV movie, they were not only underwhelmed but also horrified that Disney liked it enough to give it a theatrical run. Pixar begged Disney to let them scrap it and start over, to which they complied, but refused to budge their stone-set November release date, which was only nine months away (this still being an era where computer animation required just as much time to produce as traditional animation). This eventually took its toll on the exhausted and over-extended creative team, who then had to convince John Lasseter, who was planning to take a break after a grueling number of years heading up Toy Story and A Bug's Life, to come in on short notice and help the team retool the film and get it out on time. Not only were they able to complete the film, but they also made a film that more than held its own to the first. The meddling of Disney, however, helped kickstart the plan for the studio to operate independently, dividing up their staff into smaller sections in order to avoid burning out their entire crew with each film. Additionally, all the film's progress was nearly lost during production when a mistyped command to Pixar's servers resulted in more than 90% of the animation being deleted before the servers could be unplugged. To make matters worse, the backups Pixar had at the studio were corrupted. It looked like the movie was down the crapper, but it was thankfully saved when it was discovered that staff member Galyn Susman had the entire film and all of its files copied to her desktop computer so she could work on it from home.
    • Toy Story 3 was stuck in Development Hell for years, going through multiple scripts and directors. Also, when Pixar began animating the film, they thought they could save time by using the old character files from Toy Story 2. Unfortunately, they found out they had neglected to keep them updated with their current operating system and thus were inaccessible for use, so they had to remake the characters from scratch.
    • Even within a series notable for production issues, Toy Story 4 had one of the longest and tumultuous production cycles in Pixar's history, only comparable to The Good Dinosaur in terms of its production length and changes involved. It was slated to be directed by John Lasseter and Josh Cooley during its first four years of development, but a significant shakeup in production staff was announced in 2017 that saw Lasseter leaving, as he couldn't balance his time directing the film with his job running Disney Animation and Pixar at the same time. This resulted in the film's release date being pushed forward a year from its original Summer 2017 date. Lasseter would eventually be removed from the project entirely when sexual harassment allegations forced him to leave Disney and Pixar the following year. Around that same time, original screenwriters Rashida Jones (partially responsible for bringing the misconduct allegations against Lasseter to light) and Will MacCormack left the film due to Creative Differences, resulting in a huge majority of the original screenplay (estimated to be 80%, according Bo Peep's voice actress Annie Potts) being thrown out and rewritten. These changes forced Pixar to delay the film an entire year to properly rewrite the story, swapping release dates with Incredibles 2 in the process. There was also the fate of Mr. Potato Head, whose voice actor Don Rickles passed away before he could record his lines. Although Pixar considered writing the character out entirely, Rickles' estate told the team they would appreciaye Rickles in the film in a speaking capacity as a send-off to his character. They then had to go through decades of unused recordings of Rickles as Potato Head to construct a new performance for him.
  • Ratatouille was originally developed in 2001 by Jan Pinkava, but Pixar lost faith and ultimately replaced him with Brad Bird.
  • Brave had title changes, the dismissal of director/co-writer Brenda Chapman, and many scenes being rewritten and/or dropped during production.
  • The unique concept of Inside Out meant twice as much time spent on development. Production design alone lasted five years, the longest for designer Ralph Eggelston, and the emotions' distinct "grainy" surface texture was almost dropped because it was too difficult and expensive for just one character, let alone five. Towards the end of production, Pete Docter was seconds away from a nervous breakdown and quitting. But like many troubled Disney/Pixar productions, it was all worth it in the end, as Inside Out was heralded as Pixar's return to form, and for many, their new gold standard.
  • The Good Dinosaur was originally scheduled to be released in June 2014, but plot troubles caused its director and producer to be replaced, the original script and recorded dialogue scrapped, and the entire cast replaced. The film's release date was pushed back to November 2015, but a huge lack of interest for another Pixar film, as well as the promotion not being strong enough, led it to become the first full-on Box Office Bomb in Pixar's history.

     Ralph Bakshi 
  • Over the course of his career, Ralph Bakshi has had several films that weren't easy to make, not helped by the fact that his works tend to feature adult themes and imagery, and were made in a time when animation was seen as strictly for children.
    • Fritz the Cat had a whale of a time getting made, mainly due to Robert Crumb's hatred for the project, and Bakshi's then-inexperience at directing a feature-length animated movie:
      • It took forever for Bakshi and producer Steve Krantz to find a distributor, due to the film's premise of being a cartoon filled with sex, drugs, political themes, and graphic violence. Warner Bros. had originally funded the film, but backed out after Bakshi refused to cast big-name actors and tone down the sexual content. Even after he did get funding, Bakshi still wasn't safe from Executive Meddling, as Krantz forced him to change the original ending where Fritz would have died from the Neo-Nazis' bomb.
      • Multiple animators were either fired or quit mid-production, either for political reasons (one refused to draw a black crow shooting a pig cop), or vulgar reasons (such as those who only joined to draw sleazy animal pornography). Veteran animator Ted Bonnicksen ended up dying from leukemia during production. When Bakshi relocated his studio to Los Angeles, he was greeted with both praise and hate from various animators, with the latter camp even posting unwelcoming ads about him in The Hollywood Reporter.
    • Heavy Traffic marked the last time Bakshi would work with Krantz due to the latter's extreme Executive Meddling and off-the-wall antics. In the middle of production, Bakshi realized that he was never paid for his work on Fritz, with Krantz claiming to him that "the picture didn't make money" (even though Krantz had just purchased a new BMW and a mansion in Beverly Hills after the box office success of Fritz). Krantz would also issue memos requesting various changes to the movie, such as censoring or removing several sex scenes. When Bakshi refused to talk about his next movie Harlem Nights with Krantz, the producer locked Bakshi out of the studio, wire-tapped his phone, and fired him from his own movie, calling several directors to replace him, only rehiring him when co-producer Samuel Z. Arkoff threatened to pull funding from the film; all because Krantz was becoming paranoid about Bakshi's loyalty towards him as an employee.
    • While Coonskin had a pretty smooth production (barring an incident where Bakshi had to fire three homophobic animators for picking on a gay artist), its release was another story. The film was incredibly controversial and led to multiple protests (one of which involved smoke bombing a theater showing the movie), often led by both Al Sharpton and the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), both of whom hadn't even seen the movie. As a result, original distributor Paramount Pictures dropped the film and handed it over to Bryanston Distributing Company, who ended up going bankrupt two weeks after the film's extremely limited release. Also, some of Barry White's lines had to be rerecorded in order to remove "racist references and vulgarity".
    • Hey Good Lookin' was one of Bakshi's most exhausting productions yet:
      • Wanting to make a film that had a mixture of both live-action and animation, Bakshi hired various Black animators and graffiti artists to help with the film’s urban aesthetic. Unfortunately, due to the controversy over Coonskin, a lot of them left out of embarrassment.
      • During shooting, Bakshi wasn't satisfied with cinematographer William A. Fraker when filming the live-action segments, so he decided to take the camera and shoot footage himself, which ended up pissing off Fraker so much that he quit and was replaced with a younger cameraman who had never shot a film in his life. Otherwise, shooting went smoothly.
      • During post-production, Bakshi found that the cost of the optical effect required to complete live-action scenes with animated characters was larger than the film's given budget. In order to complete these scenes cost effectively, Bakshi and his cameraman Ted C. Bemiller purchased a 35 mm camera to project the footage onto the glass under the animation camera, which was reflected onto where the animation was shot.
      • With the film being completed in 1975, it was set for a 1976 release before being postponed indefinitely. While this was due to fears from Warner Bros. that the backlash from Coonskin would prevent people from seeing the film, it was also because the executives thought that a movie combining live-action and animation would be "unreleasable", refusing to put more money into the project, with Bakshi spending numerous years taking on various projects in order to fund the movie himself.
      • Bakshi was almost sued by WB president Frank Wells for having used too much live-action footage, which went against contract. As a result, the majority of the live-action footage was cut, with some scenes instead rotoscoped.
      • The second cut of the film was finally released in 1982 to select markets, where it received mixed critical reception and did little business at the box office. While the film would receive a cult following through cable airings and DVD (one of its fans being Quentin Tarantino), Bakshi himself has disowned the movie (instead having more positive things to say about his original 1975 cut).
    • The Lord of the Rings was one of Bakshi's less problematic productions, but that's not saying much. Bakshi feuded with producer Saul Zaentz throughout production and the initial screenplay had to be heavily rewritten (with the new writer, Peter S. Beagle, doing so for a derisory sum in exchange for guaranteed work on Zaentz's other productions... which he never received). And to top it all off, Bakshi decided to shoot the whole thing in live-action and just rotoscope over it to save time, only to discover that he'd ended up making the scenes far too complex to rotoscope in any reasonable amount of time, forcing him to use a far quicker and cheaper method that resulted in massive Art Shifts throughout the entire film. Then he was forced to stop the story after adapting the first two books for budgetary reasons. While the finished film was a modest success, Bakshi was denied the greenlight to adapt the rest of the story (not helped by its overall lukewarm reception), resulting in the property being handed back to Rankin/Bass (who had previously adapted The Hobbit) to create an adaptation of The Return of the King.

     Richard Williams 
  • Famed animator Richard Williams had two films during his time in the industry that proved absolute headaches to make.
    • Raggedy Ann & Andy: A Musical Adventure Original director Abe Lewitov died during production, leading to him getting replaced by Richard Williams and a team of Broadway producers who'd never worked on a film, let alone animation, making it difficult for them to know what they wanted. The crew that was eventually assembled consisted mostly of recent art school graduates and veterans of theatrical shorts who'd never worked on a feature, including director Richard Williams himself, meaning that everyone was at different levels of experience and ability. Williams, who could not work for a budget, balked at the initial proposition for UPA-style animation, and insisted that, to get the storybook quality visuals he desired, he would need to have two fully operational units on either coast. This ambitious technique, plus the cost to fly Williams back and forth between the two units to supervise and for animators to mail their scenes to the New York studio, caused the once-minuscule budget to skyrocket, slowing down production and resulting in several missed deadlines. It also confused the animators, with one unit sometimes completing a scene the same day it had been assigned to the other unit. Emery Hawkins, who animated the infamous "Greedy sequence", got fed up and quit halfway through reanimating the scene for the second time, forcing two assistants to finish it for him. When the studio told Williams that there was no money left to give the film his trademark Artistic Title, he cursed them out and animated it himself. Williams was eventually fired and replaced at the tail end of production simply to get it finished.
    • The Thief and the Cobbler, as documented in 2012's Persistence of Vision, is one of the most infamous examples of a Troubled Production in animation history:
      • Williams, having illustrated Idries Shah's books about the Middle Eastern folk hero and wise fool Mullah Nasruddin, set out to adapt the stories into an animated film. Shah and his family sponsored the film, with Shah's brother Omar as producer, and it formally began production in 1964. By 1972, Williams and his studio had produced three hours of footage which needed to be structured into a cohesive movie. However, he soon realized that the Shah family wasn't keeping track of the film's finances and accused Omar of embezzling him. Williams lost the rights to the film in the resulting legal kerfuffle, but was allowed to keep his original character designs, most notably a thief, around whom a new story was written.
      • The new film began production in 1973. Williams hired veteran animators including Art Babbitt and Emery Hawkins for the film. The original Nasruddin film and its successor had protracted productions due to Williams's incessant perfectionist attitude and constant story revisions that led to dozens of missed deadlines, rewrites and redone animation. Williams took any job he could (including the aforementioned Raggedy Ann and Andy) to fund it. Saudi prince Mohammed bin Faisal Al Saud offered to fund the film, but backed out due to Williams going overbudget and time producing the Thief’s climactic stroll through the One-Eyes’ war machine (which he was still impressed by).
      • The project got moving when Williams gained funding from Warner Bros. after his success on Who Framed Roger Rabbit under the agreement that the film be completed for a specific date and budget. By this point, Williams' original animation staff was either dead or had moved on, requiring Williams to hire new talent. He held them to draconian standards and fired many of them at will. The new phase saw Williams incorporate hand-drawn 3D sequences, something he employed in Roger Rabbit, and extended shots that he felt were too good to end early.
      • All of this led him to miss the deadline, and fifteen minutes shy of completion, he turned it over to the Completion Bond Company and was replaced with low-budget animator Fred Calvert, resulting in a great amount of Off-Model animation and Disneyfication to cash in on Disney's recently released Aladdin. The film, finally released in 1993 in South Africa and Australia, was a financial and critical failure. It was re-edited further in its 1995 US release by Miramax, then owned by Disney, who retitled it Arabian Knight, where it also bombed.
      • Williams's career and studio were whisked away by its failure. It wouldn't be until a few decades later when dedicated fans would find unfinished footage and edit together The ReCobbled Cut, a film that comes close to Williams' true vision for the film.

     Other Creators/Companies 
  • The 2009 film version of Astro Boy managed to go through no less than three different directors, several different writers, and a budget that spiraled out of control due to constant production delays. The bottom fell out when the film's production company, Imagi Animation Studios, went bankrupt a few months before the film's premiere; the film's subsequent box office failure would ensure the company's closure. The final product manages to show the chaotic production with its unevenness and lack of direction in terms of plot.
  • Bands on the Run, a movie based on Silly Bandz, was by all accounts a nightmare to make, according to art director Jared Norby, who explained the film's production in an email to Pan Pizza.
    • The team behind the movie, Elastic Productions, composed of a crew barely out of college, knew that what they were making was garbage, but only did it so that they could get some work. The executives behind the movie's concept wanted to make something to cash in on the Silly Bandz fad by making a microbudget direct-to-DVD feature before the fad was over. While most animated films have a production time of three years, Bands only had eight months. Norby was the entire art department, and was in charge of character designs, storyboarding and animatics, all within two months.
    • When the storyboards were sent overseas for, to quote the film's art director, quite possibly the cheapest, shoddiest, most fly-by-night animation studio in all of China to animate, what they got was a product that had way worse animation than the final cut, with ugly character designs, animation, and copyrighted texture photos lifted straight from Google Images (including a piece of unlicensed Pikmin 2 concept art). The animation company was also very lazy, too; there was supposed to be a scene with a homeless person in a dumpster who was going to play with the titular Bands, but wasn't given any clothes, so he ended up being cut from the plot, and was left in as an unintentionally creepy-looking, inanimate, naked corpse.
    • With four months left to go before the deadline, the team had to scramble to save the film by making it look at least presentable. The team had to build their own render farms, learn how to animate CGI, and pull all-nighters in order to fix what they could. What certainly didn't help was that half of the animation files were in Mandarin.
    • The movie ended up being both the first and last film to come from Elastic Productions, as they shut down immediately after. The movie ended up selling poorly thanks to coming out in 2011, right after Silly Bandz vanished from the market and were forgotten about.
  • Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank (originally titled Blazing Samurai), an animated reimagining of Mel Brooks' Blazing Saddles set in a World of Funny Animals (with Brooks himself onboard), was originally announced in 2015 with a 2017 release date. However, the film's production immediately hit a snag when Arc Productions (who was set to animate the film) went bankrupt. While a new producer was eventually found, little else was heard about the status of the film until November 2019, when it was announced that production was going back on track and that it would have a tentative summer 2021 release date through STXfilms...which still didn't happen, possibly due to STX's financial difficulties at that time. This seemingly eternally kept the film on The Shelf of Movie Languishment until it was announced in late January 2022 that Paramount Animation had bought the film and had immediately set a July 22 release date (the film arguably serving as a slot replacement for Paramount's Under the Boardwalk, which was set to release around that time but was abruptly removed from their release schedule in a concurrent move) and was later set to July 15 under the Nickelodeon Movies banner.
  • Foodfight!, a film featuring Roger Rabbit-esque cameos by advertising mascots and starring Charlie Sheen, was trapped in development for 10 years. Originally set for a 2003 release until being delayed to 2005, it was even further delayed when the hard drives holding the animation files were stolen and the studio had to start over on an even lower budget. The final result was finished in 2009, given a small theatrical release, and started to emerge direct-to-video in other markets in 2012.
  • The 1939 Fleischer Studios adaptation of Gulliver's Travels went through this. Many staffers, including animators Shamus Culhane and Grim Natwick, recall that the film had a lot of behind-the-scenes troubles that ended up hurting its quality:
    • To begin with, it had a deadline that was far too short: production began in May 1938, and it was due Christmas 1939; this is less than half of the four years of production that went into Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the film it was meant to emulate to begin with.
    • The studio was clearly underequipped to take on the challenge of making a Disney-esque animated feature; many of their staffers weren't familiar with the West Coast style of animation and techniques pioneered by Disney. The studio had to expand their staff considerably to even make the film possible, even managing to hire many ex-Disney animators, but this resulted in the East Coast and West Coast animators clashing with each other on their approaches to animation, and the studio's decision to hire amateur, apathetic Miami art students, as well as newcomers who received a few hours' worth of cram-course art trainingnote  resulted in sloppy inking and bad in-between work, which resulted in the film having very uneven animation quality. The Fleischers' move to a new studio in Miami also resulted in many of their talented employees in New York being left behind (including Betty Boop voice actress Mae Questel), with the few who did make the move becoming homesick, as well as putting up with the hazards and quirks of Florida (such as mosquito infestations).
    • A feud between story artists over which direction the story would take; it was planned as a Bing Crosby vehicle at one point, and at one point Popeye was intended to be the star of the film, with its tone being more cartoony as Max Fleischer actually did not wish to follow the Disney approach to animated films. Both of the previous stories were thrown out and rewritten by West Coast storymen, particularly ex-Warners staffer Cal Howard.
    • A feud between Max and Dave Fleischer themselves over whether Dave or another person would compose the film's score. Ultimately, outside composers were brought in while songs were contributed by the studio's in-house musicians including Sammy Timberg.
    • The fact that the film was being made at the Fleischers' new studio in Miami (which was far too small to hold the 700+ staffers needed to complete the film) meant that if any equipment broke down, it would have been difficult to get it fixed in any reasonable amount of time. The lack of film industry presence in Miami also meant that, unless they wanted to use local actors or their woefully inadequate amateur orchestra (which was impeding the sound quality of the shorts from mid-1938 onward), they had to outsource recording sessions to West Coast studios (which they did for Gulliver, Mr. Bug Goes to Town and the Superman Theatrical Cartoons).
    • In the end, while the film did modestly well at the box office, Paramount deliberately discounted the film's European box office total before World War II broke out there, meaning the film had much overhead left to be paid, leaving the Fleischers in the red. Critical reaction was also mixed, with a cruel remark from rival Walt Disney quipping, "We can make a better film than that with our second-string animators."
  • Jetsons: The Movie had a bad production. Daws Butler (Elroy Jetson) had died before production began, and was hastily replaced by Patric Zimmerman. George O'Hanlon (George Jetson) had to have his lines repeated to him due to his stroke, and could only record for an hour at a time. In addition, both he and Mel Blanc (Mr. Spacely) died during production (George reportedly died of a second stroke in the sound booth), so Jeff Bergman had to finish some of their lines. There was also severe Executive Meddling by Universal, such as replacing Janet Waldo with pop singer Tiffany as the voice of Judy Jetson (despite the fact that Waldo had already recorded all of her lines), and making the film a musical to capitalize on that genre's growing popularity in the late 1980s. All of this led the film to bomb at the box office and kill off the Jetsons series.
  • The 1997 Croatian animated feature Lapitch The Little Shoemaker took seven years to make, with the first five during the Croatian War of Independence, and the animators were forced to use cel cameras dating as far back as 1938. It was also produced at a time when the country was facing a slump in its animation industry. Despite all this, it became Croatia's most successful animated production, and was the country's official selection for the 1997 Academy Awards in the Best Foreign Language Film category. Soon after, German companies HaffaDiebold and ProSiebenSat.1 Media took interest in the film and funded a Recut for foreign markets, which was even more successful.
  • Riding high on the success of Hello Kitty, Sanrio greenlit Metamorphoses, a Fantasia-inspired film based on the stories by Ovid. Unfortunately, the film ended up being a disaster not only with critics and audiences, but behind the scenes as well.
    • Sanrio began Metamorphoses part of their expansion into animated films for both Japanese and American audiences. In particular, this project was animated primarily in the United States with a crew consisting of several veteran animators, including director Takashi Matsunaga, working under the mononym Takashi. Problems arose as the American animators hired to work on the project started to raise concerns about there being too many pointless and/or random scenes that didn't even match the music being done for it, complaints that fell on deaf ears, not helped by Takashi (suspected by a few of the animators to have been chosen solely because he was born in Japan) being in over his head and refusing to admit it.
    • When it was released by Columbia Pictures in 1978, critics slammed Metamorphoses for its confusing Random Events Plot and for being pretentious and boring in general. This wasn't helped by at least one screening in Los Angeles where the volume was set so high that, combined with the pop rock score, the soundtrack played loud enough to drive people out of the theater, and even led to rumors that it made the plaster fall off the ceiling.
    • After its brief, disastrous run, the film was re-edited to make the film more coherent. In addition to rearranging scenes and trimming seven minutes from its runtime, Peter Ustinov was brought in to serve as a Lemony Narrator for the previously dialogue-free film, and its original rock soundtrack with replaced with a disco score by Alex Costandinos. Renamed Winds of Change and released in 1979, it ultimately didn't fare much better, but did eventually make it to home video. The same, however, can't be said of the original cut, which hasn't been seen at all since its short-lived original run.
  • Blue Sky Studios was working on an adaptation of NIMONA wanting to release it in 2020. A few complications hit as Disney acquired parent company 20th Century Fox and the COVID-19 Pandemic forced the staff to work at home, but aside from a delay to 2022, things kept going. And then in 2021, Disney decided to shut down Blue Sky as a cut-cutting measure and cancelled the film, that was apparently only ten months from completion. Three staffers also claimed Disney executives had heavily pushed back against the inclusion of a same-sex kiss in the film prior to its cancellation. Thankfully, one year later Annapurna Films and Netflix decided to revive the project, with Dneg picking up where Blue Sky left off as Nimona was scheduled for a 2023 release.
  • Warner Bros.' Quest for Camelot went through numerous changes that led to its Disneyfication. Both Lauren Faust and a handful of other animators who worked on it have unkind memories of this film, involving stubborn executives and a script that they hated.
  • The Iron Giant: As described in the documentary A Giant's Dream, the movie had an extremely short turnaround time, a crew consisting mostly of first-time film artists, and an apathetic studio who waited too long to decide whether or not to advertise it, with the resulting underpromotion leading to the movie becoming an Acclaimed Flop that only really found an audience once on home video.
  • The Road to El Dorado's director, Will Finn, said that the film's production was an absolute bloodbath and that he still has nightmares about it to this day, as well as grim recollections whenever it's brought up. It was bad enough that he resigned from DreamWorks to return to Disney later in its production. He likened the turbulent making of it to being akin to a mashup of Mutiny on the Bounty and The Producers.
  • Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie originally wasn't supposed to be a movie, but a higher-budget, 45-minute episode (instead of the usual 30 minutes). However, the staff had too much trouble keeping it that short and eventually decided to turn it into a full-fledged feature film, with much of the staff in hindsight realizing it was too big a leap for much of them to handle. The project soon turned into a mess of too many new hires with misplaced management, constant budget overruns, and long working hours, and the end result was a numerous amount of layoffs. For more info, much of the story was covered in this series of blog posts by Phil Vischer himself.
  • The Princess and the Pea: According to director Mark Swan in an interview with Fanpop, the reason for most of the Disney Clichés were because the studios insisted on them. Not helping was the modest budget that hindered the ability to redo scenes that were coincidentally similar to other films that came out during production.
  • Sausage Party was no slouch to make.
    • First off, Seth Rogen spent eight years finding a studio interested in the project. Those that were sent the script rejected it for its religious subject matter and obscene content, and even the film's distributor Columbia Pictures rejected it until Rogen sent it to them again a couple of years later. For comparison, Seth had no problem pitching The Interview to Sony Pictures in spite of that film's heavy political themes.
    • Once things began rolling, the problems only continued. Director Greg Tiernan forced animators at Nitrogen Studios to work overtime seven days a week without extra pay thanks to the film's low budget, and anyone who stood up against Tiernan's tyranny would be fired and blackballed from the company and be uncredited in the film (reportedly, only half of the animators who worked on the film were credited). Sadly, Greg got away with these actions because there's no animation union in Vancouver (where Nitrogen is located), meaning that he could do as he pleased with his employees, who had nowhere to turn to. However, three years after production ended, the animators sued for their unpaid overtime and won, so there's that little victory.
    • There were several changes made to the script during production at short notice and with almost no communication to the folks at Nitrogen, leaving the animators with little to no idea about what to do next.
  • According to the animators who worked on it, Sir Billi suffered from a hellish production, to the point where many have called it the Scottish counterpart of Foodfight. Originally promoted as the first animated film from Scotland (although by the time it was actually released, it had lost that honour to The Illusionist (2010), forcing them to instead market it as the country's first computer-animated film) which boasted a rapidly-growing animation industry thanks to investment from both the UK national and Scottish regional governments, the project was able to attract high-profile talents including Sean Connery, Alan Cumming and one-time Harry Potter composer Patrick Doyle. Things rapidly fell apart during production, however, as director Sascha Hartmann proved to be a Prima Donna Director who demanded that the animators use his unappealing character designs with no alterations and constantly made changes to scenes which required them to be hastily reanimated (causing the quality to suffer). He also repeatedly called back the cast to re-record their dialogue, which is noticeable in that Connery's voice is very inconsistent, either from poor health, disillusionment with the project, or both. On top of that, Hartmann not only fired any animator who protested the film's inappropriately adult humour or his approach to managing the project in general, but even reportedly fired anyone who was actually managing to produce stand-out work, as he considered them a threat to his authority as director. By the end of production, everything was being churned out hastily by a group of inexperienced animators, which ended up being evident in the less-than-stellar animation in the finished product.
  • Socialist Hungary's 1981 film Son of the White Horse began as a combination of classic European folk tales to show history's repetition, only for paranoid studio heads to shoot down the idea because its message wasn't Marxist, forcing director Marcell Jankovics to rewrite the script so many times that he lost track of his goals. Working conditions and materials were horrible, and the staff had to take up extra jobs to buy more equipment, produce their own celluloid paint and redo scenes. Inexperienced animators failed to get a grip on the unique art style and protested for a pay raise, and even then, the task brought some of them to tears. The director and his other colleagues had to help out with the animation, about a third of which Jankovics would later describe as sub-par due to said hardships and because the in-betweeners couldn't draw decent facial expressions. Folklore experts also bashed some of the film's artistic choices. In the end, the movie didn't meet Jankovics's original vision, could barely be marketed and caused him to lose the studio execs' favor, though he warmed up to it over the decades. To add salt to the wound, shoddy home video releases and mismanaged restorations messed up the film's colors until its 2019 remaster finally fixed them.
  • The Tragedy of Man, a highly ambitious and faithful retelling of a 1800s Hungarian theatrical play of the same name, began production in 1983, with the animating process beginning in 1988. A couple years later, the Soviet Union collapsed, taking Hungary's former studio system with it, and shoving the country's already waning animation industry further downhill. Without state-sponsored backing, what was initially envisioned as a six-year project only landed in theaters 23 years later in 2011. And the timeframe was indeed correct; the animation did take about six years to complete. The rest of that time was spent on trying to raise funds to release it. Each of the film's 15 acts, all done in their own distinct art and animation style, were completed out of order and showcased at various film festivals to get funding. Most of the voice actors had to be replaced as the originals became too old for their roles. In the end, director Marcell Jankovics licencing his older animated short Sisyphus for a General Motors car commercial gave him a financial boost, and he was happy the movie got finished at all.
  • Much of why We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story was a critical and commercial failure could be blamed on its hectic production. Right off the bat, the producers were stuck with the difficult task of turning a 20-page picture book with no real plot or antagonist into a feature-length movie. The original author, Hudson Talbott, had little input over its production, which wasn't helped by Universal rushing the film through production to coincide with the release of the studio's own Jurassic Park earlier that year. The result was a number of rewrites, a ton of Executive Meddling, directors rotating in and out of the project (with Phil Nibbelink ultimately handling more of the work than anyone else), and thousands of dollars wasted on casting John Malkovich, then Christopher Lloyd to voice Professor Screweyes, only for both to be rejected by Steven Spielberg; the role ultimately went to Kenneth Mars. Then, just as production was wrapping up, $1 million of edits, including the addition of the parade sequence, was put into production after a disastrous test screening. The misfortune even extended to the marketing: Universal got a Rex balloon into the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, only for it to hit a lamp post and have its head popped, prompting NBC to run footage of a test flight in place of the incident.
  • Wonder Park, prior to its 2019 release, was originally directed by animator Dylan Brown, but when his history of sexual misconduct was discovered, he was booted off the project in 2018, despite having directed a vast majority of the movie. As a result, not only was the title changed (it was previously titled Amusement Park), but David Feiss was later pulled in to finish the movie. This entire scenario ultimately became a catch-22 for Paramount: since Feiss directed very little of the movie, they would still have to give credit to Brown...but they didn't want to after his sordid history came out (especially after Jeffrey Tambor, who played Boomer, ended up being recast after the same type of misconduct-exposing that hit Brown hit him as well). As a result, Paramount decided to credit no one as director (not even in an Alan Smithee fashion), making it an extremely rare case of a film lacking any such credit.

Alternative Title(s): Animated Film