Someone once said, “Directing a film is like going into battle.” Making a movie is almost impossible, and Hollywood is littered with stories about on-set struggles. Even when filmmaking is rough, though, many directors create good or even great movies. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Sometimes a director gets in over their head and the film is worse for it. And often, studios take films away from directors, editing them into unrecognizable movies. You’ll see a few different scenarios on this list of directors who hated their own movies, but they all end the same.
When directors want to distance themselves from a film, the easiest way to do that used to be to request an Alan Smithee credit from the Directors Guild. The practice removed the actual director's name from a film and spared them the humiliation of claiming credit for it, but by the year 2000, the Alan Smithee credit had become common knowledge and this practice was discontinued.
These days, the easiest way to sever all ties with a film is to hop on Twitter and start ranting. Josh Trank did this just before the release of his much maligned Fantastic Four reboot. Maybe there’s a lesson on this list for future directors: if you hate your movie, don’t tell anyone about it. Vote up the films you think the director was totally correct to distance themselves from.
Steven Spielberg - Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
Remembered by many children of the '80s as the Indiana Jones movie that made them fear for the well-being of their beating hearts, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is still a rare black mark on Steven Spielberg's resume, according to the director. The dark tone of the film is attributed to the nasty divorces that Spielberg and his producing partner George Lucas were going through at the time.
The turbulent story behind the making of Alien 3 could fill a book. From the multitude of scripts to huge lawsuits, expensive additional shooting and a rotating cast that left much of the film up in the air to the last minute, David Fincher's first feature film was a disaster before one frame of film had even been shot. Fincher ended up walking off the film before editing began, and completely disavowed the film, leaving it off his resume to this day. And even though a 2003 "reassembly" edit was released that was closer to Fincher's vision, he's still plenty unhappy with the outcome.
The making of American History X has more twists and turns that your average Hollywood film. Although it began as Kaye's first directorial feature, after he began to cut the film down to a bare-bones 87 minutes, the film's producers suggested that he work with the film's star, Edward Norton, to beef the film back up. Kaye balked, then he brought in a priest, a rabbi, and a Tibetan monk in to the office of New Line’s president, elaborately asking for an extension on editing his cut of the film. The president said no, that they were going to release the version he and Norton put together. After the film was released, Kaye tried to get his name scratched from the film, but the Directors Guild said no dice.