I don’t know about you, but the recent firing of James Gunn really bummed me out. But, hey, guess what, turns out he wasn’t the first or the last director who got fired before finishing the movie. There are at least 6 more!
1. Richard Donner – “Superman II” (1980)
Why would you fire the man who directed the first Superman movie, seeing as it was such a huge success? The answer is simple: the studio demanded from Donner the impossible – they asked him to make 2 movies back-to-back in the same year. The sad part is the second movie was 75% done, but due to the delays, budget issues, and other stuff, Donner was ultimately fired.
2. Richard Stanley – “The Island of Dr. Moreau” (1996)
Aside from being a huge fan of H.G. Wells, Richard Stanley had been waiting for 4 years to get his own vision of this classic novel made. Sadly, the Universe made everything possible to stop him. Actors came and went; Marlon Brando was not in the best physical and mental state after he heard of his daughter’s suicide; the weather was horrible all throughout the filming; the budget ran out much faster than expected, and so on, and so forth. So the studio fired Stanley and replaced him with John Frankenheimer.
3. Alex Cox – “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” (1998)
If you’ve watched “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” you may have noticed it’s not a very coherent story, but it’s cool, the movie’s about drugs, so what else would you expect. As you can imagine, the whole filming process looked and felt as disjointed as the finished product. But at some point Alex Cox got into a big fight with the producer over his creative vision, which lead to the movie company replacing Cox with Terry Gilliam.
4. Paul Schrader – “Exorcist: The Beginning” (2004)
This one’s quite simple and we have the studio execs to blame again. Schrader had a more psychological approach to this movie, but, apparently, the studio wanted more jump scares and gallons of fake blood, so they replaced Schrader with Renny Harlin, who had to redo the entire movie at that point, and it still bombed at the box-office.
5. Bryan Singer – “Bohemian Rhapsody” (2018)
For some period of time it seemed like the Queen biopic’s fate would remain unknown, after Sacha Baron Cohen decided to ditch the film, then the director Dexter Fletcher followed him soon after due to some disagreements with the co-producer. But, finally, Bryan Singer and Rami Malek came on board and everything seemed perfect, until Singer had become “unexpectedly unavailable”. Eventually he was fired and the studio brought back Fletcher to wrap up the movie.
6. Phil Lord & Christopher Miller – “Solo: A Star Wars Story” (2018)
After the huge success of “The Lego Movie,” Phil Lord and Christopher Miller went for a much bigger franchise – Star Wars. Who better to tell Han Solo’s origin story than these two funny guys? Well, boring people at Lucasfilm decided that their vision had too many jokes and relied too heavily on comedy and improvisation in general. So yeah, they were fired and replaced with Ron Howard, who messed everything up. Good job, execs!
7. James Gunn – “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” (2020)
And for the great finale, we have James Gunn himself. I remember as if it were a few months ago. First he teased us with a picture of the final script for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.3, then a few days later Disney fires him for a bunch of stupid jokes from his “edge lord” days. Naturally, Gunn apologized for the inappropriate 10-year-old tweets but Disney didn’t care. His fans signed a petition to try to get him rehired – didn’t work. The entire cast of GotG movies supported him on the social media – still nothing. Oh well, I guess, if DC/Warner Bros. have any resemblance of a common sense, they’d snag him for their Green Lantern Corps movie(s), but I guess either there’s no common sense there, or Gunn’s just not interested.