6 Movies That Stunk Because Of Behind The Scenes Reasons
Movies don't always turn out the way we'd hope. Sometimes this is due to script problems, or a lack of budget, or accidentally casting Rob Schneider in the lead role. Still, rather than accept a movie's suckiness, we find it helpful to try to retrace what went wrong. Like a cinematic autopsy. As we've done once or twice before, let's delve into what happened with stinkers like ...
The Mummy Was Hijacked By Tom Cruise
Imagine if all the Marvel Cinematic Universe amounted to was one Iron Man movie and a photoshopped image of movie stars posing as if they were a hip new law firm. That's what happened to Universal's "Dark Universe," the failed attempt to launch a franchise around its classic movie monsters. Part of the problem was that the premiere film was a borderline incomprehensible remake of The Mummy starring Tom Cruise (and the barely audible sound of Brendan Fraser chuckling with satisfaction).
The Mummy felt like being stuck inside of Tom Cruise's ego-driven fantasies. And it turns out there's a good reason for that. Cruise basically took creative control of the production, and because he was a big star dealing with a first-time director, everyone just let him. After all, the studio saw Cruise as the Robert Downey Jr. of this new franchise.
To start with, Cruise brought in his own screenwriters to rework the story, making his part bigger and the actual Mummy's smaller. The writers were so dedicated to flattering him that his character is described as a "young man," even though everyone knew the part was being played by an (admittedly spry) 54-year-old. This could also explain why Cruise's defining characteristic is that he's super good at sex. And remember how he becomes the Mummy at the end of the movie?
That was an addition from Cruise's writers to give his character a "dramatic arc" -- and presumably because after playing Jack Reacher and Top Gun, Cruise wanted to be the titular Mummy. He also practically directed the movie, telling the director what to do and even instructing the director of photography that he was using the wrong lens. It also didn't help that most people's first impression of the movie was a leaked trailer that hilariously was missing key sound effects.
Holmes & Watson Was Supposed To Come Out Ten Years Ago
Missing the revisionist Sherlock Holmes trend by several years, the alleged comedy Holmes & Watson, starring Will Ferrell as the famous detective and John C. Reilly as his also-famous sidekick, quickly became best known for inspiring walkouts all over America. Maybe in our divided political times, complete disdain for this movie is exactly the unifying force we need.
The movie was a much more novel idea when it was first in development back in 2008. Originally it was going to star Sacha Baron Cohen, with Ferrell as Watson -- which makes way more sense, considering Cohen has a more Holmes-like profile. And keep in mind, this was before everybody started hammering out fresh takes on the Holmes canon. Holmes & Watson was actually being developed before Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes movie, and this was two years before Sherlock first aired, and four years before Elementary. In fact, it was Ritchie's project that delayed Ferrell's movie, because they didn't want to compete with a less-comedic, far sweatier version of the character.
After the delay, the production stalled and ended up in development hell. Then in 2016 it got going again, eventually being released in 2018. By the time it was made, it had accrued ten years of pop culture references that were dated by today's standards, including poking fun at the now-decade-old Guy Ritchie movie and the decidedly not-a-thing-anyone-thinks-is-automatically-funny-anymore selfie sticks:
By the time the movie was done, it tested so terribly that Sony just offered it up to Netflix, which rejected it. Yup, Netflix will churn out loads of movies about wacky Christmas misunderstandings, usually involving royalty, but even they didn't want Holmes & Watson stinking up their platform.
Angry Parents And Cheapness Ruined The Ninja Turtles Series
The first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a legitimately good movie. Seriously, it's dark, gritty, and features future Oscar winner Sam Rockwell as one those wayward teens who turned to crime and martial arts, which was apparently a big problem in the '90s. As for the sequels, they weren't as great. Like, palling around with Vanilla Ice not-great.
Like with most problems in life, we can place the blame for this squarely on our parents. After the release of the first movie, parents and even medical professionals railed against the the Turtles' violent ways, alleging that all that pizza-fueled nunchucking was having a negative impact on children. This led to the watered-down sequel The Secret Of The Ooze, in which the Turtles weren't allowed to use their weapons. This was stretched to the point of straining credibility, such as the scene wherein Michelangelo attacks the Foot Clan wielding a handful of sausages.
Even that was too violent for England, and it was cut it out of the movie. And the recasting of April O'Neil was allegedly due to this controversy. According to original actress Judith Hoag, her complaints about the violence in the first movie led to her losing the gig.
Perhaps most disappointing for kids at the time, Shredder's new mutant henchman weren't Bebop and Rocksteady like in the cartoon, but rather a wolf and a snapping turtle from, well, nothing. While clearly this plotline was sketched out with everyone's favorite warthog and rhino duo in mind, the Turtles' creators pulled the plug "due to licensing issues"-- meaning some other dude wrote their backstory, and presumably instead of paying him off, the writers just invented two new characters, including yet another turtle. Because who has time to think about what other animals exist in the world?
Then when the third movie came out, the turtles looked waaaay worse. This was not only because by this point, fans were hurtling toward puberty and starting to realize how silly the idea of giant muscular reptiles is, but also because the costumes weren't made by the Jim Henson Company (which had worked on the other movies).
Why would filmmakers ditch the company named after the dude who made all of our childhoods magical in favor of a company called All Effects, which we're assuming was staffed with rogue Halloween Superstore employees? Cheapness. Henson couldn't match All Effect's bargain prices. But since all the original turtle outfits were owned by Henson, the new guys designed their costumes from scratch. Their only references were VHS copies of the earlier films and a magazine article about the making of the second one.
Star Trek V -- William Shatner Used A Clause In His Contract To Make An Insane Mess
It's no secret that the Star Trek movies are hit and miss. For every Wrath Of Khan, we get a movie with a dune buggy chase. But the worst offender might be Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. Fan dances aside, it's a mostly terrible story about Spock's half-brother hijacking the Enterprise to meet God. Who turns out to be a dickish alien. Then it ends.
Well for starters, the movie was directed by William Shatner. Why? Because Shatner had a clause in his contract dating back to the original series ensuring that whatever Leonard Nimoy got, he did too. So after Nimoy directed Star Trek IV, like a toddler fighting for a toy, Shatner insisted that he get a turn. They also let Shatner write the story, and at the time he was obsessed with televangelists. So for some insane reason, he decided that was what the movie should be about.
The role of the bearded Vulcan villain, Sybok, was originally written for Sean Connery, whom Shatner wanted so badly that he named one of the film's planets "Sha Ka Ree." Connery ended up making Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade instead. Shatner's ideas were so wacky that he pretty much alienated everyone involved (including creator Gene Roddenberry, who contacted a lawyer about stopping it), but his "mantra" was "Trust me, it's going to work."
Yeah, it didn't. Shatner's initial story (titled "An Act Of Love") found Sybok (who originally rode a unicorn) tricking the Enterprise crew (except for the brilliant Kirk) into going to meet God. But "God" turns out to be the literal Devil! And in the end, a horde of angels "morph into demons" and attack Kirk. But since that whole concept was too expensive, instead Shatner came up with the idea that he should fight ten rock monsters. That was also too expensive. So instead they made just one rock monster.
But since the end result looked less terrifying and more like Muppet cosplay gone horribly wrong, it was scrapped altogether.
Man Of Steel -- The Filmmakers Spent A Lot Of Time Figuring Out How Superman Could Commit Murder
People expecting the comforting doo-goodery of Superman were a little taken back by Man Of Steel. Instead of chivalry and getting nude in phone booths, audiences got murder, carnage, and Russell Crowe riding a dragon around a planet comprised of prog rock album covers.
The most divisive moment in the film comes toward the end, when Superman kills his enemy Zod, snapping his neck as if he were a common Steven Seagal henchman.
So where did this controversial idea come from? The movie originated with Christopher Nolan and writer David Goyer while they were working on the Dark Knight trilogy. The pair began talking about how to approach Superman in a "modern context." Soon Zack Snyder came aboard as director, and he and Goyer really thought that Superman should kill someone. Why? Because, insanely, Snyder was bothered that Superman's "aversion to killing is unexplained." Yeah, Christopher Reeve's Superman never even dabbled in slaughtering criminals, how would he know he wouldn't enjoy it? Snyder thought they needed a story to explain why Superman doesn't murder people.
Nolan argued against having Superman ending a guy's life in the final moments of their adventure movie. But Snyder and Goyer were so goddamn insistent on that idea, so they worked hard to cobble a scenario where Superman had to kill Zod in order to save a family. Eventually, Nolan relented. Meaning that Superman's killing was more justified, but also he probably traumatized at least one small child. Though if it hadn't been for Nolan, it seems Superman may have simply murdered Zod for the fun of it.
The Story Behind Gotti Should Be A Movie
To be considered one of John Travolta's worst efforts, a movie has to be rather turd-rific. This is the guy who starred in Battlefield Earth, Wild Hogs, and at least one godawful Christmas-themed music video. But somehow Gotti rose to the challenge. An amazingly sloppy chronicle of the head of the Gambino crime family, it somehow scored an impressive 0 percent on Rotten Tomatoes and made less than half of its modest budget back.
This movie was Travolta's passion project for seven years. It began with John Gotti Jr. and a bunch of producers, who for some reason lacked "Hollywood connections." Originally the story was going to focus on the entire Gotti family, co-starring Joe Pesci and Lindsay Lohan as Travolta's daughter, who presumably would use her mob powers to scream at homeless children. Unfortunately, the producer went to prison for fraud, and was then sued by Pesci, who allegedly gained 30 pounds for a role in a movie that never had proper financing.
Then came a new source of money. A man named Salvatore Carpanzano convinced an Irish construction magnate to invest. Problem solved ... until Carpanzano was also arrested for fraud. Then after losing famed director Barry Levinson (Rain Man, Good Morning Vietnam), the production just hired one of the bros from Entourage to direct. And due to budgetary constraints, the distinctly New York story was forced to shoot in Cincinnati.
Why would Travolta stick through all of this insanity? Well, apparently he thought Gotti was going to finally win him an Oscar. When the distributor wouldn't spring for a "full-scale awards campaign" for what felt like a grade-school production of Goodfellas, Travolta bought the movie from them. Travolta also wanted it to screen at Cannes, but they wouldn't touch it with a ten-foot pole, so he made a deal to have it screened thereby agreeing to teach an acting class and host a screening of Grease. The production also hosted a swank Cannes party. And what says "swank" more than awkwardly gyrating next to 50 Cent?
And then MoviePass decided that the best way to save their endangered subscription service was to get in the distribution game. Seemingly because dumpster fires are magnetically drawn to other dumpster fires, MoviePass bought an equity stake in Gotti "in the low seven-figure range." Part of this deal apparently involved slapping the MoviePass logo on the side of Travolta' s private plane to advertise the movie to ... John Travolta?
The movie was, of course, savaged by critics, which in turn led to Gotti pursuing the odd marketing tactic of calling them trolls -- either insulting their integrity or implying that professional film reviewers are crazy-haired bridge-dwelling nudists.
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