The woman in the window and the film’s most cursed productions
Not that no film should be condemned on the basis of the trials and tribulations of its creators. Most of the issues listed above had nothing to do with the production itself; furthermore, takeovers and personnel changes are part of the Hollywood process. Eric Stoltz was replaced by Michael J Fox when filming was underway on Back to the Future, and Harvey Keitel was replaced by Martin Sheen on Apocalypse Now, and neither of those movies turned out too bad. In 1997, Titanic was synonymous with disease, injury, spiraling costs and missed deadlines, but once it became a record success, winning 11 Oscars and grossing well over £ 1 billion, all Battles on set have been reassessed as signs of the director’s perfectionism. Most recently, Bryan Singer was fired from the besieged Bohemian Rhapsody, and Dexter Fletcher stepped in, but the biopic was another multiple Oscar-winning success. There are even occasions when news of a film’s production woes may heighten its appeal: to fans of Terry Gilliam, the director’s well-documented struggles with Brazil and The Man Who Killed Don Quixote does added to the legend that a maverick author fought the odds of achieving his vision.
The problem of bad omens
But these are the exceptions. More often than not, films struggle to regain their glamor once they have been labeled “troubled”, “damned” or, worst of all, “doomed”. Viewers have every right to think that if they hear enough about overhauls and repairs, hires and layoffs, they won’t see an artistic triumph but a committee-led compromise. And although Hollywood has always had columns of gossip, the reputation of films is more fragile than ever now that social media sites can send all the rumors and all the set photos around the world in a nano-second. By the time the audience got to see Cats, they weren’t ready and eager to be transported to a musical wonderland. Their appetites were whetted for a banquet of cinematic guts.
At the very least, an in-depth knowledge of a stressful production can be overwhelming when looking at the finished product. You are supposed to focus on the war between humans and robots in Terminator Salvation; instead, you’re trying to figure out which scene they were shooting when Christian Bale was recorded yelling at the cinematographer. You’re supposed to chuckle at the animals talking to Dolittle; instead, you’re trying to guess which segments were present throughout and which were added over the 21 days of repeats. This year’s Chaos Walking and 2017 Justice League had muddled storylines and conflicting tones. If you watched them knowing that the original directors had been replaced in both cases, those flaws were all the more glaring.