Even when the pieces are in place for a film, nothing is set in stone until the finished product enters theaters. As a project makes the transition from page to screen, there can be several revisions as the filmmakers try to get everything right. Sometimes this just entails rewriting a few pages of the script, or it can be something more drastic like replacing an actor before shooting. Then there are instances where there has to be a change of director – occasionally when the movie is already in principal photography. It happens more often than you might thing. Here are 10 movies that changed directors during production.
Fans of Marvel and comedy films in general were excited when it was announced Edgar Wright of Scott Pilgrim and Cornetto trilogy fame would be calling the shots on the first Ant-Man film. Wright had spent years developing the movie and even shot test footage that impressed audiences at Comic-Con. But just before it was time to start rolling the cameras, Wright chose to step down, citing creative differences with the studio. Peyton Reed stepped in on late notice, and delivered a solidly entertaining installment. Wright still received credit for the screenplay, so at least part of his voice remained intact.
The Wizard of Oz
It’s one of the most beloved films of all-time now, but back when it was being made, The Wizard of Oz was a nightmare behind the scenes. The project had four directors come in at various points. Richard Thorpe started but was replaced when the studio felt he was rushing the production. George Cukor ironed things out for a while, and then passed the torch to Victor Fleming. King Vidor had to take over for the final stages of production when Fleming was tasked with aiding Gone With the Wind. Despite what definitely should have been too many cooks in the kitchen, The Wizard of Oz went on to earn widespread acclaim.
Gone With the Wind
Here’s another Hollywood classic that had several issues making its way to the big screen. Originally, George Cukor was to helm it, but he left after disagreements over the pacing and tone. Victor Fleming took over the reigns, but had to leave shortly after due to exhaustion. Sam Wood was the one who finished the job and ended up delivering one of the greatest movies ever made. It won 8 Oscars – including Fleming for Best Director – and is the highest-grossing film of all-time when adjusted for inflation. What could have been a doomed film became a masterpiece that many enjoyed.
Peter Jackson made a name for himself by adapting the Lord of the Rings trilogy to film, but he initially was not going to be the one calling the shots on The Hobbit. That honor was to fall to Guillermo del Toro, who was coming off the hit Pan’s Labyrinth. The fan-favorite director spent two years doing pre-production work before he stepped away due to numerous delays. Jackson was the one who took over, and while that sounded good at the time, his decision to stretch The Hobbit from a two-part movie to three drew the ire of fans. We’ll never know what del Toro’s version would have looked like, and it could have been better.
This small-scale sports film encountered quite the drama behind the scenes that drastically changed the format of the picture. Original director Steven Soderbergh wanted to present Moneyball as a documentary style film, even shooting interviews with real life athletes, which didn’t make executives happy. Coming up with a new approach, they brought in Bennett Miller to handle the project as a more straightforward narrative film. Sony had to end up paying two directors and two screenwriters to get the product they wanted, but it paid off, as Moneyball was one of 2011’s best-reviewed films.
The Legend of Tarzan
Veteran Harry Potter director David Yates remained on this reboot throughout production, but troubles began once the film entered post. According to reports last year, Yates had begun filming Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them before Tarzan was complete. Though Warner Bros. was concerned with the quality of Tarzan, they wouldn’t pull Yates off of Fantastic Beasts since the Harry Potter spinoff is the greater priority to them. The studio maintains all is well, but it’s certainly an unusual situation. Typically directors will make sure one movie is in the bag before moving on to the next one. Hopefully both of Yates’ 2016 efforts are memorable.