Beefs with unions, endless delays, a famed director jumping ship, the bankruptcy filing of its studio, complaints from hardcore fans about the time-shifting casting of famous characters and, now, emergency surgery for its creative mastermind/director. Is “The Hobbit” the latest Hollywood epic to be plagued by the cinematic boogeyman?
There’s a long tradition of major pictures falling prey to an endless succession of bad luck, bizarre accidents and a seeming black cloud hanging over them. Peter Jackson’s two-part prequel to his billion-dollar “Lord of the Rings” franchise appears to be the latest entry in the club you never want to join. Production on the first film in the prequel pair was delayed this week when Jackson required emergency surgery for a perforated ulcer.
Thankfully, he’s resting now and is expected to make a full, fast recovery. But following the departure last year of director Guillermo del Toro and the myriad other issues that have hit the project, we wondered where “The Hobbit” fits in the pantheon of spooked flicks?
The path to the multiplex for Seth Rogen’s superhero movie was twistier than the plot of “Inception.” In addition to a parade of stars and directors who came and went beginning in the late 1990s, Rogen and writing partner Evan Goldberg finally got it revved up again in 2007, but then faced immediate backlash from fans who were worried about Rogen’s casting. Then there were multiple push backs on the release date, Nicholas Cage dropping out as the main villain over his insistence on using a Jamaican accent, and a last minute conversion to 3-D that forced the release date back again.
The 1994 adaptation of the comic book was thrown into chaos in March 1993 when lead actor Brandon Lee (son of Bruce Lee) was killed in a mishap involving a prop gun that was improperly loaded.
“Brazil/“Don Quixote”/Basically Everything Terry Gilliam Has Ever Done
Former Monty Python member Terry Gilliam has had a notoriously difficult career path, mostly because of the beastly problems he’s faced on a number of his shoots. The trippy "Brazil" was re-cut by the studio to dumb it down for American audiences, which set off a wild skirmish with Universal that cemented Gilliam's reputation as a creative stickler. He wrote a script for “Time Bandits 2” but couldn’t pull the trigger because several of the original actors had died. Yet it was 1992’s “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote” that really brought him low. After trouble finding financing, he lost lead actor Jean Rocherfort in week one of shooting to a herniated disc, had the set nearly wiped out by a flood and then lost the film to an insurance claim that dragged on for a decade. Gilliam also lost another lead actor, Heath Ledger, and was forced to finish “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus” with fill-in stars including Johnny Depp and Jude Law.
Perhaps one of the most legendarily problem-plagued movies of all time was Francis Ford Coppola’s 1979 Vietnam film. Nearly brought down by major cost overruns, endless shooting in the Philippines, a monsoon that destroyed much of the set and a heart attack suffered by Martin Sheen, the movie also struggled with an overweight Marlon Brando’s insistence on largely improvising his scenes. The chaos was so complete that it was chronicled in a 1991 documentary, “Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse,” directed by his wife, Eleanor.
The movie adaptation of the 1950s TV series co-produced by Steven Spielberg resulted in an infamous lawsuit stemming from the on-set death of actor Vic Morrow and two child actors who were killed in a helicopter accident. An investigation found that the accident was caused by a special effects explosion gone wrong.
The notorious Kevin Costner sci-fi fish tale flop was hit by repeated cost overruns that reportedly pushed the price tag past $170 million, as well as a hurricane that destroyed a multimillion-dollar set and a near death experience for Costner during a scene shot in the midst of a squall. At one point, Costner’s stunt double, professional surfer Laird Hamilton, became lost at sea when his jet ski ran out of fuel and he drifted for hours before being found.