It is not unusual for films to go through protracted periods of development, whereby any number of issues can affect production and cause problems for directors, actors and crew. Due to the fact that they will often involve shooting over a long period of time, a large amount of money and competing ideas about the vision of the movie means that there can often be changes made very late in the day. Sometimes it might simply be a case of a director wanting to change something in the script at the end of production, or an editor making an individual decision.
In other cases however, hiccups in production might not be responsible for last minute changes that might be made. Often, movie studios will want directors and other filmmakers to make modifications to a film for a variety of reasons. They might want to significantly alter the themes or story due to negative feedback from test screenings or might want to tone down certain elements to achieve a rating that will mean that more people will be able to see the theatrical release. Thus, allowing it to be marketed to a bigger audience and increase the chances of it performing well at the box office. They may even want to remove a particular element to avoid any controversy that might arise.
Whatever the case, plenty of movies have seen changes very near to the end of production that had a negative effect on the film. With some films, the modifications had such a terrible effect, that the overall experience was completely ruined.
12. Superman II
The original Superman film was a huge success. The movie grossed more than $300 million at the box office and is widely considered a classic, due to its extremely positive critical reception and the numerous awards it won. A sequel therefore was almost certain, with development on Superman II starting almost at the same time as the original film. With production halted in order to allow director Richard Donner to concentrate on the first entry, the studio then decided to replace the director with Richard Lester with almost all of the work done. This led to many of the staff working on the project, quitting while several important scenes were re-shot, leading to the disappointing Superman II.
11. Batman Forever
Batman films tend to fall into one of two camps. They are either dark and brooding affairs that examine the more complex aspects of the hero and his enemies, or end up being over-the-top flicks that highlight the more outlandish characteristics. Batman Forever unfortunately ventured into the second category and joined the likes of Batman & Robin. The original vision for the film from director Joel Schumacher was far different to what was eventually released however, but studio bosses once again, demanded a number of edits at the end of production that left him with no choice but to cut significant chunks of footage. This left Batman Forever missing many essential elements to realize Schumacher’s initial vision.
While Hancock was something of a commercial success, it was largely derided by critics who felt that the film was lacking in several important areas. One of the most common complaints was that the story and tone didn’t fit properly. This though, was not always the case, as Hancock was originally a far darker movie with the main character having far more complex characteristics and deeper problems than those portrayed in the final cut. This came about very late in production, when the studio decided to remove the more controversial aspects to ensure that the film could reach as large an audience as possible.
9. Dawn of the Dead
Dawn of the Dead is one of the most well-known horror movies and set many of the standards for zombie films that would come in the years to follow. Despite going on to be a commercial and critical success, many have criticized the ending for being out of place compared to the rest of the film and the themes explored throughout. The original screenplay had a more fitting ending that would have seen the two remaining protagonists killing themselves, rather than face the prospect of becoming one of the zombies. Unfortunately for moviegoers, the studio financing the project wanted a more uplifting ending.
8. Alien 3
Following the success of both Alien and Aliens, it became almost inevitable that a third film in the franchise would be released. However, Alien 3 went through a very protracted development that saw a number of setbacks as the script was rewritten numerous times. Eventually, filming began but production troubles continued, as scenes were constantly reworked until executives demanded changes to the final cut which the studio then had to do themselves when director David Fincher refused. These final changes left the filmmakers behind Alien 3 completely demoralized, to such an extent that Fincher has all but disowned it.
7. Exorcist: The Beginning
As the title suggests, Exorcist: The Beginning was a prequel to the Exorcist. It was written to tell the story of how Father Lankester Merrin first encountered the demon that possessed the girl from the first movie. However, the studio behind the film were unimpressed with the final cut that director Paul Schrader submitted, as it wasn’t as action orientated as they had wanted. Instead of the gore and violence that was initially planned, Schrader had put together a more thought provoking film. The studio then sacked the director and replaced him with Renny Harlin, whose take on the film was largely panned.
6. The Invasion
The Invasion is a science fiction thriller starring Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig that was originally due to release in 2006. Shooting lasted just 45 days, before Oliver Hirschbiegel handed over his finished cut of the movie. The studio though, wanted to make significant changes so they hired the Wachowski’s to rework the script and re-shoot several scenes. Still unhappy, the studio then hired director James McTeigue to re-shoot a variety of scenes over a 17-day period, before finally ordering a twist ending to be added right at the end of production. The Invasion suffered from a lack of a central theme and the fact that so many different people had worked on it and went on to perform poorly commercially and critically.
5. Blade Runner
Blade Runner is widely considered to be one of the greatest science fiction movies ever made. Starring Harrison Ford and directed by Ridley Scott, the 1982 release has become a huge cult classic, despite originally polarizing viewers and critics alike. The studio deciding at the last moment to alter the ending to make it appear more upbeat exasperated this, with Warner Bros. executives, even going so far as to have Ford narrate a monologue to get rid of the ambiguous elements from the ending. Luckily, the final cut version of the film that released in 2007 gave Scott complete artistic control and allowed him to tell the story exactly how he wanted.
4. I Am Legend
I Am Legend is almost famous, simply because of the hastily changed ending that made it into the theatrical release. Starring Will Smith, the movie is an adaptation of the horror story of the same name by Richard Matheson. Just like in the original manuscript, the ending of the film was filmed to show that the creatures are actually trying to rescue one of their own kind from the protagonist. However, after test screenings had a negative reception, studio bosses asked for a more action-orientated closing scene, where Will Smith fights back effectively ruining the entire message of the story.
While there has been a large number of superhero films released since the success of the original Superman movie, the last decade or so has seen the frequency of such releases increase significantly. With examples such as Spiderman going on to become large box office successes, studios rushed to adapt as many different comics into blockbuster films. One of the most eagerly anticipated was Daredevil, starring Ben Affleck. When it did release though, critics and fans derided it for a number of loose threads in the story, unanswered questions and an incoherent plot. The blame came down to the studio wanting the film to have a highly edited film with a lower classification near to release, leading to the director Mark Steven Johnson having to cut more than 30 minutes of important footage.
2. Scream 2
With Scream being a huge success, especially for a horror film, a sequel was proposed almost immediately. Unfortunately, just as filming began, the entire script was leaked online. Knowing that many people had already read the leaked script, Williamson set about writing a different ending as filming continued. This challenged the filmmakers considerably, as they were often developing scenes without the knowledge of what would be coming next and therefore, could not effectively link themes. Overall, the script continued to be reworked right up until the end of filming, so that scenes that had already been filmed felt disjointed with the ending and character development was severely lacking in certain areas.
1. The Godfather Part III
The Godfather Part III went through a number of difficult issues throughout production that meant it was always going to be an accomplishment for Francis Ford Coppola, simply to get a working movie released. A script was completed in just six weeks before Robert Duvall dropped out of the project following a pay dispute. Julia Roberts then had to leave the film, due to scheduling issues and was replaced by Winona Ryder before she too was forced to drop out because of illness, days before filming started. Eventually, Coppola’s daughter took on the role with a performance that critics widely lambasted for being incredibly poor.