Another Top 10 Movie Production Nightmares

Written by Nick McCallum Great movies that faced challenging productions and were awful for actors and crew on set. WatchMojo presents another Top 10 movies that were a complete disaster on set. But what will take the top spot on our list? The Shining, The Revenant, or The Abyss? Watch to find out! Watch on WatchMojo: WatchMojo.com Big thanks to MattW128, Jake Fraser, SiriusDude666, Moses Delira, and Emma Willemsen for suggesting this idea, and to see how Watchmojo users voted, check out the suggest page here: http://WatchMojo.comsuggest/Top%20Ten%20Production%20Nightmares You can see the original Top 10 list here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TIIpTHu61VM
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It’s a miracle these movies got made. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we’re counting down our picks for Another Top 10 Production Nightmares.

For this list, we’ve considered everything from a director's penchant for perfectionism, to overbearing studios, to inclement weather. And if you don’t see a title famous for its mishaps, check out our other list of movie production nightmares.

#10: “American Graffiti” (1973)

Told over the course of a single night, this classic high school drama/comedy follows a group of teenagers and their last hurrah of summer vacation. However, the shenanigans were not limited to the film itself; development hit numerous snags along the way. In true ‘70s fashion, one of the members of the crew was arrested for growing marijuana. According to unspecified sources, actors Harrison Ford, Bo Hopkins, and Paul Le Mat were allegedly drunk almost every evening, which could account for Ford getting kicked out of his motel. At another point, someone set fire to director George Lucas’ motel room. Yikes.

#9: “Troy” (2004)

It seems Wolfgang Petersen's interpretation of Homer's epic poem angered the gods, because it braved lackluster reviews by critics, as well as its fair share of hardships while being made. In a twist of irony, Brad Pitt, who played the legendary Achilles, actually tore his Achilles tendon while filming. Then a hurricane laid waste to the Wall of Troy set right as they were intending to shoot scenes in front of it. Filmmakers had no choice but to rebuild the entire thing. Afterwards, several security guards were detained for stealing from the set, claiming that their paychecks had been halted after the hurricane.

#8: “Blade Runner” (1982)

Hailed as one of the finest sci-fi movies ever made, this masterpiece was based on Philip K. Dick 's novel, “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” The film went through various screenplays and directors before Ridley Scott finally got on board, but the trouble was far from over. Both star Harrison Ford and Scott admit to a rather contentious relationship during production, but the actor wasn’t the only one with qualms. Because of how hands-on Scott was, he found himself at odds with the crew, who even started a “T-shirt war” by donning shirts saying “Yes Guv’nor, My Ass,” wanting to voice their displeasure with the British director’s approach.

#7: “The Conqueror” (1956)

This flop was controversial for casting Western legend John Wayne, an Iowa native, as Mongolian emperor Genghis Khan. The movie had more bad press as a result of its shoots near a nuclear test site. After the government stated that everything was fine, the production carried on, but it became clear when 91 cast and crewmembers eventually developed cancer that it wasn’t coincidence. Forty-six people, including director Dick Powell, actress Susan Hayward, and even John Wayne himself all died of cancer in the following years. Actor Pedro Armendáriz committed suicide after being diagnosed with terminal cancer, and actress Agnes Moorehead reportedly said shortly before her death that she should’ve never taken her role.


#6: “FANT4STIC” (2015)


This superhero flick was a “fantastic” failure, but it was doomed from the beginning. Director Josh Trank was extremely promising, but several reports started to come out claiming he bullied Kate Mara during filming. Trank’s confrontational attitude affected his relationship with both the studio and his cast, and 20th Century Fox didn’t like his take on the film. Producers ended up entirely rewriting Trank’s ending, but needed stand-ins for shooting since the actors were all busy with other projects. Trank tweeted his displeasure with the released version of the film, and it’s thought he hurt his reputation so much that he lost his job doing a “Star Wars” movie.

#5: “Heaven's Gate” (1980)

From the director who brought us “The Deer Hunter” came this sprawling Western taking place in 1890s Wyoming. It… kinda sucked. Since Michael Cimino had impressed everyone with his five-Oscar-winning film, he was given complete creative freedom. What a mistake that was. A stickler for authenticity, Cimino had many of his sets destroyed and rebuilt, costing the studio millions of dollars. Cimino’s career was all but destroyed following this disastrous development process, turning him into another of Hollywood’s many one-hit-wonders. The ordeal also meant that studios started to exercise more control over directors. Way to ruin it for everyone.


#4: “Alien 3” (1992)


After escaping the Sulaco, Ripley crashes on a maximum-security prison planet, but soon realizes she didn’t come alone. Multiple directors were attached to this movie before newcomer David Fincher was brought on. The script had already gone through multiple rewrites, and changes were still being made during shooting. Fincher arrived to a crippled budget, and a set designed for an entirely different story involving a wooden planet populated by monks. With no time to pick up the pieces, and execs breathing down his neck to make the release date, Fincher disowned this installment of the “Alien” Quadrilogy.

#3: “The Shining” (1980)

This tale of supernatural possession is regarded as one of the most celebrated horror movies in cinema, but its actors barely made it out in one piece. Stanley Kubrick was a notoriously difficult director to work with, making changes to the script daily, and demanding repetitive takes. The scene wherein Wendy backs up the stairs swinging a baseball bat reportedly had 127 takes, and holds the Guinness Record for the most takes of a single scene. However, members of the crew contest that statement, saying it was around 35 to 45. Both lead actors consider their roles the hardest of their careers, with Shelley Duvall even suffering hair loss due to stress.

#2: “The Revenant” (2015)

This beautifully shot film chronicles a frontiersman's tale of survival. Director Alejandro G. Iñárritu wanted to shoot on location in Alberta, Canada to properly convey the sheer desperation of the characters dealing with their environment. However, Alberta was hit with record high temperatures that year, melting most of the snow. Production was ultimately moved to Argentina to complete filming in a suitable environment. Several production members either got fired or quit as a result of how challenging filming was, but the actors didn’t have it easier. Leonardo DiCaprio recalled the challenges he faced, including braving frozen rivers, sleeping in dead animals, and risking hypothermia. But at least he finally got the Oscar, right?

Before we get to our top pick, here’s an honorable mention:
“World War Z” (2013)

#1: “The Abyss” (1989)

James Cameron’s underwater sci-fi extravaganza following a deep-sea drilling crew who stumble across an aquatic alien species did hit some rough waters. In order to shoot the film, multiple tanks were made, needing a combined 10 millions gallons of water to fill, with plastic beads used to cut out light and simulate the extreme depths. To achieve Cameron’s vision, the production team and actors had to brave 70-hour workweeks, and often risked their lives since underwater films were new territory. Several members of the cast, including stars Ed Harris and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, experienced emotional breakdowns due to exhaustion. Traumatized by the whole ordeal, Harris refused to talk about the movie for years.
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