6 Classic Films That Almost Turned Out Terrible

Every movie is the result of thousands of crucial little decisions, from "Where should we put this light?" to "Uppers or downers today, Mr. Cage?" That means that even the greatest films were only one "Actually, what if ..." away from being godawful. Let us speculate on the parallel realities in which certain famous movies are instead just infamously terrible. For example ...

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6
Marvel Wanted Black Panther To Have A British Accent

Black Panther got Best Picture nominations at the Golden Globes and the Oscars, proving that humanity has come a long way since the Dark Knight snub. And of course, Marvel almost ruined all of that with one simple change: having Wakandans talk like Harry Potter characters.

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According to Chadwick Boseman, Marvel thought that it might be "too much for an audience to take" if his character, an African king/superhero wearing an indestructible cat suit, had an African accent when he was introduced in Captain America: Civil War. So they wanted him to have a British one. A nonagenarian fueled by steroids who meets a Nazi living inside a computer? Totally realistic. Aliens, gods, radiation-powered giants? Sure, why not. An African person who talks like an African person? Get outta town.

Walt Disney Studios"Wakanda Until It's Time For Tea, Cheerio!"

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Boseman pointed out that if he had a British accent in Civil War, then what about when he went home? Would everyone else in Wakanda, a fiercely independent African nation that's never been colonized, inexplicably talk like they're in Downton Abbey too? In his own words, "What else are we gonna throw away for the sake of making people feel comfortable?" Right, like making him a white trust fund baby? Giving him a wisecracking sidekick? Adding nipples to his su- wait, that's been done.

Related: 17 Times Filmmakers Almost Ruined Their Own Movies

5
O.J. Simpson Was Almost The Terminator

Movies often ask us to believe truly outrageous things that could never happen in real life. Like America's favorite NFL player, O.J. Simpson, being a remorseless killer. That was the genius idea Orion Pictures president Mike Medavoy had when he heard about a little project called The Terminator back in the early '80s. What made Medavoy think O.J., that big goofball, had it in him to play such a heavy role? He'd seen those Hertz commercials starring the player, and Simpson's incredible displays of athleticism convinced him that this was what a cyborg should look like in action. See for yourself:

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Here's another one, which would probably have been Medavoy's argument for casting O.J. as Superman:

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As for Arnold Schwarzenegger, Medavoy wanted him to play "the good guy, whatever his name is" (interesting choice for Sarah Connor). Cameron fought the idea for two reasons: First, he'd met Schwarzenegger to talk about the movie, and like, look at the guy. Even today, at age 72, he's still more believable as a killer robot than a human being. The second reason was that Cameron wasn't interested in doing a movie about "an African-American man chasing around a white girl with a knife." Especially not an affable, innocent-looking African-American man. Even in 1984, that would have been problematic.

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O.J. was eventually cast as a clumsy detective in the Naked Gun movies, which was a role much more his speed. Now to open his Wikipedia page and see what else he's been up to in his life ...

Related: 5 Classic Movies That Were Almost Ruined By Horrifying Ideas

4
The Studio Wanted To Explain The Groundhog Day Loop With Aliens And Hexes

The main appeal of Groundhog Day, starring Bill Murray, is ... well, Bill Murray. But another big reason the movie is so timeless (pun intended, come on) is that we never learn exactly how Murray's character gets stuck in a time loop. Trying to explain why he has to live the same day over and over again would feel like pandering. So it might come as no real surprise that the studio wanted to do exactly that.

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Producer Trevor Albert and screenwriter Danny Rubin were horrified when an executive at Columbia said that, while they liked the story, they wanted an explanation for the time loop. They spitballed about Murray falling into "some weird chemical" (then presumably emerging with a burning desire to kill The Batman), or maybe aliens "putting a hex on him." (So alien ... witches?) Or hey, why not both?

Basically this, but with Murray instead of Tom Cruise.

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Albert and Rubin tried to explain that adding a reason like that would mean Murray would have to chase a bigger goal to "solve" the loop. Unfortunately, this sounded great to the studio, which refused to green-light the film without some sort of explanation. The filmmakers decided they'd give in and write the dumb "gypsy curse" scene the studio wanted (which you can read in the script) and schedule it so they'd have to shoot it at the very end ... and then simply never shoot it. Or to shoot it but misplace the reels in an Arby's men's room or something.

By the time the movie was done, the executive in question had apparently forgotten all about this essential detail. That, or nebulous forces trapped him in his own time loop until he became a better person and stopped making stupid-ass demands.

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Related: 18 Famous Movies That Were Almost Hilariously Bad

3
Gremlins Almost Had Way Fewer Gremlins (And More Monkeys)

At some point, an executive at Warner Bros. looked at the movie Gremlins, a movie about gremlins, and thought, "Ugh, this has entirely too many gremlins." Yeah, what is this, the movie Gremlins?

Warner Bros. PicturesFixed.

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Director Joe Dante recalled that while they were making the movie, studio notes started coming in saying that the gremlins were "very unpleasant," and there were too many of them. The movie's executive producer responded by sarcastically asking why they didn't just cut all the gremlins and call the movie People. Luckily, that producer was Steven Spielberg, so the studio backed off a little bit. After all, they were only making this weird little project to keep Spielberg happy. Warner Bros. only stopped bugging Dante and Spielberg about the gremlins when they saw test audiences going nuts over the hideous abominations and realized they might actually make money on this thing.

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And then there was the monkey s**t conundrum. Because this was the pre-CGI era and they couldn't use real gremlins from outer space (union rules), someone came up with the bright idea of using monkeys to portray the creatures. One time they even put a gremlin head on a Rhesus monkey, at which point it ran into the editing room and "shat all over everything." They wisely ended up going with puppets, whose feces are notoriously soft and fuzzy and therefore a pleasure to clean.

Related: 7 Stupid Endings That Almost Ruined Classic Horror Movies

2
Marisa Tomei Was Almost Cut From My Cousin Vinny

My Cousin Vinny is known for two reasons: 1) offering a surprisingly accurate portrayal of a U.S. courtroom despite being a silly '90s comedy, and 2) Marissa Tomei. Probably the most iconic scene comes during the movie's climax, in which Tomei's character, a Brooklyn hairdresser named Mona Lisa, rips the court a new one with her unexpected knowledge of the auto industry.

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Tomei's performance gave the movie its only Academy Award nomination and win, so in retrospect it's pretty surprising that 20th Century Fox wanted to cut her entirely. Screenwriter Dale Launer recalls how the studio felt all those big moments in the courtroom needed to go to Joe Pesci's tough guy lawyer character, seemingly unaware that Pesci is best enjoyed in limited doses (looking at you, Lethal Weapon franchise).

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But instead of obeying the multi-million-dollar corporation paying his salary, Launer went in the opposite direction and decided to write more of Mona Lisa into the script. Which is apparently a thing you can do? We figured the studio would send goons to break your legs or something. Pesci eventually got to expand his character anyway through an album called Vincent LaGuardia Gambini Sings Just For You. It won zero awards.

Related: 8 Absurdly Bad Ideas Studios Almost Forced Into Great Movies

1
Harvey Weinstein Wanted The Lord Of The Rings To Be One Movie ... By Tarantino

Remember when dollar-sign-eyed film executives made Peter Jackson stretch The Hobbit into three joyless movies when one would have sufficed? Ironically, Jackson once had the opposite problem thanks to Hollywood's most feared bathrobe owner, Harvey Weinstein.

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Jackson originally pitched the idea of adapting the Lord Of The Rings books to Weinstein's Miramax, which approved the project, only to later go back on one thing: the "trilogy" part. Despite the fact that Jackson was content with doing only two movies, Weinstein demanded that he squeeze the books' 1,200 pages into a single film. Why? Because Disney, which owned Miramax, apparently ran some numbers and decided that fantasy movies didn't sell. Weinstein even threatened to kick Jackson off the project and get someone else to direct it, like Shakespeare In Love director John Madden, or his buddy Quentin Tarantino.

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This "streamlined approach" would've also meant no Helm's Deep, no Saruman, no Balrog, and consequently no "You shall not pass!" (Or if it was Tarantino, "You ain't passin' s**t, m**********r!")

New Line CinemaThough we have to admit that Samuel L. Jackson would have made a great Gandalf.

Knowing that Tolkien's fans would have burned him alive, Jackson's team managed to convince Weinstein to at least give them four weeks to pitch the films somewhere else. By the end of those four weeks, almost every studio in Hollywood had passed on it, with only New Line Cinema remaining. Knowing it was their last chance, Jackson kept on cancelling his meeting with New Line, pretending that the hype around their reel was so incredible that they had too many meetings to attend. In the end, they pitched to New Line head Bob Shaye, who disagreed with the idea of turning the three books into two films ... because it should be three films, duh.

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Please, Hollywood, in the future, just listen to Jackson when he tells you how many movies you can get out of some damn books already.

Zanandi is on Twitter. She also writes for Macaulay Culkin's parody site.

For more, check out The Awful Spider-Man Movie James Cameron Almost Made:

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