“Jane’s Got A Gun” (2016)
The behind-the-scenes drama on “Jane Got A Gun” made headlines in 2013 when director Lynne Ramsay refused to show up to set on the first day of production and subsequently left the film after spending a year in development and working with the actors, including Natalie Portman, Joel Edgerton, and Jude Law. Rumor has it she feuded with producer Scott Steindorff over the shooting schedule and, most importantly, control of final cut. The director also butted heads with Portman over who to cast in the role that originally went to Michael Fassbender. The actor was hired to play Portman’s love interest but left the project over scheduling conflicts with “X-Men: Days of Future Past.”
Ramsay’s departure caused a handful of more production troubles on “Jane Got A Gun.” Gavin O’Connor came on to direct, but Jude Law dropped out because his interest in the project was solely in working with Ramsay. Cinematographer Darius Khondji also left because of the delays being caused and he was replaced by Mandy Walker. Joel Edgerton was then charged to help rewrite the script for O’Connor’s new interpretation of the material.
“Suicide Squad” (2016)
David Ayer will probably tell you that directing “Suicide Squad” was an “amazing experience,” but the nightmare production has been well-documented and couldn’t have been an easy thing for the filmmaker to suffer through. As is the case with many tentpoles these days, “Suicide Squad” had a release date set before even the script was written. Sources say the problems started here as Ayer wrote the movie in just six weeks so production could start quickly and the release date wouldn’t have to be delayed. The director, who had never made a studio blockbuster before, was working with a studio already in panic mode after the failure of “Batman v Superman.” Warner Bros. desperately needed a hit, and they essentially took control of the film away from Ayer.
The director had originally envisioned “Suicide Squad” as a brooding action movie in line with “The Dark Knight,” and that’s the film he set out to make. Warner Bros. marketed a much different film in the first teaser trailer, one that had a sharp comedic edge and a well-defined kinetic energy. Fans went wild for the teaser, prompting Warner Bros. to realize the movie they sold in the teaser was the movie Ayer needed to make. A battle of tones erupted and led to multiple editors being brought in to try and find a way to make Warner Brothers’ version and Ayer’s version mesh. The result is the worst reviewed movie in the DCEU so far.
“Team America: World Police” (2004)
“Team America: World Police” is pure comedy gold, but perhaps making an entire feature film with marionette puppets wasn’t the best thing for Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s psyche. “It was the worst time of my entire life,” Stone told The Guardian about directing the movie. So how troubled did the production get?
A crew of about 200 people was required to pull the movie off, and as many as four people were needed for each puppet. Parker and Stone went into production with a script, but the limited mobility of the puppets forced multiple re-writes during filming. They also started with one tone (the puppets doing straightforward comedy, which ended up not being funny) and had to pivot to another in order to save the movie (puppets doing melodrama and dramatic work). These starts-and-stops in production were nothing compared to the duo’s reliance on practical effects. Multiple shots had to done over again because Parker wanted the film to be as realistic as possible. He refused to use visual effects and so each set-piece became a giant challenge. Both gentleman agreed “Team America” was the hardest thing they’ve ever done.
Untitled Han Solo Prequel (2018)
Lucasfilm shocked everyone in June when it abruptly fired directors Chris Lord and Phil Miller from their Han Solo prequel film. The duo had been in production for nearly five months already and only had several weeks left of principal photography. As has been widely reported, Lord and Miller’s comedic directing style encouraged an improvisation from the actors and an overall tone that Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy and executive producer Lawrence Kasdan did not feel was right. Their shooting style was more relaxed and didn’t provide a lot of coverage, resulting in a lack of extra takes in the editing room. The two parties apparently clashed for months as Kennedy’s tight control over the set gave the directors absolutely no freedom behind the camera.
The fallout from Miller and Lord’s exit also exposed another troubling development: Lucasfilm was also unhappy with the performance of Alden Ehrenreich in the title role. While Ehrenreich is still playing Solo, the studio reportedly asked the director’s to bring in an acting coach for the star since he wasn’t giving the performance they wanted. Lucasfilm even fired editor Chris Dickens and brought on longtime Ridley Scott collaborator Pietro Scalia to try and shape the movie into something workable when production moved from London to the Canary Islands in May.
Ron Howard has since been brought in to finish the movie, and fans can only hope everything is back on the right track.
“World War Z” (2013)
“World War Z” kicked off production strong thanks to rumors that the script combined the zombie genre with the tone of “Children of Men,” but it quickly became target practice for the press as production spiraled out of control to the point where nobody thought the film had any shot at being remotely watchable. There was rumored tension between Brad Pitt and director Marc Forster that led to the two to not even speaking, and there was an incident in Budapest where Hungarian authorities raided a warehouse and confiscated 85 prop assault rifles, sniper rifles, and handguns that the film’s producers had failed to clear the delivery for.
Most notorious was the third act nightmare, in which Paramount brought in Damon Lindelof and Drew Goddard to rewrite the climax after principal photography had already wrapped. Seven weeks of costly reshoots had to be carried out, causing the film’s budget to skyrocket to $190 million, far more than Paramount had ever envisioned. Forster ended up having to scrap entire portions of the movie featuring large scale battle sequences as the last third became a more claustrophobic set piece. The movie somehow ended up being rather good, and Paramount is still in talks for a sequel with Pitt and director David Fincher.