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20 Movies That Were Extremely Difficult To Make

11 November 2013 | Features, Film Lists | by David Zou

difficult movies

The lavish lifestyles of Hollywood’s more famous actors and filmmakers may hint at a world of glamour and cash, but as this list proves, the process of actually putting a movie together is rarely a dignified process. What follows is a lengthy catalogue of ill-advised location choices, tantrums, dreadful acts of God, spiked bowls of soup, ruined studios, bruised egos, broken bones and shattered dreams.

For the prospective filmmaker, this article could be read as a cautionary tale of just how badly wrong a production can go. We suggest you pour yourself a strong drink before delving into the following accounts…


20. Popeye


The Movie: Robert Altman’s live action musical version of the spinach-popping sailor stories.

The Madness: Huge amounts of money were spent building the fictional seaside town of Sweethaven in Malta, which took 165 workers seven months to complete and required the additional construction of a 250-foot breakwater to prevent it from flooding at high tide.

Rumour has it the delay-struck production was all but bankrupt by the end of filming, which explains the dreadful special effects during a scene in which Popeye punches an octopus.


19. Aguirre: The Wrath of God


The Movie: Herzog’s twisted adventure about a conquistador searching for El Dorado in South America.

The Madness: Herzog clashed violently with his star Klaus Kinski over the portrayal of Aguirre. Like, really violently.

At one point Kinski fired a gun at a hut where members of the crew were playing cards, shooting the top off one extra’s finger, while Herzog once found Kinski attempting to escape the production by boat and threatened to shot him unless he returned.


18. Twilight Zone: The Movie


The Movie: A film version of the long-running TV freakout, made up of four individual stories.

The Madness: During the filming of John Landis’ segment, called Time Out, exploding special effects squibs caused a helicopter to crash on-set, decapitating star Vic Morrow and killing child actors Myca Dinh Le and Renee Shin-Yi Chen.

The horrific accident led to a change in the laws regarding the conditions surrounding child actors.


17. Town & Country


The Movie: A New York-set romantic comedy starring Warren Beatty and Diane Keaton.

The Madness: Beatty’s perfectionist streak meant what should have been a simple suburban charmer turned into a distended nightmare. Although not directing, Beatty demanded a huge number of takes, meaning the film was still shooting in April 1999, months after its scheduled end.

Keaton and co-star Garry Shandling left to do other films, before returning a full year later to film Town & Country’s ending. It was another year before it was ready for release, by which time the film had cost $90 million – of which it earned back just $10 million.

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  • APrince66

    Jaws had a crazy myriad of issues while being made too

  • Anthony Solis

    i don’t see how they missed Blade Runner.

  • Adam

    You are wrong on how brandon lee died.

    They were supposed to use dummy rounds for the first shot. Dummy rounds have no primer or powder, just the casing and bullet. FX guys made their own by dumping the oowder from live ammo, but left the primer intact. The primer forced the buller into the barrel, but wasn’t enough to propel it out the other end.

    The next scene called for the use of blanks. A blank is a cardridge with a primer and powder, but no bullet. Normally safe to use, but nobody checked the gun, and the bullet from the prior scene was still lodged in the barrel. The blank then fired the bullet out of the gun and into Brandon.

  • Pingback: Behind The Scenes Musing: 6 Movies That Were Nightmares to Make | The Drunken Musings

  • steve button

    How you can’t have “Jaws” on that list is unbelievable…

    • Leon Horka

      Because that’s an easy blockbuster, and the title is “extremely difficult to make”.

  • Robert Beveridge

    I would kill to see that five and a half hour cut of Heaven’s Gate. That it is a brilliant film is recognized in pretty much every country in the world but America. The four-hour cut is incredible.

  • william jerome sperber

    You could add almost each and every Pialat movies. On the set of his 3rd film, Mouth agape, the actress had to be placed inside her casket. People turn the screws and then life goes on, just like, you know, life. Except for the fact the actress was still locked inside her casket.
    You think people learn sometimes? Nope. Twenty years later Claude Davy’s played the dying father in Le Garçu. Scene goes on, Depardieu kisses his father, scene ends and… no one tells Claude Davy the scene is over. So he is unable to breathe normally for a long time.

  • Dead.Juice

    Bjork became so traumatized that she ate her cardigan? That doesn’t even make sense, Bjork is just crazy. (I like her music, but she is nuts)
    Also, the Super Mario Bros movie would have been perfect for an earlier entry. Read up on it sometimes.

  • Tommaso Masetti

    you forget “Blade Runner”…