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When Directors Explain Their Unpopular Movies


Hindsight is a beautiful and soul-destroying thing. The ability to look back on something you did, which seemed like a good idea at the time, but has since been commonly viewed as a potentially irrevocable mis-step can be bittersweet.

Directors are given plenty of opportunities for this. Their less acclaimed work is out there to be watched, rubbished and laughed at, with nowhere to hide.

We've assembled a collection of directors talking about films they've made which failed to ignite, ranging from regret to, ahem, total denial.


Fantastic Four

Josh Trank - Fantastic Four (2015)

"A year ago I had a fantastic version of this. And it would have received great reviews. You'll probably never see it. That's reality though."


Neill Blomkamp - Elysium

Speaking to UpRoxx, Blomkamp says, "I feel like I f*cked it up. I feel like, ultimately, the story is not the right story. I still think the satirical idea of a ring, filled with rich people, hovering above the impoverished Earth, is an awesome idea. I love it so much, I almost want to go back and do it correctly." 

The Wicker Man

Neil LaBute - The Wicker Man

"...it’s a movie that was supposed to be way out there. So it’s one of those things where you take a swing at the fence and go, “Here’s something interesting and crazy.” You can’t look at that without knowing you’re going on an adventure, and wondering, Is this gonna work or not? And I had a great time making it, I would work on it again in a heartbeat. 


Paul Verhoeven - Showgirls

"I said, "In 20 years, it might be different." But that didn't help for the coming years. Ultimately, at that time, they were shocked, of course, to a certain degree. They were also a bit pissed off, I think, that it was so overly sexual and so much nudity-oriented."

Batman & Robin

Joel Schumacher - Batman & Robin

"I was the problem with Batman & Robin. I did my job. But I never got my ass in the seat right I just hope whenever I see a list of the worst movies ever made, we’re not on it. I didn’t do a good job. George did. Chris [O’Donnell] did. Uma [Thurman] is brilliant in it. Arnold is Arnold".

Spider-Man 3

Sam Raimi - Spider-Man 3

"They really gave me a tremendous amount of control on the first two films, actually. But then there were different opinions on the third film and I didn't really have creative control, so to speak."

Southland Tales

Richard Kelly - Southland Tales

"It was too much. It was just... it was too much...but boy, am I proud of what we pulled off. To an extent, I see it as an unfinished film."

Transformers 2

Michael Bay - Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen

"We made some mistakes. The real fault... is that it ran into a mystical world. When I look back at it, that was crap. The writers’ strike was coming hard and fast. It was just terrible to do a movie where you’ve got to have a story in three weeks."

Speed 2

Jan De Bont - Speed 2: Cruise Control

"The reality is the studio wanted to make the movie and I had a deal with them and I felt like they had given me a chance to make the first one, so I felt obliged, almost, to do that as well. But the moment Keanu wasn't going to be in the movie, I started getting very worried. It should have been a much smaller concept. There was also no chemistry between the two leads. That was clear. There's a lot of movies made that should never have been made, or at least for a much lower budget, that's for sure. And that was maybe the mistake. But it still has good scenes. It's not a total loss."


Swept Away

Guy Ritchie - Swept Away

"The thing was it was a very low-budget film, and it was designed as a very small thing - but there's no such thing when she's involved. So... I just don't accept that's a bad film. It's exactly the film I intended to make. It's supposed to be ironic, and the most politically incorrect film of its period. But the irony was lost by the enormity of her fame, I suppose.'

Movie 43

Peter Farrelly - Movie 43

“To the critics - Movie 43 is not the end of the world. It's just a $6 million movie where we tried to do something different. Now back off. You always complain that Hollywood never gives you new stuff, and then when you get it, you flip out. Lighten up.”


Peter Berg - Battleship

"Obviously, it's a big movie and I have a lot of different feelings. All and all, I am proud of the film. I wish it had performed better at the domestic box office. It didn't. And I've moved on. There's a lot about that film that I'm quite proud of."


 Oliver Stone - Alexander

 "Alexander was a winner... pity the film wasn't. Alexander never lost a battle in his life. And I have let him down. He was a fighter, the sort of man who would have gone after Osama Bin Laden and never given up. But I didn't see this coming, this utter trashing of the movie. I should have. The criticism has been ball-breaking. I was devastated, Colin Farrell was devastated. The audiences, they didn't know the story, and they were confused by it. I did that wrong. That was my fault."


Battlefield Earth

Roger Christian - Battlefield Earth

"So, the irony is - and this is the thing that never came out in the press - the film is actually profitable. That's part of our business, for the producers. So, in my terms, it's not deemed as a failure at all. Some films get it to an audience, some films don't. A lot of people hated it. That's their right anyway. It's not your usual type of movie."

Terminatior: Salvation

McG - Terminator: Salvation

"I think the film missed some of the fun that Jim [Cameron] brought to the early pictures. We wanted to be very, very nose to the grindstone and really establish credibility and it worked in many ways and it was unsuccessful in other ways...there were plenty of people who kicked us in the ass over it. But the film will end up doing about $400 million and internationally it was very well received – better than it was here in the States."

The Postman

Kevin Costner - The Postman

"Well, I always thought it was a really good movie! I always thought I probably started it wrong. I should have said something like ‘Once upon a time.’ Because it was just like a modern-day fairy tale - it wraps itself up with a storybook ending with the statue. You know, I thought it was a pretty funny movie set against the idea of a Superman, somebody stepping up. But in this case, it’s a very humble guy whose nothing but a liar - delivers mail and burns half of it just to stay alive. So, I like the movie."

(Images: All Star)



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