Just because you started directing a movie doesn’t always mean you’ll get the opportunity to finish it. 20th Century Fox is currently making headlines for firing Bryan Singer from the director’s chair on the Queen biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody” with just a few weeks left of filming, but it’s hardly the first time a director has been canned after the camera started to roll.
Click through the gallery for 15 directors who were fired after filming began.
Singer only had three weeks left of production on the London set of “Bohemian Rhapsody” when he was fired by 20th Century Fox. The studio says Singer disappeared from set on numerous occasions, forcing cinematographer Thomas Newton Sigel to step in to direct and causing tension with stars Rami Malek and Tom Hollander. Singer claims he requested time off to go the U.S. to deal with “pressing health matters” affecting his family. Either way, Singer was dropped from the Queen biopic.
The duo behind “21 Jump Street” and “The LEGO Movie” were fired by Lucasfilm months into production over “creative differences.” Lord and Miller’s comedic leanings and improvisational set were reportedly not what Kathleen Kennedy and Lawrence Kasdan envisioned for the Han Solo standalone adventure. Ron Howard was brought on to finish the film.
Cukor had spent nearly two years of his life on pre-production for “Gone With the Wind,” but producer and longtime friend David O. Selznick fired him after less than three weeks of shooting. The two men reportedly couldn’t find common ground on the script, and star Clark Gable was said to have disliked Cukor. Victor Fleming was brought on following his work on “The Wizard of Oz.”
“The Island of Dr. Moreau” was a passion project for Richard Stanley, who spent four years developing the project before finding a production company in New Line Cinema. Stanley struggled to keep star Val Kimler’s behavior in check and was fired on the third day of production. John Frankenheimer eventually replaced him.
Ted Griffin had written the script for “Rumor Has It…” and intended to direct it himself, but he was fired quickly after principal photography started. Griffin fired cinematographer Ed Lachman during the first days of filming, which forced the production to let Griffin go in return. The set shut down and Rob Reiner stepped in to direct.
Star Kirk Douglas fired Anthony Mann during the first week of filming on “Spartacus” because he felt the director lacked the confidence to pull off the epic scope of the period movie. Mann was known for his Westerns, not his big-budget spectacles. Stanley Kubrick was hired to take over.
Original “Superman” director Richard Donner had already filmed approximately 75% of the sequel before he was fired from production over alleged tension between him and producer Pierre Spengler. Richard Lester, an uncredited producer on the first film, stepped in to replace Donner.
Martin Brest was fired from “WarGames” after only 12 days of filming because of clashes with the movie’s producers. He was replaced by “Saturday Night Fever” and “Dracula” director John Badham. According to Bedham, producers were not a fan of Brest’s darker approach to the material and he was brought on to make “WarGames” a more entertaining thriller.
John Frankenheimer was the first director attached to “Exorcist: The Beginning,” but he handed over the film to Paul Schrader and stepped down shortly before his death. Schrader completed filming nearly all of the movie and delivered a cut that was less bloody and more psychological than what the producers wanted. He was fired and replaced by Renny Harlin as a result. Harlan re-shot a majority of the film.
Pete Travis had completed production on “Dredd” and was forced out during post-production when he clashed with producers over creative differences. Screenwriter Alex Garland took over the film in the editing room, and his contributions to the movie were so great that he was eligible to receive a co-director credit. Garland refused, and the film was released with Travis’ name as director.
The making of “Rough Cut” was a wild ride. Original director Don Siegel was fired by producer David Merrick one week into filming and replaced by Peter Hunt. But Hunt’s work on the film ended up being worse than Siegel’s efforts, so Merrick rehired Siegel and filming continued as the director and producer fought over the script. Siegel infamously filmed three different endings, all of which Merrick disapproved.
“Private Benjamin” director Howard Zieff directed Whoopi Goldberg on the set of “Jumpin Jack Flash” for multiple weeks before he was fired and replaced by Penny Marshall, who at the time had never directed a feature film before.
Philip Kaufman was fired after feuding with star Clint Eastwood, who went on to replace Kaufman and direct the movie himself. Eastwood reportedly did not love Kaufman’s meticulous attention to detail as a director. Tension also grew between the two over their dueling romantic interests in leading lady Sondra Locke.
Richard Thorpe was fired from “The Wizard of Oz” after nine days of filming because producers felt he was rushing production. An incident occurred involving Tin Man actor Buddy Ebsen in which he had an allergic reaction to the aluminum powder used for his makeup. Ebsen was hospitalized in critical condition and had to quit the film. Thorpe was fired shortly after. George Cukor became a creative advisor on the film before Victor Fleming officially came on board to direct.
Brenda Chapman was set to be Pixar’s first female director with “Brave,” which was the studio’s first female-driven movie and one that was heavily inspired by Chapman’s own relationship with her daughter. But creative disagreements between Chapman and Pixar resulted in the studio replacing her with Mark Andrews.