10 EXTREME examples of studios interfering with a director's movie












With all of these rumors about Garth Edwards having had problems with "Rogue One," it is not the first time, nor will it be the last, that such a clash of vision occurs with a major movie production. You can read the full details of studio interference in "Rogue One" HERE.

It’s not uncommon for a studio to mess around with a director’s movie. Some just take the abuse and don’t complain, while others wage a losing battle they know will never likely go their way. Greed triumps over artistry. It’s a sad state of affairs, but a reality that most filmmakers know all too well. Sure, some filmmakers are out of their depth in the studio system and need to be reined in, but on the other hand, some of the greatest filmmakers in cinema history have had to give in to the powerful Hollywood studio machine: Scorsese, Gilliam, Fincher, Welles, Leone, Scott etc. The list is endless and too frustrating to fully name. 

Here are 10 other extreme examples of studio interference in Hollywood productions.

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Alien 3 (1992)
After becoming a music video boy-genius David Fincher was a hot commodity for any major studio on Hollywood. His visual flair struck many as potentially game changing, but the project he decided to pick for his directorial debut has since become the only bad movie of his career. "Alien 3" had countless re-shoots and rewrites, most of which weren't Fincher's decision, even worse the creative differences Fincher faced with studio executives is now the stuff of legendary stories. It is then not very surprising that Fincher immediately disowned the film and has since released his own cut called "The Assembly Cut" which improved upon the original in terms of tying together plot holes amd character development, but still missed the spark that would ignite many of the eventual great movies he would eventually make in his career.
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Blade Runner (1982)
Upon its release in 1982 "Blade Runner" had so much studio interference that its history is the stuff of legend. Receiving mixed reviews the film came and went upon release, but ended up receiving a cult following on home video - which got Scott amped up and screeing his own versions to audiences around the country for the next few years. There have been several versions of "Blade Runner", seven to be more specific, but the ultimate version will always be the "Final Cut" which got rid of the narration, left us with an extra final brilliant shot and fixed many of the plot holes present I'm the original.  It was the only time director Ridley Scott ever had total freedom in the editing room for the film and it would only come 25 years after its release.

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Once Upon a Time in America (1984)
This might be the most butchered film by an American studio on the list. The original version ran for 229 minutes, an epic to say the least, and featured character development that got completely cut off and disjointed by the 139 minute American version. That's right, more than 1 hour and 30 minutes of footage gone. Some of the highlights of the original got completely cut off: A big chunk of the childhood scenes were not to be found, as was the famous garbage truck scene with Bailey which concludes the film on a more ambiguous, talked about note. Europeans got to see the final cut of Sergio Leone's classic, but Americans didn't. However,  time has been good to the film as most people now tend to seek the 4 hour version instead of the butchered 1984 version which is clearly and justifyingly hard to find.

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Brazil (1986)
Terry Gilliam has never hidden the fact that he had problems with the studio while making 1985's "Brazil". His 142 minute cut, which Criterion released in beautiful pristine quality, is well known as a visionary sci-fi classic that paved the way and influenced a generation to come. Much of the problems had to do with the film's ending which Gilliam refused to change. The story goes that the fighting persisted throughout the year until Gilliam decided to screen his cut -in secrecy- for the L.A Film critics, which prompted them to name "Brazil" the Best Picture of 1985 and had audience and critics demanding its release. The studuo finally gave in and release the damn thing. The rest -ands they say- is history.

All The Pretty Horses (2000)
Billy Bob Thornton wanted to followup his directorial debut "Sling Blade" with an adaptation of "All the Pretty Horses", a Cromac McCarthy novel that many said was unfilmable. Thornton's original version ran nearly 4 hours, maybe the only way such a movie could have worked, but Harvey Weinstein quickly forced Thornton to cut it down to its eventual final cut of 116 minutes- Many say as payback for Thornton fighting and getting his version of "Sling Blade" released in 1996 despite Weinstein's disapproval.  That's more than half of "All The Pretty Horses" on the cutting room floor. Its star Matt Damon publicly came out and defended Thornton,  saying it wasn't fair that this much footage should be offed. Eventual efforts to get a director's cut on DVD have been tampered by the film's original music composer Daniel Lanois who refuses to have his score have anything to do with the movie. Yikes.

Heaven's Gate (1980)
The infamous movie that made United Artists declare bankruptcy. Michael Cimino was the hottest director in Hollywood, "The Deer Hunter" cleaned up the Oscars and Cimino was thought to have had carte blanche for his next movie. Then "Heaven's Gate" happened. A monstrous failure who's backstage stories are the stuff of legend and of which we won't be able to get fully into here, maybe another list? One of the stories goes that Cimino changed the locks of the editing room so that studio execs wouldn't interfere. His erratically insane behaviour concluded with a 5 hour and 25 minute cut of the film which Cimino said was a 15 minute cut away from the final version. Even though the film has garnered a cult following in recent years, the 2 hour and 29 minute cut that was finally released in the fall of 1980 garnered terrible reviews.

Hancock (2008)
The studio meddling done with "Hancock" was brutally significant. The first directors cut tackled the title character played by Will Smith as more of an anti-hero with questionable behavior and an overall unpleasant demeanor. The studio obviously didn't respond well to this cut, which quickly sent the film to the cutting room floor and tried to make the character more likeable.  The film went on to eventually make millions at the box office, but was it because of the new cut? Or just Will Smith's star power?  Way after its initial release details have come out about the studio pressure director Peter Berg had to face. All these stories only make us want a director's cut even more.

Fantastic Four (2015)
Much has been made about director Josh Trank's problems with Fox over this film. The story goes that Fox was unsatisfied with Trank's cut of the film and decided to completely take over and re-shoot key scenes- Trank was obviously unhappy and took to Twitter to voice his disapproval saying that "A year ago I had a fantastic version of this. And it would've received great reviews. You'll probably never see it. That's reality though." The film has been one of the worst reviewed Hollywood movies in recent memory, raising doubt over an already announced sequel and cementing it as movie that will forever live in infamy.

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Killing Them Softly (2011)
Director Andrew Dominik is no stranger to making long movies. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford reportedly ran for more than three and a half hours before the studio forced him to cut more than 45 minutes of footage for its theatrical release. Regardless, the film was still a triumphant work of art that is still being dissected to today in film schools worldwide. Dominik’s followup to that movie was Killing Them Softly, also starring Brad Pitt as a hit-man looking for a man responsible for robbing an illegal high-stakes poker game in post-Katrina New Orleans. Dominik also ran into trouble with this film, which reportedly clocked in at more than two hours and thirty minutes in length. The final theatrical release was almost an hour shorter, which means something happened in the process that turned the studio against Dominik. What was it? Everyone involved has been very hush-hush about the drama, but the resulting film wasn’t half as good as Jesse James, which might explain why many people are asking for a director’s cut to get released, even though there isn’t any actual proof that it exists.

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Magnificent Ambersons (1942)
Your name is Orson Welles, you're 27 years old and your first movie was "Citizen Kane". You would think that with your second movie the studio would give you carte blanche and all the freedom that you need to bring your vision onscreen. Not exactly. "The Magnificent Ambersons" is the granddaddy of all studio interfered movies. Cutting almost an hour of footage from the original cut? check. Changing the downer ending for a happier ending? check. A Bernard Herrmann score heavily edited by the studio? check. Welles was highly affected by the disastrous studio meddling of his beloved film, one which he believed could have truly marked his career. "They destroyed 'Ambersons,' and 'it' destroyed me." he later said.

The following was originally written for ScreenRant a year ago, article can be found HERE

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