Nicole McCray

4 Oct 2020
Film & TV

9 Great Movies That Almost Didn’t Make the Screen

Many could-be-great movies never see the light of day for hundreds of different reasons. Making a movie involves many people and lots of red tape, including budget issues and the many hurdles that are essential for music licensing rights. It’s no surprise that production delays and personality clashes happen along the way. Here are nine great movies that almost didn’t make it to the big screen but went on to become beloved favorites.

1. The Omen

The Omen had so many issues during production that it’s hard to believe it ever got made at all! First, David Seltzer, a scriptwriter, was on a plane that got struck by lightning. Then, lead actor Gregory Peck’s son committed suicide just before they started filming. One of the crew’s animal handlers was mauled to death by a lion. And, the IRA bombed a hotel where members of the crew were staying.

As if all that wasn’t enough, John Richardson, a special effects consultant crashed his car… on Friday the 13th… right by a street sign that read Ommen, 66.6km. Woah!

2. Blade Runner

Blade Runner was tested on audiences in 1982, and director Ridley Scott has been very vocal about his dissatisfaction with the film ever since. He’s actually recut it at least three times and caused an uproar on the set with his frustrating and unorthodox methods.

Before any of that, the script was rewritten several times. The author of the short story the film is based on, Philip K. Dick, called the first drafts “a long slog” and also said the lead actor, Harrison Ford, was a has-been!

3. The Wizard of Oz

It’s hard to believe the timeless classic, The Wizard of OZ almost didn’t get made. This film overcame many hurdles on its journey to the big screen, including director changes, multiple rewrites, and actors quitting… and then coming back. Everyone’s favorite little dog Toto wasn’t always on his best behavior and ruined several takes. Plus, the Wicked Witch of the West, played by Margaret Hamilton, was burned badly in Munchkin Land.

And, let’s not forget about Buddy Ebsen’s (who played the Tin Man) almost fatal reaction to his makeup. Maybe it’s a good thing there’s no place like home!

4. Groundhog Day

The production of Groundhog Day caused a breakdown in the long-standing partnership between Harold Ramis and Bill Murray, who worked together in a comedy troupe during the 1970s and eventually led to the making of Caddyshack and Ghostbusters.

The two experienced a monumental difference of opinion that created a lot of tension. Apparently, Murray wanted the film to be philosophical, while Ramis had his heart set on a comedy. The two friends didn’t speak for 20 years after production was completed.


5. Apocalypse Now

When so many things go wrong during the production of a movie that a documentary gets made about it, things had to be pretty bad. First, the director, producer, and co-writer Francis Ford Coppola chose to film the movie in the Philippines. Unfortunately, the weather was so awful that shooting dragged on from the expected five months to more than a year. It didn’t help that Marlon Brando insisted on playing Colonel Kurtz his own way, or that Martin Sheen had a heart attack during production.

Against all odds, Apocalypse Now did make it to the big screen and even went on to be called one of the greatest films ever made. This quote by Coppola really sums it up, “We were in the jungle. And little by little, we went insane.”

6. Alien 3

There was a making-of documentary for Alien 3 as well and the fact that it was titled Wreckage and Rage speaks volumes. The studio and the director David Fincher had creative differences and the crew was very concerned that Sigourney Weaver wouldn’t come back for the filming of a third movie. Not to mention the elaborate special effects that came close to bankrupting the production.

7. Titanic

Somehow, it seems like fate that the production of a film about an ill-fated ocean voyage would also be a disaster. The actors became extremely ill due to the torturous cold and hours spent in freezing water. It caused the production to go way over schedule, leading to massive issues with the budget. But that wasn’t the worst of it. A disgruntled crew member who was never identified, spiked everyone’s lobster chowder with some kind of hallucinogenic drug, landing the director, James Cameron, and more than 50 other cast and crew members in the hospital.

8. Slumdog Millionaire

Slumdog Millionaire tells the incredible story by Danny Boyle about a poor kid from the streets of Mumbai who hits it big on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?. But can you believe this movie almost wasn’t released on the big screen? Originally, Slumdog Millionaire was supposed to be released by Warner Independent, but the American film division was shut down. The movie was left in limbo for so long that it might have ended up being released straight to DVD. However, Fox Searchlight finally snapped it up, and the film went on to win a whopping eight Oscars!


9. The Man Who Killed Don Quixote

Can you believe it took 20 years to bring Terry Gilliam’s The Man Who Killed Don Quixote to the big screen? The movie is based on a classic novel by Miguel de Cervantes and its production was full of twists and turns. There were wrecked sets, collapsed funding, and just plain bad luck. The worst of it? Two of the film’s stars, Jean Rochefort and John Hurt died during production.

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