Here are 5 films where the production was more interesting than the films themselves


Long, painstaking projects aren’t exclusive to the film industry, but with teams of hundreds and nine-figure budgets at stake, tensions can run up a bit more than your average yard (especially when big egos get out of hand). Sometimes that tension can have disastrous results, leading to agonizing delays, hateful screaming matches between actors and directors, and injuries, not to mention complete and utter box office bombs.

Each film comes with its specific set of challenges that must be overcome during its production, although some stand out in film history for having the most troubled and ridiculously problematic development, to the point where the stories of the misadventures on set make for a far more interesting tale than anything that has been produced. Here are five examples of movies where the hellish process of putting them together was the real star of the show.

5 The island of Doctor Moreau

Creatures of Moreau Island
New line cinema

Based on the 1896 novel by HG Wells, The island of Doctor Moreau was the passion project of underrated director Richard Stanley, who ended up being fired three days into production. Repeatedly clashing with lead actor Val Kilmer (who decided after production began to cut his involvement in the film by around 40%), Stanley had to move quickly to move the pieces around and recast them. After studio heads caught wind of the struggling director’s problematic relationship with his starring role, they relinquished him, believing him unable to complete the film. Veteran director John Frankenheimer (of The Manchu Candidate fame) stepped in as a substitute, though he didn’t find that chance to stabilize the ship, meeting his match with a ridiculously weird Marlon Brando, who refused to read the script and literally had the lines channeled into his ear via the earpiece.

Between difficult weather conditions, script rewrites and constant childish clashes between the main actors, Frankeheimer asserted after the painstaking production, “There are two things I will never do in my entire life. One is that I will never climb Everest. The second is that I will never work with Val Kilmer again. After his release , the film was panned by critics and audiences alike, earning just over its $40 million budget, and many ridiculous storylines and moments (including original director Richard Stanley sneaking back onto the set disguised as an extra). can be viewed in the crazy documentary Lost Soul: The Cursed Island Voyage of Dr. Moreau by Richard Stanley.

4 water world

Kevin Costner on the set of Waterworld
Universal images

After having produced Jawsdirector Steven Spielberg swore never shoot a movie on water again, citing struggles and frustrations, and how easy it is for a simple production to go way over budget. The well named water world represents this point of view well – having involved the construction of an entire artificial island off the coast of Hawaii, the cast and crew would have to be embarked on boats to film their scenes, then return once more for the lunch breaks. Multiple injuries took place on set, including Kevin Costner’s near-death brush with being its lead actor-turned-director after Kevin Reynolds pulled out of the project due to various development frustrations. The film managed to cash in on its $175 million budget (much in excess of the $75 million budget), although it remained a punching bag by critics at the time, and has since become the one of the most notable examples of films with a nightmarish development. .

Related: The Waterworld Sequel Series Sets With 10 Cloverfield Lane Director

3 The Gate of Paradise

Heaven's Gate Dance Cast
United Artists

If an artist had all the time in the world to perfect their creation, that would still not be enough. This does not prevent some from trying, as is the case for the mythical bomb of Michael Cimino, The Gate of Paradise, and the long and arduous process of bringing it to life. Being a period western, things had to be exactly as Cimino envisioned them in every shot, and the director was happy to be involved in absurd and time-consuming practices in order to make it happen. When he wasn’t interrupting production to wait for the right kind of cloud to roll by, he would hand-select each additional background for each scene, and have the cast and crew drive three hours to the scene. place where he insisted that a battle sequence be filmed. . By ordering a minimum of 32 takes for certain scenes, a staggering 1.3 million feet was shot for the film, one of which was secretly edited by Cimino and his editor, with the film’s first cut being a ridiculous five and a half years. hours.

Upon release, the film bankrupted its distributor, United Artists, losing over $40 million at the box office (about $140 million today). The film still has a fan in one of its leading actors, Christopher Walken, who cites it as “a beautiful film” and encourages audiences to “feast their eyes”. The film has since received critical reappraisal, with the Criterion Collection recently releasing a beautifully restored version.

2 Titanic

Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet with James Cameron
Paramount Pictures and 20th Century Fox

It is possible that the sinking of the real Titanic flowed more smoothly than the behind-the-scenes process of the film based on it. Director James Cameron was described by a writer on set as “a 300-decibel howler, a modern-day Captain Bligh with a megaphone and walkie-talkie, plunging into people’s faces on a 162-foot crane.” The actors during production were also subjected to freezing cold water as they attempted to capture authentic shots.

However, perhaps the most obscene story in the production is when an upset member of the crew decided to poke the seafood chowder on the tray with the hallucinogenic drug PCP, sending about 50 people, including the director, to the hospital. Despite all these difficulties, the film was released with monstrous success and broke all box office records, becoming an iconic and cultural phenomenon. Sometimes it’s worth it.

Related: 5 Best Disaster Movies Of The 2000s

1 The man who killed Don Quixote

Jean Rochefort and Terry Gilliam
Pictures from Warner Bros.

Things can’t be much worse for the production of a film than never coming out. Although The man who killed Don Quixote finally saw the light of day in parts of the world in 2018, it took over 20 years for the infamously troubled movie (in one form or another) to finally be finished. The original version began production in September 2000, and Murphy’s Law was at work for the cast and crew as they faced daily hardships, each more rickety than the last, as if the film was haunted.

Director Terry Gilliam and company found themselves filming way too close to a NATO air base and, with the constant noise of jet planes overhead, had to delay work due to unusable audio . Lack of language communication was also a struggle for the multicultural crew to overcome, and when bad weather destroyed the scenery they hoped to film on, people began to abandon the project. Things remained salvageable for quite some time, that is, until lead actor Jean Rochefort suffered a spinal injury on set, causing the entire film to be suspended indefinitely.

Having finally had a limited release to mixed reviews, the nearly 20-year process doesn’t seem worth it for those involved. A film called Lost in the Channel was released in 2002, chronicling the behind-the-scenes experience of assembling the elusive film. While Don Quixote Having received only lukewarm reception, the documentary salvages the viewing experience and gives us one of the best production stories to date, becoming far more interesting than the film itself.

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