20 Great Movies That Were Behind-The-Scenes Nightmares

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Vote up the troubled movies that were totally worth it.

Even in the best circumstances, making movies is a painstaking process. There are filmmakers who practically put the lives of their crew members on the line to get the perfect shot. These great movies that were behind-the-scenes nightmares were hopefully worth all the pain and suffering. 

Films crews stricken with malaria. A teeth-cracking on-set fistfight between a writer and director. Broken bones, freezing cold water, and a potential on-set murder - none of this could stop these movie productions.

Sometimes there's a price to pay to achieve greatness. Maybe the misery wasn't worth the end product for some of these films - that's for you to decide. Vote up the troubled movies that you think were totally worth it.

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  • 1
    569 VOTES

    Toy Story 2 is widely considered one of the greatest sequels ever created. However, the 1999 animated classic almost never made it to the big screen - in fact, it was nearly entirely erased. An animator accidentally hit a command that wiped out almost 90% of the movie. Pixar co-founder Edwin Catmull said of the error, "First, Woody's hat disappeared. Then his boots. Then he disappeared entirely. Whole sequences - poof! - were deleted from the drive. Rebuilding the film would have taken 30 people a solid year."

    The crew initially didn't panic because they had backups. However, for some reason, the backup system failed - essentially meaning the film was just gone. Pixar didn't have time to remake the entire movie. Thankfully, a supervising technical director named Galyn Susman saved the day. She was working from home after having her second child. Susman had a backup program in place at her house, where files of Toy Story 2 were being sent every week. The team was able to reassemble most of the movie from Susman's home files.

    569 votes

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  • 2
    329 VOTES

    John McTiernan's 1987 sci-fi/horror movie starring Arnold Schwarzenegger turned out to be one of the most memorable movies of the decade. That's a good thing, because the grueling jungle shoot was a disaster on nearly every level, starting with the Predator suit. The crew waited weeks for what was supposed to be a scary monster outfit to arrive onset. When it did, the red costume "looked like a guy in a lizard suit with the head of duck." It was also dangerous to wear. Production shut down for weeks to make a more believable and less dangerous monster costume. 

    Then, wanna-be Hollywood movie star Jean-Claude Van Damme refused to perform a stunt wearing the Predator suit. The actor needed to be replaced by a much smaller stuntman, who subsequently broke his leg performing the stunt the Belgian bodybuilder refused to do. 

    The cast was also required to perform military training exercises that left them stranded 20 miles out in the middle of the jungle in the unrelenting heat. Several actors and crew members became seriously ill after consuming contaminated food and water. Schwarzenegger also got sick from eating Mexican street food and had to film one scene with an IV bottle attached to his arm. Finally, McTiernan broke his wrist after falling out of a tree during production.

    329 votes

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  • Monty Python and the Holy Grail
    Photo: Cinema 5

    Even making hilarious classic comedies can be troublesome. Monty Python and the Holy Grail's super-low budget meant there needed to be compromises. The Arthurian parody was filmed predominantly outdoors in Scotland in April. The rainy weather caused the actors' fake armor, which was made out of wool, to become soggy and uncomfortable. The actors were basically cold and wet for the duration of the film's shoot. 

    The movie's green directors, Terry Jones and Terry Gilliam, had never helmed a feature film before. Their camera broke on the very first shot of the film, which made for immediate chaos. The crew was able to find another camera. However, they were forced to film on the first day without the benefit of sound. 

    Actor John Cleese summed up the "miserable" making of the 1975 comedy:

    It was a miserable experience! You got up in the morning, you got up on the hillside, it started to rain immediately because it was April and it was Scotland. And the rain came down, we had so little money there were four umbrellas on the whole set, and this nasty chain-mail which was knitted string would start getting damp, by 9 o'clock you were cold and wet. And then at 6 o'clock when the first assistant said, "Wrap," there was this rush for the cars, because there was only enough hot water for 40% of the people at the hotel, so there was this scramble to get back. It was a miserable, miserable time!

    377 votes

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  • Before The Bourne Identity led to one of the biggest Hollywood franchises of the 21st century, the film was wrought with problems from the script to the editing stage. Up-and-coming director Doug Liman came aboard to helm the spy thriller and proceeded to clash with nearly everyone involved. First, there were the problems with the original script, which Tony Gilroy described as an "absolute piece of sh*t." Gilroy basically rewrote the entire story, only keeping the central theme of a secret agent who suffers from severe amnesia.

    Unfortunately, Gilroy and Liman fought so much about the screenplay while the movie was in production that the director hired William Blake Herron to rewrite Gilroy's script. Liman also battled Universal over the tone of the story, which had changed to something that star Matt Damon hated. He reportedly despised the new Herron script so much that he threatened to quit the movie.

    In the middle of filming, producer Richard Gladstein had to leave production because of a personal matter. Gladstein's absence meant there was no experienced leader on set. Universal brought in Frank Marshall. Of course, Liman and Marshall did not get along. Additional reports surfaced that Marshall essentially took over the entire shoot. The film went well over budget, needed four different rounds of reshoots, and came out one year late.

    Damon later revealed in 2018 that Marshall essentially saved the franchise. "Had it not been for Frank, we never would have had a franchise," Damon said. "It would have been just one and done. Instead, it became a 15-year project for all of us."

    276 votes

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  • The Wizard of Oz is one of the most beloved family films in cinema history, yet the behind-the-scenes horror tales have become the stuff of Hollywood legend. Buddy Ebsen, who played the Tin Man, had to be rushed to the hospital after not being able to breathe one night. He remained in an oxygen tent for two weeks while recovering from the pure aluminum he had ingested into his lungs, a near-death experience resulting from his Tin Man makeup.

    Ebsen was not the only actor to be rushed to the hospital. Margaret Hamilton, who played the Wicked Witch of the West, literally caught on fire and was severely burned on parts of her face and hand during an effects stunt gone wrong. The actress spent several weeks in the hospital. Additionally, then-teen actress Judy Garland was given adrenaline shots to keep her awake, barbiturates to help her sleep, and diet pills to keep her skinny.

    Finally, the creative path down the Yellow Brick Road became a long and windy one. More than 10 different screenwriters were hired to regularly tinker with the script. One of the jobs of a director is to be the leader of a production; perhaps filming The Wizard of Oz turned out to be such a mess because five different directors came and went behind the camera?

    381 votes

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  • 6
    330 VOTES

    The production of Francis Ford Coppola's 1979 Vietnam epic was so tumultuous, it warranted its own documentary, Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse. There is a lot that could go wrong with filming a movie in the middle of the jungle - and go wrong it did.

    Marlon Brando showed up to set overweight and did not know his lines. In fact, the already over-budget, over-extended production needed to shut down for nine days while Coppola read the script out loud to Brando. Its main star, Martin Sheen, had a nervous breakdown and near-fatal heart attack. Sheen was so unstable during production that he reportedly threatened to take his own life three different times. The police also came around asking questions because there were actual dead bodies found on set. 

    Coppola put up several million dollars of his own money to finance the ballooning budget. In fact, if the movie failed at the box office, he would have gone bankrupt. The stress caused the director to have an epileptic seizure. Coppola later said of the production, "We had access to too much money and little by little we went insane."

    330 votes

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