5 Directors Who Were Scandalously Fired Mid Filming

5 Directors Who Were Scandalously Fired Mid Filming
Image credit: Legion-Media

Even directors can be fired.

Filmmaking is rarely smooth and trouble-free, but it can become even more difficult when you have to change directors along the way.

Such a serious change is sure to destroy the complex balance of the filmmaking process, and the end result may not be what the filmmakers expect.

Bryan Singer, Bohemian Rhapsody

There are different versions of why Bryan Singer was fired.

Fox attributed it to Singer's "unexpected unavailability," while some sources suggested that actor Rami Malek found him unprofessional. Singer himself claimed that Fox denied him time to care for a sick family member.

Dexter Fletcher stepped in to finish the movie, but Singer was still credited as the director for almost the entire production, as he left with only three weeks left in shooting.

Anthony Mann, Spartacus

Before Stanley Kubrick joined what would become a cult film, Anthony Mann directed the first three weeks of shooting. Much of his departure was due to star Kirk Douglas.

After only one week of shooting, Kirk and Anthony had a serious disagreement, and it was Kirk who made the most of Mann's dismissal, saying that he was afraid of the scope of the picture.

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Richard Stanley, The Island of Dr. Moreau

This movie is probably better known for what happened off-screen than what happened on-screen.

The selfish behavior of stars Marlon Brando and Val Kilmer led to chaos throughout the production, resulting in director Richard Stanley being fired after only three days.

He was replaced by John Frankenheimer, who tried (unsuccessfully) to rectify the situation, but remained in the director's chair. The movie received an award after its premiere – the Golden Raspberry.

George Cukor, Gone With The Wind

Despite being one of the most successful and critically acclaimed movies of the 20th century, the production of this rather controversial classic was a total mess.

Gone With The Wind had as many as 5 directors and 15 writers. Producer David O. Selznick stayed up at night hiring, firing, ordering rewrites, and literally creating chaos in the making of the movie.

The biggest firing was the departure of director George Cukor due to creative differences. Selznick hired director Victor Fleming to direct the movie and fired Cukor midway through filming. This occurred 4 more times.

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Dick Richards, Jaws

There wasn't technically a change during production, but the reason we got Jaws from Steven Spielberg is in large part because original director Dick Richards kept referring to the shark as a whale.

Producer Richard D. Zanuck told a frankly ridiculous story about how a lunch with Richards convinced him to change the director:

"Richards […] says, 'Now, this is wonderful to have this small town terrified by this whale.' […] He said, 'Then when the whale attacks the boat…' […] We called […] and said, 'Everything went great, but we want to get rid of the director because he thinks it's a whale!'"

Source: Death by Films