6. Richard Donner (Superman II)
Replaced by: Richard Lester
Initially, Superman II was meant to be shot back-to-back with the first Superman, but production was halted to let Richard Donner focus on preparing Superman for a December release. Once that film was done, the studio replaced Donner with Richard Lester, who acted as a line producer on the first film. The exact reasons for the replacement is not clear.
The decision caused many cast and crew members decide not the return, including Gene Hackman, Marlon Brando, editor Stuart Baird and creative consultant Tom Mankiewicz. Richard Lester officially began directing on June 1st, 1979. Eventually, ‘The Richard Donner Cut’, which incorporates some of Donner’s footage and other changes, was released to overall praise in 2006.
7. Paul Schrader (Exorcist: The Beginning)
Replaced by: Renny Harlin
Director Paul Schrader’s vision for an Exorcist prequel was for it to be a psychological thriller, without any of the excessive gore or torture porn. He presented his fincal cut to the producers, who were so frustrated with what they saw that they fired Schrader immediately and hired Renny Harlin (A Nightmare on Elm Street 4, Die Hard 2, Cliffhanger, Deep Blue Sea) and screenwriter Alexi Hawley to change the film.
Harlin re-shot most-scenes with more gore and commerciality, and changed the intended aspect ratio 2.00:1 to 2.39:1. Schrader’s original version was released under the title Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist a year later, to slightly better reviews than Harlin’s film.
8. Josh Trank (Fantastic Four)
Replaced by: Unknown
One day before his movie was released, the director of the Fantastic Four reboot Josh Trank took to Twitter and sent out the following tweet: “A year ago I had a fantastic version of this. And it would’ve received great reviews. You’ll probably never see it. That’s reality though.” This prompted a blaming game to start, and also led reporters and fans alike wanting to know what the heck happened on the set. No matter what actually occurred and whose fault it is, one thing is for certain: Josh Trank was pushed out of the way as director and his vision was sabotaged.
Some sources claim that Trank acted irresponsibly on set, and his erratic behaviour caused 20th Century Fox to disregard his opinions. Apparently Trank was often drunk, showed up late to set, and caused property damage that Fox had to pay for. Producers Hutch Parker and Simon Kinberg re-wrote the script during production, and altered the ending that Trank wanted.
Other sources also claim that other executives from the studio, with no directing experience at all, came to set to oversee the re-shoots and overrode Trank’s decisions. Fantastic Four was released on August 7th, 2015 to almost universally damning reviews, causing all plans for a sequel to be cancelled.
9. Phil Lord & Chris Miller (Solo: A Star Wars Story)
Replaced by: Ron Howard
On June 20th, 2017, directing duo Phil Lord & Chris Miller (The Lego Movie, 21 Jump Street) and Lucasfilm announced that they were parting ways with only weeks left of principal photography on their then untitled Han Solo film, citing “creative differences.”
It was then reported that the rift between the directors and producer Kathleen Kennedy and writer Lawrence Kasdan was bigger than they made it out to be. Lucasfilm wanted a comedic touch to Star Wars while Lord & Miller were shooting an all out comedy, with Han Solo behaving like ‘Ace Ventura in space’. The directors also refused to stick to Lawrence’s script and wasn’t willing to film the amount of coverage for each scene Lucasfilm wanted.
Days later, it was made public that veteran director Ron Howard would replace Lord & Miller, finishing principal photography, reshoots and post-production. Actor Michael K. Williams was replaced by Paul Bettany due to a scheduling conflict, and editor Chris Dickens was kicked in favour of Pietro Scalia (Ridley Scott’s regular collaborator). Ron Howard reviewed the footage, got to work and apparently reshot a lot more footage than originally planned. At the point of this article’s writing, it is still not clear how the Directors Guild of America will credit the film. Solo: A Star Wars Story will be released on May 25th, 2018.
10. Bryan Singer (Bohemian Rhapsody)
Replaced by: Dexter Fletcher
This biographical drama about the band Queen went into production in 2016 after being in development since 2010 and began shooting in July 2017. Rumours floated around the internet regarding the production saying that actor Rami Malek, who plays Freddie Mercury, was clashing with director Bryan Singer (The Usual Suspects, Jack the Giant Slayer, Valkyrie).
On December 1st, 2017, The Hollywood Reporter published an article stating that 20th Century Fox has temporarily halted the production of Bohemian Rhapsody because of Bryan Singer’s “unexpected unavailability.”
Singer’s representative put out a statement explaining that his absence was due to a family health matter, but other reports say that Singer’s behaviour on set was unprofessional and deserving of being fired. Which is exactly what happened days later. Along with arguing with star Rami Malek constantly, Singer would just not show up on set for extended periods of time with no explanation, leaving the crew in disarray and at times needing cinematographer Newton Thomas Sigel to step in and spontaneously direct.
Apparently, Singer did not return to set after Thanksgiving break. This time of behaviour was also noted during the productions of his films Superman Returns and X-Men: Apocalypse as well. Bohemian Rhapsody resumed filming on December 15th, 2017 with Eddie the Eagle director Dexter Fletcher taking over. There are currently no indications on who will be credited. The film will be released on December 25th, 2018.
Author Bio: Kevin Ding is a young film student in Brisbane who has had experience with writing, cinematography and directing of short films. He has an interest in film criticism, and aspires one day to work in the film industry professionally.