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Top 10 Movies That Ruined The Directors Reputation

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Script written by George Pacheco Well, they can’t all be aces. Welcome to, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Movies That Ruined The Directors Reputation. For this list, we’ll be ranking the films that were helmed by directors who had either enjoyed a string of successful prior efforts, or who had a strong amount of critical and commercial buzz in their careers. Special thanks to our users Norris Vaughn or submitting the idea using our interactive suggestion tool at WatchMojo.comsuggest

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Script written by George Pacheco

Top 10 Movies That Ruined The Directors Reputation

Well, they can’t all be aces. Welcome to, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 movies that ruined the director’s reputation. 

For this list, we’ll be ranking the films that were helmed by directors who had either enjoyed a string of successful prior efforts, or who had a strong amount of critical and commercial buzz in their careers. These films, however, did some damage to their reputations, and resulted in backlash from movie fans, critics, or both.

#10: Paul Verhoeven
“Showgirls” (1995)

This Dutch director earned critical praise with his early work on the indie scene, before finally breaking big in the mainstream with a string of commercial successes. Verhoeven’s “Robocop” and “Total Recall” seemed to make him the go-to director for smart, satirical action pictures… that is, until the release of “Showgirls” in 1995. The film was poorly received for its tone and over-the-top sexual antics, although it has earned a somewhat better reputation in recent years with a cult fanbase. Verhoeven did recover after the release of the well-received “Starship Troopers” two years later. However, the director’s time in the spotlight has never quite been the same.

#9: Cameron Crowe 
“Aloha” (2015)

Sure, we all love classic Cameron Crowe flicks like “Almost Famous,” “Say Anything,” and “Jerry Maguire,” but the respected Californian writer and director seemed to hit a creative wall with the 2015 film, “Aloha.” This romantic comedy/drama starring Bradley Cooper stirred up negative press and controversy, due to the casting of Emma Stone as a character who is supposed to be one-quarter Hawaiian and one-quarter Chinese. The film also received a negative response from audiences and critics for being a romance set in the world of military contracting. Most Crowe fans agree “Aloha” is a step in the wrong direction for what is otherwise a respectable film career… “Elizabethtown” notwithstanding.

#8: Roman Polanski 
“Pirates” (1986)

The career of Roman Polanski has been marked by numerous controversies, stemming from both his personal life and creative missteps. Falling into the latter category is “Pirates,” a big budget, costumed epic that only delivered a 6.3 million dollar return worldwide on a forty million dollar investment from Paramount. This failure was a far cry from the critical and commercial success Polanski had in the past with “Repulsion,” “Chinatown,” and “Rosemary’s Baby,” and it took many years for the director to return in proper form with the 2002 hit “The Pianist.” Still, “Pirates” nearly condemned Polanski to Davy Jones’ Locker.

#7: Oliver Stone 
“Alexander” (2004)

It could be argued that no director has tackled the war film quite like Oliver Stone. The director continued the tradition of elevating wartime stories to art with a string of memorable pictures on the subject, including “Platoon” and “Born on the Fourth of July.” So why did the 2004’s “Alexander,” based on the life of legendary warrior Alexander the Great, cause Stone so many problems? Multiple edits and director’s cuts resulted in a confusing release on home video, while the film’s theatrical release, although successful in Europe, suffered comparatively in the United States. “Alexander” was also criticized for its reductive approach to historical events, resulting in an experience that soured Stone’s cinematic returns for years.

#6: Josh Trank  
“FANT4STIC” (2015)

This next entry on our list is a case of tripping right out of the gate. Director Josh Trank was a relative newcomer to the scene when he was hired to helm 2015’s big budget reboot of Marvel’s “Fantastic Four” franchise. Trank had only one prior directorial credit to his name with 2012’s “Chronicle,” yet the writing was on the proverbial wall when Trank posted a negative tweet about his experience on the film prior to its release. This was in addition to the already poor reception “Fantastic Four” was receiving from critics, with the fracas resulting in one of the biggest box office bombs of the year.

#5: Joel Schumacher 
“Batman & Robin” (1997)

For many, the name “Joel Schumacher” will forever be associated with the filmmaker’s campy, over-the-top take on Batman. Despite earning critical and commercial success in the 1980s with films like “The Lost Boys” and “St. Elmo’s Fire,” Schumacher’s reputation in a post-“Batman & Robin” world suffered severely with both fans and critics alike. Comic book purists in particular resented the goofy tone and costume design afforded to Schumacher’s Batman, as well as the seemingly endless puns from co-star Arnold Schwarzenegger. Batman would survive the negative press, of course, but Joel Schumacher’s version of the character continues to be a point of contention for fans to this day.

#4: The Wachowskis 
“Jupiter Ascending” (2015)

These sibling directors are best known for their work in the groundbreaking science fiction film, “The Matrix,” but the genre certainly didn’t do them any favors in 2015 with this controversial entry. “Jupiter Ascending” was ripped apart by critics upon its release for a confusing plot and over reliance on computer generated effects. The Wachowskis were already dealing with divided opinions for their previous film, “Cloud Atlas,” making the reception of “Jupiter Ascending” all the more challenging. Although it does have its defenders, most will likely point to this film as one serious stumbling block for a once hot-button pair of filmmakers. 

#3: Kevin Costner 
“The Postman” (1997)

“Dances With Wolves” may have proven that actor Kevin Costner had the makings of a great director, but this initial sentiment was likely smashed to bits only seven years later with “The Postman.” Costner’s film was based on the 1985 book by David Brin, and takes place within a post-apocalyptic 2013, where all technology has been eradicated. Siskel and Ebert accused “The Postman” of being pretentious and goofy. Audiences seemed to agree, as the film ended up being one of 1997’s biggest flops. The actor didn’t direct another film until 2003’s “Open Range,” where it seemed fans and critics finally forgave Costner for going postal. 

#2: George Lucas 
“Star Wars” prequel trilogy (1999-2005)

Could these films be more maligned? It’s easy to forget how excited fans initially were leading up to the release of George Lucas’ prequel trilogy to “Star Wars.” But, as time passes, people tend to reevaluate things they once loved, and even the biggest diehards can admit that these movies were underwhelming. Add to that the success of J.J. Abrams’ seventh “Star Wars” entry, “The Force Awakens,” and you have one serious blow to a filmmaker whose reputation was once considered bulletproof. Will we ever again see the creative side of the director who once gave us classics like “THX-1138” and “American Graffiti”? If the prequel trilogy is any indication, we’re not sure.

Before we unveil our number one pick, here are a few honorable – or in this case dishonorable –mentions:
- Richard Kelly 
“Southland Tales” (2006) 

- Michael Cimino 
“Heaven’s Gate” (1980) 

- Roland Joffé 
“The Scarlet Letter” (1995) 

#1: M. Night Shyamalan 
“Lady in the Water” (2006)

There was a huge buzz surrounding writer/director M. Night Shyamalan and his breakout 1999 film, “The Sixth Sense.” So much so that Shyamalan was quickly crowned one of Hollywood’s breakout directorial stars. A string of reducing returns seemed to hamper that reputation, however, culminating in 2006 with the release of Shyamalan’s “Lady in the Water.” Critics and fans panned the director’s confusing screenwriting and self-indulgence. These same fans would strike Shyamalan with even more focused fury in 2010 with the director’s reviled take on the world of “Avatar: TheLast Airbender.” At least Shyamalan mustered a comeback of sorts five years later with “The Visit” – but not enough to return him to his past glory.

Do you agree with our list? Which directors do you think dropped the ball with a particular film? For more challenging top tens, published every day, be sure to subscribe to!

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