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Top 10 Movies Even their Directors Hate

VO: Rebecca Brayton

Even directors like Stanley Kubrick, David Lynch, and David Fincher have made films that even they wish didn't exist. WatchMojo.com presents 10 films that the filmmakers hate, and can't stand to watch... we don't blame them!

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Top 10 Movies Even their Directors Hate


Whether it was a high school presentation, a failed business venture or a big budget Hollywood film… we all have that one project we’d just rather forget. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 movies disowned by their directors.

For this list, it doesn’t really matter whether these movies were box office hits or critical and financial flops. And while the films do not need to be officially disowned, the directors should have at least felt some sort of disdain or discomfort with the final product, or perhaps refused to promote the film in question or disrespected it in public. The only movies we’re excluding are the versions of the films that were edited for TV, from which directors frequently have their names removed due to the excessive cuts made to suit television censorship rules.

#10: “Woman Wanted” (1999)
Kiefer Sutherland

In terms of critical and box office success, most directors have a range of films to their credit. Not every film can be a modern classic, and that’s understandable. But when a director disowns a film, it usually signals a pretty abysmal end result. Unfortunately for Kiefer Sutherland, when you’re a well-known actor directing a film, and you star in the film, it’s hard to successfully distance yourself from the stench of failure - even if you use a pseudonym. This indie drama, about a maid and her relationship with a widower and his son, was Kiefer Sutherland’s second time directing a film, after “Truth or Consequences, N.M.,” and needless to say, “Woman Wanted” officially ended that career path once and for all.

#9: “Solar Crisis” (1990)
Richard C. Sarafian

In the year 2050, a huge solar flare is predicted to destroy the Earth, so astronauts are sent to redirect the flare using a bomb. With a reported budget of $55 million dollars and Charlton Heston in a lead role, it should’ve been a straightforward sci-fi popcorn flick. No one would’ve walked in expecting “Planet of the Apes” or walked out calling it a masterpiece, but it should’ve been a fun ride. What went wrong? Apparently, “Solar Crisis” was just plain bad in the most straightforward way and it hardly received a theatrical release. Though Richard C. Sarafian wasn’t a well-known director, most recognizably having directed episodes of “The Twilight Zone” and the ‘60s “Batman” series, he nonetheless asked to have his name removed from this bomb.

#8: “Accidental Love” (2015)
David O. Russell

Lots can go wrong in the moviemaking process, and in this film’s case, absolutely everything did. David O. Russell is a critically lauded, but notoriously difficult filmmaker to work with. But it doesn’t seem like he was the culprit behind this problematic production. Cast and crew walked off set because they weren’t being paid, one union withdrew support, and crucial scenes weren’t filmed in protest against the studio. The film, which followed a woman who couldn’t afford medical treatment after being shot in the head with a nail gun, was left unfinished and changed ownership a number of times. Millennium Entertainment finally bought it in 2014, and somehow stitched an edited version together. When Russell found out, he requested his name be removed, for obvious reasons.

#7: “Hellraiser IV: Bloodline” (1996)
Kevin Yagher

You know a film production has gone seriously wrong when the original creator, Clive Barker, severs all ties with the franchise. Kevin Yagher was a successful special effects technician, specializing in horror, when he signed on to direct this film. He was so frustrated by studio involvement though, which included major script changes mid-production, that he quit – with another uncredited director finishing the job. Yagher, naturally dissatisfied with the finished product, submitted a request to the Directors Guild of America to have “Alan Smithee” credited as the director, which is a pseudonym that can only be used if the original director can prove that his or her creative control was excessively limited. Poor Pinhead.

#6: “Fear and Desire” (1953)
Stanley Kubrick

It’s strange to see a film by one of the greatest, most respected and influential directors in cinematic history on this list. So what happened here exactly? This was Stanley Kubrick’s first feature film, and legendary director or not, the first film is always a learning experience. The movie, a variation on the theme that war is hell, was not a bad one by any stretch, but it was definitely flawed - clearly bearing the mark of an untested filmmaker. But it also shows Kubrick’s astonishing sense of composition, among other stylistic traits the director would go on to be known for. In his own words, however, it is nothing more than a “bumbling amateur film exercise.”

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

Most directors on this list place all the blame on the studio. Joel Schumacher might be the only director in history to disown a film in such a self-deprecating, apologetic manner. Honestly, we feel bad for the guy. “Batman Forever” was not a great movie - but we accepted the fact that it was a return to Batman’s campier origins. Two-Face and The Riddler were fun to watch, kids loved it, and ultimately, it made a killing. Before this film, Schumacher had a strict “no sequel” rule, a rule that, with the studio throwing money at him, he unfortunately broke for “Batman & Robin.” What we got was one big toy commercial hated by anyone over the age of 7. At least he said sorry!

#4: “FANT4STIC” (2015)
Josh Trank

Prior to the release of this film, director Josh Trank allegedly sent out an email to cast and crew, in which he wrote he was confident that the finished product was “better than 99 percent of the comic-book movies ever made.” Apparently one unspecified cast member simply responded with… “I don’t think so”. Josh Trank has since changed his tune, all but disowning the movie publicly via Twitter, and blaming the studio for any and all issues. This film was widely publicized as one of the biggest trainwreck productions in film history, and many question whether any studio will let Trank near a major film again. Either way, it reportedly already cost him the “Star Wars” film he was set to direct.

#3: “Dune” (1984)
David Lynch

Frank Herbert’s wonderfully strange space epic, like so many science fiction works, proved daunting to adapt. Three previous attempts were made, including a script with Ridley Scott attached to direct. Thanks to “Eraserhead” and “The Elephant Man,” David Lynch was the new master of strange and unnerving cinema, and seemingly the perfect choice. In reality, Lynch signed on with no knowledge of the source material and, by his own admission, was indifferent towards sci-fi (hilarious, considering George Lucas asked him to direct “Return of the Jedi”). Lynch resented the studio interference, budgetary concerns and ultimately felt his vision was constrained, all of which led to a film that many critics call “incomprehensible”. After distancing himself from the project, Lynch also disavowed an edited-for-TV version of the film released 4 years later.

#2: “An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn” (1998)
Arthur Hiller

Thanks to “Hellraiser,” we’re all familiar with the “Alan Smithee” credit, and the important role it plays in Hollywood film productions gone awry. “Burn Hollywood Burn” was conceived as a satire of the big budget film industry and the frustrating artistic experience directors face in trying to make a film under the thumb of major studios, who insist on interfering. Honestly, this film is like Christopher Nolan’s “Inception,” as applied to films being disowned by their directors. Arthur Hiller famously hated the film so much, as a result of (you guessed it) the studio intervening and re-editing, that, in a decision almost too ironic to be true, he insisted on taking the Alan Smithee credit.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

“Let’s Get Harry” (1986)
Stuart Rosenberg

“Supernova” (2000)
Walter Hill

“Babylon A.D.” (2008)
Matthieu Kassovitz

#1: “Alien 3” (1992)
David Fincher

It started with two great directors, Ridley Scott and James Cameron, producing two landmark films. With the name David Fincher attached as the director for the third instalment, you’d think they would be three-for-three. Unfortunately, the respected director of “Se7en” and “Gone Girl” does not remember his first feature film fondly. In his late 20s, the studio saw his potential, but lacked faith in him, and micromanaged the entire film. Not only did the studio cut 30 minutes of footage Fincher called “crucial to the narrative”, they also changed his ending. Fincher conceived of Ripley’s death as a peaceful one - calm and purposeful. By adding a chestburster against his wishes, the studio essentially gutted his meaningful ending, and his film.

Do you agree with our list? Can you think of any other major films famously disowned by their director? For more curious top 10s published every day, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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