It's unfair to say David Lynch has pissed away his career. After all, he's responsible for the neo-noir classic Mulholland Drive and the "Dennis Hopper high on poppers" flick Blue Velvet. But did you know there was once a crazy time when Lynch directed blockbusters? That wild time, dear readers, was 1984.
In 1980, Lynch's The Elephant Man was nominated for eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director. Afterwards, Lynch had his pick of plush projects. George Lucas offered him Return of the Jedi, but Lynch instead chose an adaptation of Frank Herbert's best-selling sci-fi novel Dune.
Lynch had no idea what Dune was about at the time, which is generally not recommended when signing on to direct a $40 million space opera. Still, Dune had the pedigree of an 80s smash: a diehard fan base, a soundtrack by Toto and Sting in a shiny wingtip bikini.
Cruising, Part II: Dune.
Unfortunately for Lynch, Dune had a reputation for being unfilmable ("Forget it, guys, you'll just wind up with Sting in a thong or something"). The film had been in development hell for 13 years (for example, a previous producer had cast Salvador Dali at the cost of $100,000 an hour).
Lynch suffered the same fate. Dune's financiers were pissed that the final cut was three hours long. Lynch was pissed that the studio pressured him to smush Herbert's 400+ page epic into a two-hour popcorn movie. Theaters were pissed that they had to hand out pamphlets explaining the film's futuristic vocabulary, and audiences were pissed that they had to read.
"I go to the movies to escape literacy!"
In the end, Dune was critically crucified, a commercial catastrophe and, more or less, disowned by Lynch, who credited himself as the infamous Hollywood pseudonym "Alan Smithee" on certain editions of the film.
Nowadays, Lynch makes his films with an eye towards the art house set. Who can blame the guy? He's doing what he wants these days, and so maybe this one has a happy ending.
For more zaniness from Hollywood, check out The 7 Most Terrifying Celebrity Transformations and The Top 10 Secret Celebrity Scientologists.
Or, visit Cracked.com's Top Picks to see how crazy DOB went after winning his Web award.