The world of movies is a big business, and each year those movies get bigger and bigger, and with a budget that grows so much it could support a small country. Because of this, the pressure on those involved is vast and every time a movie is released, the movie studios, directors, and actors all wait around nervously to see if their labours of love have been successful. More often than not, these people get rewarded for their work as the audience flock to movie theaters, critics rave about their movie, and the money comes pouring in. That’s how a movie should work, but it’s not always so plain sailing.
There’s no denying that filmmaking is a long and complicated affair, not just the process but the fact that they have so many creative people all working together and all wanting their vision to be played out on screen. With directors, writers, actors, and the studios all wanting to have their voices heard, they sometimes butt heads and this can be very bad for the movie. More often than not, compromise happens and the movie goes ahead. However, there are times when certain people feel so frustrated that they simply walk away from the movie. More than that, they completely wash their hands with it and want their name removed from the entire project. Whether it’s for creative reasons or the movie is just so bad they don’t want to be associated with it, sometimes the people involved have nothing good to say about the work they’ve just done. In this list, we look at fifteen people that have disowned the movies they have worked on.
15. Star Wars – Alec Guinness
We start our list with possibly one of the most famous and successful movies ever made. When George Lucas released Star Wars way back in 1977, it changed the very face of movies forever. The intergalactic science fiction epic was an instant box office hit with its mix of great storytelling, ground breaking CGI, and a solid young cast that would go on to become Hollywood legends.
However, throughout all that success there was one man that wasn’t happy at all. As the main cast of Star Wars was relatively unknown and they didn’t have that much experience in big movies, Lucas wanted to add some gravitas, so he brought in legendary British actor Alec Guinness. However, Guinness hated the movie and the experience so much that he refused to talk to anyone that asked him questions about Star Wars. The script, story, and even the actors didn’t impress Guinness, as he thought the whole thing was fairy tale nonsense and the only reason he took the part was because they paid him a lot of money.
14. Twilight Zone: The Movie – Andy House
The next entry on our list is a bit of a strange one, and it’s actually the first entry on our list that uses the infamous Hollywood pseudonym Alan Smithee. Back in the early 1980’s some of the biggest names in Hollywood wanted to show their love for the old Twilight Zone TV series and gave us Twilight Zone: The Movie. Starring the likes of Dan Aykroyd, John Lithgow, and Vic Morrow, the movie was also directed by the biggest names around, Steven Spielberg and John Landis being the biggest. With such big names you may wonder why anyone would want to disown it.
During filming there was a helicopter accident which claimed the lives of Vic Morrow and two extras. The resulting court case was publicized so much that it was actually assistant director Andy House that disowned the movie. He used the Smithee name, as he didn’t want to be associated with dead actors.
13. Hellraiser IV: Bloodline – Kevin Yagher
Many people out there nowadays might not actually be aware of the Hellraiser horror franchise. But not too long ago, these series of movies were actually quite popular and successful. At the centre of these movies was Pinhead, a demon-like creature that was the subject of many teenagers nightmares. By the end of the third instalment, Pinhead had been overused and lost some of his mystery, or at least that’s what Kevin Yagher thought. So when he was brought into direct Hellraiser IV, the former makeup artist wanted to change that and put much more emphasis on the story and the atmosphere rather than the visual.
However, the movie studio didn’t agree with his vision, so Yagher walked out of the project halfway through and wanted his name stripped from the credits. So director Joe Chappelle was brought into finish it, but he was also uncredited. So, Hollywood’s most famous director, Alan Smithee, made another terrible movie.
12. Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot – Sylvester Stallone
Back in the late 1980’s and early 90’s, the action movie was king of the movie screens. These muscular macho men would shoot their way to victory, blowing up everything and anyone that they could. However, once we came into the 90’s, it seemed to be common to put these action stars into silly and comedic situations. One of those movies was Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot. Focusing on macho cop, played by Sylvester Stallone, he soon gets a visit from his mom and she starts to interfere with his life and job. Let the action hilarity commence!
It’s fair to say that Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot didn’t do very well at the box office. In fact, it bombed and the movie has pretty much been forgotten about, particularly by its star, as Stallone disowned the movie before it was even released. In fact, he’s quoted as saying that it’s so bad that if you needed to torture someone, you could show them this movie and they’ll tell you what you need to know within 15 minutes.
11. The Cat In The Hat – Dr Seuss’s Widow
For many years now, the stories and rhymes of Dr Seuss have been entertaining kids everywhere. Over the years there have also been many TV and movie adaptations of Dr Seuss’s famous works. Some of them have been successful and popular, but one in particular was so unloved by the people involved. The Cat in the Hat is possibly one of Dr Seuss’s most famous creations, so when Mike Myers brought this larger-than-life character to the big screen, surely it was a match made in heaven.
However, not only did some of the actors, including Myers himself, not like the finished movie, it was actually Dr Seuss’s widow that had the biggest problem with it. So appalled by the movie, and her involvement with it, that she has actually banned any future adaptations of her late husband’s books from being turned into movies. She also went out of her way to try and push this movie as far away from her husband’s legacy as possible.
10. Woman Wanted – Kiefer Sutherland
In the movie business, there is a trend that happens in which actors try their hands at directing. Just like retired athletes that turn their hands to coaching, some actors think it’s easy to jump right in behind the camera. A few actors have great success, or even more success, as directors; just look at Clint Eastwood. However, there are even more actors that crash and burn and regret the day they wanted to work behind the camera. One such actor was Kiefer Sutherland.
You’ll be forgiven if you’ve never seen, or even heard of, Sutherland’s directorial debut. Not many people have. Telling the story of a housekeeper that gets between a widower and his adult son, the movie wasn’t just directed by Sutherland, he also starred in it. Needless to say, the movie was a huge flop and Sutherland tries his hardest to make everyone forget it ever existed. Luckily after Woman Wanted, Sutherland stuck to acting.
9. Batman & Robin – George Clooney
In today’s cinema, the comic book movies are king. With the likes of Marvel’s MCU and DC’s DCEU, the superhero movies, and their respective inclusive movie universes, are making billions and are probably going to be around for a long time. However, long before that, the comic book movies had a bit of a difficult time on the big screen. Although both Batman and Superman enjoyed great success, their sequels didn’t.
After three successful Batman movies, we got the fourth instalment of that franchise, Batman and Robin. The movie didn’t just bomb at the box office, nor was it just slammed by the critics, but it’s often called one of the worst movies ever made. Because of this, Batman himself, George Clooney, hated his involvement in this movie and is actually quoted as saying that he thinks he has just killed Batman. To be fair, he did, and it took many years for Batman to be back on our screens.
8. Catchfire – Dennis Hopper
Our next entry revisits the famous Alan Smithee director once again, and also the actor who tries his hand in the director’s chair. From the moment this movie went into production, there was problem after problem. The main issues seem to come from director and star, Dennis Hopper, and the movie studios. It seems like Hopper and the studios disagreed on the editing and final cut of the movie.
When the movie was finally released, Hopper hated the final cut so much that not only did he take his name off of it and use Alan Smithee, but he also re-cut a new version and renamed it Backtrack. The cinema release ran at nearly 100 minutes, whereas Hopper’s new cut was almost three hours long, so there was a big difference in visions between the two. No matter which version is seen, the movie itself is pretty bad and has been largely forgotten.
7. Knocked Up – Katherine Heigl
Our next entry has become quite a famous “movie disowning” in recent times. So much so that the movie itself took a backseat to it. Most of the entries on our list are movies that are either so bad that no one wants to admit to them, or there have been big arguments between the creative people that result in one of them turning their back on the project. Knocked Up, however, is a little different.
The movie itself didn’t have any problems when shooting. It came out to a moderate box office success and the critics liked it too. So why would anyone want to disown it? That may be a good question to most people, but leading lady Katherine Heigl had different ideas. Once the movie was released she slammed everything about it, even Seth Rogen and Judd Apatow. She branded it sexist, horrible, unfunny, and a poor depiction of women. She then wanted nothing to do with the movie, which, unfortunately for her, didn’t do her career any good. It also wouldn’t be last time Heigl would make comments about the people or projects she was working on.
6. Alien 3 – David Fincher
What happens when you take one of the biggest science fiction franchises the world has ever seen and put the man that would later bring us such classic movies as Seven and The Game? Surely we are looking at movie magic, right? Unfortunately not. After the huge success of Alien and Aliens, David Fincher was brought in to direct the third instalment of the franchise. Although this was his first feature film, a lot of people had high hopes for what was to come.
Unfortunately, what we got was a bit of a mess and that was largely down to the movie studios and executives who interfered with what Fincher wanted to do. According to him, they were so overbearing that every idea he had was met with hostility and restrictions. On top of that, the script had been written and rewritten so many times that there wasn’t much good left on the page. It’s fair to say that by the end of production, Fincher wanted nothing to do with the Alien franchise. It’s strange now to think that the studios didn’t trust Filcher, but we’re sure he got the last laugh, as he’s made some of the most critically-acclaimed movies in the last twenty years.
5. Dreamcatcher – Stephen King
If there’s one man that has proved to be a great source of movie success, it’s Stephen King. His novel adaptations over the years have proved to be hit after hit. With movies like The Shining, Misery, Carrie, Running Man, The Shawshank Redemption, the list goes on, and shows many great successes. Even today’s screens are filled with his stories. With the new releases such as IT and Dark Tower, King has been a great source of inspiration for filmmakers for years.
However, there was one project that the king of horror hated so much that he disowned the project completely. It must be said that King himself was never a fan of his novel Dreamcatcher in the first place, as he didn’t think it was on par with his other works. But when the movie adaptation hit our screens in 2003, he hated it so much that not only did he disown it, but he actually sold the rights to that novel for only $1 as he didn’t want anything more to do with it. Now that’s a harsh critic!
4. Supernova – Walter Hill
Our next entry actually had a few directors, writers, and producers who were involved in production, and each one of them wanted to disown this science fiction flop. But the main man, or at least the man that started the movie, was director Walter Hill. Hill is no stranger to box office flops and terrible movies. After all, don’t we all remember the recent classic Bullet to the Head? No, us neither. However, his biggest disaster came in the form of Supernova, a supposed science fiction epic that completely bombed.
As production was moving on, it became clear that this movie was sinking fast so they brought in Francis Ford Coppola and Jack Sholder to come in and help, but to no avail.The movie was so bad that all those involved wanted out and usually the name Alan Smithee is used for just this occasion, but as that name was becoming famous outside the industry, Hill chose his own name and went with “Thomas Lee.” This was such a bad movie that Alan Smithee didn’t even want a part of it.
3. Garfield – Bill Murray
We all remember the colorful comic strip that was Garfield. The lazy, grumpy, lasagna-loving cat, cheered up many people with his silly antics. So when Hollywood wanted to make a movie version of the orange cat, who better than Bill Murray to voice him. The matchup was perfect, or so it should have been. But as soon as production started on the movie, Murray wasn’t happy. Then when the movie came out, Murray didn’t stop his disapproval of the movie, as he thought it was stupid, unfunny, and just plain terrible. In his appearance in the comedy movie Zombieland, he says his only regret in life was doing Garfield.
Some may wonder then why he did it in the first place. Some think that he did it for the money, but Murray has been reported as saying that he thought Garfield was being written by the Coen Brothers and wanted to work with them. However, once filming started, he realized it wasn’t the Joel Coen he thought it was. It was actually by another person who is also named Joel Cohen, and it was too late for Murray to ditch it. Whatever you believe, it still doesn’t explain why Murray came back for the sequel!
2. An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn – Arthur Hiller
In several entries on our list, we’ve mentioned the pseudonym “Alan Smithee.” This is used when a movie is so bad that the director doesn’t want anything to do with it, and so he or she chooses to make the movie under the Alan Smithee name. It wasn’t too long before people outside of Hollywood worked out who “Alan Smithee” really was and what it meant. So what did Hollywood do about this? They made a movie about it, of course.
So, in the movie, a director makes a movie that is so bad that he doesn’t want his name to be used, but his name is Alan Smithee. However, the movie studios tell him that he can only use the fake name Alan Smithee. Confused so far? It get’s weirder. The actual director of this movie, Arthur Hiller, hated the end result so much that he actually used the Alan Smithee name in real life for this film! So it’s a movie about a director called Alan Smithee who changes his name to Alan Smithee, and the whole movie is credited as being directed by Alan Smithee, because no one wanted to be associated with it. The movie was such a mess that Hollywood has since decided to retire the name Alan Smithee entirely. Phew!
1. The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen – Sean Connery
Our number one entry of people that have disowned movies they’ve made is probably the most famous of them all. As we’ve mentioned on this list already, comic book adaptations are often hugely successful, so when studios wanted to go for a slightly different take on the hero genre, they went for The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. The idea was actually a good one; take a slightly less well-known comic book, which is also filled with many literary giants, and have a great adventure set in the Victorian era. What could go wrong?
Well, everything, as it turned out. The idea might have been good but the movie was not. Fans and critics slammed the movie so much that the star of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Sean Connery, not only slammed and disowned the movie itself but he actually quit acting and Hollywood for good. That’s certainly one way to distance yourself from a movie that you’re not proud of!
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