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Director walk-outs and dirty disputes

director quitsRecent reports in the US surrounding the cancelling of a new Hillary Clinton documentary for CNN suggests the director Charles H. Ferguson abandoned the project due to clashes with Clinton aides.

It’s a story all too familiar in Hollywood - directors walking off a project or throwing their toys out of the pram - whether it’s due to artistic differences, a clash with studio bosses, or the simple fact their latte didn't have enough sugar (take note all runners out there).

Here are just some of the most talked about director conflicts and walk-outs in movie history…

Paul Greengrass: The Bourne Legacy

With two Bourne films under his belt, Paul Greengrass was due to be at the helm of the fourth instalment with Matt Damon on board, when he left the project due to "feeling the need for a different challenge". However reports suggested that the British director departed because a writer was hired without his approval. After his exit, it wasn’t long before Damon also left the project, leaving Jeremy Renner to take up the role of the beleaguered assassin with Tony Gilroy in the director’s chair.

Tony Kaye: American History X

Kaye locked horns with studio producer New Line Cinema and the film’s star, Edward Norton over artistic differences. As a result, Kaye reportedly spent $100,000 of his own money to take out full page adverts in the Hollywood trade press criticising the studio and Norton. To try and settle the differences, Kaye had a meeting with the studio and brought along a Catholic priest, a rabbi and a Tibetan monk (no, we didn’t just make that up). This didn’t solve matters and Kaye disowned the film, leaving the studio to release their own cut.

Lynne Ramsay: Jane Got a Gun

There was tension in New Mexico in March 2013 when Lynne Ramsay (We Need to Talk About Kevin) failed to show up on the first day of filming for western Jane Got a Gun, starring Natalie Portman. Rumours suggested the director left the project due to disagreements with Portman (also a producer on the film) and conflicts with producer Scott Steindorff over delays and control of the final edit. Warrior director Gavin O’Connor stepped in to save the project. But it wasn’t just Ramsay that walked – Jude Law also left the movie, reportedly due to Ramsay’s abrupt exit. 

Richard Donner: Superman II

In my humble opinion Superman: The Movie (1978) is the greatest comic book adaptation ever to make it to the silver screen. Directed by Richard Donner (Dick Donner in Hollywood circles), the film was an instant hit with audiences. Donner pulled the job off, making you believe a man could really fly. So why then did the director get fired from the film’s sequel, Superman II, mid-way through filming? Well apparently Donner was sacked due to his disapproval of producers (Alexander and Ilya Salkind) wanting to make the film more camp. Richard Lester took over in the director’s chair.

Marc Forster: World War Z

Didn’t it seem like production on this movie went on forever? Well, it pretty much did, with constant re-shoots, budget overruns, and reports of friction between the film’s director Marc Forster and star/producer Brad Pitt. Rumours suggested that at one point during production the two of them stopped talking altogether and communication had to be relayed through an intermediary. The film’s release date was pushed back six months and a new writer, Damon Lindelof (Prometheus) was hired to work on the film’s third act. The controversy didn’t do the film any harm however – it remains one of 2013’s biggest hits.



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