1941 started the career of Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale (commonly known as "the Bobs"), with the script being written by them in film school and quickly becoming notorious in the industry for how batshit insane it was, with the two of them throwing in any random idea off the top of their heads. One of the people intrigued by it was Steven Spielberg, who after becoming the biggest director in Hollywood after the back-to-back smash successes of Jaws and Close Encounters of the Third Kind decided to do this script next. And putting these three fresh young egos together quickly sent them even further down the rabbit hole, with the script mutating pretty much daily with one crazy idea after another, while no one was willing to rein them in. Further problems were caused by them beefing up the role of Wild Bill Kelso after casting John Belushi, fresh off his own success with Animal House, only for his notorious drug abuse and habit of wandering off set without warning to wreak havoc with the schedule. Also causing issues was Toshiro Mifune, who was disgusted with the lackadaisical attitude of the other actors playing the Japanese submarine crew and appointed himself as a drill sergeant to whip them into shape and take the process seriously. The film's massive action scenes caused so much noise that the cast was unable to hear Spielberg yell "Cut," so he resorted to firing one of the prop machine guns in the air during these scenes to let them know to stop. The premiere screening was a disaster, with Spielberg having noted he was especially bemused to see so many people covering their ears; he'd seen plenty covering their eyes during Jaws but this was a new one for him. It was savaged by critics and did middling business, which Spielberg and the Bobs have described as a much-needed humbling experience, after which they were all able to go on to wildly successful careers (with the film's position smack in the middle of what would otherwise be a spectacular fourfilmsmashhit run for Spielberg ironically causing it to be remembered as a much bigger bomb than it was), including Spielberg producing one of the Bobs' biggest hits Back to the Future a few years later.
Jessica Chastains passion project 355 was hit with some noticeable snags during pre-production and even right until filming. After being sold at Cannes as a female spy thriller in the vein of Mission: Impossible and The Bourne Identity with Chastain, Lupita Nyong'o, Fan Bingbing and Penélope Cruz in the cast with Simon Kinberg directing. Everything seemed to be going fine...until Fan Bingbing was arrested for tax evasion which also had repercussions on the Chinese industry, meaning pre-production was halted until she was released. There was also the fact that Dark Phoenix was a massive Box Office Bomb and a huge loss for both Kinberg and Chastain. Then right before filming was set to begin cinematographer Roger Deakins and co-lead Marion Cotillard both dropped out back to back, with Deakins leaving to work on 1917 and Cotillard leaving over creative differences, with Diane Kruger brought in to replace her. However, filming began in July 2019 and so far everything has gone smoothly, albeit with the film now pushed to January 2021, two years after filming. And then it got pushed to January 2022, meaning from the start of filming to its new release date the film will have taken four years to get released.
The 2013 film 47 Ronin, starring Keanu Reeves, was beset by continuous production woes, as evidenced by thesearticles. Director Carl Erik Rinsch had never made a feature film before, and furthermore, he and the studio, Universal, clashed on the final vision of the film. Universal wanted to make an effects-driven fantasy blockbuster akin to Avatar or The Lord of the Rings, while Rinsch envisioned the film as more of a drama. As such, the film was subject to numerousdelays, reshoots, and a budget running from $175 million to a whopping $225 million. Finally, despite denials from the studio, there were rumors that Rinsch was kicked off the project due to the numerous production woes.
Roughly speaking, between the costs of production and advertising, it needed to gross $500 million to break even... a figure that it did not even come close to. Before it even came out in the USnote It had been released in Japan — to an acidic reception — three weeks prior., Universal, taking one look at the hurricane of bad buzz surrounding the project, took an unspecified writedown on it. It was met with scathing reviews upon release, and audiences largely agreed with the critics and ignored the film. Having grossed only $150 million — not even a third of what it needed to — it currently ranks as one of the biggest box office bombs of all time.
Like many historical epics, 55 Days at Peking ran into issues with budget and logistics: producer Samuel Bronston constructed a set representing turn-of-the-century Peking in Madrid at a cost of $900,000, while the production grew so strapped for extras and equipment they borrowed them from Lawrence of Arabia, filming concurrently in Almeria and Seville. There were myriad on-set difficulties: director Nicholas Ray had a heart attack halfway through production and was replaced by Andrew Marton; Ava Gardner had a long-running nervous breakdown, showing up drunk on set, cursing out the director and ruining a day's shoot because an extra took her photograph; Charlton Heston and David Niven brought in their own screenwriters to beef up their characters (the long sequence where they blow up a Chinese armory was added so Niven's character seemed more heroic). Worse still, the film flopped at the box office and (along with the similarly-expensive Fall of the Roman Empire) destroyed Bronston's production company.
The 2015 film Accidental Love started production in 2008 as a political satire called Nailed, based on the novel Sammy's Hill by Kristin Gore (daughter of Al). It had a very timely topic concerning problems in the health-care industry and featured an established cast headed by Jessica Biel and Jake Gyllenhaal. Its director, David O. Russell, had a soiled reputation at the time due to his erratic behavior on the set of I Heart Huckabees and needed this film to succeed and help save his damaged career.
As it turned out, Nailed's financier was none other than notorious embezzler David Bergstein, and the project was pretty much doomed from the start. Due to Bergstein not paying the SAG as promised, the film was shut down on the first day of shooting. The project would undergo a cycle of starting up again, the cast and crew realizing that Bergstein still wasn't paying the bills, and the production halting again that Russell described as Kafkaesque in a 2014 interview. During the course of its production, Nailed was shut down fourteen times! During the torturous shoot, James Caan, who had a major supporting role, quit the production due to creative differences with Russell.
The last scene intended to be shot was the pivotal one, where Biel gets a nail stuck in her head, which starts off the chain of events. This gave Bergstein an ample excuse to shut down Nailed again, reportedly for good, just before the scene was to be shot. Unfortunately, without that scene, the movie had no purpose.
With doubts that he would ever be able to complete the film, Russell withdrew from Nailed in 2010. He ended up making The Fighter, which cemented his comeback, and between the release of that film and this one, he continued his hot streak with Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle.
In 2011, Bergstein cobbled together whatever was filmed and gave test screenings of Nailed in LA, with the crew unaware of its happening. There were talks with Russell and Ron Tutor, the latter of whom was Bergstein's business partner, about completing the film, but no such plans ever came to fruition. Russell subsequently took his name off of the film; it was instead credited to "Stephen Greene". The movie was completed by a former executive of Bergstein's company (the crucial nail-in-the-head sequence was added digitally), and it was dumped into limited release under the title Accidental Love in February 2015.
The long delay in the release of Accidental Love had unfortunate side effects: between 2008 and 2015, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (or "Obamacare") was passed into law, so what the film had to say about health care had become totally irrelevant. No wonder that the distributor promoted it as a romantic comedy instead of the political satire it originally was. The resulting film received a scathing reception from criticsnote which caused its own controversy when the DVD release blatantly quote-mined the negative review from A.A. Dowd to make it seems like he was praising the film, which he promptly called them out on and got it removed with an apology, and was soon all but forgotten except as a footnote of the careers of all involved and a massive case of What Could Have Been.
Across the Universe only had a mildly troubled shoot, though with some spats between director Julie Taymor and the producers, who felt that she was making the film a little too "artsy" and being unrealistically optimistic that the music of The Beatles would make it a box-office hit. After filming was done, Taymor assembled her director's cut and presented it to the studio, only for studio head Joe Roth to reject it and put together his own cut tailored more for mainstream audiences. One problem, however; between her status as a Broadway legend and her acclaimed films Titus and Frida, Taymor had gotten Protection from Editors in her contract, and she demanded that Roth release her cut unaltered. Roth sent both versions to test audiences in an attempt to show that he was right, and while reactions toward both cuts were mixed, the feedback was clearly more positive toward Taymor's cut than his own. Both parties refused to back down, causing the film's release date to slip from the back-end of 2006 to September 2007, and when it became obvious that the press was firmly on Taymor's side, Roth finally backed down and agreed to release her cut, albeit with little in the way of publicity, causing it to earn back just $30m of its $45m budget worldwide.
Problems began with producer Scott Rudin, who at the time was head of production at 20th Century Fox, who initially pitched the film to his colleagues. However, the rights were held by Orion Pictures (by virtue of their merger with Filmways in 1982), and Fox was unable to purchase the rights due to Orion's plans to create a new television series.
Pre-production finally began after Charles Addams' ex-wife sold her portion of the rights to Orion, who at that point had scrapped their idea for a TV series and instead decided to make a feature film. Rudin left Fox to serve as producer, and a screenplay was penned by Caroline Thompson and Larry Wilson (of Edward Scissorhands and Beetlejuice fame), with additional material by an uncredited Paul Rudnick, who would go onto write the sequel Addams Family Values. Several rewrites followed.
After Tim Burton passed the director's chair, it was taken up by Barry Sonnenfeld, who at the time had only ever worked as a cinematographer and had no directorial experience. This proved to a problem, as Sonnenfeld repeatedly had on-set panic attacks and lost thirteen pounds in less than ten weeks. Sonnenfeld asked Rudin to let him go, but the producer refused.
Three months prior to the end of principal photography, director of photography Owen Roizman suddenly quit and had to be replaced by Gale Tattersall, who had to be rushed to the hospital just weeks later and was replaced by Sonnenfeld himself.
Raúl Juliá missed several days of shooting after a blood vessel in his eye burst, and Sonnenfeld had to split his time between Los Angeles and New York after his wife fell ill with several weeks of shooting left.
During principal photography, Orion began suffering serious financial issues after a string of expensive flops, and in an effort to recoup their losses sold the film to Paramount mid-shoot after the film went over-budget.
Problems followed the film after release. Orion had failed to sell the film's full foreign distribution rights to Paramount, and in turn were inherited by MGM (which bought Orion in 1997), who in some territories have their properties distributed on home media by Fox. As a result, the film didn't receive a DVD release outside of North America or the United Kingdom until 2013.
The screenplay was originally written in 1985 and it passed between various producers, directors, and actors over the next fifteen years, with some twelve uncredited rewrites by different writers. While the bare bones of the plot remained the same throughout this process, the story gradually changed from its original incarnation as a serious space opera to a farcical comedy, especially after Eddie Murphy joined the project.
Principal photography was hampered by the constant bickering between Murphy, director Ron Underwood, and the producers, with Murphy often overruling Underwood and making on-the-fly rewrites, causing the film to go over-schedule and over-budget.
The workprint version of the film ran nearly three hours, and Oscar-winning editor Alan Heim was brought in to try and fix the film. After viewing the available footage, he determined that a large portion of the film needed to be reshot, and whole new scenes added including an opening and closing sequence, and introductory sequences for both Pluto and Dina. Eddie Murphy ultimately financed many of the reshoots while the film languished in post-production, writing and directing many of the new scenes himself.
Eventually Village Roadshow, which had been in a multi-picture financing deal with Warner Bros., stepped in to cover the costs of the increasingly costly reshoots and editing, but necessitated that the production move to Canada to earn a local tax credit, as Roadshow was at the time busy with the production of The Matrix Reloaded. All the while, Underwood and original editor Paul Hirsch (of Star Wars fame) were locked out of having any input in the film's final cut.
Murphy ended up losing interest in the film and left to work on other projects. Since production on the film had technically ended months prior, Warner Brothers had no legal precedent to have him finish the film, which at this point had ended up costing around $100,000,000 (not including promotional costs). Heim took over post-production and did his best to turn the some-five hours worth of disparate footage into a coherent film. The result of this is a film where characters are introduced only to suddenly disappear without explanation, with lengthy Exposition Dumps to fill in important plot points.
The film was finally released two years after principal photography had officially wrapped, at which point it bombed at the box-office and sent both Underwood and Murphy's careers into a downward spiral. Heim later admitted he only stuck with the project for the sizable paycheck.
The Adventures of Robin Hood averted this trope at first, with filming going smoothly (outside of a delay caused by poor weather in the forest location), and notoriously temperamental star Errol Flynn getting on quite well with director William Keighley. At least until the studio saw the daillies, and were horrified to find that Keighley was delivering an unimaginitively-filmed, lethargically-paced film was action sequences that, by all accounts, were simply abysmal. The studio immediately fired Keighley and replaced him with Michael Curtiz, regarded as a much more capable director, but one with a notoriously uncompromising atittude towards actors. As a result, production progressed much more to the studio's satisfaction, but tempers frequently flared between Curtiz and not only Flynn, but co-stars Olivia de Havilland and Claude Rains. It eventually culminated in Flynn coming to blows with Curtiz after the latter failed to tell Flynn that his opponent in a swordfight was using a real sword, nearly getting him injured. In the end, Curtiz was responsible for an estimated 70%+ of the finished film — normally enough that Keighley wouldn't have been entitled to a screen credit, but the studio gave him one anyway, largely to keep Flynn happy — which nonethess ended up being a smash hit at the box-office, and arguably Flynn's most famous role.
Altered States: Arthur Penn, the original director, quit early on after a dispute with Paddy Chayefsky, who was upset with some of the changes he'd wanted to make. John Dykstra quit as well, and Bran Ferren had to do the special effects on a lower budget (it shows). Once Ken Russell was hired to actually finish the film, he was in a situation where, if he changed so much as one word of the script, he would have been sued, so he resolved it by having the actors deliver some of the more pretentious dialogue very rapid fire. Chayefsky didn't sue but was still pissed enough to petition the Writers' Guild to use his given name, Sidney Aaron, in the credits as his pseudonym. The experience of shooting some of the scenes was very trying physically for the actors. Columbia, who had started the film, washed their hands of it and Warner Brothers picked it up. The producer was nonetheless upset that they decided to shove it into the Christmas season rush rather than wait until the spring when there would be less competition for that kind of film.
According to the DVD Commentary, An American Carol was heavily reshot after test audiences (in conservative Texas) proved more confused than amused by the original cut (Zucker felt many viewers didn't understand it was a comedy), while the film's conservative bankrollers objected to some of its crude humor. Additionally, Zucker and the filmmakers found their cast (mostly political conservatives themselves) uncooperative and often domineering. Particular offenders were Kelsey Grammer, who objected to a scene where his General Patton shoots a horde of ACLU lawyers, and Jon Voight, who demanded to write his ownGeorge Washington monologue and complained that Zucker and Kevin Farley made Michael Malone too sympathetic. The film also ended up flopping really hard with both critics (who had to clarify that they didn't dislike the movie because of its politics, but because it wasn't funny) and the box office.
American Graffiti: Although the shoot finished on time and on budget, it was no small miracle that it managed to do so:
The day before shooting was due to begin, a key crew member was arrested for growing marijuana, and setting the cameras up for location shooting on the first day took so long that they did not start shooting until 2 am, putting them half a night behind before a single scene had been shot.
After a single night of outdoor filming in San Rafael, the city revoked their filming permit after a local bar owner complained that the road closures were costing him business, forcing them to move filming twenty miles away to Petaluma. On the second night, a local restaurant caught fire, and the noise of the fire engine sirens and the resulting traffic jams made filming impossible.
Inevitably for a film featuring so many driving scenes, the cars and equipment required to film them in motion seldom behaved as planned. An assistant cameraman was run over after he fell off the back of the camera truck during filming of a road scene, while filming of the climactic drag race was hampered when one of the cars broke an axle, then broke the replacement axle, and then nearly ran over two cameramen lying in the road to film its approach.
Among non-technical problems, Paul LeMat (who played John Milner) had to be rushed to hospital after suffering a walnut allergy flare-up, and Richard Dreyfuss had his forehead gashed after LeMat threw him into a swimming pool the day before his closeups were to be filmed.
And when the film was screened for a test audience, Universal Studios representative Ned Tanen told Lucas the film was unreleaseable, prompting an outraged Francis Ford Coppola (the film's producer) to offer to buy the film from Universal and release it himself while Lucas, burned out from the chaotic film shoot, could only watch in shock. Instead, Universal offered a compromise whereby they could suggest modifications to the film before release. It was not until 1978, after the success of A New Hope, that Lucas was able to re-edit and release the film as he originally intended.
Annie Get Your Gun, the 1950 film version of the Irving Berlin musical, had a fair share of production mishaps:
MGM producer Arthur Freed bought the rights specifically for Judy Garland, thinking it an ideal vehicle for her. However, Garland's dependence on prescription drugs was severely interfering with her ability to work by this stage. This, coupled with her collapsing marriage to director Vincente Minnelli, meant she was hardly in the best of shape when production commenced in March of 1949.
Intensifying Garland's struggles was Freed's selection of Busby Berkeley as director, which was done due to Freed wanting to give a boost to Berkeley's declining career. Garland and Berkeley had a rocky history together, and she dreaded the thought of working with him again. It was planned to focus on scenes featuring other characters at the beginning of the shoot, thus giving Judy time to settle in.
Unfortunately, problems began on just the second day of shooting, when the horse carrying co-star Howard Keel (in his American film debut) fell over, fracturing Keel's leg. This put him out of action to recover, meaning Judy was rushed before the cameras earlier than anticipated.
Having never played a character quite like Annie Oakley before, Garland was unsure how to best proceed, and received no guidance from Berkeley. Her drug use and insecurities began to take their toll, and soon she was either arriving late or not at all, thus delaying production.
After Garland had shot two of the musical numbers, Freed reviewed the raw footage and was appalled. It was felt that Berkeley was shooting the film as if it were a stage play, with the action very concentrated in small areas and with no sense of cinematic scope. The quality of Garland's performance under his direction was also a point of concern. Berkeley was subsequently taken off the production, and director Charles Walters was summoned in his place. Garland was so worn down by this point that she had little interest in continuing, but Walters met with her privately to offer his support and she agreed to proceed.
By this time, however, MGM was greatly dissatisfied with the delays Garland had inflicted on production, and began looking for any excuse to suspend her contract. Due to a misunderstanding on the afternoon of May 10, 1949, she was prematurely handed a notice of suspension in her dressing room, even though she had every intention of working. Furious, she vowed not to return to the set. Taking her at her word, MGM had her removed from the picture and shut down production while a replacement was sought.
Freed eventually cast Betty Hutton in Garland's place. Hutton, on loan from Paramount, had wanted the role of Annie Oakley from the moment she saw it on Broadway, and had been quite upset with Paramount for not snapping up the film rights for her.
Filming resumed in the fall of 1949 with yet another new director, George Sidney. However, during the hiatus, the original choice for Colonel Buffalo Bill, Frank Morgan, had died from a heart attack, resulting in Louis Calhern taking over. Additionally, Benay Venuta replaced Geraldine Wall in the role of Dolly Tate, while four new children were selected to play Annie's siblings.
Though no more casting mishaps or major delays would affect the project, the atmosphere on-set was not a happy one for Hutton. Her enthusiasm and desire to play Annie came across as ungracious and self-serving to many people, who felt she was taking advantage of Garland's misfortune. As most of the predominantly MGM cast were very loyal to Garland, Hutton was treated coldly as a result; the room would go silent whenever she entered, and nearly everybody would snub her between takes. By her own account, she did not get along with newcomer Howard Keel either, though Keel did speak kindly of her in later years. Calhern was reportedly the only cast member to treat Hutton with any respect during production, though even he warned Keel that Hutton was seriously upstaging him.
In addition to the cast, Hutton also clashed with the MGM crew. Being a leading lady at Paramount, she was used to her requests being met and for a certain amount of perks. When Hutton demanded the set be air-conditioned, for instance (she was most comfortable performing when cold), certain crew members resented being ordered around by someone not belonging to their studio. Hutton would later accept some responsibility for all of this, saying that her energy could come across as too intense and bossy for those not familiar with her.
Despite these issues, the film ultimately was finished several days ahead of schedule and slightly under the revised budget, and was met with critical and commercial success when it opened. Despite making the cover of Time Magazine, Hutton was not invited to the premiere, and later said that the hostility she faced on the set killed her joy of performing. The experience was so devastating that Annie played a large factor in her decision to leave Hollywood a few years later.
The 1934 version of Babes in Toyland saw several minor cast injuries, including an extra who sued Stan Laurel after being thrown into the ducking pond and causing back injuries. Then there was Oliver Hardy developing tonsillitis and Hal Roach suffering appendicitis.
Babylon A.D. took five years to get greenlit. French director Mathieu Kassovitz originally intended the film to be highly ambitious. However, 20th Century Fox interfered with production all the way through, preventing Kassovitz from shooting scenes as he intended, sometimes even going against the script. Fox forced him to hire Vin Diesel into the lead role against Kassovitz' wishes, which limited him even further. Early in the production, uncooperative weather caused a two-week hiatus. A scene which was supposed to be shot in Eastern Europe ended up getting delayed and moved to Sweden due to a lack of snow. Actor Lambert Wilson was thrown into the movie late in production. By the time the whole ordeal was over, the film was allegedly over-budget and ruined to the point where it was virtually guaranteed to fail at the box office. Kassovitz ended up releasing a documentary called Fucking Kassovitz in 2011 covering the whole experience.
Back to the Future: Everyone involved in film was sure it would bomb because absolutely nothing went smoothly. (Among the crew, it was nicknamed The Film That Would Not Wrap.) The shoot nearly drove Robert Zemeckis insane, ruined his health, and threatened to wreck his career if the film wasn't a hit.
The script for the film floated around Hollywood for years. Writer-Director Zemeckis and his cowriter, Bob Gale, were shot down by several studios for various reasons; Disney and 20th Century Fox considered the script too raunchy while Columbia Pictures thought it was too quaint, and others were hesitant due to their involvement in the Box Office Bomb1941. The film finally landed with Universal Studios after the two scored a hit with Romancing the Stone, but the film's script underwent heavy rewrites just prior to filming, some of which was due to budget limitations and Executive Meddling.
One particular bit of attempted meddling was the infamous Spaceman From Pluto memo: a Universal studio executive (supposedly none other than CEO Sid Sheinberg) sent a memo to the production demanding that the film be renamed to Spaceman From Pluto (in reference to the two scenes in which Marty is mistaken for an alien). Steven Spielberg, who was executive producer on the film, thanked them for "the wonderful joke," causing the exec to back down rather than admit it was serious.
Zemeckis reportedly wanted Michael J. Fox from the start to play the lead role of Marty McFly, but Fox was busy with Family Ties, so they cast Eric Stoltz in the role. According to Thomas F. Wilson, neither he nor Crispin Glover got along with Stoltz and found him arrogant (and Stoltz nearly broke Wilson's collarbone after roughing him up for real during the cafeteria scene). The producers had their own complaints with Stoltz, finding him too much of a dramatic actor for a comedy film. Glover lost his voice due to nervousness while filming, and butted heads with Zemeckis and especially Gale (which led to him refusing to reprise his role in the sequels).
Weeks into filming, a deal was reached to work Fox into the film around the schedule of Family Ties. Stoltz was immediately firedand replaced with Fox, and the vast majority of Stoltz's scenes were reshot with Fox in the role (one exception is that Stoltz is the one punching Biff in the diner). Stoltz was reportedly very pissed off, and to this day he refuses to talk about the film. His firing made the rest of the cast very nervous about their job security, with Lea Thompson in particular being dismayed as she was good friends with Stoltz.
And because of working two productions at once, Fox was running on fumes, commuting between the BttF and Family Ties sets with virtually no sleep in-between. He would record the show during the day and film the movie at night, at one point going into a panic on the show because he thought he needed the camcorder prop he was actually using for the movie. In his interview on Inside the Actor's Studio, Fox notes that he was basically a zombie, which luckily enhanced his acting a fair bit.
L. Ron Hubbard intended for the book to be turned into a movie from the moment he had it finished, and recruited British director Ken Annakin to help produce a movie adaptation. However, Hubbard's ongoing legal troubles meant that it proved impossible to get finance for the movie. When Hubbard died, John Travolta started trying to get it made into a film, but this proved difficult as he had been sent into a career slump following Staying Alive. It wouldn't be until he had a Career Resurrection in Pulp Fiction that he had enough star power to convince anyone to touch it.
He started putting even more effort in 1995, eventually getting MGM interested in the project. J.D. Shapiro signed on as screenwriter — later admitting that he did so mostly for the paycheck and because he'd heard Scientology centres were good places to pick up women — but ended up quitting after not being able to see eye-to-eye with either Travolta or MGM. MGM eventually dropped the film, and it was picked up by 20th Century Fox. A new screenwriter, Corey Mandell, was hired and tried to produce a Pragmatic Adaptation of Hubbard's novel, which Travolta seemed more accepting of.
However, Fox then dropped the project themselves, leading to it being taken on by Franchise Pictures, a company that specialized in salvaging Hollywood stars' personal projects — and also massively padding out their budgets, allowing them to pull all sorts of embezzlement scams with the budgets. According to Mandell, Franchise only provided the financing, with the rest of production essentially being handled in-house by the Church of Scientology and Travolta's production company, removing any real oversight of Travolta and allowing things to start going completely off the rails. The screenplay was completely rewritten and turned into a more straightforward translation of the novel, with Mandell and Shapiro both being credited as writers, but subsequently disowning the movie.
When filming began, the production team had to move from the U.S. to Canada in order to keep costs down. Even then, the budget ended up ballooning (in no small part due to Franchise padding out the budget immensely) to the point where it became the most expensive film to ever be shot in Canada. Despite this, many of the film's crew complained that the actual budget they were afforded was barely any better than what they'd had to work with on the average TV movie.
The Psychlo make-up proved to be challenging for both Travolta and co-star Forest Whitaker. Travolta had envisioned his wife Kelly Preston playing a larger part in the movie, but it was downgraded to a one-scene cameo due to a combination of Preston being busy on another project, and her finding the make-up incredibly uncomfortable and claustrophobic during screen tests. Production ended up taking so long that Travolta had to cancel two other roles in order to finish Battlefield.
Right before the film was set to release, a version of the screenplay was leaked and retitled online. Reviews for the screenplay were scathing, pretty much ensuring the film to be the complete commercial disaster that it was. Travolta's career arguably hasn't recovered since.
As the icing on the cake, one of the film's main financial backers later sued Franchise Pictures into bankruptcy after finding out the extent of the financial fraud that had taken place with the film's production. German production company Intertainment AG agreed to handle the European distribution of a slate featuring the film in exchange for financing what they thought was 47% of its production costs. Without Franchise Pictures' embezzlement, their financial contribution was closer to 90%.
Even though the 1959 film adaptation of Ben-Hur was released to critical acclaim and saved MGM from financial disaster, its production was complicated:
Having previously produced the 1925 film adaptation, MGM began development of the film in 1952. By November 1953, Sam Zimbalist was hired to produce the film due to the success of his previous film, Quo Vadis. Marlon Brando was also in the running to play the title character.
MGM would later announce that the film's production would begin in 1955 in Israel and Egypt, but Karl Tunberg's script was not yet finished. MGM eventually suspended production in 1956 after original director Sidney Franklin became too ill and resigned. The Fall of the Studio System didn't help matters either.
In 1957, MGM president Joseph Vogel announced that the studio would finally begin production on the 1959 film in an effort to save it. That year, Zimbalist offered the project to William Wyler; despite Wyler's reservation on Karl Tunberg's script, Zimbalist convinced him that MGM would spend up to $10 million on the film and showed him the storyboards for the chariot race. Wyler was eventually announced as director on January 3, 1958.
For the script rewrites, Zimbalist hired S. N. Behrman and then playwright Maxwell Anderson. Eventually, Christopher Fry was called into production by May 1958 to rewrite most of the dialogue.
Before production began, the budget was at $7 million, but it eventually rose to $15,175,000 by the summer of 1958. It was the largest budget of any film produced at the time.
In late 1957, location scouting took place in both Italy and Libya. MGM planned to start filming in Libya on March 1, 1958, but the government canceled the production's film permit for religious reasons 11 days later.
The chariot race was originally planned to be filmed in Spring 1958, but the arena surface was not ready, the set was not finished, and the horses had not finished their training.
Sam Zimbalist and MGM decided to make the film widescreen, which Wyler strongly objected to. Despite this, he and cinematographer Robert L. Surtees helped to overcome these issues during production.
When principal photography finally began in Rome on May 18, 1958, the script was still not finished. Filming of the chariot sequence also began on the same day, but the racecourse surface proved so soft that it slowed the horses down and a day of shooting was lost as the yellow rock and all but 3.5 inches (8.9 cm) of crushed lava were removed.
Also during the chariot race, the cameras' 70mm lenses had a minimum focal length of 50 feet, and they were mounted on an Italian-made car so the camera crew could keep in front of the chariots. The horses accelerated down the 1,500-foot straightaway much faster than the car could, and the long focal length left unit directors Andrew Marton and Yakima Canutt with a very short timeframe to get their shots. Even though a more powerful American car was purchased, the horses were still too fast. Given the horses had to run at top speed for the best visual impact, Marton chose to film the chariot race with a smaller lens with a much shorter minimum focal length. He also decided that the car should stay only a few feet ahead of the horses. These changes helped solved the problems the camera crew was encountering.
The intensity of the filming schedule was so great that a doctor was brought in to give a vitamin B complex injection to anyone who requested it.
On June 6, 1958, over 3,000 people who sought work on the film were turned away. They responded by rioting at the set until police dispersed them.
By November 1958, the film's production slowed down. Sam Zimbalist died of a heart attack early in the month, and both Wyler and Joseph Judson "J.J." Cohn took his place as uncredited producers. Also, over 85% of the extras had no telephones nor permanent addresses, and they resorted to word-of-mouth contact. So in an effort to speed things up, Wyler often kept principal actors on standby to shoot pick-up scenes if the first unit slowed down. Even Martha Scott and Cathy O'Donnell were in leprosy make-up and costumes for the month so Wyler could film their scenes when other shots didn't work out well. Principal photography eventually concluded on January 7, 1959.
During post-production, the first cut was over four-and-a-half hours long and was eventually edited down to three-and-a-half hours with an overture, intermission and entr'acte. The film's editing was complicated by the 70mm footage being printed. Because no editing equipment could handle the 70mm print at the time, the footage was thus reduced to 35mm and then cut. John D. Dunning, the film's editor, also revealed that they had to trim most of the scenes involving Jesus Christ as well as the leprosy sequences.
A Better Tomorrow II's troubles began with John Woo and producer Tsui Hark disagreeing on the focus of the film. Tsui felt that the film should focus more on Lung, while Woo's original version focused more on characters Ken and Kit. Hark also insisted that the film should be shortened to a commercially viable length, which in Hong Kong is considered under 120 minutes, so theatre owners could show the film at least eight times a day. When Woo refused to budge, Hark started secretly re-editing the film himself, since he had equal control with the editing of the film along with three other editors (Woo being the fifth editor). However, Woo went back and secretly put the missing parts back in. With only a week remaining before movie was to be released, and with pressure from the studio and distributors to trim the film down, Woo and Hark agreed to send the movie to "Cinema City Editing Unit", which meant that they sent each reel of the film to one of Cinema City's editors, who would then go to work on his particular reel. There was no overall supervision whatsoever by either Woo or Hark. Each of these editors just cut things out as they saw fit, then they returned the reels. What they came up with is now the official released version of the film.
The film was also notorious for stunt mishaps. Chow Yun-fat was almost blown up when the explosion outside the mansion door turned out to be more powerful than expected. Some of his hair was singed, and he was blasted forward. The shot in the film is his real reaction. Director Ronny Yu was the stunt double in the warehouse scene. He wrenched his back after slipping on water puddle while carrying Dean Shek. Also the stuntman for Leslie Cheung who performed the speedboat jump landed incorrectly and broke his foot.
Regarding Bette Davis' status with the film's studio, Warner Bros.; the film marks Davis' last appearance as a contract actress for Warner, after eighteen years with the studio. She tried several times to walk away from the film (which only caused the production cost to increase), but Warner refused to release her from their employment contract.
Besides her legal issues with the studio, Davis also had issues with King Vidor over the character, because Vidor wanted Rosa to be extremely unlikable and her performance more extreme, which clashed with Davis's views and in turn only soured her views on the film.
After just a few days, the overbearing and aggressive original director, Wu Chia Hsiang, was replaced by Lo Wei (the husband of associate producer Liu Liang-Hua). Bruce Lee was initially sceptical of Lo, describing him in letters to Linda as a fame lover and not particularly focused on being much of a director. He was also The Gambling Addict, more concerned about what was happening on the racetrack than on the set. Because sound wasn't recorded at the same time the action was filmed, he arranged to have the commentary of the horse races booming across the set, infuriating Lee.
Lee hated the filming location of Pak Chong, Thailand, describing it as a lawless, impoverished and undeveloped village. Due to the lack of fresh food, Bruce was losing weight due to a lack of proper diet, having to eat canned meat and supplement his diet with vitamins, which he had thankfully brought along. He occasionally lost his voice through trying to shout above the noise on set; mosquitoes and cockroaches were plentiful in the hotel, and the tap water was yellow. At times filming had to be delayed by heavy rain.
When Lee arrived in Pak Chong, rival film companies tried desperately to poach him away from Golden Harvest, including Shaw Brothers, with a new and improved offer. A film producer from Taiwan told Bruce to rip up his contract and promised to take care of any lawsuit. Bruce, a man of his word, had no intention of considering the offers, although it did add some extra tension on the film set.
Although Ying-Chieh Han was the official fight coordinator, Lee took control of his own fight scenes almost immediately. When there was some dispute, he would disrupt filming by some little strategy such as 'losing' one of his contact lenses while filming in the ice-cutting factory where there were thousands of tiny ice chips on the floor.
The final fight proved problematic, as Lee endured "two days of hell" when he sprained his ankle from a high jump on a slipped mattress, and had to be driven to Bangkok to see a doctor, where he caught a virus in the hot and stuffy conditions. Close-ups were used to finish the fight, as Bruce struggled and had to drag his leg, which contributed to his character's worn out, exhausted appearance.
The 1991 film adaptation of EL Doctorow's novel Billy Bathgate was that year's troubled production. Reports constantly streamed from the set of protracted arguments between star Dustin Hoffman and director Robert Benton, similar to those Hoffman had engaged in with Sydney Pollack during Tootsie a decade earlier, without the ingenious resolution. Instead, Jeffrey Katzenberg himself had to come on set and intervene. The disputes led to delays and reshoots, including an entire alternate ending that was then entirely discarded in favor of the original ending, as the cost ballooned to $40 million (extravagant for a Depression-era gangster movie at the time). After production was finished, Doctorow distanced himself from the film since it took considerable liberty with his novel. It was released to lukewarm reviews and has been little remembered ever since.
The Hammer Horror film Blood From the Mummy's Tomb had a number of production problems. Peter Cushing was cast as the lead but had to drop out after a single day's filming due to the hospitalization of his wife. Then five weeks into production (with only one week to go), director Seth Holt had a heart attack and died (some reports saying this was on set) and was replaced by Michael Carreras. On top of all that, star Valerie Leon was devastated when she was told she couldn't attend Holt's funeral.
Bloodhounds Of Broadway had director Howard Brookner dying of AIDS during production. Brookner had refused to take AZT because it was clouding his judgment, and got sicker as production moved forward. He'd allowed Columbia Pictures to have final cut because he figured he might never get another chance to direct a major motion picture (which was before he found out about his affliction). Brookner was hospitalized just after he finished editing a rough-cut — and Columbia re-cut the film, then sold the film to Vestron, who re-cut it again.
Early in 1989, Columbia sold Mr. Brookner's movie to Vestron, and Bloodhounds was even further removed from him. (After Mr. Brookner's death, Vestron got into financial trouble and returned the film to Columbia.) "When I told Howard that the movie wouldn't be released until fall," Lindsay Law says, "he said, 'I won't be alive.' He said it as someone might tell you your bank balance."
Blow Out's production went smoothly all around... except that during post-production, two reels of the Liberty Day parade sequence were stolen, never to be found. Director Brian De Palma was forced to reshoot these scenes with insurance money at great cost, and with another cinematographer as the original was no longer available.
1976's The Blue Bird was a much-ballyhooed family musical, the first-ever cinematic co-production between the United States and the U.S.S.R. An All-Star Cast of mostly American actors had the lead roles while respected director George Cukor helmed the project, shooting in Russia.
The first problem was that the U.S. side originally promised the participation of Marlon Brando (in what role, it isn't known), but he backed out. This was resolved amicably when Elizabeth Taylor was brought in to play four parts, though her attempt to get David Bowie in the cast (probably as Fire) didn't pan out once he read the script; for that matter, Katharine Hepburn and Shirley MacLaine also backed out of the film by the time it was set to go.
The real trouble started in Russia, because the studio and crew were far behind the curve of the American talent. Cukor told the Soviet studio head how honored he was to be filming in the same studio where Sergei Eisenstein had filmed The Battleship Potemkin in 1925. "Yes," said the studio head, "and with the very same equipment." They had to replace the cinematographer because he'd never shot a film in color, and the on-set translators weren't up to the task of making sure both sides could communicate clearly.
Leading ladies Taylor, Jane Fonda and Cicely Tyson all caused unique sets of problems: Taylor fell ill with amoebic dysentery, Fonda wouldn't stop chatting up the crew about politics, and Tyson warred with the director. Much of Tyson's problems stemmed from being a black woman in Russia — she couldn't get proper lighting with a Caucasian woman serving as her stand-in, and no one knew how to style her hair.
Miscellaneous issues: The American and Russian composers argued over the direction the score should take, each wanting to use the other country's musical stylings. James Coco (Tylo the dog) dropped out in mid-shoot when he suffered a gallbladder attack, meaning all of his scenes had to be reshot with George Cole. No one could find real bluebirds to use or import for the title figure and in the end, they resorted to dyeing pigeons — and their handlers were accused of eating some of them!
The resultant $12 million film was so bad that it tanked instantly. In the U.S. it has never had a legit video release, and the financial figures related to it were rendered a state secret in Russia.
The Palme d'Or winner Blue Is the Warmest Color was, by all accounts, a nightmare to film, between the five and a half month shoot (that was supposed to be two months) and what was described as a "hostile work environment" by the crew, and was bluntly described as being horrible by the two lead actresses, Léa Seydoux and Adèle Exarchopoulos. The two have both stated very emphatically that they never wish to work with the director, Abdellatif Kechiche, ever again.
The Bonfire of the Vanities, as documented in Julie Salmon's 1991 book The Devil's Candy: The Bonfire of the Vanities Goes to Hollywood, became a tale of caution on how Executive Meddling and ego clashes can lead to one of the worst book adaptations ever made. As one such example, Melanie Griffith left the production for two weeks and then came back with a boob job. Morgan Freeman later said that being in that film was like being on an aeroplane that you knew was going to crash.
The 1981 horror flick The Boogens hit a few speed bumps during production, as detailed here:
During pre-production the studio producing the film, Sunn Classic Pictures, was bought out by the media conglomerate Taft Broadcasting. Executives from Taft immediately pressured the film's writers to ditch Sunn's family-friendly formula and amp up the script with enough sex and violence to get an R-rating.
During filming, three of the four lead actors became uncomfortable with performing the nude scenes that were now required by their contracts with Taft. They attempted to recruit the fourth actor, Rebecca Balding, to take a stand against shooting the nude scenes. However, Balding chose to honor the contract and shot her scenes anyway, leading to some mild Hostility on the Set. Director James L. Conway reluctantly allowed the other three actors to back out of their nude scenes.
The interior sets used for the mine were located inside a disused supermarket in Utah, and were made from highly flammable polyethylene materials. One day a pyrotechnic effect caused the polyethylene to ignite, burning down the set and taking the supermarket with it. The cast and crew made it out okay, but still needed to shoot scenes on a set that was now destroyed. They resorted to filming inside a real mine they had been using for exterior shots up to that point.
Then there were issues with the titular monster. Conway learned that the production could only afford the one puppet that was completed during filming, making the plural nature of the title a misnomer. Conway was also dissatisfied with the somewhat ridiculous appearance of the puppet, but admitted that was due to the crew's own indecisiveness over the monster's design. And because they were shooting during the Utah winter, the puppet's animatronic arms froze over.
Despite everything, The Boogens ended up doing quite well at the box office thanks to an enthusiastic print review by Stephen King, which in turn led King and the film's producer, Charles Sellier, to collaborate on Cujo. It was also during production that Conway married Balding, which has led to an enduring 40-year marriage.
After finishing the script, writer/producer A.L. Katz and director Gilbert Adler had settled on Daniel Baldwin as Rafe and Robin Givens as Lilith. However, executive producer Joel Silver wanted Miller and Angie Everhart, justifying the latter choice with his belief that supermodels were "the next big thing" that would make hit movies. So despite her minimal acting experience, Everhart got the part.
Miller didn't want to do the film, and to turn it down without having to actually say no, asked for a million dollars. After the studio balked, Silver took $750,000 out of the film's special effects budgeta film about vampires, mind youto pay Miller that amount.
Since he'd alienated all the industry's craft unions, Silver had the movie shot in Vancouver, which created two problems:
The Canadian crews were inexperienced, greatly annoying the cast who often had to work around them.
More importantly, shooting took place in July and August. During this time of year, Vancouver has maybe a couple of hours of genuine, full-dark night in every 24, which don't come until very late. This presented a real problem when shooting a vampire movie.
Miller made it abundantly clear that he absolutely didn't want to be making the film. He often had his assistant go and ask the producer and director if he could shoot his scenes first and then go,note or sometimes not even show up at all a request they almost always granted, leaving the other members of the cast to do any takes which didn't require his presence dependent on the script supervisor, and angry and resentful of Miller.note As it happened, Everhart was about the only person with significant screen time who maintained an upbeat attitude throughout the production The crew, too, came to despise Miller since his frequent absences from the set often meant they had to work weekends at the expense of their family time.
At one point Miller tried to steal one of the Teamsters' vans to leave the set.
Making these matters even worse, Miller disliked the script and ad-libbed much of his dialogue in its place, often using one-liners that hadn't made his cut for his standup act. So not only did the other actors have to rely on the script girl, they couldn't even rely on her to give them the line that Miller had actually said, resulting in some discordant scenes in the finished film.
Miller wasn't the only member of the cast to give the filmmakers problems. After shooting started, Erika Eleniak had her manager tell them that she wasn't coming unless they seriously rewrote her character. She had just left Baywatch with the hope of getting more serious roles, and didn't want the character to be so sexualized (i.e. not portrayed as a former stripper). The filmmakers say they complied, although Eleniak has characterized the dispute over merely one scene Silver wanted to add in which there was apparent Les Yay between her and Everhart. She was upset that the rewritten script took out a scene in which it was revealed that she had once weighed 300 pounds and been a fat porn star ... she had even gone to the trouble of wearing special makeup for a poster that would have showed that.
The Bourne Identity suffered from director Doug Liman having to fight the studio on pretty much every single creative decision, with writer Tony Gilroy having to fax new script pages to the set in the middle of shooting. The ending also had to be completely redone after test audiences hated the original version. And while nothing has been officially stated, it's very likely that the September 11th terrorist attacks occurring during production had a significant impact on this story about the US government running a shady black ops organization.
It started as a two-part epic by David Lean (see Serial Offenders) in the mid-'70s. The film languished in Development Hell for years as Lean struggled to secure financing; producers were terrified at the film's proposed scale and projected budget. Lean and collaborator Robert Bolt finished a screenplay, spent $4,000,000 on a life-sized replica of the Bounty, and began casting the film (Anthony Hopkins as Captain Bligh; Christopher Reeve, Oliver Reed and Sting were all considered for Fletcher Christian before Mel Gibson signed on), all before securing a budget. When Lean finally gained Dino De Laurentiis's backing, Bolt had a massive stroke and dropped out of the project. Lean and de Laurentiis sparred for another year over the budget, enough that Lean considered turning the project over to Joseph Levine or Sam Spiegel. Finally, Lean tired of this bickering and left the project, passing it on to Roger Donaldson.
At de Laurentiis's urging, Donaldson drastically reduced Bolt's script, which depicted the voyage of the Bounty, the mutiny and the HMS Pandora's pursuit of the mutineers, into a more modest story depicting the mutiny. Even so, filming didn't go smoothly; extensive location shooting in French Polynesia ran afoul of bad weather and logistic difficulties, Gibson drank heavily during lulls in production, while Donaldson clashed repeatedly with Hopkins over the latter's performance. Finally released in 1984, The Bounty cost a hefty $25,000,000, and despite good reviews it flopped at the box office. Fortunately, its failure proved a minor speed bump, as Donaldson, Gibson and Hopkins — not to mention supporting actors Daniel Day-Lewis and Liam Neeson — all went on to bigger things.
Brainstorm became this following the death of co-star Natalie Wood. According to director Douglas Trumbull, MGM wanted to cancel the production of the film and collect the insurance money, despite the fact that most of Wood's scenes were already finished prior to her death.
Brewster McCloud's production wasn't so much troubled as hectic and chaotic, which set the stage for most of Robert Altman's future film shoots. The major crisis was when cinematographer Jordan Cronenweth (who went on to become one of the top names in the business with his work on Blade Runner) got fired halfway through filming for being too much of a perfectionist. Lamar Boren quickly flew in to replace him. A fascinating but hard-to-find book (On Making a Movie: Brewster McCloud) written by a production assistant spells out all the little issues Altman ran into with the film.
However, Whale decided that since the sequel couldn't just be a retread of the first film, a Tone Shift was necessary. The sequel, he declared, would have to be "a hoot". He went through three different story ideas, and more sets of writers, before eventually settling on a story built around a scene in the novel where the monster demands Dr. Frankenstein create a mate for him.
The sequel would have the monster actually talk. Although his vocabulary would be limited to 43 words, Boris Karloff thought this was a stupid decision that robbed the monster of his charm. He and Whale were clashing over this as filming began. Colin Clive, who returned as Dr. Frankenstein, was for his part plagued by his alcoholism having become worse in the intervening four years. Whale declined to recast the part as he felt that it gave Clive's performance the right over-the-top quality. Also, Mae Clarke was unavailable to reprise her role due to ongoing health issues at the time, and the role of Elizabeth was recast with Valerie Hobson.
Principal photography ran into problems. On the first day, the rubber suit Karloff was wearing beneath his costume filled up with air as he waded into the castle moat. Later that day, he broke his hip, requiring that a stunt double be hired for the rest of the shoot. Clive also broke his leg. The dress that Elsa Lanchester wore to play Mary Shelley in the prologue reportedly took a dozen seamstresses over four months to complete.
Whale shut down production for ten days to wait for the actor he wanted as the Hermit to be available, putting the film behind schedule by that amount of time. It also went $100,000 over budget, a not inconsiderable amount for the time. Universal disagreed with many of the darker elements of the film, with many scenes not making it into the final cut, and a subplot involving Dwight Frye's character being completely excised. Whale finished the final cut only days before the premiere, and had to reshoot the ending. Fortunately for everyone involved, the film made money and is remembered as as much of a classic as the original, if not more.
Production of Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason wasn't massively troubled per se, but was hampered my many disagreements between director Beeban Kidron and the actors, to the point where executive producer Richard Curtis reportedly had to step in several times to smooth things out, and essentially took over from Kidron in the editing room. It also suffered from a botched released strategy in the U.S., where it was initially released on a limited number of screens and greatly expanded the following week, only for poor word-of-mouth and reviews to cause it to quickly sink without trace.
Shortly after it was optioned, McInerney wrote a script, and while it wasn't perfect it was enough to get Joel Schumacher to commit to the project as director, with Jerry Weintraub producing. After it was shopped around to many of the early '80s Brat Packers like Judd Nelson and Emilio Estevez, Tom Cruise signed on for the lead.
Weintraub became production chief at MGM/UA, and took the project with him. Since that meant he couldn't/wouldn't be able to produce it, he looked around for another producer. Sydney Pollack and Mark Rosenberg agreed to do it, but wanted a rewrite of the script. A new writer began working on it, but Cruise and Schumacher couldn't wait any longer, and left for other projects.
Then Weintraub left UA. The film went from Development Purgatory to Development Hell for months while all the legal issues were worked out. For a long time it wasn't clear whether the film would stay with UA or Weintraub.
Months later it was settled, with the studio retaining the film. Pollack and Rosenberg hired Joyce Chopra, who had recently gone from documentaries to features with the well-received Smooth Talk, to direct. She and her husband began work on yet another draft of the script, one that departed significantly from the novel. The plan was to shoot the film in Toronto and cast an unknown in the lead. But Michael J. Fox responded positively to Chopra's requests, and agreed to play the part, also recommending his friend and countryman Kiefer Sutherland for the supporting role of Tad Allagash. So the budget went up, and filming could take place in New York where the novel had been set, albeit only within a ten-week window before Fox had to return to LA for the next season of Family Ties.
Things quickly went to hell on location. Chopra spent lots of time planning her shots and quickly fell behind schedule. She also reportedly freaked out one day when Fox's fans began congregating around the set, and the producers began to wonder if she was up to the job, causing friction between her and them. Friction with McInerney over her script led her to ban him from the set as well.
The studio didn't like the dailies it was seeing, not in the least because that was how the executives learned how Chopra and her husband had made so many changes to the story, such as writing the main character's drug use out. While there is still disagreement on whether Chopra and her husband did that on their own initiative or at the producers' behest, everyone agreed that it was done with the same motiveprotecting Fox's public image.
A possible directors' strike was in the offing, complicating things even more. UA made the rare decision to fire Chopra. James Bridges took the call on a Friday, saw Chopra's footage, and agreed to take over and finish the film on an abbreviated schedule. He wrote another draft of the script and recast all but two of the supporting roles. Those actors took the part based on a reading of the novel, since there was no script at the time. Eventually Bridges and McInerney wrote the version, basically a rewrite of the novelist's first draft, that finally became the shooting script. They had agreed to share credit but the WGA awarded it all to McInerney. They were still nervous enough about Fox's image that they wrote and shot an alternate ending, in which the main character, in recovery, shows his girlfriend the eponymous novel he just wrote.
The final film received lukewarm reviews from critics, whose complaints reflected the by-then-well-known production difficulties. Fox seemed too young for the part, but Phoebe Cates was even more miscast as his ex-wife, whom one critic described as "the least convincing fashion model, ever."note Cates is a former model for real incidentally; though not on catwalks.Donald Fagen's music seemed to be filler. Richard Schickel said, perceptively, that "[it looks] like something that has been kicking around too long in the dead-letter office."
As of 2010, Gossip Girl creator Josh Schwartz has been trying to remake the film.
In March 2015, documentarian Lucy Walker, after the collapse of a "Disney project on creativity" she'd been working on for two years, won over producers at Convergent Media and a now defunct British TV station, Blink TV, with her pitch for the project, which involved the BVSC's farewell tour. However, Walker and her production partner Julian Cautherley couldn't get producer credits, due to an abundance of names. They settled for being credited as executive producers, though Cautherley was eventually credited as producer. North American rights were then sold to Broad Green Pictures.
Walker wasn't in charge of production, with that duty falling to Blink TV creative officer Christine Cowin, who had limited documentary experience, and Convergent's Zak Kilberg, who never even finished a documentary before. Cowin and Kilberg played second fiddle to Dani Florestano, the manager of BVSC.
Despite the focus on the band's final tour, said tour was subject to a Schedule Slip, as what was supposed to start in Fall 2015 wound up being finalized in May 2016. There were limited opportunities for Walker to interact with the group, due to the band being closed-off to the filmmakers.
While waiting for access and concerts, Walker managed to complete a VR short about Cuban dance, and located the original Buena Vista Social Club, which the previous documentary by Wim Wenders failed to do. They also pored over unused archival footage of rehearsals and recordings. When it came time for the farewell concert in Cuba, Walker was, for one of the two nights, forced to shoot around not only Cuban TV, but Broad Green livestreaming the concert via iPhone.
Walker and her team scrambled to assemble the movie, and eventually got a rough cut to premiere at the Sundance Film Festival. However, trouble arose when Walker showed her cut to the band. Her original cut gave just as much attention to US-Cuban relations, complete with a ten minute segment about the infamous Elian Gonzalez affair. The group wasn't happy with Walker's cut, and demanded one that was less political, more flattering, and contained more concert footage. Unbeknownst to Walker, the group also had cutting rights, and due to her reliance on archival footage, that meant she also had to get the group's permission to use it. Walker had no time whatsoever to edit to the band's demands while Broad Green began their edit of the movie only a week before its Sundance premiere. The filmmakers were appalled by their results.
Eventually, Walker could agree to show Broad Green's cut via a full damage release. However, doing so would leave her open to legal action, meaning that the decision fell to Broad Green CEO Gabriel Hammond. They abruptly pulled the movie from its scheduled screening, only hours before it was set to premiere. Walker later tried contacting Hammond after the festival to no response. However, moving crews showed up to Walker's office in order to haul away editing equipment.
Broad Green was forced to remove all political content from the film in order to make the group happy, much to the dismay of Walker, editor Pablo Proenza and original architect of the BVSC Juan de Marcos, who has long distanced himself from the group. Walker couldn't even remove her name from the film due to DGA rules, and with Blink TV going out of business, there was no production company to sue.
With no festival runs, no support from Walker (with Walker even finding out about a release date at all through reading about it online) and Invisible Advertising, the film was dumped in about 80 theaters, grossing a dismal $123,445 over two weeks.
Buffalo '66: Vince Gallo made the movie he wanted to make, and got good reviews, but did not make many friends doing so.note Let's just say he didn't have to stretch his acting talents much to play Billy.
Before production started, Gallo decided he wanted to shoot on the E6 film stock used mainly for color transparencies (i.e. what we used to call "slides"). This can be done but it is a very tricky process, as well as costly—it put a real strain on the film's extremely low budget. The original cinematographer balked, so Gallo fired him. Who did Gallo decide to replace him with? Himself. Yup ... Gallo, already the writer, star, and director, was ready to add "photographed by ..." to his credits as well. At the last minute the bond company stepped in and told him to hire a real cinematographer, Lance Acord.
Not that Gallo liked him any better. Acord was credited by some critics with the gimmick of putting characters' flashbacks or other interior imaginings in small insets in the shot. Gallo not only insisted that was his idea, but that Acord had brought absolutely nothing to the shoot.
Christina Ricci was so upset by the way Gallo treated her on set, as well as remarks he made about her basically being his "puppet", when the film came out, that she has reportedly said she will never work with him again. For good measure, several years later, Gallo made remarks about how fat she was at the time.
Anjelica Huston was also disturbed by Gallo's antics, and would probably be just as happy not making another film with him.
Kevin Corrigan, who had originally been hired and fired by Gallo and was then brought back when his replacement had to back out, also was so embarrassed by his portrayal of the mentally-handicapped Goon that he asked to have his name taken out of the credits.
Caddyshack may now be considered a cult classic, but it had a hell of a time getting there:
The film was originally supposed to be a simple coming-of-age story about kids working at a golf course, with Danny (Michael O'Keefe) and Tony (Scott Colomby) as the main characters. It slowly morphed into a showcase featuring comedy veterans like Rodney Dangerfield, Chevy Chase, Bill Murray (whose parts were originally supposed to be much smaller), and Ted Knight. Much of the dialogue was improvised on the spot, and production was extremely disorganized.
On the first day of shooting, Hurricane Dave came through, and production had to wait to begin filming until the storm passed and the flooding cleared. The Florida weather proved intense for the cast/crew, who were often unwilling to film, and there were frequent no-shows on set. Sound recording was also frequently ruined by planes flying over the golf course.
Cindy Morgan was uncomfortable with doing nude scenes, and while Harold Ramis was willing to change the script, producer Jon Peters told Morgan that her career would be over if she refused. Peters then invited photographers from Playboy to the set to photograph her, which angered her greatly, and she, with Ramis' support, again refused to do the scene until the photographers were sent home. In a 2010 interview, Morgan stated that she voluntarily put her career on hold as a result of the experience.
In addition, few co-stars got along. Chase and Morgan got into a scuffle, and almost refused to do their scene. Knight, usually an easy person to get along with, got completely fed up of the improvisation and on-set shenanigans, and didn't get on with either his young co-stars or Chase and Dangerfield. Murray, who was only available for six days, also didn't get along with Chasenote When Chevy hosted SNL during its second season, he and Murray nearly came to blows just before the show began., and when execs insisted on them having a scene together, everyone in the production feared what would happen, but fortunately the scene turned out beautifully. Also, the cast/crew partied hard every night, getting stoned out of their minds, wrecking the golf carts and ruining the golf course on a regular basis.
After the filming ended and the rough-cut came in, it was too long. Over two hours had to be cut, including key parts of the main plot. The film made no sense, so more money had to be spent on a mechanical gopher to add extra comic relief and to tie the picture together; as its scenes were shot after principal photography had wrapped with higher quality film stock and on an indoor soundstage, there is a noticeable difference (even on the DVD release) between the picture quality of the gopher scenes and that of the rest of the film.
The country club at which location filming took place were wary of the damage the explosions in the film's climax would cause to the golf course, so a hill had to be specially constructed and the country club executives invited to an off-site meeting while the explosions were set off without their knowledge. However, the explosions were so powerful that the hill was completely destroyed, and the pilot of a passing flight to Fort Lauderdale mistook them for a plane crash and radioed the airport accordingly.
The film was not a critical success when it came out, and co-writer/producer Douglas Kenney, who verbally abused reporters while drunk at a press conference for the film, fell thirty feet from a clifftop viewpoint in Hawaii to his death a month later (there is some question as to whether his death was suicide or an accident; in the weeks leading up to his death, he had begun joking about his past suicide attempts, leading friends to urge him to seek professional help).
After the original film's release, Dangerfield repeatedly advocated that a sequel be made, but Ramis kept refusing the idea, not keen on reliving the first film's chaotic production. After a few years, Dangerfield and Ramis worked out a compromise whereby Ramis would co-write the script, but someone else would direct, and Dangerfield selected Alan Metter, who he had recently worked with on Back to School.
While Ramis and co-writer Peter Torokvei were working on the script, Dangerfield soon came to blows with Jon Peters, who had fully taken over the producer's role (which he shared with the since-deceased Kenney on the first film) and demanded that the sequel be PG-rated in order to appeal to a wider audience. Dangerfield was angered by this, as it would preclude him from ad-libbing the edgier material that he had done in the first film (which was R-rated), and when Peters refused to back down he ended up quitting. Peters then fired Metter and replaced him with Allan Arkush, and Ramis and Torokvei, not wanting to do the film without Dangerfield, walked shortly after that.
Filming eventually started with Jackie Mason in the lead role, and Chase as the only returning actor from the first film, something even he later admitted regretting, and only did because he was offered a comparatively huge amount for just a few days' worth of shooting. His contempt for the material is palpable throughout and has even been noted as making the film worth a watch on its own. Filming wasn't as problematic as that of the first film, but Arkush insisted on staging scenes at a slow, deliberate pace — something he had similarly done on Heartbeeps — neutering what little comic timing the script (rewritten by around a half-dozen uncredited ghost writers) still had.
This time around the film was unable to overcome its behind-the-scenes issues, and the end result was critically mauled and made back less than half of its budget at the box-office, with Arkush never again helming a theatrically-released movie, and Ramis considering it arguably the lowest point of his entire career. Adding insult to injury, Bill Murray successfully sued the producers for royalties relating to the gopher character, which he originally created in the first film, but was never asked for permission to re-use in the sequel.
A whole mess of this led to the utter disaster that was the notorious 1979 historical epic/porn film Caligula. To make a very long story short:
Most of the problems stemmed from the endless feuding between writer Gore Vidal, director Tinto Brass, and producer Bob Guccione (of Penthouse magazine fame). Vidal wanted the film to stay true to his script, to the point of claiming in a Time magazine interview that directors were "parasites" living off writers, and that the director need only follow the directions as provided by the writer of the screenplay. Brass, not amused in the slightest, threw Vidal out of the studio. Guccione, meanwhile, wanted to incorporate hardcore sex into the film in order to promote his magazine, which caused no shortage of disagreements with Brass, and also caused female lead Maria Schneider to withdraw from the film, not keen on reliving the traumatic experiences she had been through while filming similar content in Last Tango in Paris earlier in the decade (she was replaced by Teresa Ann Savoy).
The aggressive shooting schedule developed by the inexperienced producers Guccione and Franco Rossellini was unrealistic for a film of such scope. Art director Danilo Donati had to scrap some of his more elaborate original ideas for the sets and replace them with such surreal imagery as bizarre matte paintings, blacked-out areas, silk backdrops and curtains. This resulted in significant script changes, with Brass and the actors improvising scenes written to take place in entirely different locations, and sometimes shooting entirely new scenes (such as the frolicking scene that opens the film) in order to show progress while the incomplete or redone sets were unavailable.
As the film entered post-production, Guccione took control of the film footage and fired Brass for running up huge costs (Guccione claims Brass shot enough film to "make the original version of Ben-Hur about 50 times over"), casting actual criminals as Roman senators, and using what Guccione considered "fat, ugly, and wrinkled old women" in the sex scenes instead of his Penthouse Pets. Guccione hired his friend Giancarlo Lui to reedit the film. Lui was instructed to refashion the film into something more in keeping with what Vidal had first scripted, while delivering the sexual content demanded by Guccione; they shot and added hardcore scenes. With much footage improvised and rewritten from the original draft of the film, Lui further scrambled, re-cut, and deleted scenes altogether. Many of the disturbing sexual images shot by Brass were removed, replaced by approximately six minutes of hardcore sex shot by Guccione and Lui. In the end, the final cut of the film had strayed far afield from what Brass had intended. Ironically, perhaps, it bore little resemblance to what Vidal had scripted as well.
In the unpleasant aftermath, both Brass and Vidal launched independent tirades against the film and lawsuits against Guccione, delaying the release of Caligula. Vidal, who was paid $200,000 for his script, agreed to drop his contractual claim for 10% of the film profits in exchange for having his name removed from the title of the film (original billing was to have been Gore Vidal's Caligula). In 1981, Anneka Di Lorenzo, who played Messalina, sued Guccione, claiming that he damaged her career by using hardcore sexual scenes in the final cut of Caligula without her knowledge, thereby associating her with a pornographic film. After a protracted litigation, in 1990 a New York state court awarded her $60,000 in compensatory damages and $4,000,000 in punitive damages, but on appeal, the punitive damages were determined to be not recoverable and the court vacated the award.
Candyman: In order to ensure the film crew's safety filming the Cabrini-Green exterior scenes, various local gang members had to be promised roles as extras in exchange for the crew's safety. However, a sniper round took out one of the windows on the production van on the last day. Also, there were no practical special effects for the bee scenes, including the scene where bees flew out of Tony Todd's mouth. And to top it off, Virginia Madsen was extremely allergic to bees, so the production crew had to go out of their way to make certain ambulances were on standby at all times.
Can't Buy Me Love was marred by the crew going on strike mid-production. A cheerleading practice scene was shot with members holding picket signs in the background.
According to this New York Times article, The Canyons (a collaboration between Paul Schrader and Bret Easton Ellis starring Lindsay Lohan) was fully subject to this. Lindsay - notoriously rather troubled herself - was hired based on starpower, and was supposedly fired before the production due to completely vanishing during a key meeting. When production started, she was in a constant struggle with Schrader, had to be persuaded to do nude scenes, and often showed up late after partying all night (one night staying out until 5:30 AM with Lady Gaga - when she had a 6 AM call time). She wasn't the only problem with the production, as star James Deen (yes, porn star James Deen) left town to pursue his... other career during filming, and several attempts to shoot covertly without permits were thwarted. The film was also rejected by both Sundance and SXSW before eventually being picked up by IFC films.
The 1976 adaptation of Carrie suffered a minor case of this during the filming of the climactic scene where Carrie burns down her house. The script called for Carrie to bring down a rain of stones as well, and the interior scenes, showing rocks crashing through the ceiling, had already been shot. Unfortunately, when it came time to shoot the exterior scenes, the rig that would've dropped the stones on the model house malfunctioned. Due to their limited budget, they could only shoot the scene once, and they had already lit the house on fire by the time they realized that they were experiencing a literal Special Effect Failure. The shot of the house burning down, sans the rain of stones, was what made it into the finished product, though the darkness of the night scene helps to mask the error.
The film was originally supposed to be shot in Santo Domingo, where the Elmore Leonard novel it's based on is set. However, the producers decided it was too dangerous to shoot there, so production was moved to South Florida shortly beforehand.
Kelly Mc Gillis feuded with Peter Weller regularly throughout filming, although he says he never knew why; their disagreement is said to have been triggered when she walked out while filming a sex scene. Immediately after her "finished in the picture" moment, McGillis had director Abel Ferrara (whom she also had a difficult relationship with) confirm that he was done with her, went back to her dressing room and shaved her head, telling her reflection, "Fuck you. I never want to act again." She kept her promise for at least three years and never returned to the A-list she had been on.
Cats was made with groundbreaking "digital fur technology" that ended up being so hard to do that the film was actually released with several effects unfinished, most notoriously a few shots of Judi Dench's real hand. This resulted in it being the first film to ever have a newly completed version released when Universal hastily sent out new prints to try and fix these goofs after it had already just debuted in theaters, which received many mocking comparisons to a video game getting a day one patch.
Production on Chappiereportedly had an absolute whale of a time with the antics of the members of Die Antwoord, especially Ninja (real name Watkin Tudor Jones). Ninja refused to sit next to other cast members out of a sense of superiority, attempted to tell his fellow cast members how to do their scenes, sexually harassed female crew members and sent them explicit photos of himself, and had to be written out of at least one scene because Hugh Jackman couldn't stand him. Neill Blomkamp allegedly refuses to ever work with him again.
The film began as a Michael Powell project, but Powell gave up after his preferred screenwriter (John Witham) died during pre-production. After Richardson took over, Laurence Harvey sued Richardson and screenwriter John Osborne for using Cecil Woodham-Smith's book The Reason Why as a source; Harvey owned rights and was keen on adapting it himself. The lawsuit dragged out for years until the parties reached a settlement; one of the terms was finding Harvey a role in the movie - a cameo excised from the finished film. Richardson sacked Osborne for refusing to rewrite his script, leading to an acrimonious falling out between the longtime partners. Charles Wood took over the screenplay, only to produce a 300+ page work that had to be painstakingly whittled down. Richardson then spent years negotiating with the Turkish government to allow filming in Turkey and use of military extras, relying on the help of American and French diplomats.
Actually shooting the film wasn't any easier. Richardson fired a stunt coordinator whose manic swordplay killed several horses; an earthquake destroyed the hotel used by the production; star David Hemmings proved extremely temperamental on set, besides his marked inability to mount or ride a horse; the crew and especially the soldier-extras fought (both verbally and physically) with local villagers who resented their incursion into the area. Richardson's strange mixture of perfectionism and historical flippancy grated on both his crew and advisers.note The most obvious example comes with Richardson outfitting the entire British cavalry in the 11th Hussars' trademark red trousers. Historical adviser Boris Mollo put his foot down when Richardson suggested dressing British infantry in blue uniforms for the Battle of the Alma, threatening to quit the production. This time, Richardson relented. While filming the final battle, the soldiers were called away for a NATO war exercise, forcing Richardson to shoot the scene with only a few dozen stuntmen. The film was also significantly edited by United Artists in post-production, forcing Richardson to cut several subplots and action scenes, including the Charge of the Heavy Brigade. Richard Williams' animated sequences were added to bridge some of the narrative gaps.
By the time Charge wrapped up, it was the most expensive British film ever - yet its tumultuous production generated negative press. Richardson's refusal to screen the movie for critics (a rarity in that time), and insulting them in print as "intellectual eunuchs," helped ensure a poor reception. Critics considered the film choppy and erratic, while audiences disliked the blend of satirical humor and antiwar drama. Charge became a notorious flop, damaging Richardson's career (and ruining Hemmings'), though it's gained in critical stature over time.
Among its other legacies, the movie inspired both of its screenwriters into writing scathing fictionalizations of its production. Charles Wood satirized it in his play Veterans, featuring Flanderized versions of stars David Hemmings and John Gielgud (amusingly, played by Gielgud in the show's original production) as protagonists. And John Osborne's Hotel in Amsterdam featured an abusive, backstabbing film director clearly modeled on Tony Richardson.
Sony Pictures was interested in bringing the classic Charlie's Angels to the big screen in 1998, and hired screenwriters Ed Solomon (Men in Black) and Ryan Rowe to develop a script. Then 24 year-old Drew Barrymore and producer Nancy Juvonen asked to come onboard upon hearing of Sony's plans, and pored through hundreds of video tapes and classic footagenote Drew Barrymore made a highlight reel when she pitched this film to Sony (Columbia Pictures) that included Enter the Dragon, Foul Play, Used Cars, and The Great Escape to capture the tone of the movie she wanted to make. to figure out a concept that would make the film work for the modern age. Despite their preparation, they went into production without a working script, and were forced to think on their feet as they went along. In total, the script was re-written at least thirty times until one was deemed "acceptable" by the producers and eventual director McG, and a total of 18(!) different writers were credited in the finished product.
Casting was a nightmare. While Barrymore was eager to take on one of the lead roles, many of the crew's casting choices simply didn't pan out. Cameron Diaz refused to be in the film numerous times... until Barrymore swayed her after a half-hour phone call and promise of a $12 million paycheck. In turn, Barrymore and Diaz both personally tried to recruit Angelina Jolie, but she turned it down because she had already played a "tough girl", and didn't want to be pigeonholed into that kind of role forever. The role was then offered to Jada Pinkett-Smith, who declined it to film Bamboozled instead. Thandie Newton was finally cast, but had to leave due to freak weather which caused Mission: Impossible II to overrun its shooting schedulenote In a July 2020 interview with Vulture, Thandie Newton said that the real reason that she backed out was because of remarks made by Sony Pictures honcho Amy Pascal that she felt were racist and director McG making inappropriate, objectifying comments about her body while discussing the movie with her.. Ashley Judd and Angie Harmon also passed on the role before Lucy Liu finally took on the role. Barrymore also tried to recruit the original series' cast members for the film, only to be hit with unrealistic demands — Kate Jackson demanded to play the villain of the film, while Farrah Fawcett would only get involved if she could have scenes interacting with Charlie in-person.
Finding a suitable director and writer wasn't a walk in the park, either. Multiple directors all turned down offers, including Baz Luhrmann, Alexander Payne and Frank Coraci before McG convinced Barrymore he could do the job. Writer John August (Go) was hired last-minute, and production got underway without any script besides a general idea of the plot and an opening scene.
Accusations flew during production over diva-like antics, with Diaz being given a higher credit over Barrymore, and arguments over everything ranging from the size of each actress' personal trailer to their ideas over the script. However, even that was nothing compared to...
Bill Murray, who notoriously feuded with Liu and McG on the set. It's telling that even though the cast and crew were trying to keep the production problems a secret, Juvonen readily admitted that Murray was a hassle to work with. A People Magazine feature on the film revealed that during the filming of one scene, Liu disagreed with the way it was written. Murray allegedly said, "I get why you're here (Barrymore), and you've got talent (Diaz)... but what in the hell are you (Liu) doing here? You can't act!" The remark allegedly led Liu to take a swing at him causing fellow actors, including Barrymore and Diaz, to flee for their trailers and for shooting to cease for the day. When asked about the incident in 2012, Liu reportedly said "there's nothing to talk about."
In a separate incident, revealed by McG to The Guardian (U.K.) in 2009, he alleged that Murray headbutted him at one point on-set. Murray would later deny the allegations, then claim that McG "deserved to die".
It also didn't help that cast member Tom Green (Chad) learned that he had testicular cancer and would have to go to the hospital constantly. Barrymore, who was dating Green, would often visit him in the hospital after leaving work.
Despite mixed reviews, the film was the 12th highest-grossing film of the year, earning $264.1 million at the box office, and led to a sequel (which Murray didn't return for).
Charlie's Angels (2019) (a Continuity Reboot of the 2000 film and its sequel) also ran afoul with the same production problems as its predecessor, including script issues, talent troubles and unclear messaging. Originally announced in Sep. 2015 with Elizabeth Banks agreeing to star in, produce, write and direct the film, the project was stalled for nearly three years as the script was rewritten and touched-up multiple times, with multiple writers being hired by Sony throughout the process. Despite their work, the script reportedly didn't attract the type of talent Banks wanted, with the production team opting to utilize Kristen Stewart and largely-unknown actresses for the title cast. The film was later rumored by Sony to be a "one-quadrant" filmnote appealing only to one of the four movie demographics: young, old, men and women, and was criticized internally for not having enough action scenes as opposed to the prior entries. Release dates were also constantly shifted, eventually being pushed back nearly six months to accomodate for films like Terminator: Dark Fate (itself an example of a troubled production). The finished product, released on Nov. 15, 2019, was dead on arrival, finishing third in its opening weekend and grossing $69.8 million against a $48-55 million budget (not counting advertising).
Writer and producer Karen Lee Wolf was given the money to fund it as a present from her father. The budget was $500,000. Karen stayed on set and threatened to fire anyone who questioned her script. When actors protested that the lines didn't make sense and wanted to work through their scenes, Karen refused to allow any changes to be made.
They had only two lenses - an 18 mm and 25:250. When Ramsey requested two more, he was yelled at for beefing up the budget with 'unreasonable' demands.
The cinematography team rolled two expensive days' worth of footage backwards and shot without realizing it, rendering it worthless. Ramsey had intended to get an acquaintance of his - an award winning DOP who had worked with MTV - to come aboard. But he was told he had to use Russo's friend Bill Hinzman, who had shot a number of George A. Romero's early films, but had only worked on two films since then. The director was also pressured into hiring only Karen Wolf and John Russo's friends who were paid ridiculously high salaries.
The actors were all from Pittsburgh and Karen Wolf refused to let them cast the film with SAG actors.
A workable Director's Cut was created which cut down the long dialogue scenes and emphasised the action scenes. However Karen Lee Wolf fired everyone in Pittsburgh, hired a new editor and re-cut the film. She reinserted long dialogue scenes and looped even more dialogue without the director, resulting in robotic delivery of many of the lines. She also cut and dubbed over the original ending to turn it into a first date scene between Michael and Laurie.
During production, Chaplin's mother died. And then wife Lita Grey filed for divorce, dragging his sex life into the media with sensational claims in the court documents that severely tarnished Chaplin's image. Then the IRS got involved, claiming Chaplin owed a million in back taxes. He spent a good deal of time in New York and/or London with the print of what had been completed, trying to stave off a nervous breakdown. The stress was so great that his hair, graying when production began, went completely white by the time filming resumed and had be dyed to matchnote A difference that can be seen on film.
City Lights: Chaplin was stressed about making a silent film when Hollywood had quit silent movies, but at the same time, he didn't feel that the Tramp would work in a talking film. Chaplin and Virginia Cherrill couldn't stand each other; as noted elsewhere on this page, he at one point fired her and tried to replace her with Georgia Hale. He also had a lot of Writer's Block and struggled a great deal with certain aspects of the story, like how to make the blind girl believe that the Tramp is a millionaire. In the end, photography took two years, from December 1928 to September 1930, which would be a long time to make a movie in the 21st century and was an insanely long time for that era.
Production on the 1916 silent film The Clarion derailed the entire film industry in Jacksonville, Florida, at the time an emerging competitor to Hollywood due to both its warm, sunny climate and its proximity and rail connections to New York, the major early center of film production. In order to film a riot scene, the filmmakers hired nearly a thousand extras to stage an actual riot, trashing a saloon in the process. This was The Last Straw for locals who were getting sick and tired of film productions staging fake car chases and bank robberies in their streets, and the following year, they voted out their mayor J. E. T. Bowden, a major booster of Jacksonville's film industry, by a wide margin and replaced him with future Florida governor John W. Martin, who ran on a platform of cracking down on the film industry. This video goes into more detail on the history of Jacksonville's film industry.
Cleopatra remains one of the first and last words in troubled cinematic productions, even after over half a century. Where to even begin?
The whole reason the film was made was to alleviate the financial woes plaguing 20th Century Fox at the time. Darryl Zanuck, the founder and long-time executive of Fox, left the studio in the mid-1950s to produce independent films in Europe. His replacement, Spyros Skouras, lacked Zanuck's vision; he was an exhibitor, not a producer. Thus, the studio pumped out unsuccessful films, including rare flops for bankable stars such as John Wayne, Elvis Presley, and Marilyn Monroe. Skouras then decided on a remake of a successful property to pump up some much needed profit, and chose Cleopatra, a 1917 film starring Theda Bara. They initially planned a $2 million, 64-day project to be shot at the backlot, but the studio was so impressed with sketches and models of proposed sets that the budget was increased to nearly $5 million.
After Joan Collins bowed out of the lead role in 1958, Elizabeth Taylorsarcastically offered to take it for a million dollars - and to her surprise, Fox agreed. Through her contract, Taylor demanded that the film be shot outside the United States. The weekly costs that were included in Taylor's fee ballooned out of control when she became gravely ill with pneumonia during initial shooting at Pinewood Studios in England in 1960, putting a halt to filming for many months, and leading her to be paid over $2 million before any usable footage had been shot. Taylor's illness and the resulting delays led to the resignation of the original director (Rouben Mamoulian) and the actors cast as Caesar (Peter Finch) and Antony (Stephen Boyd).
Even leaving aside Taylor's extended sick leave, few things went as planned during the abortive Pinewood shoot. The producers had frequent clashes with the studio's labour unions, the film crew did not realise until after settling on Pinewood as the venue for indoor filming that there were fewer available soundstages than anticipated and the ceilings were too low to accommodate the sets as originally planned, and the outdoor sets deteriorated rapidly in the cold, wet English weather. The footage shot at Pinewood ended up being discarded as the filming moved to Cinecittà Studios in Rome so the English weather would not impair Taylor's recovery. (The sets were still used by the producers of the Carry On films in 1964's Carry On Cleo.)
Production in Italy was just as problematic. The costumes and sets had to be completely re-designed and re-built, leading to a shortage of lumber and other building materials throughout Italy. Millions of dollars' worth of props and other equipment were stolen by studio employees, while a group of female extras went on strike as a result of being constantly groped by lecherous male extras. Two construction workers building the Alexandria set were killed by an unexploded World War II land mine. The constant delays and reshoots in filming the epic-scale scene of Cleopatra's entrance on a barge into Rome (started in October 1961, finished the following March) required the recasting of Cleopatra's son as the original child actor had grown significantly taller during the delay.
When Joseph L. Mankiewicz was brought on board to direct at Taylor's insistence, the film was already nearly a year behind schedule, $5 million over budget, and had not a single frame of usable footage to show for it. The script was only half completed, and Mankiewicz had to write the rest as filming went along, shooting the script as new scenes were written and editing the resulting footage later rather than editing the script first and then shooting the resulting scenes. The catastrophic budget overruns meant the climactic Battle of Actium sequence had to be re-written to take place almost entirely off camera. So great was the strain of writing and directing that Mankiewicz required injections to both get through each day and sleep at night, and had to be carried onto the set each day on a stretcher.
To complicate matters, the film marked the beginning of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton's tempestuous relationship and eventual marriage (and subsequent divorce, re-marriage, and re-divorce); as both were already married, the resulting scandal and moral outrage added bad publicity to the already toxic combination of massive delays and cost inflation. However, the affair created enough fascination with the public that Fox decided to assemble a publicity campaign that focused almost entirely on Taylor and Burton, with scant attention at best devoted to Rex Harrison as Caesar.note Harrison got the last laugh when he became the only one of the film's three stars to receive an Oscar nomination for his performance.
Darryl Zanuck was still a stockholder in Fox and became convinced that Cleopatra would destroy the studio. Fox's problems nearly led to the studio taking over the editing of The Longest Day, which Zanuck was producing,note and in which both Richard Burton and Roddy McDowall (who played Octavian in Cleopatra) requested, and received, small roles to alleviate boredom during the endless delays to Cleopatra in order to increase the number of shows per day and make an even bigger profit. When Zanuck heard of this, that was the last straw; he staged a board-room takeover of the studio and won. As a result, Skouras was ousted from Fox and Zanuck took over. The Longest Day was saved.
Things didn't improve during post-production. Mankiewicz initially planned to assemble two three-hour films, Caesar and Cleopatra and Antony and Cleopatra, but Zanuck believed that the public interest in seeing Taylor and Burton on screen together might fade if the second film were released later, while interest in the first film (in which Burton would only appear in a few scenes) would be minimal, so he ordered the films edited into a single four-hour film - requiring more reshoots to smooth over the changes. Mankiewicz was eventually fired during editing, but had to be re-hired when it became obvious that he was the only person who could make sense of the raw footage.note Some of the cut footage has been recovered in the years since; the film's fans continue to harbor hope that all of the cut footage may someday be restored and the film released as Mankiewicz originally intended.
The film finally staggered into cinemas in June 1963, with a final production cost of $44 million (about $300 million adjusted for inflation) - money Fox knew it had little chance of recovering. Despite lukewarm reviews from critics and audiences, the film had the highest box office take of 1963 and was nominated for nine Oscars (including Best Picture), winning four,note Namely, the color categories for Art Direction-Set Decoration, Costume Design, and Cinematography, and Best Special Visual Effects. but it would not break even until ABC paid $5 million for two television screenings in 1966 (at the time, a record fee for film broadcasting rights). The already financially troubled 20th Century Fox almost went bankrupt, selling parts of its studio lot and needing the successes of such films as The Longest Day and The Sound of Music to offset their losses. Cleopatra also killed interest in the sword and sandal epic genre for nearly a generation, and was a key factor in the disintegration of the old "studio system", as studios passed responsibility for production costs to independent production companies instead of handling said costs themselves.
The planned remake of Cleopatra has also been at the center of a production storm, and it doesn't even have a script or a director yet. As revealed in the treasure trove of hacked Sony Pictures emails, it came down to a battle of wills between Angelina Jolie, who viewed a new version of Cleopatra as a passion project, and Sony Pictures executive Amy Pascal and producer Scott Rudin. Relations between the three quickly went to hell, the biggest point of the argument being Jolie's choice of director — she had her heart set on getting David Fincher to direct the film, while Rudin (with Pascal's support) wanted Fincher for a planned biopic of Steve Jobs (see below). Rudin and Pascal eventually won that debate by offering Jolie a shortlist of other directors led by Martin Scorsese, but by that point, the Jobs film had already fallen through. Pascal and Rudin also wanted to make a film that focused on Cleo's romance with Marc Antony, which Jolie wanted to de-emphasize.
Production on Cliffhanger was shut down twice when Carolco, desperate for a hit to get it out of its deep financial hole, could not make payroll. The film neverthless went $40 million over budget, costing star Sylvester Stallone about $2 million of his substantial salary.
The sci-fi horror film The Cloverfield Paradox was originally written as a standalone film titled God Particle before it was bought by J. J. Abrams' production company Bad Robot, which turned it into a Dolled-Up Installment in the CloverfieldModular Franchise — and as (perhaps unintentionally) revealed in a Facebook Live interview with Abrams, director Julius Onah, and stars David Oyelowo and Roger Davies, the process of making the film into such lay at the root of its problems. The script was constantly being fiddled with during production to add connections to Cloverfield, most notably an entire subplot set on Earth with Davies' character (which doesn't connect back to the main story in any way) after test audiences wondered what was happening down there. Paramount, deeming the finished film to be virtually unsalvageable, sold it off to Netflix for $50 million rather than release what they predicted would be a Box Office Bomb. While the film's surprise announcement during Super Bowl LII, complete with the news that it would premiere on Netflix that night after the game, brought it a ton of buzz, the film wound up getting a very mixed reception that bitterly polarized those who saw it, with one of the biggest complaints being that the attempts to connect it to Cloverfield left its story an utter mess.
The 1989 horror film Clownhouse became one of the nastier examples on this list when it was discovered that director Victor Salva had been molesting the film's 12-year-old star, Nathan Forrest Winters, during production. Despite the film winning the Grand Jury Prize in the dramatic category at Sundance that year, Salva wouldn't direct again until 1995 — and his next film, Powder, was hit with an attempted boycott led by Winters. The controversy has also ensured the film would never see any future home video releases; following a 2003 DVD release was quickly pulled in response to protests.
The Marx Brothers' first film The Cocoanuts started out with all the usual problems of early sound films, with bulky recording equipment the actors had to be near to be audible, and also easily picked up unwanted noise (all the paper is clearly sopping wet as the only way they could stop it interfering). On top of this, the brothers had a hard time transitioning their notoriously raunchy stage act to the far more censored world of film. It was also the first sound film to have more than one director, of whom French-born Robert Florey had difficulties with English and Joseph Santley didn't get the Marxes' style at all. As Groucho more succinctly put it, "One didn't understand English and the other didn't understand comedy." As a final grace note, after seeing the finished product they decided the dark grey color that Harpo's red stage wig was rendered didn't look right, and it was replaced with a blonde one for all their other films.
Part of the reason for the box office failure of the erotic thriller Color of Night was a troubled production dominated by a tug-of-war between producer Andrew Vajna and writer/director Richard Rush.
Vajna and Rush had previously crossed paths during the making of Air America. Vajna, then head of Carolco Pictures, had offered Rush the chance to direct the film from his script, but ultimately replaced him with Roger Spottiswoode and re-worked the script without his consent. Vajna told Rush that he could tailor the script for Color of Night however he wished, and that Bruce Willis was already attached to star. However, not only was the script once again re-worked without Rush's consent, but Willis was one of the main culprits, as during the shoot he would frequently take his castmates aside and direct their performances himself to benefit his character. In spite of this, Rush and Willis' relationship remained cordial both before and during filming.
Rush wanted to cast an unknown as the female lead, but Cinergi, the company Vajna had founded after leaving Carolco, insisted on English actress Jane March after her performance as the title character in Claude Berri's The Lover. Willis' best friend Carmine Zozzora, an associate producer on Color of Night, married March just two months after meeting her during production of the film, and proceeded to become very demanding regarding her scenes with Willis. March, for her part, was happy enough working on the film, but was uncomfortable with the amount of nudity required.
The biggest problems set in once principal photography wrapped and the film hit the editing suite. Rush and Vajna had wildly divergent opinions on how the film should be assembled, and Vajna insisted that Rush's contract did not give him final cut. Rush refused to back down, so both men put together versions of the film and scheduled test screenings on the same day at different times in San Francisco to see whose version audiences preferred. Vajna's version was 18 minutes shorter, but achieved this by cutting several key story scenes (and adding extra nude scenes), leaving audiences struggling to follow the plot and deeming Rush's version superior.
Not willing to concede defeat, even after Rush told him to his face that the film would fail if Vajna's cut were released instead of his own, Vajna fired Rush and prepared to send his version of the film to cinemas, sparking intervention by the Directors Guild of America. Possibly coincidentally, Rush suffered a heart attack after being fired, requiring triple bypass surgery. After he recovered, he and Vajna agreed that Vajna's cut would be sent to cinemas, but Rush's cut would be released on home video. Sure enough, the film was critically panned (controversially "winning" the Worst Picture Razzie for 1994, its only win from nine nominationsnote No film before or since has won only the Worst Picture Razzie; the fact that the other nominees included notorious critical and audience bomb North made the decision even more bizarre to observers.) and barely made back half its $40 million budget, but the video release was a triumph, becoming one of the most rented videos of 1995.note Rush submitted his cut to the MPAA after the theatrical cut was released, and succeeded in obtaining the R rating he sought, compared to the R-but-pushing-NC-17 rating given to Vajna's cut. He also sent his cut to three prominent New York film critics who had given the theatrical cut negative reviews; they were much more positive about his version.
First and foremost, Bakshi had envisioned Cool World to be an animated erotic horror film about an underground cartoonist who fathers an illegitimate half-real/half-cartoon daughter, who hates herself for what she is and tries to kill him. Bakshi wanted Brad Pitt to play the cartoonist, while he wanted to cast Drew Barrymore as the illegitimate daughter. Problems soon arose when Frank Mancuso Jr., who had produced the Friday the 13th movies for Paramount as well as well as other horror flicks, was by this particular point growing tired of the genre. So, as a means of removing the horror elements from Bakshi's initial screenplay, Mancuso had that particular script heavily rewritten by Michael Grais and Mark Victor in secret. In Mancuso's eyes, he felt that it would've been better if Cool World was "about what happens when someone creates a world, becomes defined by it, and then can't escape [...] a film about being trapped by your own creation." Once Bakshi discovered what happened, he punched Mancuso in the face and threatened to walk off the project. However, he had little choice but to complete the film as it now was after Paramount informed him that they would threaten him with a lawsuit if he didn't comply.
When Cool World was finally released in the summer of 1992, it proved to be a massive bomb both critically and commercially. It opened at number six at the North American box office and wound up grossing only $14,110,589 against a $28 million budget. More to the point, it only has a 4% score on Rotten Tomatoes and Basinger received a Golden Raspberry Award nomination for Worst Actressnote Basinger lost to Melanie Griffith.. This was arguably the beginning of the end for Basinger as an A-list star. Just three years removed from her biggest commercial triumph, Batman (1989), this was the third consecutive commercial and creative failure (which began with The Marrying Man and Final Analysis and would continue on through 1994's Prêt-à-Porter, which was her last movie before her Oscarwinning performance in L.A. Confidential three years later). The lingering effects of Cool World's failure were more damning for Bakshi, who was so dismayed by all of the Executive Meddling to his original vision that it ultimately drove him away from filmmakingnote He made a TV movie, Cool And The Crazy, and Spicy City, a noir Genre Anthology series. It was the first TV-MA-rated animated series, but due to its short time on TV and the popularity/controversy surrounding South Park, a lot of people have forgotten it; he left the series when faced with more Executive Meddling. He tried to make another movie, The Last Days of Coney Island, but it was stuck in Development Hell until a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2013.. Meanwhile, Mancuso's career was downgraded to B-level status ever since. The two men who rewrote the film into what it became without Bakshi's knowledge, Grais and Victor, saw their cinematic careers erased until 2000. The next time they got a writing credit was on the 2015 remake of Poltergeist, and that was for their original screenplay. To add insult to injury, to advertise Cool World, the studio erected a giant sign of the character Holli Would standing alongside the Hollywood Hills sign, assuming it would be great publicity-only to have it blow up in their faces when feminist organizations raised a ruckus about how sexist it was.
Klaus Kinski's antics on Crawlspace were so bad that the director made a documentary about them. Prior to filming, the actor allegedly threw a fit over the wardrobe that had been picked out for him, and subsequently went out and bought his own clothes (charging them to the film and keeping them himself afterwards). On set, Kinski clashed severely with other actors and crew members. By the third day of filming, Kinski had started six fistfights and caused the film to fall significantly behind schedule. Schmoeller and the producers attempted to fire him, but Empire Pictures demanded that the bankable star remain. Aside from his combative behavior and bizarre demands (including an order that Schmoeller refrain from saying either "action" or "cut", essentially forcing him to film Kinski continually so he could start and end his scenes whenever he wished) he also refused to say any lines which he didn't like, to the point where, "Scenes were starting not to make sense because he would NOT say this or that line." Co-star Tane McClure later recalled that Schmoeller begged her to stay on set because Kinski (who she claims was "unfortunately, very interested in me") behaved better when she was around. Tensions reached the point of several crew members asking the director to, "Please kill Mr. Kinski"a request that became the title of Schmoeller's later film about the experience.
Mystery Science Theater 3000 subject The Creeping Terror was an auteur project of the mysterious "Vic Savage," whose real identity is still unknown. Alan Silliphant, brother of the famous writer Stirling, wrote the original story treatment but found Savage not receptive at all to his ideas (mostly to make a deliberately campy romp rather than a serious alien invasion film), and quit from concern for damaging his brother's career. The crew was unable to secure Lake Tahoe for filming as intended, and had to make due with the far less scenic Spahn Ranch (soon to be notorious as the home of the Charles Manson Family). Savage completely stiffed the creator of the original alien costume, so he stole it a day before filming was set to start, forcing them to plow ahead with a hastily constructed pantomime-level costume often derided as looking like a shag rug, with its several operators boiling in the California heat. For unclear reasons almost the entire soundtrack was lost (various sources state that it was so poor as to be unusable, that the reels got knocked into a lake, and more), and no money was left to redub it, so radio news reader Larry Burrell was brought on to awkwardly narrate the whole thing, even as it's often clear that scenes were intended to have actual dialogue. Shortly before the film's release, Savage was hit with a fraud lawsuit and vanished never to be seen again, though in 2009 his wife wrote a book about the production using aliases, claiming that he died of liver failure in 1975, at age 41.
The little-known Sam Raimi/Coen Brothers collaboration Crimewave suffered from heavy Executive Meddling (beginning with a refusal to allow Raimi to cast his friend Bruce Campbell as the protagonist; he retaliated by expanding a minor role so Campbell would be there for most of production), going over budget despite being a minor production, and other difficulties such as stars Louise Lasser and Biron James' cocaine addictions (at times, Lasser refused to leave her trailer, while James destroyed the lights in his hotel room because he thought the ghost of his girlfriend's ex-boyfriend was coming to haunt him!). Sam Raimi had particular difficulty working with Paul L. Smith; according to Scott Spiegel, Smith wasn't very co-operative, and his entire dialogue was dubbed in post production. And to add insult to injury, the studio forbid Raimi to edit the film, which he has since disowned. Bruce Campbell provides a DVD commentary on the film explaining what went wrong. Because of this film's troubled production and box office failure, Evil Dead 2 was made.
The Crow had an incredibly troubled shoot, so much so it would have been an infamous example of this trope before its defining behind-the-scenes accident:
Series creator James O'Barr's first meeting with Paramount executives led to him discovering that they wanted to make the film a musical starring Michael Jackson, and when he laughed thinking it was a joke, they told him they were absolutely serious. Later on, they refused director Alex Proyas' request to shoot the film entirely in black and white.
With eight days of filming left, lead actor Brandon Lee was accidentally shot and killed due to a prop gun that discharged a piece of blank cartridge that was left in the barrel. The resulting shot punctured Lee's chest and impacted his spine, and he eventually died from serious blood loss. The footage showing Lee being shot was destroyed, and the incident caused so much anguish for supporting actor Michael Massee (who pulled the trigger on the gun, and was cleared of any wrongdoing in the incident) that he took a year off from his career to recuperate.
As a result of Lee's death, and Paramount Pictures writing the project off as a result, Miramax finished production of the film via reshot sequences that used a stand-in for Lee. The FX studio Dream Quest Images (which was already trying to make effects for the entire film on a budget of $15,000) was forced to jury-rig handheld footage of Lee shot earlier in production to finish several effects shots.
There were several more accidents that befell the production crew, leading to a widespread belief that the film was cursed. A carpenter suffered serious burns on his upper body during the first day of filming. A manual worker had a screwdriver get embedded in his hand. An equipment truck burst into flames. A stuntman broke several ribs after falling through a roof, a rigger was horribly electrocuted, and a hurricane destroyed several of the sets. Just prior to his fatal shooting, Lee cut himself on a piece of breakaway glass (which isn't supposed to be sharp).
A lot of the trouble was due to cost-and-corner-cutting; one of the crew recalled "they were trying to make a 30 million dollar movie for 18 million dollars". The film was shot in North Carolina, a "right-to-work" state, allowing the producers to get away with pay, conditions, and, crucially, production schedules that would have been nuked by unionized Hollywood. They began filming at night outdoors, but the aforementioned hurricane destroyed the sets, so they moved the production indoors - without changing the schedule, as switching a production from nights to days requires a 24-hour turnaround, time the harried production team didn't have. Moreover, it was still so cold that the camera rails had to be de-iced during filming by riggers with blowtorches hiding out of shot.
On top of all of this, cocaine abuse was rampant on set, according to Empire magazine, with cameramen shooting whilst high, crew going into the toilets to snort between shots, and people cutting around looking like the Got Milk? ads. One crewmember recalls hearing the sound of a sneeze on the set one day, and an annoyed Brandon Lee quipping "someone just lost $50".
Everything, eventually got so bad that one of the neighbouring productions in the EUE studios began taking bets on mishaps... until a fire destroyed several of their sets as well.
The film started with USC graduates Jeff Wadlow and Beau Bauman, who were participating in a short film competition sponsored by the automaker Chrysler as part of a Product Placement campaign for their PT Cruiser. When they got to the finals, their original plan was to adapt a stage play, but the playwright pulled the film rights at the last minute, forcing them to hastily come up with an original idea. Wadlow came up with an idea for a horror movie about a "professional liars club", and in two weeks he and Bauman cranked out a script and filmed a five-minute treatment starring Topher Grace and Estella Warren.
Production was beset with difficulties owing mostly to there being No Budget. The casting of Jon Bon Jovi in a major role necessitated heightened security on set, storms frequently caused power outages, and at one point they had to set up shop in a Kinko's print shop. The lack of money forced Wadlow to sign numerous additional Product Placement deals (especially AOL and Apple) in order to scrounge up enough cash to finish the movie.
The film adaptation of Stephen King's Cujo descended into one for a quite amusing reason: the title character, a gigantic St. Bernard who contracts rabies and becomes a terrifying killing machine, was played by some of the happiest, friendliest dogs you'd ever see. The crew had a hell of a time getting them to act appropriately scary, having special problems with them wagging their tails until resorting to tying the tail to their leg. They also frequently wanted to eat up the mixture of cream and egg whites they were slathered in to create Cujo's filthy appearance. And in one shot of him ramming into a car door they actually had to use a man in a dog suit, appearing briefly after a shot of what's actually one of the dogs leaping into an open car door to greet his owner.
During pre-production, a range of names was attached to the project at different times. Timur Bekmambetov and Ben Stiller were both considered as directors (with the former still having a producer credit), and Jake Gyllenhaal was considered for the role of Westinghouse. In the end, Alfonso Gomez-Rejon took to the directors chair, with Benedict Cumberbatch and Michael Shannon as Edison and Westinghouse respectively. This smooth pre-production led straight into a messy post-production.
The film was acquired by The Weinstein Company, who planned to make it their big prestige film of that year after a string of previous attempts had flopped. It premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, but to a middling response that risked ending its award campaign out the gate. Gomez-Rejon, who was in attendance at the screening, took notes on how to improve the film, only to discover that Harvey Weinstein had taken the film away from him and planned to create his own edit for the wide release.
The Weinstein sexual abuse scandal broke while this was happening, and caused the studio to collapse. The film found itself in limbo until it was acquired by Lantern Entertainment, a company created to house The Weinstein Company's former assets. The new owners planned to complete and release the Weinstein re-edit of the film, but a clause in executive producer Martin Scorsese's contract meant he had the final say over the release of the film, and he refused to allow its release unless Alfonso Gomez-Rejon was given his creative control back.
Alfonso Gomez-Rejon went back and made his edit of the film, which included a redone musical score and new scenes, all of which were shot in a day inside a single farmhouse, with each room serving as a different set. The film eventually found its wide release in October 2019, almost two years after its original planned release date, again to middling reviews.
After eleven weeks of filming, with about 70% of the film having been shot by Craven's estimate, Dimension put production on "extended hiatus" in order to do a series of rewrites, concerned over the special effects and The Reveal of Scott Baio As Himself being the werewolf. What came out of the reshoots was almost an entirely different film — the serial killer plot was dropped entirely, in favor of a story about Christina Ricci and Jesse Eisenberg's characters getting bitten by a werewolf. Mandy Moore dropped out and was replaced by Mya due to the delays, Skeet Ulrich dropped out when he saw the changes to the script (leading to his character being removed), Baio's role was cut down to a cameo, special effects artist Rick Baker was replaced by Greg Nicotero, the director of photography was also replaced, and several other actors (Illeana Douglas, Heather Langenkamp, Scott Foley, Omar Epps, Robert Forster, James Brolin, and Corey Feldman) all saw the scenes they shot removed entirely from the film, pushing the planned release back to October 2004.
It wouldn't meet that date either, thanks to one last insult: the film was delayed again so that the studio could edit it down to a PG-13. Craven felt insulted by this decision, as he and everybody involved intended to make an R-rated film, calling it "completely disrespectful" and claiming that "they shot themselves in the foot with a shotgun."
Cursed was finally dumped into theaters in February 2005, a year and a half after it was supposed to come out. It quickly became a critical and box office dud that is often cited as Craven's worst film, with both Williamson and Craven viewing it as an Old Shame. The drawn-out production caused Craven to drop out of the American remake of Pulse (which he had also co-written) just ten days before filming began, as both this film and that one were Money, Dear Boy jobs for him, and his experience with Cursed had soured him on working just for the money. (To his credit, given the Pulse remake's poor reception, he probably dodged a bullet.)
The 1983 Canadian horror film Curtains was by all accounts a nightmare behind the scenes:
Most of these production difficulties stemmed from Creative Differences between director Richard Ciupka, who imagined the film as more of a psychological thriller, and producer Peter Simpson, who wanted a more conventional slasher picture of the kind en vogue at the time. According to actress Linda Thorson, the tension between the two became so great that her fellow cast members became unsure whether or not the production would ever move forward at all.
Eventually Ciupka quit the project after about 45 minutes' worth of footage had been shot, resulting in Simpson having to take over the shoot. Over the course of the next year or so, production was put on hold, during which time there were numerous script rewrites and re-shoots, which explains the finished product's choppy feel.
In preparation for the film's ice skating sequence, actress Lesleh Donaldson was sent for skating practice by the producers as she had very little training in the field prior to shooting and had fellow performer Anne Ditchburn help her practice her choreography. Once filming of the scene commenced, however, Donaldson tripped on uneven ice and injured herself, resulting in a body double being used for her long shots.
The climactic scenes were filmed more than a year after the initial production, by which time the cast and crew had begun to lose faith in the whole project. The constant re-writes and re-shoots also resulted in numerous scenes being shot that never actually made it into the finished product.
Upon completion of production, Richard Ciupka took his name off the project, instead being credited as "Jonathan Stryker", the name of John Vernon's character in the film. In the end, Curtains received generally poor reviews and even worse box office figures, and became relegated to the history of Canadian horror cinema soon after. In recent years, though, it has developed a small cult following, with many citing the aforementioned ice skating scene as a memorable highlight of the film.
Michael Douglas made his appearance conditional on getting an equal amount of screen time to Davis. After he began to suspect the filmmakers were adding scenes for her without letting him know, he quit. Many other prominent male stars turned it down before Matthew Modine took the part. While it was partially a boon to the producers in that he actually knew how to fence, he was also not the first or even the 17th person you'd think of for an action-adventure swashbuckling male lead at the time.
Due to the casting distractions, Harlin hadn't really been able to pay attention to the sets and production design. When he finally did, he didn't like any of it. It all had to be redesigned and rebuilt in a rather short time frameand then the script had to be rewritten to accommodate the changes. Both had a lot to do with driving the film's budget way up.
Oliver Reed had been cast in a minor role but had to be replaced after (surprise!) he got drunk and flashed Davis on the set. By that time Davis and Harlin had lost any enthusiasm they had originally had for the project and were strictly in it because they were contractually obligated. And they were getting paid.
Albert Pyun's Cyborg films have suffered different variations of this.
The original Cyborg was actually born out of, rather than suffering from, this trope.
Back in the 1980s, Cannon Films was planning on making both a Spider-Man film and a sequel to Masters of the Universe. Pyun was at the helm of both projects, with plans for filming them back to back. However, after more than a dozen re-writes and an investment of $2 million in pre-production and very early production, Cannon Films began to lose money fast. It eventually lost the rights for both franchises.
Wanting to recuperate some of the money and time invested, Albert Pyun was tasked to come up with a project that could use the production assets (like sets and costumes) of both failed projects. Pyun came up with the story in a weekend. $500,000 and 24 days of frenetic shooting and editing later, Cyborg was finished.
Albert Pyun's first cut of the filmnote sadly lost was somewhat experimental and played more like a war film, being in black and white, containing very little dialogue, and using a heavy metal inspired soundtrack. Producers Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus hated it, and demanded a new, more mainstream version that played to star Jean-Claude Van Damme's strengths. Pyun obliged, and produced a second cutnote which remained lost for several decades changing the soundtrack a little, and adding most of the dialogue and color back. The test screening ended in disaster, only one person liking it from a hundred surveyed.
Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus tried to convince Van Damme to allow them to release the movie as it was. Instead, Van Damme convinced both producers to let him edit the film as he had done previously with Bloodsport and asked them for 2 months, after which Cyborg was finally released.
Jackson "Rock" Pinckney, who played one of Fender's pirates, lost his eye during filming when Van Damme accidentally struck it with a prop knife. Pinckney sued Van Damme in a North Carolina court and was awarded $485,000.
Cyborg Nemesis: The Dark Rift, a sequel promised at the end of the original film's director's cut, didn't get made until decades later. Unfortunately, after completing the first cut of the movie, Pyun decided to cancel production —and as a result, the entire movie—and retire from filmmaking after being diagnosed with dementia in 2016, with the disease taking control of his life.
The devastated landscapes and giant mutated insects proved to be nearly impossible to create, despite the large budget. For example, a sequence involving giant 8-foot-long (2.4 m) scorpions attacking a motorcycle was first attempted using full-scale scorpion props, but they did not work and the resulting footage was unacceptable. The solution was to use actual scorpions composited onto live action footage using the blue screen process in post-production.
Another action sequence with giant cockroaches used a combination of live Madagascar hissing cockroaches and large numbers of rubber bugs which looked unconvincing onscreen, as the strings pulling mats covered in fake insects were plainly visible.
To complicate matters, according to director Jack Smight in his memoir, studio chief Alan Ladd, Jr. redirected about a quarter of the production budget as completion funds for A New Hope. Smight was not made aware of the budget reduction until he neared its completion, which further compromised most of the remaining special effects work, for which there was now very little money left.
The centerpiece of the film, the 12-wheeled, seven-ton "Landmaster", performed much better than expected. The Landmaster was so convincing, in fact, that Fox demanded that more shots of the Landmaster appear in the film to make up for shortcomings. The decision was also made to add "radioactive skies" in post-production to add the visual excitement of a "post-apocalyptic" world to the film.
Because of this last-minute decision, the film was in post-production well past the intended release date of December, 1976 due to the difficult process of superimposing optical effects on the sky in 80 percent of the shots (which was not planned for during filming, resulting in poor execution of the effect). It was during this period that 20th Century Fox went ahead and released their "other" science fiction film for 1977, A New Hope. The studio had planned to release only two science fiction films that year, with this intended to be the blockbuster.
A New Hope became a hit of epic proportions, and forced Fox to further re-address a struggling Damnation Alley, which was languishing in post-production special effects work. In a panic, the release date was delayed to October, while Fox went in to re-edit the entire film. Directorial control was wrestled from Smight, and large sections of the film were edited out by the studio in order to focus more on the "Landmaster" vehicle, and the special effects, in direct response to A New Hope. Excised were several key scenes critical to the storyline, including many scenes with George Peppard (much to his chagrin) and Dominique Sanda, Murray Hamilton (the General of the Missile Base, which rendered his character literally "mute" in the final film, with no lines of dialogue), and critically, a confrontation between Tanner and Denton after the death of Keegan by "killer cockroaches" (in this scene, Tanner blames Denton for not saving his friend from death). The film was finally released on October 21, 1977 to poor reviews and tanked at the box office.
Björk described the process of making Dancer in the Dark as so emotionally taxing that she would not appear in any film ever again. Lars von Trier was no better, he stated that working with her felt like working with a terrorist.
During shooting, Björk left the set for three days without any contact, which was documented in the documentary Lars Von Trier's 100 Eyes. She was also known to say "Mr. von Trier, I despise you" and spitting on him each morning before shooting.
It took Trier a year to convince Björk to play the lead role.
Björk delayed the filming of a pivotal scene for days, saying that she wasn't ready. When she finally arrived on set, she found it to be empty and was told that Lars von Trier wasn't ready. The crew admit that although it was an extremely expensive prank, it was worth the time and money because everyone wanted to get back at Björk for her disruptive behavior.
In October 2017, Björk accused von Trier of sexual harassment on the set of the movie.
Dances with Wolves faced a series of uphill battles. All in all, Kevin Costner spent five years and thousands of dollars of his own money working on the film, having to turn down multiple major film roles while facing ridicule for what was seen as a vanity project. Among the issues the production had to deal with:
Costner couldn't find a suitable director, so he decided to do it himself. His inexperience as a director caused early shooting delays.
The major studios wouldn't provide the proper funding. They took issue with the script's length and the amount of subtitles - the latter something that Costner and crew would not budge on - on top of the film being a western.
New Mexico proved to be not an ideal filming location, as few buffalo existed there and it was difficult to find people who could speak Comanche. South Dakota proved more suitable, so the Comanche were swapped out for Lakota Sioux, which was more widely spoken.
The actors had trouble learning their lines in Sioux. Costner threatened to fire them if they couldn't.
The production ended up way over budget and over schedule. The first cut of the film ended up being five and a half hours long, requiring massive cuts.
Darkman suffered from behind-the-scenes troubles. The screenwriting process was grueling, and there were lengthy post-production battles with the studio. The editing process was extremely difficult, and the editor allegedly had a nervous breakdown, and left the production. The Universal executives were also rather nervous with some of the wild things in the film, and insisted they be taken out. Sam Raimi confessed that studio movie-making, as opposed to independent filmmaking, didn't fulfill him in the same way.
They were actually unable to get Liam Neeson to record his line in the final scene, "I'm learning to live with a lot these days," resulting in it being very noticeably dubbed by Raimi's friend Bruce Campbell.
The Dark Tower film adaptation had a ten-year complicated development history. It started out in 2007 with J. J. Abrams directing before he dropped out two years later, with Ron Howard taking over before ultimately being replaced by Nikolaj Arcel in 2015, though Howard remained as producer. This Varietyarticle revealed that in October 2016, the film was screened to test audiences with negative results, with many labeling it confusing and messy; in response, Sony and MRC spent $6 million on reshoots to fill in the backstory of Idris Elba's character.
Darling Lili suffered from Executive Meddling from Paramount, who edited the film behind Blake Edwards' back. In addition, the budget swelled to three times its original size during production, the aerial sequences took two years to film, and problems with the May 1968 protests in France led to much of the planned Parisian shooting being done in Brussels.
To begin with, the production company cut the budget in half in response to Romero's decision to forgo an MPAA rating and release the film unedited, forcing Romero to greatly scale back his original script. He'd envisioned Day as a legitimate Epic Movie, the biggest zombie film ever made up to that point, but the budget cuts led to a film that was much smaller in scope. (A number of his ideas that got left on the cutting room floor would later be reused for his fourth Living Dead film, Land of the Dead.)
Most of the film was shot in an abandoned mineshaft in Wampum, Pennsylvania. The high humidity inside the mine caused frequent mechanical and electrical failures and played merry hell with Tom Savini's gore effects (though he still won the Saturn Award that year for best makeup effects), and the long distance from Wampum to the nearest city made transportation of crew and equipment difficult.
Savini also recounts a story where, during filming of Captain Rhodes' death, they used real animal guts to show him getting eviscerated and torn in half by the zombies; unfortunately, somebody accidentally unplugged the refrigerator where the guts were stored, leaving them to rot for two weeks before it came time to use them. The stench was almost enough to make the actor vomit.
The production schedule was loosely structured at best from top to bottom in order to allow actors to improvise. The call sheets were sparsely detailed, while the schedule was changed at short notice to take advantage of changes in the weather. Although this may have allowed the cast more freedom, many crew members who were more used to tighter organisation took it as a sign that Malick and cinematographer Néstor Almendros had no idea what they were doing, leading to several resignations.
Two weeks into production, Malick, disheartened by what he was seeing in the dailies, decided to throw out the script and "go Leo Tolstoy instead of Fyodor Dostoevsky" by shooting whatever seemed like a good idea at the time and making plans to trim the film down in the editing room, causing the film to fall badly behind schedule and go hugely over budget. On a day originally set aside for shooting the locust invasion, which involved two helicopters dropping peanut shells to simulate the insects, Malick changed his mind and decided to shoot scenes involving period cars, but he kept the helicopters on hold, further inflating the costs. Producer Bert Schneider had to mortgage his house to cover the $800,000 overages. The film's props were almost as difficult to work with, with the harvesting machines frequently breaking down, so that filming for the day began in the late afternoon, mere hours before nightfall.
The delays forced both Almendros and camera operator John Bailey to leave midway through production to honour their commitments to François Truffaut's The Man Who Loved Women. Almendros persuaded his friend and fellow cinematographer Haskell Wexler to take his place, and worked on the film with him for a week to ensure the film's visual style would be preserved. Wexler was responsible for around half of the footage that ended up in the finished film, but was dismayed to find himself credited only for "additional photography".
Days of Thunder, per this old ''Spy'' article. Everyone thought getting the producers of Top Gun (Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer), its director (the late Tony Scott) and star (Tom Cruise) together, with a script by the legendary Robert Towne about a trendy sport (stock-car racing) couldn't miss. It was a commercial success indeed, despite bad reviews, but none of them ever worked all together again, because:
Simpson, Bruckheimer and sometimes Towne (a sometime director himself) often started their days on set having arguments with Scott (sometimes ganging up on him, sometimes three-way) over how to shoot scenes. Meanwhile, the crew sat around getting paid, sometimes for 20 hours a day. Some later said that they had made so much overtime on the film that they could have gone on vacation for four full months after the wrap date.
However, the effect of all that sitting around watching the producers, director and writer fight with each other was that the wrap date kept getting pushed back. At one point the production schedule was revised three times in a single day, leading the unit production manager (the studio's on-set financial liaison) to call out Simpson and Bruckheimer. In response, they told him "Screw the schedule." It went from February 1990 to the end of May, severely jeopardizing its chances of making its expected summer release date (it came out a month later). Unsurprisingly, the budget almost doubled over this wasted time too, requiring that the movie make a then-astronomical $100 million merely to break even.
Towne (the writer, mind you) had a barn built to his specifications while the production was filming outside Charlotte. He didn't like it and they didn't use it. When the crew moved down to Daytona for scenes there, another barn was built. Towne didn't like it either, and most of the barn scenes he had envisioned were thus dropped from the script.
The cars being assembled in a barn were just one of many inaccurate depictions of NASCAR in the film. Why this happened given the official cooperation of NASCAR and several racing teams, Tom Cruise's personal interest in racing as a hobby and the research he and Towne did is a matter of some artistic license, almost lampshaded in the movie itself by Cole Trickle's constant expressions of surprise that he's gotten this far in the sport despite limited experience. But it seemed on the set as if Scott and a lot of the actual crew just didn't care. So much so that, reportedly, only after principal photography wrapped did someone review the footage and find that they had neglected to shoot Cole Trickle's car crossing the finish line ... only the climactic shot of the entire movie.
One reason why Simpson and Bruckheimer may not have cared about the accuracy (as if they ever did): they were too busy realizing the potential of the movie to get chicks. They spent $400,000 of the studio's money having an empty storefront in their hotel building converted into their private gym. And then putting up a huge eight-foot-high neon sign with the name of the movie in the window. They threw a special welcome party for the crew at a local nightclub with minimal food and drink and no music ... but plenty of hookers they flew in, most of whom they limited to a roped-off VIP area with themselves and Cruise.
Production on the 2010 independent zombie film The Dead was originally scheduled for six weeks, but wound up taking twelve due to a litany of problems, such that Howard J. Ford (who wrote and directed the film with his brother Jon) wrote a book about the experience titled Surviving the Dead. Many of the problems pertained to the fact that the film, set in West Africa, was filmed on location in Ghana and Burkina Faso. The biggest problems were a delay in the shipping of filming equipment, which pushed production back by three weeks, and most critically, lead actor Rob Freeman coming down with malaria and almost dying. Ford also mentions needing to pay out so much money in bribes to corrupt local officials that he "literally had a bad shoulder from handing over cash". The experience was so bad that Ford would frequently wake up screaming from nightmares about the shoot for months afterward, and the Ford Brothers — having been cut out of most of the movie's profits by their Anchor Bay contract — considered leaving the industry altogether.
The 2013 sequel, The Dead 2: India, wasn't a walk in the park either. Not wanting to repeat their experience in Africa, the Ford Brothers decided to shoot the sequel in India instead. The wait period for their shooting permits took longer than anticipated (forcing the brothers to film some scenes guerilla-style), the crew were forced to flee two villages after the locals attempted to stone them, and on two occasions measures had to be taken to keep male extras from kidnapping and gang-raping actresses. What's more, the brothers' distribution deals with Lionsgate and Kaleidoscope fell through, and they were once again screwed out of any earnings the film made.
Death Becomes Her suffered no major catastrophes, but it was made back in the early nineties, when digital effects were still in their infancy. This meant that they had to stage the scenes down to the smallest detail, and any slight unplanned movement would ruin a take, which had the effect of exhausting the actors. Meryl Streep later said that while she was proud of the movie and her work in it, she would never appear in such an effects-heavy movie again.
Dersu Uzala, due to Akira Kurosawa having to work in the USSR as no Japanese studio wanted to fund him at the time. The resulting studio, Mosfilm, clashed with Kurosawa as his perfectionism did not fit the "deliver a certain amount of shot film per day" the company wanted. Union fights were recurrent, and cameramen were changed every week. There was only one interpreter - to a crew of mostly Russians! To make the tiger attack more realistic, a wild one was used instead of a domesticated animal - and needless to say, it wasn't collaborative. No wonder the film took 3 years to get ready.
The Oscar-winning 1947 documentary Design for Death about the state of Japan after World War II was an expanded version of a short propaganda film created near the end of the war by Dr. Seuss. He was just starting to get his children's book career back on track after a seven year break due to the war, but was convinced to participate in the film by producer Peter Rathvon promising him total creative control. And he may well have intended to keep that promise, but was unfortunately replaced shortly into production by Sid Rogell, who subjected Seuss and editor Elmo Williams to constant Executive Meddling. The film saw success at the Oscars, but the questionable messages Rogell had shoehorned into it did not impress the critics. Still, Rogell was the one who got to actually collect the Oscar, which infuriated Williamswhile Seuss, on the other hand, was happy just to have his name on the film after military procedure didn't let him put it in any of his wartime work. Nevertheless, the experience completely soured him on what he'd intended to be a permanent move into film, which, thankfully, set the stage for the next several decades of his legendary career in children's books. Seuss also spent the rest of his life believing all copies of the film had been destroyed, though a few did turn up after his death.
The Dirty Dozen may be the only case of a movie ending the career of a professional athlete. A rainstorm delayed production to the point where it overlapped the start of NFL training camp - a bit of a problem when one of your stars is Cleveland Browns star running back Jim Brown. This drove Browns owner Art Modell to threaten fines on Jim for every day he wasn't at camp to get him to show up. Fortunately for the movie (and unfortunately for the Browns team, the city of Cleveland and the NFL), Brown chose Hollywood over football and completely retired from the game. note A pretty big deal when you know that Brown, at 30 years old, had not slowed down as a player, having won an MVP and a league championship in the last two years of a career where he led the league in rushing all but one season.
Following years of legal battles with Hugh Lofting's family, work on a Dolittle film finally began in 1964 with Alan Jay Lerner employed as scriptwriter and composer. When a year passed and Lerner had nothing to show for it, producer Arthur Jacobs fired him and tried unsuccessfully to entice The Sherman Brothers away from Disney before settling on English composer Leslie Bricusse, who took just two months to provide a full treatment complete with song ideas and tempering the racist content in a way that met with the Lofting family's approval. However, Bricusse unwittingly included an original scene from a rejected script by producer Helen Winston (assuming it was from the book), who sued Fox for $4.5 million.note The case settled out of court, and the scene, in which Britain's animals go on strike in support of Dolittle, was only alluded to in the finished film.
Rex Harrison, fresh from his star turn as Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady, was contracted to play the title character, but tried to back out after Lerner's dismissal. To do that, Harrison made ridiculous demands to piss off the producers like demanding that Sammy Davis Jr. be replaced with the non-singing actor Sidney Poitier as Prince Bumpo, because he didn't want to work with an "entertainer" (Read: someone who could sing better than himself).note Bumpo was ultimately replaced with Canon Foreigner Willie Shakespeare played by Geoffrey Holder. He also demanded contradictory rewrites from Bricusse, made pointless explorations for new shooting locations and other songwriters (most notably, he looked into replacing Bricusse with Michael Flanders and Donald Swann), and wanted to record his songs live as opposed to standard sound recording in studio. Christopher Plummer, fresh from his star turn as Baron von Trapp in The Sound of Music, was paid $300,000 to stand by as Harrison's replacement during production. Harrison eventually returned, but was extremely difficult to work with during production, suffering various personal crises and constantly insulting and arguing with castmates, such as Anthony Newley for being Jewish, and crew members.
Over 1,150 animals were trained for the film... in California. Because of British animal quarantine laws, they were unusable for location shooting at Castle Combe in Wiltshire, and another set of animals had to be trained at great expense. The animals proved almost as difficult to work with as Rex Harrison; a fawn drank from an open paint can and had to have her stomach pumped, a goat ate director Richard Fleischer's script, squirrels chewed through several key pieces of scenery, Rex Harrison was frequently urinated on by sheep while filming a field scene, a flock of ducks sank when placed in the water as the scene was shot at a time of year when their feathers were not water-repellent, several animal roles had to be repeatedly recast when the "actors" grew too large, some of the trainers got hepatitis from being bitten repeatedly, and the unexpected co-operation of the animals during the first take of "The Reluctant Vegetarian" was rendered irrelevant when Polynesia the Parrot shouted "Cut!" - and Harrison assumed it had been Fleischer who spoke.
The location shoot in Castle Combe, posing as Dolittle's home village of Puddleby-on-the-Marsh, had other unexpected problems. Just as the weather reports the studio ignored warned, the rain fell in torrents all summer - except when the crew tried to film scenes set on rainy days. The film crew clashed with local residents when they insisted on the removal of their anachronistic television aerials, and an artificial dam built to enlarge the local lake was almost blown up by future explorer-adventurer Ranulph Fiennes, then a demolitions expert in the SAS, who saw the dam as an act of vandalism.note Fiennes was dishonourably discharged from the SAS for improper use of explosives and fined a considerable sum for his act of "countervandalism".
Filming moved to Marigot Bay in St. Lucia for the Sea-Star Island scenes, and the problems continued apace. The weather remained unco-operative, and there were frequent problems with swarms of local insects. A key scene in which Dolittle's companions leave the island on the Great Pink Sea Snail enraged the locals, the children among whom had just endured a food poisoning epidemic caused by freshwater snails, and they pelted the prop Snail with stones. Harrison deliberately ruined filming of a beach scene in which he was not involved by sailing his yacht into the shot and refusing to move. Studio sets had to be built in California for costly reshoots of the village and island scenes.
As set decorator Stuart Reiss recalled in the book Pictures at a Revolution, the California sets had to be built on a slant so they could drain in case animals (such as cows or birds) made a mess. They also had laborers on standby with brooms, and all of the furniture had to be hosed down and washed every night. And there had to be duplicates of everything, even the walls, in case a big animal backed up into it or kicked it. Furthermore, the sets had the problem of a nasty stench resulting from animal waste and the gallons of ammonia used to clean them. To add to this, despite birds being tethered to railings, a few of them escaped and managed to get caught in the netting on the ceiling of the soundstages.
Despite initial optimism from producer Arthur Jacobs (who had a heart attack during production), the final budget was a then-outrageously high $18 million ($136 million adjusted for modern inflation), three times original estimates. Preview audiences (which notably included very few children) and critics were unimpressed, and the film was a box-office bomb, earning just $9 million despite a merchandising blitz (nine different versions of the soundtrack were recorded, with a million records pressed, but they sold so poorly that they are often found in bargain bins to this day).note It was ten years before another film, a space opera helmed by George Lucas, tried the merchandising angle again. Public opinion soured further when Fox essentially bribed their way to nine Oscar nominations (including Best Picture) by hosting lavish dinners and free screenings for Academy voters.note It won two: Best Special Effects and Best Song for "Talk to the Animals".
As well as ending Rex Harrison's career as a leading man, Dolittle is often credited, alongside Warner Bros.' Camelot (which came out two months earlier), with killing the family musical, as both opened to a negative critical reception and general lack of interest. Fox, already committed to releasing the similarly disappointing musicals Star! in 1968 and Hello, Dolly! in 1969, almost went bankrupt again, only making one film in 1970 and not recouping their losses until a 1973 re-release of The Sound of Music. The only good thing to come out of Doctor Dolittle was that Arthur Jacobs was able to make Fox greenlight, under promise of not exceeding a $5 million budget, a discredited Pierre Boulle-penned sci-fi story that he had been seeking to adapt for years... called Planet of the Apes.
Two weeks before A Dog's Purpose was released, someone edited a video showcasing the training of a German Shepard to look like he had been forced into a dangerous water current against his will, thus causing a massive outrage from animal rights activists before the full story was even released. Later, after the movie was released, an investigation proved that the entire story and videowere deliberately fakedto start drama. Unfortunately, the damage had already been done to the film's reputation, as animal rights groups everywhere had already called for a boycott of the film and a lot of people bought into the story.
Initially planned to be a high-budget adaptation of the novel, the onset of The Great Depression forced Universal head Carl Laemmle Jr. to adapt the less expensive stage play based on the novel. Bela Lugosi, who had already played Dracula on stage to critical acclaim, lobbied hard to reprise his stage role for the film. Laemmle had no interest in Lugosi and considered a laundry list of actors over him, but relented in part due to Lugosi agreeing to a pay of $500 per week for seven weeks of filming, a paltry sum even by Depression standards.
Filming was rocky and disorganized. On top of being an early talkie film with all the troubles that implies, Tod Browning was depressed over the death of his friend Lon Chaney and unhappy about the film's low budget, sinking into alcoholism during the shoot. Amid complaints about his difficult attitude and unfocused direction, Browning passed many scenes onto cinematographer Karl Freund, who went uncredited for his directorial contributions. The cast was deeply unhappy with the messy shoot, and Lugosi grew disillusioned and concerned he would be typecasted. Late into production, Lugosi was reportedly offered to once again play Dracula for a stage tour and said "No! Not at any price. When I'm through with this picture I hope to never hear of Dracula again."
While the film was a standout critical and box office success, many involved in the film viewed it with mixed emotions at best. Lugosi's concerns about typecasting proved prescient, as he was ruthlessly typecasted as vampires and vampire-like villains in horror and sci-fi films. Dwight Frye, who played Renfield, was also a victim of typecasting and not happy about it. David Manners, who played Harker, would later state that he hated the filming process so much that he refused to watch the final film.
Of special note is the Spanish-language version of the film, which was shot concurrently at night using the same costumes and sets — a not-uncommon practice for early talkies. Despite having less shooting time and a smaller budget, the Spanish production averted troubles and benefitted from the missteps made by their Anglo counterparts, viewing the English dailies before filming to improve their own work. Considered a lost film until it was rediscovered in the 1970s, it is now considered by many film historians to be the superior film of the two. (Both are in the National Film Registry.)
David O. Selznick was certain that Duel in the Sun would be his next Gone with the Wind, but his habit of extreme micromanagement, which worked for the production of GWTW, could just as easily increase tensions on the set and artistically smother a movie. Also, Selznick was in the process of separating from and divorcing his first wife so he could eventually marry his leading lady, the much-younger Jennifer Jones, with whom he had become obsessed. That obsession, unfortunately, affected many of his decisions. Finally, to keep up with his workaholic schedule, Selznick was taking—and became addicted to—Benzedrine, which only increased his erratic behavior and decision-making during production. The film also fell afoul of the Hays Code and religious censors, particularly for a scene in which Pearl Chavez (Jones) performed a sensual dance for Lewton McCanles (Gregory Peck), but Selznick found a way to turn that to his advantage.
Plans to adapt Frank Herbert's 1965 novel to film went back over fifteen years, with the aforementioned Arthur Jacobs being the first to buy the rights to it not long after it came out... at which point he sat on them, consistently holding out for more money, until he died several years later.
In 1975, Chilean director Alexandro Jodorowsky, with backing from the Seydoux brothers (a pair of French producers), picked up the rights for $100,000. He invested more than $2 million into pre-production, writing a script for a 10-20 hour miniseries starring Salvador Dalí and Mick Jagger with music by Pink Floyd, before running out of money, with the rights going to the Seydoux brothers. The documentary Jodorowsky's Dune was later made about his attempt.
Italian independent mega-producer Dino de Laurentiis was the next to get involved, buying the rights from the Seydoux brothers for $2 million and turning to Herbert himself to write the script. When that didn't work out, he turned to Ridley Scott, fresh off the success of Alien. That, too, didn't work out — Scott's vision for the film's aesthetic was similar to that of Alien, which de Laurentiis felt would've made the film feel too derivative, and there was also an argument over Scott and his co-writer Rudolph Wurlitzer writing an incest scene that wasn't in the book, which Herbert himself stepped in over. (Scott denies that the latter part happened.) Finally, just when it was looking like the film might actually enter production, Scott's older brother, Frank, died unexpectedly, forcing the emotionally devastated Scott to withdraw from the project entirely. Scott opted not to return after recovering, deciding instead to make Blade Runner.
Finally, de Laurentiis found David Lynch, who had just made The Elephant Man, and hired him as writer and director. The first argument was over casting; Lynch wanted to cast Freddie Jones, who he had worked with on The Elephant Man, and had to go against much resistance from de Laurentiis to do so. De Laurentiis planned to fire Jones, but changed his mind upon seeing the first dailies and went so far as to apologize to Jones for being skeptical of him.
Churubusco Studios in Mexico City was selected as the shooting location, due to the nearby desert and the devaluation of the peso making it possible to shoot the film for a quarter of what it would've cost in the US. Unfortunately, with that cut-rate cost came cockroach infestations, Mexico's byzantine bureaucracy, brownouts that necessitated having backup generators on hand at all times, a primitive phone network with only one direct line to the production office, worse smog than Los Angeles, and Montezuma's Revenge afflicting half the Europeans on the crew. In addition, Francesca Annis accidentally blew herself up with a gas oven and was hospitalized for several weeks. Production began in March 1983 and took six months to complete due to all the problems the production faced, coming in $4-7 million over its planned $38 million budget.
Problems didn't end with the production. The film was taken out of Lynch's hands in post-production, and diverged so greatly from his vision that he refuses to have his name attached to certain cuts of the film.
Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda were constantly at odds with each other, the bikes were stolen (Fonda's declared motivation for his delivery of "We blew it") and Hopper proved to be a Prima Donna Director, eventually leading to the studio sending him on a paid vacation while they recut the film in his absence to a more manageable length (Hopper's original cut was 220 minutes long).
Terry Southern had written the George Hanson part for his friend Rip Torn. However, after Torn and Hopper nearly came to blows one night before production at a restaurant in New York, Jack Nicholson got cast instead, and the rest is history. Nicholson declared about the shoot that "Everyone wanted to kill one another and put one another in institutions", while Karen Black described production as 'insane'.
Polites and Maulion were unknown actors cast simply because they were Americans, which Jiang hoped would lend a degree of Hollywood prestige to the project. Problems began immediately when it became apparent to Polites and Maulion that very few people involved with the film spoke a word of English, and that the film's main purpose was to promote Jiang's real estate ventures. Polites realized it the moment he stepped off the plane with a bad case of 'hat head' rather than the curly brown hair he had in his audition, causing his stylists to panic and give him an awful dye job because he couldn't communicate with them. Maulion, meanwhile, realized it when the film's cast was brought out to headline the grand opening of one of Jiang's hotels. The casting of other actors was about as rigorous; Irons blatantly lied about his past films and about his experience with action and fight scenes, thankful that IMDb was blocked in China, while Jiang cast his girlfriend Shi Yanfei as the female lead.
Jiang's mismanagement of production was comparable to that of Tommy Wiseau, but at least Wiseau spoke the same language as his actors. Hairstyles changed frequently, extras were used to play multiple background characters, Jiang insisted on wrinkly swimcaps for the actors playing mermen instead of proper makeup, actors were put into makeup "just in case" even on days when they weren't set to film, and when, during shooting on a beach with a very non-ancient hotel resort in clear view, director Jonathan Lawrence jokingly suggested building a wall to block the view of the resort and keep it out of the shot, Jiang took him seriously and actually built that wall — defeating the purpose of shooting on location instead of on a soundstage (because now they'd need to use CGI to cover up the wall).
Lawrence was actually the second director hired for the film, which ultimately went through four of them. The first director hired for the project, Pitof, was best known in the West as the director of the infamous bomb Catwoman (2004) — in hindsight, a sign of just how little thought Jiang had put into the project. Pitof thought that the screenplay (which Jiang wrote himself) was so terrible that, upon reading it, he immediately hired Michael Ryan to do major rewrites, producing a screenplay that was more reminiscent of Clash of the Titans (2010). Jiang, unfortunately, hated Ryan's script, and after multiple fights over it, Pitof eventually quit before production began. Lawrence, who Jiang had initially passed over, was hired next, and held the same opinion of Jiang's script; he ultimately left the film due to both problems receiving his pay and concerns over conditions on set (more on that below). Canadian director Michael French was next in the director's chair; due to a preexisting work commitment, he could only shoot for three months, and he decided to shoot the film as a comedy, owing to both his background in the genre and (again) the fact that he thought the script was incredibly campy. Scott Miller, the son of sports documentarian Warren Miller, was the one who finally finished it.
Lawrence wasn't the only one whose paychecks came late or not at all. Foreign extras who grumbled about not getting paid were met with visits from the police to check their visas, while Maulion ultimately quit the film over $30,000 he was owed that failed to materialize.
No OSHA Compliance was in full effect on set. Scenes were shot in caves with random falling rocks, in remote locations where access to a rescue helicopter could not be guaranteed if anything went wrong, and (for underwater scenes) in a diving tank with lights hanging just a few inches above the water that was kept clean simply by dumping more chlorine into it. Actors and crew worked in very non-union conditions; work days ran up to 22 hours straight at points, with no heaters, no water, and few breaks for food and rest. For the mermen, the glue used to hold their prosthetics to their bodies wound up being toxic and irritating their skin. When actress Irena Violette quit the production out of fear for her safety, not only was her character written out of the film, but the producers tried to stop her from leaving the country; she needed help from Lawrence and an American consulate to return home.
Enemy Mine began its shoot in Hungary with a different director and a $20 million budget (which was considered lower than the average sci-fi film). After the studio saw the first dailies, production was shut down and the director was let go. After Wolfgang Petersen was hired to replace the first director, the shoot moved to Germany with the budget somehow doubling to $40 million. Dennis Quaid and Louis Gossett Jr. even got additional pay on their salaries so they would not abandon the production. Needless to say, Fox ended up with a major money loser by the time the film was released.
Eraserhead suffered from this — no studio would fund it due to its unusual plot and David Lynch's lack of experience, so he had to rely on funds from the AFI, as well as friends and family. Because of these financial troubles, filming was intermittent — it took five years, and sets had to be repeatedly assembled and disassembled. While its critical reception was initially mixed, the film was praised by several other filmmakers (including, but not limited to Mel Brooks, Stanley Kubrick and John Waters), which kickstarted Lynch's career.
In his autobiography, Bruce Campbell described production on The Evil Dead (1981) as a "comedy of errors" and "twelve weeks of mirthless exercise in agony." Sam Raimi and the cast and crew had done some shorts before, but a feature proved to be much harder.
The cabin used as the film's set was also used as lodging for the thirteen crew members. Living conditions were terrible, and the crew frequently argued. The actors went days without showering or bathing (the cabin did not have plumbing) and fell ill frequently in the freezing weather. Things got so bad that, by the end of production, they were burning furniture to stay warm.
On the very first day of shooting, the crew got lost in the woods.
Several people were injured during the shoot and couldn't get medical help due to how isolated the cabin was. In one particularly gruesome instance, Betsy Baker's eyelashes were ripped off during the removal of her face mask.
The special effect used to create the Deadites' possessed-looking eyes was done with contact lenses as thick as glass that could only be worn for fifteen minutes at once because they prevented the actors' eyes from breathing. Campbell compared the effect to putting Tupperware over the eyes. (Perhaps it's not for nothing that the remake dropped this particular effect.)
Sam Raimi takes pride in how he "tortured" his actors on set, feeling that it made it easier for them to capture the characters' pain and misery. When Bruce Campbell tripped and injured his leg during one scene, Raimi poked the injured area with a stick.
Columbia also gave Silverstone wide latitude in casting Christopher Walken, Nicholas Turturro and Harry Connick Jr., but was reluctant to accept Benicio del Toro as the male lead. And despite Silverstone hand-picking the director, Marco Brambilla, the two of them frequently clashed over issues such as dialogue, script and even wardrobe — Brambilla would say, "I'm the director! What are you doing? You have to do this!" while Silverstone would reply, "You don't know anything! You should have read the script before you signed on to it!" Then they would storm off to their trailers and call their agents.
Things got so bad, as told to the Los Angeles Times, that Turturro had a stretch limo idling outside the soundstage for eight hours, waiting for the moment he could wrap so he could flee. Some believed that the newfound friendship (or in some accounts, affair) between Silverstone and Del Toro added to the friction on the set as they took to improvising their scenes together, much to Brambilla's frustration; when he would ask to have a scene played a certain way, the actors refused to cooperate. Eventually, one of the films executive producers, David Valdes, left the project during filming because the production was out of control.
Originally, Excess Baggage was scheduled for a late 1996 release, but it was pushed back due to bad test screenings. Scenes were reshot to try to create better chemistry between Silverstone and Del Toro. The new release date was scheduled two months after Silverstone's appearance as Batgirl in Batman & Robin. Part of the thinking must have been that Silverstone would be an even bigger star after the superhero sequel came out in June 1997. Instead, Excess Baggage got caught up in the Batmanbacklash, with awful reviews and box office. Marco Brambilla would never direct another Hollywood film, First Kiss would never receive another movie credit, and Silverstone (who even got a Razzie nomination) was one foot out the door of stardom.
The production of The Fiendish Plot of Dr. Fu Manchu was troublesome before filming started, with two directorsRichard Quine and John Avildsenboth fired before the script had been completed. Peter Sellers also expressed dissatisfaction with his own portrayal of Manchu with his ill-health often causing delays. Arguments between Sellers and director Piers Haggard led to Haggard's firing at Sellers's instigation and Sellers taking over, with his long-time friend David Lodge directing some sequences. Piers Haggard later recalled:
It was a very disagreeable experience on that film. I was brought in on an off-chance. He [Sellers]d agreed to do a fairly stock Hollywood comedy thriller, similar to The Pink Panther really, playing a detective and a villain. And hed fallen out of love with that project and didnt want to do that script. They said, "Okay, what do you want to do?" and he said, "Let me go off and do a bit of rewriting". So he went off with a Hollywood hack and turned it into a series of Goon Show sketches. The executives were absolutely appalled. They thought, Oh my God, we thought he had a picture and now weve got a development situation. I knew one of them, so they said, "Maybe this guy Haggard could do something with this". So I got three weeks work to supervise a rewrite, which we did. We made Peters script much more coherent, turned it into something with a bit more of a beginning, middle and end. And they were very pleased with that so I got the gig. But then unfortunately within about two weeks my love affair with Peter Sellers was over but I had to soldier on. I did soldier on but it was no fun, absolutely no fun. Then just towards the end of the shooting he decided, which had been obvious, that either he would go or I would go so they got rid of me. I didnt have much choice. So I was retired and he directed for the last week or so. It was pretty much a disaster from beginning to end.
James wielded a large amount of creative control over everything from casting to the wardrobe to the final script — unusual for any novelist, let alone one whose only published work was a single series of three books. This led to no end of disputes between her and director Sam Taylor-Johnson. While Taylor-Johnson wanted to make a more Pragmatic Adaptation, James was very protective of her book and vetoed even the most minor deviations from it, and since James was the one with final say on all creative decisions, Taylor-Johnson often found herself forced to go along. Rather unsurprisingly, Taylor-Johnson refused to return for the sequels and later described her experience as an Old Shame, with directorial duties on the sequels being given to James Foley.
During filming in Vancouver, several residents were upset over the commotion caused by the production. One man rang a cowbell out his apartment window, ruining several shots until the producers came to an agreement with him by moving the rain machine to another location.
While promoting the film, Dornan gave a magazine interview where he revealed he'd been allowed to observe a BDSM scene for research and made disparaging and insulting remarks about the scene he'd observed, its participants, and BDSM culture in general. BDSM practitioners, who were already leery of the film due to the substantial inaccuracies about the culture contained in the source material, were only further antagonized and infuriated by this interview. This was on top of the expected outcry from Moral Guardians, who accused the filmmakers of making pornography and Romanticized Abuse.
A Fistful of Dollars struggled thanks to Sergio Leone's fractious relationship with Jolly Films, who gave Fistful a miniscule budget, assured Leone that legal issues over the Yojimbo similarities had been cleared before shooting started (they hadn't, resulting in a long, acrimonious lawsuit) and fumbled its initial release, dumping it into second-run theaters and as the second feature on double bills. Eventually the movie became a hit despite its shabby treatment, allowing Leone to make For a Few Dollars More without Jolly's help. That film's title was explicitly a Take That! directed at Jolly Films.
Fitzcarraldo's production was so arduous, it was chronicled in the documentary Burden of Dreams. So many things went wrong that it's a wonder this film ever got made. Werner Herzog himself called it a cursed production.
Before production could start, Indians of the Aguaruna tribe burned down the film set in December 1979. It took a whole 13 months to find and build a new set.
Jason Robards was cast as Fitzcarraldo but became ill after 6 weeks of filming in the jungle and the production had to be stopped with 40% of the picture completed. The insurance company paid for the resulting costs and filming could start again after Klaus Kinski finally signed on. But the delay caused Mick Jagger to drop out too. Scheduling conflicts made it impossible for him to stay the extra months needed to reshoot the film from scratch.
Kinski's infamous erratic behavior caused turmoil on the set. At one point, a native extra offered to kill him for Herzog. He declined the offer, though.
Filming was hit by a plane crash that left four people dead and one paralysed.
The bulldozer used to pull the boat across the ridge had a series of breakdowns and heavy rains slowed filming to a crawl.
Production went overlong and into the longest dry season in recorded history which left the boat sand-banked for months on end.
Production on Flesh+Blood was plagued by adversities. There was great animosity among the Spanish, American and Dutch crew and cast members; actors were using alcohol and drugs on the set, while wind, heavy snowfall and cold often disrupted filming, causing the movie to go over budget. Paul Verhoeven and Rutger Hauer argued so much that the crew asked them to quarrel in English so they could follow what they were saying, while Jennifer Jason Leigh has said that the castle they were filming in was so cold that during her numerous nude scenes her hands and feet would actually turn blue. Verhoeven would later call it the worst filming experience of his life, one that made him consider quitting making movies altogether.
The (for the time) cutting edge CGI work for Flight of the Navigator was done using the Super Foonly, a completely unique one-of-a-kind supercomputer based on the PDP-10 mainframe and which had previously been used for some of the CG in TRON. This machine was by the standards of the day rather powerful, but it barely had enough memory for the animation frame currently being rendered and the one being printed to film. A 30 second animation sequence would take a full 10 days of computation and printing to complete. The Foonly was also an extremely balky prototype that suffered continuous technical problems and glitches. The most severe of these was when the system's RAID array suffered a head crash in the middle of one of those 10 day rendering runs, completely destroying the drives (and these were huge things that resembled a top-loading washing machine!). All data was lost, the drive heads were toast and it happened on a holiday weekend so there were no service technicians available to replace them. Once the drives were functional again, the software stack had to be reinstalled from scratch, which itself was a pretty fraught operation given that the system was effectively a pre-production prototype, and had to be done from tape and took days to complete. Then the lost rendering run had to be restarted. The system's custodian had the following to say about this:
I remember about a three-day period when I would drive home and try to sleep for a few hours only to drive back and try to get running again. The really awful thing was that I kept seeing big billboard signs on the way in advertising Flight of the Navigator, saying "coming next week!". "We hope!" I would mutter to myself.
The Fly (1986) walked a difficult path from the initial 1984 pitch of a more scientifically-plausible take on 20th Century Fox's 1958 hit to its release in August 1986, as recounted in such works as David Cronenberg's DVD Commentary, the retrospective documentary Fear of the Flesh, Emma Westwood's book-length essay on the film for the Devil's Advocates series, and an interview with producer Stuart Cornfeld on The Projector Booth podcast:
Fox execs weren't sure a horror film in which the protagonist slowlybecame the antagonist was audience-friendly so Cornfeld had to win them over by securing initial financing himself, which he found by turning to Mel Brooks and his production company Brooksfilm.
The first director attached, Robert Bierman, dropped out when his daughter was killed in an accident and it became clear that he needed more time to mourn than the understanding producers could allow. Cornfeld learned Cronenberg was available (having dropped out of Total Recall) just in time to salvage the project, with Brooks helping seal that deal by offering Cronenberg an extra $200,000. Cronenberg's complete rewrite of Charles Edward Pogue's original script, a condition of participation, was so In Name Only to it and any other version of the short story that initially Cornfeld had his doubts, until a friend read it and loved it.
Jeff Goldblum — who, unlike most actors considered/sought for the role of Seth Brundle, wanted the challenge of working through layers of prosthetic makeup — was cast first despite Fox execs not wanting a supporting/ensemble actor playing a lead in a Minimalist Cast film. He turned to his lover Geena Davis for help in learning lines. She was impressed by the script, and despite the producers' misgivings about actual lovers playing onscreen ones they allowed her to be the first to read for the part of Veronica, and that (and height comparable to Goldblum's) won Cronenberg's favor. While the two got along extremely well with him, their real life relationship, devotion to making their onscreen counterparts' love convincing, and Goldblum's intense overall commitment — enduring up to five hours of makeup/suit applications per day (meaning he had to get up as early as 2 a.m.) not counting between-take touch-ups, working out with weights to achieve Seth's post-fusion state, learning to speak through several different sets of false teeth, drinking coffee to enhance Seth's instability, etc. — meant that they rarely interacted with crew or set visitors. (Film journalist Tim Lucas recalled to Westwood that his interview with Goldblum ended up limited to five minutes...and as a snub, it was while Goldblum was in full makeup for Seth's final humanoid form.) Moreover, Goldblum hung about when scenes between Davis and John Getz, who was playing the third corner of the Love Triangle, were shot and fuss over how those were playing out to the point that he was once asked to leave. Cronenberg finally reminded Goldblum that there had to be some conflict in the relationships for the film to work.
Makeup/special effects designer Chris Walas and his crew (who gave up Gremlins 2: The New Batch for this) had limited time to create the FX because that August '86 date was locked in by Fox and filming would start in December '85; what would ordinarily take six months to put together had to be done in roughly two. The animatronic puppets representing "Brundlefly" in the climax were still being built in California as filming began in Toronto and Kleinburg, Ontario since the makeup-based stages of Seth's transformation took up pre-production time. The puppets weren't properly finished and adjusted for lighting, etc. until they arrived in Toronto, while Goldblum wore the finished suit for Seth's final humanoid stage once for a camera test before he (as well as his stuntperson) had to shoot scenes — luckily all his physical and mental prep meant he quickly figured out how to move/emote in it. The puppetry was one reason shooting the One-Winged Angel climax and denouement (less than six minutes of screentime) took two weeks — Geena Davis's eyes ended up quite red and puffy in the wake of all that crying on cue!
A scene in which Seth slides down a brick wall before an insect leg emerges from his abdomen was particularly fraught. It required a special set for Goldblum to slide down (aided by his being slathered in lubricant!), a fake torso animatronic, and unique prosthetics. Cinematographer Mark Irwin wasn't available that day and the substitute's work was too dark to see, requiring a whole day of reshoots with another cameraman. THEN it was dropped after the first test screenings due to directly following on from Seth using the telepods to merge together a baboon and a cat and then beating the hybrid to death with a lead pipe — which led to a viewer vomiting (stories vary as to whether it was in the auditorium) and the audience losing sympathy for him. This reel didn't resurface until the 2005 DVD release.
Miscellaneous issues? Well, the baboon that represented two of Seth's test animals was not easy to control — and it was so strong it accidentally ripped off the door to a telepod one day — in part because it was attracted to the female script supervisor! A blizzard snowed in the cast and crew at the Kleinburg soundstage for two nights; another day saw a mild earthquake roil the facility! Bryan Ferry was commissioned by the producers to provide an end credit song only for Cronenberg — though he liked "Help Me" — to convince them that it wasn't tonally appropriate to have it follow on from Howard Shore's lush orchestral score; it ended up as background music in the bar scene. FOUR different epilogues were shot only for none of them to test well with audiences or creatives, resulting in the film ending with Veronica's mercy kill of Seth/Brundlefly instead.
In the end, despite some critics and audiences blanching (or worse!) at the Body Horror, others were thrilled and moved, resulting in a box-office hit that won the Best Makeup Oscar, provided Goldblum and Davis with Star Making Roles, secured Cronenberg's Auteur License, and remains one of the most-acclaimed horror films of the 1980s if not all time. The cast and crew (especially Goldblum) harbors fond memories of the experience and the finished film.
Fresh off the success of About Last Night, screenwriters Tim Kazurinsky and Denise DeClue were approached by producers Jerry Belson and Jeff Sagansky of Tri-Star Pictures about doing a film on teen pregnancy. According to Kazurinsky and DeClue, the film was intended to be, in their words, "a dark, and yet funny, cautionary tale". Producer Jerry Belson sent the script to Ringwald, who was enthusiastic about the project and saw it as an opportunity to gain more respectability as an actress.
However, things started to go south the moment John G. Avildsen was attached to direct. Known for his commercially-successful triumph films like Rocky and The Karate Kid (1984), he envisioned it as an uplifting love story and refashioned the story as such, much to the chagrin of Ringwald, Kazurinsky and DeClue.
Finding a leading male to star opposite Ringwald was another challenge. More than a couple of hundred young men auditioned, ranging from stars to complete unknowns. Adam Silbar was originally cast as the love interest, Stan, but at the last possible minute, he dropped out and was replaced by Randall Batinkoff.
Production was set to begin in April 1987. Since the film was set in and around Kenosha and called for wintry scenes, the spring date ruled out the possibility of shooting on location. Production designer William J. Cassidy was forced to scout for cities further to the north, ultimately settling on Winnipeg, Canada. When the production team arrived there, they were relieved to see the city covered in a blanket of fresh snow. Unfortunately, when filming began, a freak heat spell occurred, with temperatures rising to levels unseen in a hundred years. Trucks had to be dispatched to the outskirts of town, bringing back over a hundred tons of snow to replenish the set.
Working with the several babies used to portray the character of Thea proved to be a nightmare, which probably meant that Ringwald was literally pissed and shit on.
Ringwald and Avildsen constantly fought on set over the direction and tone of the film almost from the beginning, with Avildsen accusing her of wanting to turn the film into "a condom commercial".
The actor playing Stan's best friend, Chris, wound up in a coma after a drunk driving accident, delaying shooting. Because of this, and possibly due to the actor's negative attitude about the way the film was turning out, Avildsen greatly reduced his role.
Post-production proved to be equally nightmarish; as evidenced by production stills, footage from the trailer, and the novelization, many scenes were either recut or reshot.
Though the film made its money back, it was critically savaged, and subsequently left a lot of dead and dying careers in its wake. Ringwald, who views the film as a serious Old Shame, was the most prominent victim; combined with the evisceration of Fresh Horses that same year, her future as a leading girl was effectively destroyed, and since then, she's been reduced to direct-to-video and television roles. Batinkoff, whose performance was widely panned, hasn't really done anything since, and Avildsen's credibility as a director took a major dent, his last credit being the DTV Jean-Claude Van Damme film Desert Heat, on which he had his name removed.
Frida, a biopic of the Mexican painter Frida Kahlo, was a passion project for Salma Hayek, who went out of her way to pull the film out of Development Hell. Unfortunately, the film wound up being produced by Miramax Films, whose now-disgraced co-founder Harvey Weinstein engaged in habitual sexual harassment and assault towards the actresses he employed, and Hayek avoiding Weinstein's advances and deglamorizing her appearance (including growing a unibrow like that of the real Kahlo) drove the studio boss into a rage. According to her account, Weinstein frequently insulted and yelled at both her and director Julie Taymor on set (they took being called "ball-busters" as a compliment), and was involved in a particularly demeaning instance of Executive Meddling, demanding that Hayek do a lesbian sex scene with full-frontal nudity or else he would pull the plug on the film. Shooting that scene drove Hayek to tears, and to add insult to injury, Weinstein later tried to have the film sent Direct to Video. Hayek and Taymor pushed back and had the film released theatrically, with it earning six Oscar nominations (and two wins) in the process.
Geostorm, Dean Devlin's director debut, was shot in 2014 for a 2016 release, but the studio was so horrified at what Devlin turned in that they spent three years desperately trying to turn it into something releasable in the editing room. This included reshoots under another director, producer and writer (which even recast a role and added others). This is best shown in the trailers, which featured scenes and elements that didn't make it into the final product.
The obscure Peter Sellers and Spike Milligan vehicle Ghost in the Noonday Sun had such a torturous production that its director Peter Medak would later create a documentary about his experiences, The Ghost of Peter Sellers, decades later:
Sellers and Milligan approached Medak to direct their script; he jumped at the opportunity, loving what they had written, but all three agreed that it was over-long and unfocused and needed a major rewrite. Actually doing so proved very problematic, however, as Milligan was busy elsewhere and Sellers frequently refused to show up for scheduled meetings with Medak, who ended up having to write the finished screenplay largely by himself, along with playwright Evan Jones.
Production in the UK got off to a rough start when Sellers demanded that Medak fire the film's initial cinematographer, Larry Pizer, despite having been the one who advocated for Pizer to be hired in the first place. Though Sellers publicly claimed he realized that he over-stepped his boundaries and that he should have left it to Medak to hire who he wanted, other sources have claimed that a drunken punch-up between Sellers and Pizer during an on-set party was actually what caused the latter's departure. Michael Reed was brought in to take over for the rest of the shoot.
Filming was put on hold for a few days after Sellers suffered what appeared to be a heart attack. It was only when he saw a picture of Sellers dining with Princess Margaret on the front pages of a tabloid newspaper that Medak found out it had actually been a false alarm, which Sellers used as an excuse to bunk off production for a few days.
It was when production moved out to Cyprus for the location shoot that things really fell apart. Sellers started acting out more than ever, frequently showing up late, if at all, and when he did show up he usually feuded with Medak, co-star Anthony Franciosa, and just about anyone else he could, and insisted on ad-libbing his own material even when Medak pointed out he was going to make it impossible to edit the film into anything coherent. Then, Medak was taken out of action for a few days with heatstroke, forcing Milligan to jump in to direct in his absence (Sellers had wanted to do it, but Milligan talked him out of it). To add insult to injury, the captain of a boat hired to be used as a pirate ship ended up crashing and sinking it due to being drunk in charge of the ship, holding up production while a replacement was sourced.
In 1980, with Sellers' career flying high again via the success of the Pink Panther sequels and Being There, the studio finally decided to give the film a limited theatrical run before releasing it into the fledgling video market. Sellers got wind of this and contacted Medak and Milligan, wanting to buy the rights to the film, re-edit it and have Milligan record a new narration... only for Sellers to suddenly die before he could complete any deal, resulting in the original cut being the one that was ultimately released!
Although it won Best Picture at the Oscars, apparently Gigi had a rough time of it. Preview audiences were very negative about early screenings, and it endured an endless round of reshoots and edits to come up with a film that ended up being almost universally praised and enjoyed at the time.
Gigli wasn't as troubled as some of the other productions here, at least not during the early stages. The script was rewritten from a straightforward mob movie to a romantic comedy in order to take advantage of the "Bennifer" media circus surrounding the Romance on the Set between the film's leads, Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez. Martin Brest, the director, had no problem with this — after all, he'd made Beverly Hills Cop a hit under similar circumstances. And there were no reports of strife on the set. Things blew up between Brest and the studio during post-production, though, as they fought for a long time over the final film. It was roundly panned as one of the worst films ever when finally releasednote Let's put it this way. The DVD box had no quotes from reviews on it. None at all. Even most bad movies have at least one blurb from some middle-of-nowhere TV station or newspaper that the studio paid for. The fact that they couldn't even get that says something., and Brest, a fine comic director with Going in Style (1979) and Midnight Run also to his credit, has not made another film since.
G.I. Joe: Retaliation's highly-anticipated release was delayed, almost at the last moment, by nine months, for reshoots, ostensibly to make a 3-D version possible and boost interest in international markets (and, unofficially, to avoid competing with Magic Mike, also starring Channing Tatum). However, advance word had it been that it had tested very poorly and the studio was trying to adjust by increasing Tatum's part (which ultimately turned out not to be true). This wouldn't have been so much of a problem had Paramount not been heavily promoting the original June release date up to the point they put it off, leaving them with just two movies on their summer calendar. Left in the lurch in the meantime was an entire line of toys based on the movie that Hasbro was bringing out. The effort to "boost interest in international markets" notwithstanding, the film was still banned in Pakistan due to its negative portrayal of that country. Oh, and a crew member got killed on set in New Orleans.
The producers of Ginger Snaps missed a deadline to apply for funding from Telefilm Canada, forcing them to wait another year while they collected private funding, in the process losing their original distributor. Then, once the film started entering pre-production, the Columbine High School massacre happened. Even across the border in Canada, Columbine had a chilling effect on teen horror films like this one, especially given a) a copycat shooting in Alberta, and b) the fact that its protagonists were goths, a subculture that came under heavy scrutiny and suspicion after the shooting. Casting directors in Toronto refused to work on the film, forcing the producers to instead hold auditions in Vancouver (where they ultimately found their stars, Katharine Isabelle and Emily Perkins), and newspapers and Moral Guardians criticized Telefilm Canada for funding it, forcing their director of operations Bill House to issue a statement defending the film. Fortunately, it went on to become a major Sleeper Hit on home video, enough to spawn two sequels. This article by Frederick Blichert for Vice goes into more detail.
According toStephen Tobolowsky, production on The Glimmer Man got off on the wrong foot when, on the first day of shooting, Steven Seagal received a "spiritual awakening" that made him decide not to kill people in his movies anymore. Despite the first scene shot involving his character having to kill Tobolowsky's Family Man character, Tobolowsky himself had to convince Seagal to kill his character by claiming he would be removing evil from the world. While the scene was shot accordingly, during production, Seagal had begun ad-libbing how he didn't kill the Family Man, resulting in Tobolowsky being forced to do ADR work over his scene to establish that he survived... even though the footage clearly showed him getting shot in the heart. Toblowsky compared it to something from Austin Powers, while Keenen Ivory Wayans, who was by Toblowsky's side while he was recording audio, described the event as entering "the realm of high comedy." Funnily enough, not only were none of his added lines in the final product, but Seagal's character kills plenty of people in the movie.
The 1997 comedy Gone Fishin' had a couple of problems from the beginning. It was originally intended as a vehicle for both John Candy and Rick Moranis in the early '90s, but both turned it down. It went into turnaround until 1995 when Joe Pesci and Danny Glover, who had worked together in Lethal Weapon 2 and 3 signed on. The movie was originally directed by John G. Avildsen, but he was fired after just two weeks of filming, immediately paid his $2 million salary, and replaced by Christopher Cain. In the middle of the shoot a stuntwoman died when a boat that was made to jump a ramp in one of the film's scenes landed on top of her, while her husband and father-in-law were also injured. It went overbudget to a total of $53 million and was delayed for over a year while Disney, which was the original distributor for the film, had it switched to their Hollywood Pictures label. The film was released in late May 1997, just a week after The Lost World: Jurassic Park; it died a quick death at the box office and earned a savaging from critics.
What do you get when you get one of Hollywood's biggest child stars to do an R-rated thriller film against the wishes of the producers and deal with an egotistical father? You get The Good Son.
Ian McEwan (Atonement) wrote the screenplay after Fox executives were impressed by his recently published novel The Child in Time and wanted a film involving children and evil. The screenplay was well-received but Fox was initially unconvinced that the film had commercial potential. After the releases of Home Alone and The Silence of the Lambs, however, Fox revisited the project under the belief that they could combine the popularity of both genres together. After funding for the project ran out, original director Brian Gilbert was replaced by Michael Lehmann, with Jesse Bradford cast as Henry Evans after Michael Klesic was deemed too old for the part.
When Fox was negotiating Macaulay Culkin's contract for Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, his father and then-manager Kit stipulated that Culkin should star in The Good Son for his participation in the former film. When Lehmann found out about this, he and co-producer Lawrence Mark bailed the film in protest. Joseph Ruben, who had just given Fox a major box office hit with Sleeping with the Enemy, was attached to direct. Kit further stipulated that Macaulay's sister Quinn appear in the film and the budget rose to $20 million.
Mary Steenburgen, who was supposed to play the boy's mother, later quit because of scheduling conflicts when Fox decided to push back filming for The Good Son by a year, as Home Alone 2 was planned to shoot in the same time frame before Culkin was cast. Steenburgen was eventually replaced by Wendy Crewson. In the process, Elijah Wood got the part of Mark Evans when the delay made him available.
McEwan fought with Ruben over the film's creative direction, with Ruben wanting to make it more commercially acceptable. After several rewrites failed to satisfy Ruben, Fox fired McEwan and replaced him with Ruben's collaborator David Loughery. When McEwan threatened to sue the studio if he was forced to share writing credit with Loughery, Fox agreed to give McEwan sole writing credit for the film, even though it was Loughery's screenplay that was used in the final product. The film's failure ensured that McEwan wouldn't write another screenplay until 2017's On Chesil Beach.
Eventually, the film was released in late September 1993 to box office success, but was panned by critics and audiences. The film was the first in a series of dominoes that led to Culkin's career decline, and Kit became a major impediment for Culkin's career prospects as studios didn't want to deal with his father. The following year, Culkin decided to retire from acting and estranged himself from Kit. Ruben's career was also never the same, as he wouldn't get another major box office hit until 2004's The Forgotten.
Gorilla Interrupted: The filming of this amateur, no-budget movie was, by all accounts, a miserable experience, but it did get the eventual founders of RedLetterMedia working together for the first time:
The team had only one week to film all of the material with the four main actors due to everyone living in three different states.
Mike Stoklasa asserted directorial authority over the project and wrote a loose, 50-page outline for the film, which called for a lot of improvising to expand. Garrett Gilchrist was uncomfortable shooting without a complete script and so arrived at the shoot with a rewritten script filled with what Stoklasa called "pointless dialogue" that would be impossible to complete in the allotted time. After filming the first scene and not understanding what it was about because of all the rewrites, Stoklasa became sullen and withdrawn for a while. He ultimately told Gilchrist that they would not be filming any more of his additions.
Gilchrist's comedic tone, which he admits was an attempt to ape Monty Python, is at complete odds with the edgier tone of the rest of the film. The actors often had difficulty getting scenes to go in the direction they needed to because Gilchrist's improv was on a different wavelength from the others.
In a livestream, Gilchrist claimed that Jay Bauman had cast the actress who plays Julie because he was attracted to her, but Could Not Spit It Out. Stoklasa swept in and started dating her, creating a temporary rift between him and Bauman. However, these events are similar to the actual plot of the film, and Gilchrist has apparently made other claims about Bauman that suspiciously resemble the plots of Bauman's films, so it's unclear whether it's true.
The cast spent most of the shoot suffering from colds, which wreaked havoc on their voices and moods.
After the week of principal photography was over, Stoklasa still had several alien scenes to film. At this point, he was so dispirited and ashamed of what the film was turning out to be that he deliberately filmed the remaining scenes with as little effort as possible.
In the making-of documentary, How Not to Make a Movie, the entire cast appears except for Gilchrist, whose absence is never acknowledged.
The Alfonso Cuarón sci-fi thriller Gravity, as discussed in this article. Cuarón hoped to jump right into the film after wrapping work on Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, but it took him four and a half years just to begin work, as the technology required to make the film didn't exist yet and had to be developed specifically for this film. Lead actors George Clooney and Sandra Bullock spent long days locked inside a 9'-by-9' cube filled with cameras and LED screens giving them instructions, and while significant problems didn't occur, just the planned experience was, by all accounts, hellish. Needless to say, things turned out well, as the film opened to positive reviews and became a box office smash, breaking records for the highest weekend debut for the month of October and the entire fall season.
The independent film Gray State is another one of those "never finished" projects, and one of the grislier examples on this list. A dystopian action film about a takeover of the US by a One World Order, the film initially attracted buzz on the Conspiracy Theorist circuit with a successful Indiegogo campaign. However, production halted overnight in 2015 after its creator, David Crowley, was found dead with his wife and daughter in an apparent case of Pater Familicide. A documentary, titled A Gray State, was made about the affair, and how Crowley went over the edge. Of course, given who the film was marketed to and the worldview it was rooted in, it took no time before many of the film's backers started claiming that Crowley and his family had been taken out by the government in order to stop the film from being made.
While Grease 2 wasn't an outright disaster to make like some films on this list, it did have a ragged production, which had a lot to do with its poor critical and commercial performance.
For starters, no one involved in the original film had really expected there would be a sequel. The line "See you in summer school!" was added to the last scene just in case, but despite the hugely successful Broadway production and the '50s nostalgia that had made American Graffiti, Happy Days and Sha Na Na successful, in the years after the spectacular failure of the Lost Horizon musical Paramount saw the film as being a modest one-off hit, at best.
So, after it was one of the biggest hits of 1978, suddenly there was going to be a sequel. Initially it was to include all the characters in some post-high school capacity, with a younger crop of actors playing new students at Rydell, but while even John Travolta and Olivia Newton John expressed interest at initial meetings, delays in getting a script together meant most of the original cast who had played students moved on to other projects save Didi Conn (Frenchy) and Eddie Deezen (Eugene). Paramount, meantime, thought big, envisioning a franchise to consist of, ultimately, four films, the latter two to take place in the mid- and late 1960s, and a TV series.
Original screenwriter Bronte Woodard died young in 1980, further slowing things down. Ultimately writing the first draft would fall on Canadian comedian Ken Finkleman, who had to find time to come up with characters and a story from scratch while writing and directing Airplane II: The Sequel. Patricia Birch, who had choreographed both the original and the stage show, was tapped to direct after Randall Kleiser took the helm of The Blue Lagoon.
The scramble for talent behind the camera was nothing compared to the movie's casting woes. For the male lead, the producers hoped to land Timothy Hutton, hot off his Oscar for Ordinary People, but failed. Next up was Andy Gibb, but he failed the screen test. Finally, after seeing him in a production of Entertaining Mr. Sloane on Broadway, the producers found an unknown, Maxwell Caulfield, seeing star potential in him.
Blondie lead singer Debbie Harry likewise turned down the female lead, as she felt she was too old to play a high school student.note Given that Stephanie's hairstyle looks, in the early scenes, exactly like Harry's did at the time, it's clear that part of the reason Michelle Pfeiffer got the part was that they saw her as a Spiritual Substitute for the actress they had really wanted Other singers and actresses with musical experience, like Pat Benatar, Andrea McArdle and Kristy McNichol, were also considered or pursued before they finally settled on another young then-unknown, Michelle Pfeiffer, who had by her own admission little experience singing or dancing at the time and was surprised she got the part, for her "quirkiness".
Tom Cruise also auditioned for Nogerelli, but Birch thought him too young and short for the part. Cher backed out of playing one of the Pink Ladies over the delays in getting production going and what she considered to be too low a salary to justify the wait. Jennifer Beals left her part in that group to take the lead role in Flashdance. Annette Funicello couldn't find time away from her Skippy Peanut Butter commercials to play one of the teachers.
Principal photography finally got underway in front of a different Rydell, the same former high school used for Square Pegs, with the script still not finished. The two unknown leads didn't like each otherhe thought she was "stuck up" and she saw him as overly self-absorbed. Midway through production, the final draft of the script was turned in ... without Frenchy. But after wrap, the producers decided to use some of the scenes with her anyway, explaining her disappearance mid-film.
The film's title evolved from More Grease to Son of Grease to, late in production, Grease 2. Caulfield thought the last was a horrible title and fought hard to go back to its predecessor.note Perhaps, given the effect the film had on his career, he might have been better off changing his name.
For starters, the first Grizzly was subject to Hollywood Accounting by producer Edward L. Montoro, who insisted that it failed to turn a profit even as it made $30 million on a $750,000 budget, forcing screenwriters David Sheldon and Harvey Flaxman to sue him to collect their share of the royalties. Evidently, they eventually put it behind them, as Montoro asked Sheldon to write a sequel, with Sheldon agreeing on the condition that he also be allowed to direct. Montoro agreed, and Sheldon and his wife Joan McCall got to work on the script.
Montoro's reputation for embezzlement and general sleaze left investors leery of supporting Grizzly II. With Montoro unreliable, Sheldon and McCall turned to Joseph Ford Proctor, who had recently worked with Jerry Lewis — and didn't mention the fact that he was a serial fraudster who had scammed Lewis out of a million dollars. Another producer, the Hungarian-American Suzanne Nagy, pushed for the film to be shot in Hungary as both a cost-saving measure and in order to boost her native country's film industry. As the film entered pre-production, the budget and scale of the film swelled.
At some point, Proctor went behind Sheldon's back to install the Hungarian commercial filmmaker André Szöts as director despite his lack of experience working on feature films. Sheldon didn't find out until the Grizzly II team arrived in Hungary without him, and was not happy when he did — nor, for that matter, was Nagy. What's more, Szöts largely ignored Sheldon's script.
The spot that Nagy had picked out to shoot the film turned out to be the site of a Soviet Army training camp, and the Soviets were not interested in playing ball with a film production. The concert scenes especially, featuring bands like Toto Coelo and Nazareth, were a point of contention, as large gatherings like that were regarded with great suspicion by the authorities, especially when they were staged by people from the West. Nagy won over the Soviet general in charge by promising that the whole affair would be brief and self-contained. The audience of about 40-50,000 people was more than double what they anticipated, but it was fairly well-behaved, largely due to the threat of the Secret Police hanging over everything.
The morning after the concert scenes were shot, however, Nagy learned from her husband that Proctor had delivered some bad news: there wasn't enough money left to finish the shoot. An American surgeon, of all people, arrived to bail out the production with half a million dollars, not enough to finish it but enough to keep it going for now. Unfortunately, when Nagy went through the paperwork Proctor had left behind, she found a mountain of unpaid debts, and while she tried to keep this from the cast and crew, rumors still swirled and hurt morale on set. While Proctor denies it, virtually everybody involved agrees that Proctor had been embezzling money from the production, and skipped town when the gig was up. (He would later serve two separate prison sentences in Thailand and the US for unrelated scams.) What's more, the Hungarian crew was resistant to taking orders from Nagy, while they also got into fights with the Western special effects crew.
Production wrapped in fall of 1983, with all scenes shot except most of the special effects shots of the bear — rather important to have on a killer bear film titled Grizzly II, which was unreleaseable without them. It was hoped that these scenes would be shot in the US, but Hungarian officials, frustrated by the debts that Proctor had wrapped up, seized the animatronic bears as collateral. The production was told, without evidence, that the bears were destroyed in a warehouse fire, which took with it any chance of finishing the bear scenes for a production that could not afford to replace them. A rough cut screened for producer Arnold Kopelson, who could've provided the remaining funds to finish the film, was a disaster, as Kopelson hated what he saw of the film and threw the producers out of his house. Afterwards, Nagy spent the rest of The '80s trying to finish the film to no avail, and still occasionally spoke about it in the years after.
In 2007, the workprint of Grizzly II was leaked and became a popular bootleg, rekindling interest in it as a famous lost film. In 2018, Nagy decided to finally finish the film, using Stock Footage of grizzly bears in place of the lack of special effects, and it premiered on streaming in 2020.