Directors Who Were Fired During Production
On the surface, Hollywood seems really different from what it once was. There’s better technology, more opportunity, more studios, less restriction, and more freedom to do what the director wants. But, paired with these differences, one thing has and always will remain the same: the studio heads always get the final word. Since the beginning of film history, the executives in charge of producing the films have never hesitated to remove a problematic member of the crew. Believe it or not, that can sometimes include the director themselves.
Joshua Trank, Phil Lord & Chris Miller, and Colin Trevorrow
Since Disney purchased Lucasfilm and started to make new Star Wars films, there have been more than a few problems. Actor deaths, on-set injuries, and script problems have plagued many of these recent films, but no problem has been as common as the firing of a director. So far, Lucasfilm has fired three directors over the course of only five films. The only directors who have been safe from the chopping block have been J.J. Abrams and Rian Johnson. Joshua Trank was fired from an untitled Star Wars Story, Colin Trevorrow was fired from Episode IX, and Phil Lord and Chris Miller were both fired from Solo: A Star Wars Story.
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You could call Zack Snyder’s Justice League departure a firing, or you could choose to say he left on his own free will. Either way, he had to be replaced in the middle of production. Many have called for a so-called “Snyder Cut” ever since Joss Whedon’s take on the film was received with lukewarm reviews, but no such cut exists. Snyder departed the project before he would’ve had the chance to come up with enough footage for a cut of his own.
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Before he retired from (and eventually returned to) directing, Steven Soderbergh was well on his way to finishing the true story that is Moneyball starring Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, and the late Philip Seymour Hoffman. However, during production, Columbia Pictures dropped the film and director Bennett Miller took over the project.
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This problem of hiring-then-firing-then-rehiring directors is not a new problem. In fact, it happened all the way back during Gone with the Wind in 1939. After spending two years in pre-production on the film, director George Cukor was fired after three weeks of filming due to creative differences between himself and the producer David O. Selznick. He was replaced by Victor Flemming, who was then replaced by Sam Wood when Flemming became too exhausted. All three of the directors have material in the final film.
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Newcomer Alex Cox was set to direct the adaptation of Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, but things obviously didn’t turn out that way for him. Despite writing the script and assisting with casting for the film, he ultimately got into it with the film’s producer. This led to his script being dropped and the loss of his directing gig in exchange for a script and direction by Terry Gilliam.
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