Believe it or not, having an idea and writing the script isn’t always enough to get a movie rolling. More often than not some stuck-up studio executive will say that “it just won’t work” and kick you out the door. It takes a lot of time and effort to convince them to give the script a second chance, and if it wasn’t for all those stubborn writers the world would never see movies like Star Wars, Home Alone or Pulp Fiction. I bet those execs felt really stupid when they saw all those millions pouring in.
Let’s talk about the top 7 hit movies that were bombed by studio execs!
Dumb and Dumber (1994)
I know “Dumb and Dumber” may not have been your favorite movie of all time, but definitely was smash hit with the audience in 1994! Execs all over Hollywood wouldn’t even read a script with such a name, so the Farrelly brothers renamed it to “A Power Tool is Not a Toy”, but that didn’t help either. Eventually New Line Cinema decided to give it a shot, but… they almost screwed up the entire movie by rejecting Jim Carrey over Nicolas Cage, because Jim’s fee of $400,000 was a bit too much. While they were figuring things out, Carrey starred in Ace Ventura, so the studio had to pay $7 mil to get him back. Someone probably got fired.
Pulp Fiction (1994)
It wasn’t easy for Tarantino and his co-writer Roger Avary to sell their script to Columbia TriStar. After reading the script, the company executives completely demolished the movie, saying things like “worst screenplay ever”, “Awful, not funny. And makes no sense”. Naturally, they sold the movie rights, and Miramax picked it up, giving Tarantino $8 mil to work with. Those $8 mil turned into $213 million at the box office, helping Quentin launch his career.
Home Alone (1990)
Warner Bros. Really screwed the pooch on this one. They refused to raise the budget to $17 mil and straight out canceled the movie, auctioning off the right to the highest bidder. 20th Century Fox picked it up, gave John Hughes $18 mil budget and got themselves a freaking blockbuster. At the end, the movie earned over $476 mil worldwide.
Forrest Gump (1994)
Would you believe if I told you the Forest Gump movie took almost a decade to get into production? Again we have Warner Bros. dropping the hammer yet again. Eventually Paramount picked it up and the production started, but not before Tom Hanks and Eric Roth took a 50% pay cut to fit into the $40 mil budget. Forrest Gump eventually earned over $677 million worldwide.
The Exorcist (1973)
Thanks to a very timely appearance on TV, William Peter Blatty, finally got a chance to adapt his Exorcist book into a movie. Before that he sent his script to every studio in Hollywood and nobody seemed to like it. It’s great that he finally caught a break, because The Exorcist went on to earn over $440 mil on mere $12 mil budget.
Star Wars (1977)
Yeah, The Star Wars, can you believe that? George Lucas almost didn’t make his space opera. No studio wanted to give him $11 mil for his crazy idea, even Disney gave him the old boot to the butt. Thankfully, 20th Century Fox picked it up, eventually. And the rest is history…
Back to the Future (1985)
Zemeckis’ first draft of this now iconic movie was rejected by Colombia Pictures for “not being sexual enough”. But wait, it gets better. Disney then rejected them because, apparently, mother falling in love with her son was not appropriate or family-friendly. Some time later Spielberg brought the movie to his Amblin imprint, so Back to the Future started production. But somewhere in the middle of the shooting, Robert realized that Michael J. Fox would be a much better fit, so they spent additional $4 mil on reshoots. The movie ended up earning over $381 million at the box office.