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"We were in the jungle, there were too many of us, we had access to too much money, too much equipment, and little by little we went insane."
Francis Ford Coppola, Hearts of Darkness (a documentary about the production of Apocalypse Now)
"People question me, like you're questioning me now, say 'Must've been fun making The Wizard of Oz.' It was not fun. Like hell it was fun. It was a lot of hard work. It was not fun at all."
Jack Haley

Say for example that you're an actor, and there's this part you're interested in. You audition for it and you receive it. You're obviously happy about it and can't wait for the movie's production to start since you come in later.

Then you show up and you see the set's horrible, the special effects are laughably stupid, the director's a Prima Donna Director, all the other actors are arguing with each other and despite only filming for a week, you're two months behind schedule.

Congratulations, your production has gone completely Off the Rails.

Far be it from us to suggest that producing a movie, an album, a TV series or the like are easy, simple processes, but most of the time they're relatively straightforward. Then there are these productions. The ones where it don't ever go smooth, where everybody slams headfirst into Finagle's Law. The expensive sets break down. The Small Name Big Egos end up quarreling with each other. The director's in way over his head. The Record Producer's Phil Spector. What unites them all is that it's gonna be a hellish experience.

These sort of productions tend to range from complete disasters to the slightly more benign ones, but what they always have in common is frayed tempers, patience, screw-ups, delays and breakdowns. Reality Subtext may happen too. Both Protection From Editors and Executive Meddling can exacerbate this phenomenon. Epic Movies are particularly vulnerable to this. This trope always applies to small or start-up studios, due to how little experience the show runners or head businessmen have in running a new one.

Troubled Productions frequently will end up resulting in bloated, overindulgent disasters that become the laughingstock of public imagination, or something really, really awesome. In the former case the completely out-of-control production can serve as an explanation for why said work turned out like it is. And the latter just tends to make people admire the creators even more — hey, look, they went through all this bullshit that would make a normal dude probably give up and still created something great! In some cases, the insanity behind it might actually contribute to the quality of the finished product, in one way or another. It's exceedingly rare for a troubled production to result in a So Okay It's Average product.

A few of those overlap with, and may often lead to, Development Hell and Vaporware, which is having trouble on starting the project. Others enter The Shelf of Movie Languishment after being finished. When concerning the music industry this can overlap with Music Is Politics, where the politics of the industry leads to this trope.

See also Movie Making Mess, the smaller-scale, amateur version of this.

As mentioned, a lot of the examples here tend to be famous for their quality, good or bad.

Examples of Troubled Production include:

Real Life

Anime & Manga

  • Osamu Tezuka was a victim of this trope more than once. ie., in 1977 Tezuka was supposed to create a full-color Astro Boy series... but by that time he and his animation studio (Mushi Productions) were bankrupted and Tezuka had lost the copyright to Astro Boy... but had a contractual obligation with Toei Animation for a new AB anime; so he had to rework on what he had already planned to make Jetter Mars and get himself out of the whole mess. He could only make a new Astro Boy in 1983, after fully securing the rights to his own story.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion. Creator Breakdown and severe depression on behalf of Hideaki Anno, Gainax's shifty accounting practices ending in their CEO being arrested for tax fraud, sponsors pulling out in droves once the show dove off the deep end, a whole subplot being rewritten and taken out because of unfortunate coincidences with the 1995 Tokyo Subway terrorist attacks... Yeah, it's amazing that they even managed to finish that show, even with all the budget-saving Limited Animation at the end. Do we have another candidate for the Apocalypse Now of anime?
  • Code Geass for its first season. Reportedly, Sunrise was wary of trusting a full series to director/co-creator Goro Taniguchi, thanks to his reputation for perfectionism and his other quirks, so he was only handed 25 episodes to begin with. The staff often had to piggyback off of other parts of the studio that were working at the same time (for example, the Geass staff didn't even have their own photocopier) and the writers were only three or four episodes ahead of the broadcast, about half the "buffer" that most series have. When the series became a runaway success, things went much better, but fans tend to blame the series' being split in half for the perceived drop in quality in the second half.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny is an example of this, partly because of head writer Chiaki Morosawa's battle with cancer during production, which resulted in her turning her scripts in late, and thus, necessitating the numerous clip shows throughout the series. Also, although Shinn was supposed to the main character of the series, Kira was thrust back into the spotlight from episode 39 onwards, because of his popularity with the Japanese audience. Finally, there was director Mitsuo Fukuda being demanding on the voice actors on the way how they're supposed to to be portrayed (specifically, Naomi Shindo [Cagalli] and Maaya Sakamoto [Lunamaria]). This was confirmed by Rie Tanaka (Lacus and Meer) at her 2008 New York Anime Festival appearance, as well as Kenichi Suzumura (Shinn) in one of his Twitter posts.
    • Of course, the very first Mobile Suit Gundam show's production was no picnic, either (as is chronicled in the tongue-in-cheek "Making Of" series Gundam Sousei). Then came Zeta Gundam, which suffered fewer financial hardships than the original, but both the TV series and the Compilation Movies rather infamously suffered complications as a result of romantic blunders between productors and voice actresses. ie, when Yukana obtained the role of Four Murasame in the movies even when her original seiyuu was still active in these days, it was strongly rumored that she pulled Casting Couch since she was said to have been involved with the sound director Sadayoshi Fujino, whose ex wife Kayoko Fujii played Rosamia Badam in the original series. As a result, Yukana was heavily bullied by JPN Gundam "fans" and had to close her blog for a while.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica: The series had just aired its 10th episode when the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami hit Japan. Most shows held back a week out of courtesy, but while most shows were returned the following week, Madoka Magica wasn't. Despite using the time to polish up the final two episodes, the channel that had first air rights to the series refused to air it for nearly two months before relenting and airing the last two back to back.
  • The Dream Machine the final movie of the late Satoshi Kon has experienced its share of trouble, having gone from production into Development Hell, back into production only to fall back into development hell. First Kon's death from pancreatic cancer put the film on hold to determine the next course of action. Kon's widow and Studio Madhouse's Masao Maruyama told they would finish the film and production resumed. However at Otakon 2011 Maruyama reported the movie has been put on hold due to financial difficulties. Maruyama is still determined to finish the film eventually with about 600 shots out of 1500 had been animated at that point.
  • For a long time, Mahou Sensei Negima looked like a happy subversion. Ken Akamatsu wanted to do a shounen-action series from the start, but his producers wanted a harem show like his extremely popular Love Hina series. Akamatsu faked a harem series, using the first two volumes to lay down characterization, then slowly segue into the fighter series he wanted from the start. This resulted in an extremely intelligent and popular series known for its Amazon Brigade and ridiculously badass ten-year old protagonist. However, some three hundred chapters later, the executives tried to take the rights to the series away from him. He responded by ending the series abruptly, with a carefully crafted final chapter that managed use the Where Are They Now? Epilogue to make sure no one else could use his series. He eventually returned with UQ Holder!, set several generations after the Negima series itself.
  • As detailed in Creative Differences, the production of the first Fruits Basket anime was pretty rocky. Natsuki Takaya, the author of the manga, was able to have quite the role on it since she had to take a forced hiatus due to breaking her drawing hand, and basically she and the director Akitaro Daichi butted heads on every single issue they could disagree about. i.e., Takaya pushed for a well-known seiyuu cast, which Daichi disagreed with since he'd rather use new talents. This got to the point that, once the anime was over, Daichi pretty much said that he'd never work in any adaptations of Takaya's works and Takaya kept quiet over the series itself, leading to an almost eighteen years old gap between the first TV series ands the second one, directed by Yoshihide Ibata (instead of Daichi) and produced by TBS (and not Studio DEEN).

Comic Books

  • David Herbert apparently attracts this kind of production with all his works except Living With Insanity. Tnemrot was supposed to be a print comic and was written in late 2008, going through seven artists before Tatiana Lepikhina joined and is now a webcomic. Gemini Storm was also written at the same time, came out in March 2010 and the second issue is still expected to take another month or two before being released. He has also mentioned other projects that haven't gone anywhere due to artists dropping out or simply disappearing.
  • The Clone Saga.
  • The popular crossover between the Justice League of America and The Avengers languished for 20 years because DC Comics and Marvel Comics couldn't decide on who would win in a fight.
  • Anything that isn't part of the mainstream Marvel Comics tends to suffer from this. One of the more documented ones was The New Universe. Touted as "The World Outside Your Window", the franchise fell apart from the beginning — writers tossed in 616-type elements (aliens, powered armors, etc.), financial backers pulled out before it even started, and people were too engrossed by that slogan. Despite canceling half of the franchise and starting a massive storyline that started with the destruction of Pittsburgh, it never got off its feet and died nearly three years later.
    • newuniversal suffered an equally crushing blow when the files on Warren Ellis' laptop were lost when his hard drive failed. Marvel shuffled him on to other projects and newuniversal died an inglorious death.
    • Marvel 2099, the revisioning of the Marvel Universe as a Cyberpunk dystopia, wasn't the greatest, but when Marvel let go its editor-in-chief for that line as a cost-cutting measure thanks to its near-bankruptcy, many creators bailed, leaving the series to limp to its end.
  • The Image Comics/Valiant Comics crossover Death Mate. So much that it served as a Creator Killer for Valiant.
  • And while we're on that subject, anything done by Rob Liefeld, a master of the Schedule Slip.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog always had a problem when it came to converting video game storylines into its more serious setting. However, two of the biggest screw ups came about via Sonic Adventure and Sonic Adventure 2. For Sonic Adventure, Sega gave Archie a copy of the game... untranslated, so they had to fudge a lot of the story. The original plan was to have the storyline run through then-all three titles — Sonic the Hedgehog, Knuckles the Echidna and Sonic Super Special. However, just before the storyline started, the Knuckles comic got cancelled, forcing Archie to cram all of the Knuckles stories into the Sonic issues as back stories.
    • For Sonic Adventure 2's story, the big problem was that Sega was insistent on Archie creating a tie-in into the game. Archie's solution? Just do enough to whet people's appetite and go get the game. Still was enough to ruin a side-by-side storyline that had a cosmicly-powered Knuckles altering Mobius drastically.
      • Up until Sonic Genesis, most other adaptation storylines would end up just being teasers with Archie Comics practically saying "Game X happened after this story.".

Fan Works

  • Unwilling Service, a Pokemon fanfic series currently spanning three simultaneous fics, barely managed to see four chapters between 2011-14 before author Economy (formerly McKnight and then SeaRover1986) declared it dead. He revived it in May 2016, to take his focus off of another project that wasn't going anywhere, but while he managed to put out a chapter for each of the three fics in quick succession, his beta-writer, Helder Luis Baruffi, encountered one problem after another, especially in light of a burglary in October that year, which required him to move back in with his family and endure a hectic lifestyle. Economy continued to hold out on him until he caved in and revealed how he really felt about the story. Things didn't fare much better when the author took to Upwork, and the resulting frustration led to increasing animosity between him and Helder, whom he had also been friends with for over a decade; most people who proposed to take it up either failed to understand what he expected of them (even after getting Helder to summarize what he did before), went silent, had to back out, or lost interest by the time he got back to them after putting them on hold in favor of those before them. This spanned three attempts before he pulled the plug early in last said attempt and even wrote something on his blog that he retracted upon being called out, but which still led their friendship into a bitter multi-month decline. Even the two and only freelancers who actually did follow through with a chapter or so eventually stopped responding to his messages, leading him to Freelancer instead when he posted the project one last time on Upwork, contacted multiple other Freelancers recommended to him, and had the project taken down for content violations. At this point, Economy has already decided just to commission outright for an initial draft of the whole story instead. (And that wasn't a decision he made lightly; originally, he planned for the project to be some kind of personal game for himself, especially regarding his plans for the Pal Park and both of the Battle Frontiers, having once loved the actual games but since realizing one thing after another about them that rubbed him the wrong way.)
    • Jamie (now Jimmy) having muscles sparked a major dispute towards the end of 2012. Economy asked Helder at least three times not to buff him up, which he ignored as he proceeded just to do things his way and then tell him to redo the relevant scenes himself. He did redo some of them after being called out for his disobedience, but not before justifying himself first and arguing with him, and even then, there were still some things left that only muscles could explain (which he only managed to get rid of years later by having someone else do the whole chapter over). Eventually, this was one of the few things he cited when asked multiple times to cite what he came to hate about the story itself.
    • There is also the issue of the PokeWalker, one of Economy's favorite aspects of a pair of games that Helder very outright hates to this day.
    • As for the two authors' relationship, it's been dead in the water since February 2018. While Helder's bailout marked the beginning of the end between them, actual tensions began when Economy stated a refusal to help him with any of his fanfiction until he deliver a make-up assignment of some sort. It was not long after that Economy got some answers out of Helder regarding what he actually hated about the story, but even when he offered concessions on two such aspects, things went nowhere from there in terms of winning him back, which led Economy to believe that he just wanted to be catered to and to do whatever he'd damn well please and was now being a poor sport over not having had his way through and through to begin with. Soon thereafter, Economy offered Helder a break from it all, but then impulsively demanded more answers about the situation, going on to tell him on his blog to go fuck himself when he thought he was ignoring him, before he revealed he was actually on a family trip and decided right then and there that that was it. Starting with a botched apology in response, things went on and off for months, and seemed to take a better turn for their friendship itself when Economy offered at least not to talk about his fetishes, before deciding to let more time go by before he'd express his actual issues outside of but related to Helder's departure. Only a month went by as Economy proceeded to elaborate in a WordPad file meant for much later on, before he broke down and expressed the toll such a thing was taking on his mental health, at which point Helder urged him, more out of guilt and despair than frustration, just to forget about him altogether.

--->What I wanted to make sense of, was why he requested all kinds of stuff to make happen in Unwilling Service if he actually hated it so much. He wanted Mewtwo to Mega Evolve a certain way (can't remember between his X or Y forms), he wanted Dawn to try being a nudist like the protagonists and to participate in the Pal Park, he wanted Jamie to be naked upon meeting each of the Pokemon Idols, and even when he admitted his lack of interest in gym quests, he still went on to suggest ways to make it more interesting, asked to see my first entry about the story, requested a trial run of the Pal Park, and asked that each of the mains have a rival to compete against for that event. All of that, on top of requesting that I go through my blog to tag each entry where I talked about Pokemon, mentioning someone who found the premise amusing, sharing certain things with me like that tabletop game and something about parallel universes, and before I previously abandoned it, asking me to find it within me to care about it again. He even said yes when I asked if he'd ever be interested in a hypothetical visual adaptation of some sort. That's what I mean when I talk about any interest he displayed up until telling me he can't do it anymore, not just because of his lifestyle, but because he couldn't stand all the halfway measures we had to make. Can you say, "two-faced hypocrisy?"


  • Jaws. Richard Dreyfuss basically summed it up as follows: "We started the film without a script, without a cast and without a shark." The full model mechanical shark sank to the bottom of the ocean on its first day, forcing a team of divers to retrieve it, and all three models frequently malfunctioned due to exposure to salt water. Add to that the occasionally soaked cameras, ruined takes because unwanted sailboats drifted into frame, and that one time the ship began sinking with the actors aboard. While these disasters did force Steven Spielberg to be creative and contributed to the film's success (famously, he only hinted at the shark's presence for most of the film), Jaws still wound up $5 million over budget (that was a lot back in 1974) and behind schedule — what was initially meant to be a 55-day shoot ended up at 159 days. Spielberg even thought he would never work again because of how screwed the thing was!
  • Star Wars:
    • A New Hope. They had the bad luck of starting filming in the Tunisian desert just as it rained. The props and equipment had their obligatory malfunctions and breakdowns. The crew didn't really care about or understand the movie. Lucas clashed with cinematographer Gilbert Taylor and the movie ended up so badly behind schedule the crew had to split into three units and meet deadlines or else face shutdown. Post-production fared little better despite a delayed release date, as Lucas had to call in two editors (including his then-wife, Marcia Lucas) to salvage the movie after his first cut was a complete disaster and ILM was forced to complete a year's work in six months. And did we mention how ILM initially spent half their budget on four shots that turned out to be completely worthless? When the studio asked for a teaser trailer, this was basically slammed together from the footage available at the time.
    • The Empire Strikes Back, while less brutal, did run into troubles too. New director Irvin Kershner spent a lot more time for takes, which had the film lag behind and producer Gary Kurtz allowed production to go way over budget (triple that of the original in fact). Lucas wanted to keep the film out of any studios hands and financed it himself, but he was forced to take out a loan with 20th Century Fox as his security. The crew arrived in Norway to film the Hoth scenes to be greeted by the worst winter storm in years. And the various locations used, knowing it was a Star Wars film, overcharged the production for their services. This was the reason Kurtz was changed for Return of the Jedi which had the least angsty production of all the original movies, in fact.
    • It can be inferred (and George Lucas has suggested it) that the difficulty with making the movies largely explains his affinity towards Special Editions and ReCuts of his films, as well as his disposition to filming with blue screens. Sound stage work generally makes it easier to control the variables. Also Lucas, despite being one of the most financially successful men in entertainment, finances his movies on his own money and bank loans ever since Empire and it is a big gamble every time.
    • The Rise of Skywalker did not have the smoothest journey from paper to screen. The first bump in the road was the tragic death of Carrie Fisher which shelved the plans for Episode IX to focus on Leia. Then the original director Colin Trevorrow parted ways with Lucasfilm, citing Creative Differences which later sources suggested were down to on set arguments, only months before filming was set to begin. With Rian Johnson unwilling to stay on after The Last Jedi, J.J. Abrams, director of The Force Awakens, was called back in to hastily rewrite Trevorrow's script. Given enough time, the situation might not have been so bad but upper management was so insistent that the film be released by December 2019 that the film; in terms of writing, filming and post-production; was heavily rushed through. Something of a minor miracle that a finished film even made it to cinemas.
  • Before the Star Wars films, George Lucas already had troubled production experience after American Graffiti — although the shoot finished on time and on budget, it was no small miracle that it managed to do so:
    • The day before shooting was due to begin, a key crew member was arrested for growing marijuana, and setting the cameras up for location shooting on the first day took so long that they did not start shooting until 2am, putting them half a night behind before a single scene had been shot.
    • After a single night of outdoor filming in San Rafael, the city revoked their filming permit after a local bar owner complained that the road closures were costing him business, forcing them to move filming twenty miles away to Petaluma. On the second night, a local restaurant caught fire, and the noise of the fire engine sirens and the resulting traffic jams made filming impossible.
    • Inevitably for a film featuring so many driving scenes, the cars and equipment required to film them in motion seldom behaved as planned. An assistant cameraman was run over after he fell off the back of the camera truck during filming of a road scene, while filming of the climactic drag race was hampered when one of the cars broke an axle, then broke the replacement axle, and then nearly ran over two cameramen lying in the road to film its approach.
    • Among non-technical problems, Paul LeMat (who played John Milner) had to be rushed to hospital after suffering a walnut allergy flare-up, and Richard Dreyfuss had his forehead gashed after LeMat threw him into a swimming pool the day before his closeups were to be filmed.
    • And when the film was screened for a test audience, Universal Studios representative Ned Tanen told Lucas the film was unreleaseable, prompting an outraged Francis Ford Coppola (the film's producer) to offer to buy the film from Universal and release it himself while Lucas, burned out from the chaotic film shoot, could only watch in shock. Instead, Universal offered a compromise whereby they could suggest modifications to the film before release. It was not until 1978, after the success of Star Wars, that Lucas was able to re-edit and release the film as he originally intended.
  • James Cameron seems to be a lightning rod for this trope.
    • He ended up directing Piranha II: The Spawning after the original director abandoned the project. While filming in Rome, Grand Cayman, and Jamaica, Cameron had to struggle with a crew made up of Italians who didn't speak English and overbearing producer Ovidio Assonitis. At one point he reportedly broke into the Rome editing room to cut his own version of the film, but Assonitis re-cut it again. Still, the two good things were that he got the idea for The Terminator during production and reused some of the models for Aliens later. Lesson learned: if the producer's name is Assonitis, the filming may hit a few snags.
    • Aliens was one of his worse productions and one of the few times when his Jerkass demeanour is kind of understandable. To wit: the English crew thought Cameron was a tyrannical and incompetent substitute for Ridley Scott, and Cameron's workaholism clashed with their regular tea breaks and relaxed attitude towards production. The crew insulted his wife Gale Anne Hurd, implying that she was only getting producer's credit because she was married to him, and he had to contend with a walkout after firing original cinematographer Dick Bush who wouldn't light the alien nest the way he wanted (Bush was a very old school DP, who lit the scenes to his content, while Cameron was a very visually involved director) and was then replaced by Adrian Biddle (who had never DP'ed a feature before). Michael Biehn ended up replacing James Remar as Hicks shortly into production. Unsurprisingly, production wound up behind schedule and the crew had to work at breakneck pace to finish the film in time for its July 1986 release date. This fell particularly hard on James Horner, who had to write the score without access to the film (that was still being filmed and edited) and record it in four days in an outdated studio. In turn, Cameron and editor Ray Lovejoy had to hack it in places to match the film without his input. Horner swore off working with Cameron for the next 11 years.
      • While we're on the topic of Aliens, Alien³ was just as troubled. Before production even started, several scripts were written and several directors were hired (including Renny Harlin and Vincent Ward), but all of them ran into resistance from FOX executives who were unwilling to have a film that didn't feature the Ellen Ripley character. Filming begun with $7 million already spent on sets (including a monastery set built before the setting was changed to a prison — but still kept, as a church inside the facility), and no finished script. David Fincher was brought in late in production, and he was stymied at every turn by executives who attempted to stop him from shooting important scenes. After a disastrous industry screening and test screenings in California (featuring, according to actor Ralph Brown, young teenagers who didn't understand the film at all), scenes had to be filmed months after filming wrapped. And after all that, executives rode in again and recut the film without asking Fincher. Though Fincher never took his name off the film, he's otherwise disowned it and doesn't list it on his resume.
    • The Abyss had 40% of live-action photography take place underwater. It was filmed in two specially constructed tanks in an abandoned nuclear plant in South Carolina, requiring experimental technology and equipment to allow the underwater scenes to be filmed right. Over six months of 6-day 70-hour work weeks ensued, and the production had to be delayed when on the first day the main water tank sprung a leak, requiring dam-repair experts to fix it. And later, the crew were forced to only film at night after a lightning storm tore up the tarpaulin covering the main tank. It's significant that Cameron himself declared this the worst production he was ever involved in. It's the only production where he had to spend most of his time hanging upside down in decompression tanks from filming underwater — he even said he had to review the footage in this position. He also almost drowned Ed Harris through Enforced Method Acting, which resulted in the one and only time an actor has ever actually punched him. Cameron himself nearly drowned during production, too, when his diving suit malfunctionedd while he was weighed down at the bottom of the giant water tank during filming.
    • And It Got Worse for Titanic, the film that cemented his reputation as Hollywood's biggest Jerkass, so much so that the crew claimed he had a psychotic alter ego named "Mij". Apart from terrorizing the film's two lead actors (Kate Winslet suffered bruises so impressive that the makeup artists took photos to use for reference later), driving it insanely over budget and schedule and having to deal with cast members who came down sick from a shitload of hours spent in cold water, Cameron and about 50 other guys fell victim to an almost Deadly Prank when a crew member put PCP in their soup, forcing them to spend a night in hospital. The movie stands as possibly his last completely Off the Rails Production, as he's mellowed out quite a bit since.
      • One of the benefits of shooting Avatar digitally and with a lot of motion-capture and CGI was that it effectively reduced the number of things that could go wrong during the shoot to natural disasters and oversleeping.
  • Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now, a case so famous that it has its own documentary dedicated to it, Hearts of Darkness. Coppola himself summed it up by saying "My film is not about Vietnam, it is Vietnam" and famously explaining that "We had access to too much money, too much equipment, and little by little we went insane." Let's see, where do we start? Filmed in the Philippines and took four years to finish. Marlon Brando was cast as Colonel Kurtz, being his usual prima donna self. President Marcos disrupted production by recalling the military equipment he lent to Coppola to fight against the Communist insurgents in the South; the reason he had to use Philippine military equipment in the first place is because the United States military refused to lend him anything, due to the order to "Kill Colonel Kurtz" (Coppola refused to change it to a Deadly Euphemism). A typhoon in May 1976 combined with constant raining totally ground production to a halt for six weeks. The ending had to be re-written on the fly and the script was frequently discarded for improvisation. Martin Sheen drunkenly cut his hand open shattering a mirror and, in an unrelated incident, later suffered a heart attack. A scene that cost hundreds of thousands to film was thrown out. After a year of actual filming, Coppola took two further years in post-production to deliver the final product. To sum up: Laurence Fishburne lied about his age to get cast as a 17-year old in the movie when he was actually 14. By the time the movie was released, he was actually 17 years old.
    • As if all of the above was not enough, the Philippines had no professional film laboratories at the time, meaning the raw camera negatives had to be shipped to the U.S. to be processed. Coppola never saw a shot on film until after returning to California. The entire movie was shot blind.
    • And on a less successful note, One from the Heart was initially meant to be a small $2 million movie for Coppola to chillax after the sheer hell of Apocalypse. It wound up ballooning to $25 million due to his insistence on shooting on sound stages exclusively, and failed so badly it led him to declare bankruptcy and spend the rest of his career in The Eighties and The Nineties making movies just to recover the debts he incurred from this.
    • And in a minor case compared to both, The Godfather. On set wasn't as troubled (apart from a delay due to Al Pacino twisting his ankle, and Coppola arguing with the cinematographer). But Coppola's relationship with the Paramount executives was really chaotic — they hated the casting, the lighting, the writing, the music, the length...
  • Terry Gilliam's The Man Who Killed Don Quixote faced this problem, without anyone in the cast or crew being difficult at all — the production was faced by nothing but disasters, from the weather (as in the Star Wars example, it freakishly rained in a desert location, ruining several days of filming). The actor who played Don Quixote faced several health problems, and was told by doctors to stop filming. In the end, the film stopped production completely, ruining Gilliam's dream project. At least we got a good documentary about it.
  • Casino Royale 1967. Casino Royale was the only Ian Fleming novel EON Productions failed to secure the rights to due to a bunch of legal issues, and it ended up with Charles Feldman. Unable to get EON onboard and do a straight movie, he turned it into an insane, psychedelic parody of spy films with an All-Star Cast. There were multiple directors, none of them working with a finished script but all working independently, and there were also numerous screenwriters. Peter Sellers argued with Orson Welles, and the former was eventually fired despite playing the lead character. Many of the other actors were brought in to make up for this, many of whom assume the 007 moniker at some point. The editor seemed to be instructed to put the film together in the most disjointed, nonsensical fashion possible. And The Agony Booth has recapped it here.
  • While we're in James Bond, a few movies had minor cases of it: From Russia with Love had to undergo a Ridiculously-Fast Construction because the producers had already set a release date, and they had to face problems such a boat of cameras sinking into the Bosphorus and a helicopter falling into a lake (with the director inside!) while location scouting; and On Her Majesty's Secret Service had a few stuntmen accidents, and leading man George Lazenby had conflicts with the director and the producers.
  • Superman had a few problems, mainly producer-director clashes (which generally involved the director rejecting the campy, slapstick parts the producers wanted), special effects problems (not that many breakdowns, but a lot of money to make them work), and getting way behind schedule — they filmed both Superman and its sequel simultaneously without much of a clear schedule in the first place. The film was a hit, but the lost profits to the producers over this led to Richard Donner being fired before the second movie was completed and replaced by Richard Lester.
    • The production of the fifth Superman movie definitely qualifies, especially if one considers all the different versions it went through on the road to becoming Superman Returns (which actually had a calm production). The Other Wiki has a very exhaustive listing, but the best-known facet is that later stages were essentially a battle between two sides. On one hand we had writers like Kevin Smith (who wittily recounts his experiences on the project here) who wanted to produce a faithful, respectful treatment of Superman's mythos. On the other we had producer Jon Peters, who said Supes' red-and-blues looked "too faggy", wanted to give Brainiac a robot sidekick described as "a gay R2-D2 with attitude", and demanded that Superman battle a giant robot spider, which has become a Running Gag among Superman fans, while Peters himself has become a symbol for incompetent Executive Meddling.
    • In case you're wondering, Peters finally got his stupid giant robot spider — as a Steampunk spider robot — in Wild Wild West, where it makes even less sense than it ever would have in a Superman movie.
  • Blade Runner was a victim of this. Ridley Scott's drive for perfection often led to double-digit takes of a single scene, eating up film in the process. This, coupled with his confrontational relationship with the film crew (which at one point had them wearing anti-Scott T-shirts on set), time constraints caused by filming at night and expensive, time-consuming effects shots quickly caused the shoot to run behind schedule and over budget. The final scene was shot literally hours before the producers were due to take creative control away from Scott.
  • According to The Other Wiki, a whole load of this led to the utter disaster that was Caligula.
  • 1976's The Blue Bird was a much-ballyhooed family musical, in part because it was the first ever cinematic co-production between the United States and the U.S.S.R. An All-Star Cast of mostly-American actors had the lead roles while respected director George Cukor helmed the project, shooting in Russia. Alas, the Russian studio and crew was far behind the curve of the American talent (they had to replace the cinematographer because he'd never shot a film in color), and leading ladies Elizabeth Taylor, Jane Fonda, and Cicely Tyson all caused unique sets of problems: Taylor fell ill, Fonda wouldn't stop chatting up the crew about politics, and Tyson warred with the director (in part because she couldn't get proper lighting, due to a Caucasian woman serving as her stand-in). Miscellaneous clashes between the Americans and Russians cropped up, James Coco had to drop out of the film when he suffered a gallbladder attack, and it all went well over schedule and budget. The resultant film was so bad that it not only tanked instantly, but has never had an official home video release in the U.S.
    • George Cukor told the Soviet studio head how honored he was to be filming in the same studio where Sergei Eisenstein had filmed The Battleship Potemkin in 1925. "Yes," said the studio head, "and with the very same equipment."
  • The 1996 The Island of Doctor Moreau had two directors because dealing with prima donnas Val Kilmer and Marlon Brando (who were both going through bad days: the former, a divorce; the latter, a daughter killing herself) proved too much for Richard Stanley, who left for John Frankenheimer to take over (he faced the two on the same coin: apparently once he replied Kilmer with "I don't give a fuck. Get off my set!"). Co-star David Thewlis had such a terrible time making the film that he skipped the premiere and has vowed to never watch it. The final result shows how bad it was.
  • The Pirates of the Caribbean sequels — more specifically, the second. Writing wasn't finished by the time it started, ships had to be built, the small island where it was filmed wasn't ready to receive the huge crew, and Hurricane Wilma devastated the Bahamas set.
  • Predator had every member of the cast and crew but Arnold Schwarzenegger (of course) and director John McTiernan getting Montezuma's Revenge due to unclean hotel water. The shoot was further delayed due to the creature's original design not working well enough and having to be scrapped and replaced.
  • The 2004 parody remake of The Stepford Wives underwent massive reshoots, script rewrites that created gaping plot holes, John and Joan Cusack pulling out of the film (and Nicole Kidman, who played the main character, considering it after she saw the changes to the script), and fighting on set between director Frank Oz and his stars. It all built to an utterly incoherent final product that bombed at the box office and was savaged by critics.
  • Infamous flop Hudson Hawk gathered bad reaction before its release due to a disastrous production — egos running rampant, constant rewrites, clashes between director and star, you name it.
    • Richard E. Grant dedicated a chapter about the nighmare that was making Hudson Hawk in his book With Nails.
  • Albert Pyun's 1989 Cyborg was actually born out of it rather than suffering from this. The extremely troubled production of Cannon Film's Spider-Man and He-Man and the Masters of the Universe film projects eventually caused both to collapse under their own weight. With $2 million invested already on pre-production and very early production, Pyun was brought to, literally, make something out of both (now) failed projects. After coming up with the story for Cyborg in a single weekend, $500,000, and 24 days of hectic and rushed filming and editing, Cyborg was released and made a little more than $10,0000,000 on the box office, becoming one of Pyun's most commercially successful films and indeed saving Cannon Films from imminent bankruptcy.
    • Cannon Films went bankrupt some time later, though.
    • District 9 has a similar origin, coming out of the failed Halo movie.
  • Waterworld. Budget overrun (from $100 million to the then-record $175 million), director Kevin Reynolds leaving and leading Kevin Costner to further take over the film, a hurricane destroying the sets, stuntmen getting lost or drowned... and Executive Meddling kicked in to order cuts and reshoots.
  • Jacques Tati envisioned Playtime as his magnum opus, and for that the film had to be somewhat more than ordinary. This grand social satire and ode to classic slapstick could not be done on any ordinary set. Rather, it required a set for which two full-size modernistic buildings had to be constructed on the outskirts of Paris, along with several smaller models, a full-size road, and its own working electrical system powered by a small plant. The development of the film would then necessitate numerous script rewrites and continuous maintenance of the set. Filming in itself lasted three years, during which Tati had to take out numerous loans in order to continue production. In order to further accommodate his immense vision, the film was shot on 70mm film and edited for a stereophonic sound setup. These decisions would eventually cause difficulties in finding theatres that could properly screen the film. When the project was finally completed and released in 1967, it flopped pitifully. The official budget has gone unreported, but the failure of Playtime led Tati to file for bankruptcy and pay off the film's debts for the rest of his life. Fortunately the film's reputation has improved since its release and is now considered Tati's masterpiece.
  • Monty Python and The Holy Grail. No Budget, the directors clashing with each other, Graham Chapman either getting drunk or suffering from withdrawal on set, getting a location veto shortly before filming began, actors rushing back to the hotel after wrapping for the day in order to bathe...
  • Easy Rider. Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda were constantly at odds with each other, the bikes were stolen (Fonda's declared motivation for his delivery of "We blew it") and Hopper proved to be a Prima Donna Director, eventually leading to the studio sending him on a paid vacation while they recut the film in his absence to a more manageable length (Hopper's original cut was 220 minutes long).
  • Sadly, this was a hallmark of most of the films of Orson Welles after Citizen Kane, mostly due to his difficulties in raising funds and sometimes simple crappy luck (a film called The Deep was shelved after star Laurence Harvey died).
    • The Deep would later be remade (and completed) as Dead Calm (which didn't suffer through a troubled production).
  • Power Rangers already suffered badly with their series, as an entry below shows... but the movies were worse! Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie was directed by guys who had the pleasure of watching the entire series up until that point "with the wonders of the fast forward button". Amongst many of the movie's problems were the insistence of having the teens' faces exposed in morphed state (which was later vetoed after they realized they they really shouldn't), having to scrap a major training montage with Dulcea due to problems with her actress and having a small time window to film. When that was passed up, Saban was forced to film a few episodes in Australia, where the movie was being made!
    • Turbo a Power Rangers Movie was just as bad. Initially envisioned as a reunion of the original MMPR cast teaming up with the new Turbo team, it fell apart when Walter Jones and Thuy Trang refused to give up their Guild membership cards to film. The explanation of the Turbo powers was dropped when David Yost left near the end of Power Rangers Zeo. The original cut was actually over three hours long and they were forced to trim it down to under two. Beyond all of that, it was no wonder the movie flopped!
  • Heavens Gate. Planned budget: $11.6 million. Actually spent money at the end: More than $44 million. To top it all off, it also tanked at the box office, ruining director Michael Cimino's career.
    • The production is the subject of an entire book, Final Cut: Dreams and Disaster in the Making of Heaven's Gate, by Stephen Bach, one of the (former, unsurprisingly) studio executives involved.
  • Doctor Dolittle. Fox's 1967 family musical was envisioned as a Follow the Leader title in the steps of My Fair Lady and The Sound of Music following years of legal battles with Hugh Lofting's family and writing difficulties. Hundreds of animals were trained for the film... in California, making them essentially unusable for location shooting in England and St. Lucia. Said location shoots were disasters, forcing additional studio lot reshoots. Rex Harrison frequently made a nuisance of himself by dismissing the screenwriter, his younger co-stars and the songs, all while suffering with personal issues. Despite initial optimism from producer Arthur Jacobs (who had a heart attack during production), the final budget was considered to be in the then-outrageously high $18 million area. Often cited as a Genre Killer for the family musical, Warner Brothers's Camelot was actually released first. Both opened to a negative critical reception and general lack of interest.
  • Pretty much any collaboration between Werner Herzog and Klaus Kinski was guaranteed to be this; most notably Fitzcarraldo, which took the problems of Apocalypse Now and turned them Up to Eleven. Among the many problems with the production was that, instead of using special effects to replicate the feat of towing a huge boat up and over the side of a mountain, Herzog insisted in doing it for real. Numerous serious injuries and at least one death resulted. Aguirre, the Wrath of God was almost as troubled; though not as fatal.
    • Herzog and Kinski's highly tempestuous relationship was chronicled in Herzog's documentary on Kinski — My Best Fiend (yes, that's spelled correctly). Although the story of Werner forcing Klaus to perform his scenes at the point of a gun is apocryphal, he freely admits they both threatened on numerous occasions to kill each other; and actually attempted it at least once each.
    • And, like Apocalyspe, Fitzcarraldo's trouble production is the subject of its own documentary film, Burden of Dreams. Near the end, Herzog speculates that he should give up filmmaking and go into a mental asylum.
  • Oh, Cleopatra. Where to even begin?
    • After Joan Collins bowed out of the lead role in 1958, Elizabeth Taylor sarcastically offered to take it for a million dollars — and to her surprise, Fox agreed. The weekly costs regarding Taylor ballooned out of control when she became gravely ill with pneumonia during initial shooting at Pinewood Studios in England in 1960, putting a halt to filming for many months, and leading her to be paid over $2 million before any usable footage had been shot. Taylor's illness and the resulting delays led to the resignation of the original director (Rouben Mamoulian) and the actors cast as Caesar (Peter Finch) and Antony (Stephen Boyd).
    • Even leaving aside Taylor's extended sick leave, few things went as planned during the abortive Pinewood shoot. The producers had frequent clashes with the studio's labour unions, the film crew did not realise until after settling on Pinewood as the venue for indoor filming that the ceilings at the studio complex were too low to accommodate the sets as originally planned, and the unexpected number of availables soundstages led to delays in the shoot. The footage shot at Pinewood ended up being discarded as the filming moved to Cinecittà Studios in Rome so the English weather would not impair Taylor's recovery. (The sets were still used by the producers of the Carry On films in 1964's Carry On Cleo.)
    • Production in Italy was just as problematic. The costumes and sets had to be completely re-designed and re-built, leading to a shortage of lumber and other building materials throughout Italy. Millions of dollars' worth of props and other equipment were stolen by studio employees, while a group of female extras went on strike as a result of being constantly groped by lecherous male extras. The constant delays and reshoots in filming the epic-scale scene of Cleopatra's entrance on a barge into Rome (started in October 1961, only ended on March!) required the recasting of Cleopatra's son as the original child actor had grown significantly taller during the delay.
    • When Joseph L. Mankiewicz was brought on board to direct at Taylor's insistence, the film was already nearly a year behind schedule, $5 million over budget, and had not a single frame of usable footage to show for it. The script was only half completed, and Mankiewicz had to write the rest as filming went along, shooting the script as new scenes were written and editing the resulting footage later rather than editing the script first and then shooting the resulting scenes. The demands were so heavy that Mankiewicz required injections to both get through each day and sleep at night.
    • To complicate matters, the film marked the beginning of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton's tempestuous relationship and eventual marriage (and subsequent divorce, re-marriage, and re-divorce); as both were still married, the resulting scandal and moral outrage added bad publicity to the already toxic combination of massive delays and cost inflation. However, the affair created enough fascination with the public that Fox decided to assemble a publicity campaign that focused almost entirely on Taylor and Burton, with scant attention at best devoted to Rex Harrison as Caesar.[3]
    • Things didn't improve during post production. Mankiewicz initially planned to assemble two three-hour films, Caesar and Cleopatra and Antony and Cleopatra, but Fox head Darryl F. Zanuck believed that the public interest in seeing Taylor and Burton on screen together might fade if the second film were released later, while interest in the first film (in which Burton would only appear in a few scenes) would be minimal, so he ordered the films edited into a single four-hour film — requiring more reshoots! Mankiewicz was eventually fired during editing, but had to be re-hired when it became obvious that he was the only person who could make sense of the raw footage.[4]
    • The film finally staggered into cinemas in June 1963, with a final production cost of $44 million (in 2011 dollars, this would be over $300 million) — something Fox knew it would hardly be recovered. Despite critics and audiences reacting badly, the film still had the highest box office take of 1963 and was nominated for ten Oscars (including Best Picture), winning four, but it would not break even until ABC paid $5 million for two television screenings in 1966 (at the time, a record fee for film broadcasting rights). The already financially troubled 20th Century Fox almost went bankrupt, selling parts of its studio lot and needing the successes of films such as The Longest Day[5] in 1962 and The Sound of Music in 1965 to alleviate. Cleopatra also killed interest in the sword and sandal epic genre for nearly a generation, and was a key factor in the disintegration of the old "studio system", as studios passed responsibility for production costs to independent production companies instead of handling said costs themselves.
  • Manos: The Hands of Fate — The movie was made when fertilizer salesman Hal Warren befriended and later made a bet with famous screenwriter Stirling Silliphant that he could make a horror film with a low budget. And it shows. The problems included:
    • The camera they used was a 16mm Bell and Howell that not only didn't record sound, but only could record 32 seconds of film. The sound was later dubbed in in post-production by four members of the crew, Hal included. This explains a number of things, including the bad editing, the long pauses and why a few characters, such as Torgo and the little girl, sound horrible.
    • The crew found themselves bemused by how amateur Hal was that they mocked the title of the movie (which was once called "Lodge of Sins") as Mangos: The Cans of Fruit.
    • Tom Neyman created a special rigging to give Torgo the illusion that he was a saytr. However, the actor, John Reynolds, set it up wrong and it damaged his knees so badly that he was reportedly taking medication that would lead to an addiction and later suicide.
    • Instead of the technique of shooting "day for night", Hal opted to film night scenes at night. Thanks to poor lighting, it gave the accidental illusion of the cops getting out of their car to investigate a gunshot, but decide otherwise.
    • The modeling agency that loaned Hal the women to be the Master's wives proved to be a bit of a prima donna, refusing to let the women to be "too skimpy" (that red sash they wear? They were supposed to be tails) and when one of the women broke her leg, Hal was forced to recast her as the other half of the makeout couple that has no real effect to the plot!
  • Dersu Uzala, due to Akira Kurosawa having to work in the USSR as no Japanese studio wanted to fund him at the time. The resulting studio, Mosfilm, clashed with Kurosawa as his perfectionism did not fit the "deliver a certain amount of shot film per day" the company wanted. Union fights were recurrent, and cameramen were changed every week. There was only one interpreter — to a crew of mostly Russians! To make the tiger attack more realistic, a wild one was used instead of a domesticated animal — and needless to say, it wasn't collaborative. No wonder the film took 3 years to get ready.
  • The African Queen was shot on location in Africa, a rarity in those days. The results weren't pretty: handling the heavy Technicolor cameras was hard, the cast and crew got sick (Katherine Hepburn had to keep a bucket beside her while filming the piano scene that opens the film so she could vomit between takes; only Humphrey Bogart and director John Huston escaped illness, due to consuming nothing but canned goods and whiskey) and had several close brushes with wild animals and poisonous snakes (specially because Bogart got interested in hunting — which even became a Clint Eastwood movie), the title boat sunk and had to be raised twice, the ship's boiler nearly fell on Hepburn, army ants infestated the set...
  • It's nowhere near as bad as most of the examples on this page, but the third Harry Potter movie ran into a problem with rain. While filming on location in Scotland, the rain was so bad that they had to have helicopters fly in gravel to stop the sets from washing away. Fortunately, Alfonso Cuaron and the cinematographer liked the overcast look they ended up with as a result.
  • As mentioned on the page quote, The Wizard of Oz. First, changes in both cast (Margaret Hamilton replaced the original Wicked Witch three days before production begun, Tin Man performer Buddy Ebsen quit due to allergic reactions to the make-up) and director (five were used, with credit only to the fourth and responsible for most of the film, Victor Fleming). Then, both filming — which took extended six months and many budget overruns, with incidents such as Hamilton getting burned, and the cast having to work six days a week arriving as early as four or five in the morning to be fitted with makeup and costumes (which were impractical — Hamilton could not eat! — and nearly intolerable due to the heavy lighting required for the Technicolor), not leaving until seven or eight at night — and post-production — three months with many reshoots and complicated effects work, as well as last-minute cuts following a test screening — were chaotic.
  • The Exorcist went over budget and schedule ($4,5 million and 105 days to $12 million and over 200 days plus 6 months of post-production!), and William Friedkin proved to be a Prima Donna Director who didn't care much for the cast and crew (for instance, Ellen Burstyn complained that for the scene Chris is telekinetically thrown against a wall, the stuntmen were pulling her too hard... and Friedkin's response was a take so strong Burstyn injured herself!).To make it worse, there were strange events (such as the interior sets of the MacNeil residence getting burned) that lead people to consider the film cursed.
  • RoboCop was shot during a very hot summer in Dallas, and when Peter Weller's costume came in late, he could barely move in it, rendering his previous mime training useless. In addition, it ran behind schedule and over budget, actors Kurtwood Smith and Ray Wise stole the crew's golf carts during the shooting of one scene and executives kept trying to interfere with the production while it was still going on.
    • A fair portion of the scheduling delays were caused by difficulties in lighting the Robocop suit properly — originally, they tried to light it as actors were normally lit, which didn't work because the suit reflected too much light. Eventually, they hit on the solution of lighting it like a car.
  • Charlie Chaplin's film The Circus was troubled because of his messy divorce. Then a fire destroyed most of the set. Then the circus wagons were stolen. Chaplin left this film out of his autobiography altogether.
  • Eraserhead suffered from this — no studio would fund it due to its unusual plot and David Lynch's lack of experience, so he had to rely on funds from the AFI, as well as friends and family. Because of these financial troubles, filming was intermittent — it took five years, and sets had to be repeatedly assembled and disassembled. While its critical reception was initially mixed, the film was praised by several other filmmakers (including, but not limited to Mel Brooks, Stanley Kubrick and John Waters), which kickstarted Lynch's career.
  • Like the Power Rangers, the movie version of Mystery Science Theater 3000 was rife with problems. The original plan was for them to reveal how Joel got tossed onto the Satellite of Love and built his robot friends — Crow, Tom, Gypsy and Cambot. The executive liked it, but he didn't want the series' main catch — the riffing — to be prominent. This, along with a few other problems, lead to Joel Hodgson to leave the series halfway through Season 5. When the movie idea was picked back up, more problems came about — Universal would only let them use movies that they chose and they were stuck with This Island Earth. They were forced to not only cut out movie scenes — which meant the entirety of the movie was shorter than your normal Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode — but lop one host segment and modify the last one, killing a Brick Joke set up from the very beginning. And the killing blow? The company producing this had the option of fully backing either this or Barb Wire. Guess what they chose? (and considering how high the theater averages were, who knows how much it would have grossed without Invisible Advertising?)
  • Madeline Kahn was on a talk show, and the hostess quipped that her movies were so funny, she must have a ball working on them. Kahn quipped back "Yeah? And Twinkies are fun to eat, but I doubt the people at the Twinkie factory are having any fun!"
  • Ishtar. Where to begin? They decided to shoot the desert scenes in Morocco instead of the Southwest because the studio had money in banks there it couldn't repatriate. Filming began in the midst of unrest across the Middle East, adding security costs to the movie (they actually had to have some locations checked for land mines). And no one in Morocco had experience supporting a big-budget studio production, so logistics got really screwy.
    • The lore from this one is great. There was the production assistant who went looking for a blue-eyed camel in the market. Not realizing how rare they were, and that he should have just bought it right then and there, he went looking for another one so he'd have a price to bargain with the first guy. By the time he figured that out, the first guy had eaten the camel. Then, of course, there was the time Elaine May, the director, supposedly suddenly changed her mind about wanting dunes in a scene and instead the production had to spend $75,000 and ten days having a square mile of desert bulldozed flat.
    • May was sick with toothaches most of the time, and spent a lot of time arguing with Warren Beatty, her producer and star. She got pissed at him for constantly taking the side of Italian cinematographer Vittorio Storaro in disputes, and didn't get along much with Isabelle Adjani, the female lead, who also happened to be Beatty's girlfriend at the time. Dustin Hoffman says there were periods when Beatty and May wouldn't talk to each other. Some of the crew said that any other director would have been fired for pulling the attitude she pulled on him. Eventually they compromised by shooting every scene twice, one her way and one his. "This was the kind of film where nobody would say 'Sorry, we can't afford that,'" said the guy in charge of the budget.
    • May liked to shoot lots of film. She supposedly demanded 50 retakes of a scene where some vultures landed next to Beatty and Hoffman. Ultimately she shot 108 hours of raw footage.
    • When they returned from Morocoo to shoot scenes in New York, under union rules, an American cinematographer and crew had to sit around on paid standby for Storaro and his crew. During postproduction, May and Beatty fought frequently in the editing room, and May often left it to Beatty to direct the actors during looping sessions. The joke was (and some people say it was not a joke) that Bert Fields, their mutual agent, was the one with the real final cut on the film.
  • Star Trek: The Motion Picture: Paramount knew it had to let Gene Roddenberry produce, because of the godlike cult of personality he'd built up among the fans, but it had reservations as he'd never produced a feature film before. Robert Wise hadn't directed a sci-fi film of this scope and was getting old (he refused to shoot for more than 12 hours a day, resulting in the film being behind schedule after just two days). The original special effects house blew the job and had to be replaced by Douglas Trumbull and John Dykstra late in the production. Long before principal photography was even finished the production was way over budget, to the point that Paramount executives were keeping a running tab every day. According to Jeff Katzenberg, then the Paramount executive in charge of the production, what finally went out to the theaters the weekend of release was a rough cut—no one at the studio had seen it in its entirety.
  • Altered States: Arthur Penn, the original director, quit early on after a dispute with Paddy Chayefsky, who was upset with some of the changes he'd wanted to make. John Dykstra quit as well, and Bran Ferren had to do the special effects on a lower budget (it shows). Once Ken Russell was hired to actually finish the film, he was in a situation where, if he changed so much as one word of the script, he'd've been sued, so he resolved it by having the actors deliver some of the more pretentious dialogue very rapid fire. Chayefsky didn't sue, but was still pissed enough to petition the Writers' Guild to use his given name, Sidney Aaron, in the credits as his pseudonym. The experience of shooting some of the scenes was very trying physically for the actors. Columbia, who had started the film, washed their hands of it and Warner Brothers picked it up. The producer was nonetheless upset that they decided to shove it into the Christmas season rush rather than wait until the spring when he there would be less competition for that kind of film.
  • Tootsie was frequently referred to this way during shooting. Dustin Hoffman and Sydney Pollack feuded so intensely that Hoffman finally resolved it by suggesting Pollack play his agent and get that tension into the actual film. The script was still being rewritten as filming began, and it took Elaine May to come up with Bill Murray's character as a much-needed foil for Michael. In the end, it actually worked out well, becoming one of the best comedies of the 1980s.
  • John Carter: There were reservations at Disney about letting Andrew Stanton direct the film, despite his strong sentimental attachment to the material, because he'd never directed a live-action feature before. But, since he'd made WALL-E and Finding Nemo into hits, they let him do it even though he warned them, "I'm not gonna get it right the first time, I'll tell you that right now." Indeed, the film required extensive double reshoots. Throughout production, he ignored the advice of the crewmembers who were live-action veterans in favor of his Pixar friends, back in their offices. Rich Ross (fired over this) and the other studio executives at Disney likewise had little experience with feature films, since most had come from television.
    • Then, it came time to market the film, which was already handicapped in that department by having no big stars in the cast. A trailer shown at a Disney con did not go over well, and Stanton refused to take any advice from the studio's marketing department. He insisted on using Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir" in the trailer even after it was pointed out to him that a 30-year-old classic-rock song was not likely to resonate with the younger male audience the film was intended for. The movie also went through last-minute retitling, dropping "Princess" and "Mars" from the title because those were thought to turn off the male and female segments of the youth audience respectively.
  • Nothing but Trouble is a bit of a tossup. The majority of the people who worked on the film stated it was the most challenging yet rewarding production they've ever done, and everyone loved working for its star and director Dan Aykroyd. The studio would disagree due to its astronomical costs. Chevy Chase was also difficult to work with, as usual.
  • The Dead is a recent example. Filming in the African country of Burkina Faso brought the film crew problems like their equipment getting held up in airport customs, getting shaken down by corrupt cops and everyone getting sick from malaria and dysentery.
  • Roar is billed as the most dangerous movie ever made. That is not exaggeration. The movie went through numerous money problems, almost the whole cast and crew were injured while working with the many big cats, a flood destroyed the set and some of the cats (including the main attraction which was a lion) were put down.

Live Action TV

  • Power Rangers: Particularly in the movies.
    • Mighty Morphin Power Rangers (as Linkara summedup nicely): season one hit its troubles when it turned out the series was popular, forcing Saban to rewrite the original finale, "Doomsday", to keep going and had them approach Toei to make new Ranger-centric scenes. When season two came along, Saban opted to use mecha footage from Gosei Sentai Dairanger and had to mix it in with footage from the so-called "Zyu2" footage. When the Zyu2 footage ran out, they also retired the Green Ranger character and ended up changing him into the White Ranger. By this time, Austin St. John, Walter Jones, and Thuy Trang (Jason, Zack, and Trini) were let go because of contract disputes and were replaced midway. When the Dairanger footage ran out, they replaced that footage with mecha footage from Ninja Sentai Kakuranger. It would be by that point that Saban threw their hands in the air and opted to change everyone to match the seasons.
    • Power Rangers Turbo nearly ended the franchise due to a number of problems, including:
      • When Steve Cardenas was injured during filming of Power Rangers Zeo, he was let go and replaced with Blake Foster in an attempt to garner new viewers. Didn't work.
      • Jason David Frank and Catherine Sutherland asked to leave the series for other pursuits. They were given a shortened contract, giving them enough time to find replacements. Instead, it was decided to jettison everyone connected to the original group, including Zordon and Alpha 5, replacing them with cryptic mentor Dimitria and jive-talking Alpha 6. As well, all four pre-Turbo Rangers were replaced with new characters(Johnny Yong Bosch said in one interview that they didn't know this was happening until they saw an ad for auditions for their jobs in the paper.)
      • Arguments between the writing team members as they weren't sure what to do with Gekisou Sentai Carranger's slapstick comedy moments and if they should embrace it or continue with their apocalyptic storyline.
    • Power Rangers Lost Galaxy: Creators were dismayed when they found out all the mecha scenes from Seijuu Sentai Gingaman all took place in cities, scuttling plans for otherworldly battles. As well, when the actress playing Pink Ranger Kendrix was stricken with leukemia, she was planned to have been replaced by Cassie, the Pink Ranger of Power Rangers in Space (even a plot hook where her morpher was damaged was filmed), but was scuttled due to contract problems [6] and she was replaced by Karone, the former Astronema. And it was good.
      • Additionally, scripts were constantly being rewritten, and at times, the producers weren't sure what exactly they wanted to do with the season. This is particularly evident when the Lost Galaxy, the season title, was reduced to an eight-episode mini-arc near the end of the season.
    • Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue: While the show overall didn't seem to suffer massive issues, the team-up with the previous season... On top of drawing heavily on Sentai footage from the counterpart team-up special, which is rarely done for any team-up, given the diverging plots between Power Rangers and Super Sentai, it was originally released as a video tie-in for McDonald's, explaining why the episode focused more on a child actor than, say, the two teams teaming up. Amy Miller, the actress who portrayed the villain Trakeena, left the set shortly after filming began when she learned that the Lost Galaxy characters were essentially cameos in their own team-up and was replaced by another actress. While he remained for filming, Danny Slavin, who played the Red Lost Galaxy Ranger, is audibly redubbed with the voice of another actor at points.
    • Power Rangers Wild Force: The anniversary episode Forever Red was rife with problems. Originally conceived as a cult attempting to revive Dark Specter, the need to use abandoned Big Bad Beetleborgs costumes and the want of a super weapon lead to the usage of the Machine Empire and Serpentera. Scenes were filmed and cut out (including a bigger role for the Wild Force team outside of their brief cameo) and a major battle between classic Megazords and Serpentera were scuttled when Bandai insisted that Cole use a vehicle he gained just an episode earlier, leading to a Curb Stomp Battle.
      • Another example was with the series itself. Judd Lynn quit the series partway through because he was tired of Jonothan Tzachor's scene-by-scene recreation of Hyakujuu Sentai Gaoranger (which he would pull off again in Power Rangers Samurai). As well, the series was being made during the time Disney bought the franchise and wasn't sure what to do with it.
      • Also on "Forever Red," Leo's actor had been dissatisfied with his show's treatment in their crossover on Lightspeed Rescue, and only agreed to do it after most of the episode had already been shot. Hence his very late arrival, and the awkward bit where he demorphs just so the big morphing sequence can include all ten Rangers.
    • Power Rangers Dino Thunder: Not as bad as most, but Jason David Frank wanting to spend some time back with his family in the United States forced them to create a scenario where Tommy is trapped in his morphed state, then invisible. Like the Karone incident, it did lead to an Awesome Moment.
    • Power Rangers SPD: Executive Meddling lead to a good chunk of the series' budget being placed onto the series finale, which had a major CGI battle between the SWAT Megazord and the Bigger Bad. However, this lead to them being unable to do a number of things, including hiring an actor for Sixth Ranger Sam, the Omega Ranger. As well, many episodes were taken wholesale from its Super Sentai counterpart Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger. When Canada accidentally aired the second installment between SPD and Power Rangers Dino Thunder, ABC held back that part for a good length of time before finally letting it air.
    • Power Rangers RPM: Started off pretty well, even though it was at the tail end of Disney's apathy toward the series. Things took a downturn about halfway through, when Guzelian was fired over "creative differences" with Disney and Rangers veteran Judd Lynn was brought in. This created some animosity among the cast, who were hired by Eddie and didn't like the way things went down. They took particular offense that the Disney Executives involved in firing Eddie lied and blamed the show's budget and scheduling issues on him, even going so far as to use their contacts in the fandom to spread these rumors online in an attempt to badmouth and smear the new producer before RPM premiered. Though the rumors of Eddie mismanaging the show continue to be pedaled on message boards, not a single person involved in the production has ever come forward to substantiate them (Eddie himself said in one interview that scripts would occasionally come in over-time or over-budget, but that isn't exactly rare for any production.) In fact, anyone who was actually there has gone on record to say that the rumors aren't true. Dan Ewing, the star of the show, even called the rumors being spread about Eddie (and this is a direct quote from an interview) "complete bullshit." Not as bad as some other seasons, but it definitely had its rough patches.
    • As a whole, the Disney-era Rangers series suffered from Troubled Production. It was bought up when Disney attempted to get the Fox Family Channel and Saban's collection of series (specifically Digimon) and the series as a whole clashed with Disney's family-friendly attitude. While they did show some care during the early years, their apathy started to show. They attempted to shut down the series at least three times, start up an animated version of the series and even attempted to gain control of Toei's Super Sentai franchise to make it less violent!
  • Several game shows have had production troubles that led to the contestants, and sometimes the host, never being paid. These include Pitfall (1981; host Alex Trebek — yes, that one — framed the check he got from the company after it bounced), the original 1987 version of Lingo (1987), a game show adaptation of Yahtzee (1988) and The Reel to Reel Picture Show (1997). Interestingly, Lingo and Yahtzee shared an executive producer, and both the latter and Reel to Reel were hosted by Peter Marshall of The Hollywood Squares fame.
  • Once he became executive producer of The Price Is Right in the 1980s, Bob Barker was often at odds with the models, having fired six of them for various reasons. All six of them sued him for sexual harrassment. He also barred longtime announcer Rod Roddy from appearing on-camera in the early 2000s due to a salary dispute, which led to Fremantle Media covering up by saying that they'd enacted a policy to keep announcers from appearing on camera.
  • Family Feud also had its share of backstage troubles from original host Richard Dawson, particularly in the later years. Namely, he was a prima donna who was often at odds with the producer, even barring him from the set and debating with him on answers. Mark Goodson once remarked that Dawson gave him "tsoris" (Yiddish for "trouble").
  • The shooting of the pilot episode of Lost was interrupted by constant rain, resulting in their set getting flooded and some of the equipment washed away and/or waterlogged. They had to drive to the nearest town, which was something like half an hour away IIRC, to buy hairdryers to dry off the cameras. In addition, natural rain doesn't show up properly on camera, meaning they had to fake rain all over their poor actors at the same time as trying to keep equipment from getting washed away. Then there was the other problem they had just before shooting; Evangeline Lily, who is Canadian, had some problems with getting her work visa, causing them to delay her scenes and almost have to recast the female lead in the middle of shooting.
  • The first shoot of the 2005 revival series of Doctor Who was a very troubled affair. The full details have never been made public, but by all accounts the director set about making himself unpopular, and after the first week of shooting they managed to be three weeks behind schedule.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series was rife with problems. The root cause for much of it was the network wanting an action-oriented Space Western and the production team wanting to do serious science fiction. Low budgets were also a big problem, something you'd probably figure out from watching almost any episode. Things got especially bad in the infamous third season. The show was renewed thanks to a fan letter-writing campaign, but with budgets slashed further and a move to the Friday Night Death Slot. This led to Gene Roddenberry quitting his job as Show Runner. As a result of all this, the third season had a marked decline in quality with an accompanied increase in campiness. Leonard Nimoy found himself frequently clashing with writers and directors who wanted Spock to do Out of Character things like use violence or hit on the Girl of the Week. By the end of that season, the show had predictably crashed and burned itself into Cancellation.
    • If there's any single episode of TOS that suffered from this trope, it was "The Alternative Factor" during the first season. John Barrymore, Drew's father, had been cast as Lazarus, the main guest role ... and then didn't show up on the first day of filming. His agent and lawyer couldn't find him, so they cast someone else in a big hurry (Barrymore's absence led to him getting suspended by SAG for six months after Desilu filed a grievance). The beard for the replacement was improvised from what had been designed for Barrymore, and it shows. The script has howler lines like "Starfleet has been getting reports from all over the galaxy and far beyond ..." It also had a subplot in which Lazarus became romantically involved with a black member of the crew. That was filmed ... and hastily edited out when NBC got paranoid about how the Southern affiliates would react, resulting in the finished episode's choppy feel.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation had a similarly rough ride for its first couple of seasons, mostly due to Gene Roddenberry's declining health and the ridiculously high turnover rate in the writing staff for the first two seasons. Roddenberry's lawyer took control of the writing staff for most of the first season, leading to the departure of TOS mainstays David Gerrold and D.C. Fontana, and near the end of the season cast member Denise Crosby, who got pissed off at being a glorified extra. Things got a bit better for the second season where Maurice Hurley took over the writing staff, but since a lot of TV writers chose to sit out the whole 1988-89 season after the 1988 WGA strike it left no more than about four or five writers (two of whom worked as a team) working on the show at any one point. It didn't help that, according to Tracy Torme at least, Hurley didn't get along with anybody and only differed from Roddenberry's lawyer in that he actually had writing experience. There were also rumors that Hurley had a big crush on Gates McFadden and had her written out of the second season (replacing her with Dr. Pulaski) when she brushed him off. It wasn't until the third season when Roddenberry health didn't allow him to work, which allowed Rick Berman and Michael Piller to take control of the production and the show start to balance out.
    • Even by the standards of the first two seasons, the infamous episode "Code of Honor" stands out. One of the two original writers took his name off it after it was heavily rewritten, and that was before the director they hired chose to populate the aliens of the week entirely with African-American guest actors, whom he proceeded to treat like garbage (though apparently he didn't treat the main cast a whole lot better). Eventually Roddenberry decided enough was enough and canned the director, leaving the first assistant director to pick up the pieces for the remainder of the shoot... which just happened to include the episode's big action sequence. Most of the main cast members (Jonathan Frakes, Brent Spiner and Wil Wheaton especially) have had some rather choice words about the episode in recent years.
      • Not to mention that many of the writers felt Roddenberry's rewrite put it beyond any chance of salvation. He had supposedly told one of the two original writers, on another episode, that the Enterprise doesn't fire warning shots ... only to add a scene in this episode where it did exactly that.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000 isn't perfect, what being a series that bring big laughs with a small budget, but they do have some very interesting incidents.
    • Way back in Season One, there was the episode The Sidehackers. Prior to this episode, Best Brains would choose a movie, someone would watch over part of it and if was worthy to riff, they'd go through it. When Frank Conniff (before he took up the role of TV's Frank), found it, he thought it was good enough to riff and bought the rights. Imagine their shock and horror when, partway through, there was a rape and murder scene. Unable to pull back, Best Brains ended up lopping out the entire scene and Trace, as Crow, added in a throwaway line mentioning what happened to the girl who suffered that fate.
    • The blooper reel Poopie! does show a number of incidents that has the Crow, Tom and Gypsy puppets malfunction in some way, mostly by Tom losing his dome or Crow's headnet falling off. One incident from the movie Danger Death Ray had a scene where Tom shoots Crow with a ray gun and Crow's seen lit up. As the scene comes to an end, Crow bursts into flames! The scene was actually kept in!
    • Another Poopie! blooper showed that Frank couldn't say "I don't think that, soul brother." with a straight face at all! It was so bad, they just grabbed the best take and edited out the part where they burst out laughing.


  • The Smashing Pumpkins' mainstream breakthrough Siamese Dream ended up as this. Billy Corgan moved the band from Chicago to Marietta, Georgia in an attempt to get Jimmy Chamberlin to stop abusing so many drugs (it failed), he came down with suicidal depression and writer's block, D'arcy Wretzky and James Iha broke up at the same time and by the end Billy wound up playing most of the guitar and bass just to get things done quicker. Eventually, the album was finished after four months and $250,000 over budget and became a massive success.
  • My Bloody Valentine's Magnum Opus, Loveless. You can probably get the whole lowdown on The Other Wiki or the band's own page, but just to recap: main vocalist/guitarist/songwriter Kevin Shields is perfectionist to the point of James-Cameron-ness, 19 recording studios were used, 16 engineers were credited (most of them just ended up bringing Shields tea; only Anjali Dutt and Alan Moulder actually engineered anything), Shields and vocalist/guitarist Bilinda Butcher didn't allow the engineers to actually listen to them while recording vocals, drummer Colm Ó Cíosóig couldn't take part due to illness and homelessness (his drumming was sampled, and he only played live on two tracks), they took two weeks to master the whole thing and it was almost all ruined when the computer they were using threw the entire album out of order and Shields had to piece it back together from memory. For years their label head Alan McGee claimed they spent 250.000 pounds and almost bankrupted Creation Records, a claim Shields always disputed as exaggerated — his most recent explanation was that only "a few thousand" were actually used to record while the rest was "money to live on". However, it is true that the production of Loveless ended up terrorizing Creation's staff and draining their finances, with the label's second-in-command Dick Green having a nervous breakdown and tearfully begging Shields to just get it over with already — one publicist even commented that Green's hair turned grey from all the stress.
  • Red House Painters had this happen to them twice:
    • During the production of what was supposed to be a Mark Kozelek solo album, Songs for a Blue Guitar, 4AD's record manager Ivo Watts ended up in a raging argument with Kozelek over a guitar solo. Because Kozelek refused to change it, Watts threw not just Kozelek but the entire RHP project off the label, just a couple of months before the album was due to be released. During the next several weeks, Kozelek desperately tried to find a label that would release the album as well as let him finish it. Even when Island Records took him in, they demanded the guitar solos changed and that the album be labeled as Red House Painters rather than a solo album. While the guitar solos ended up staying, Kozelek would not release his first true solo album until 2000. Songs For A Blue Guitar is considered one of the best albums to be associated with the singer/songwriter.
    • When the band got back together to record Old Ramon, Kozelek (feeling just a little too proud of the critical response to the previous album) was going through an ego trip. The band were constantly arguing with instrument arrangements, which on previous albums were a group effort, but now Kozelek was composing everything himself. Their connection with Island Records was also falling through, with the label one-upping 4AD's dropping them by not just dropping the band, but refusing to let them have the master recordings of the album. Old Ramon remained unheard (a miracle even by late 90's standards) until 2001 when Sub Pop records offered Island more money than the album was truly worth just to get this great piece of art out to the public.
  • Jeff Buckley had both a very notable aversion and straight-forward example of this. Grace is one of the most easy-going recordings in popular music history, while Sketches For My Sweetheart The Drunk is an entirely different story. After the commercial disappointment (at least in Sony's eyes) of Grace, Sony sent in a record producer that demanded hits from the singer-songwriter. During this album's production he threw out an entire album's worth of material and completely reworked songs against the producer's wishes. Buckley's own fellow band members recall the high-heated arguments during recording sessions that created high-tension drama for the musicians involved. As if that weren't bad enough, Buckley made it worse by dying in the middle of production. This left many of the already troubled songs completely unfinished. The album was released with production as close to finished as the producers thought would be in the singer's wishes, the first CD containing the mostly finished previously-recorded material that had been rejected, and the second disc the more unfinished songs and home demos. The album is generally considered good, but really jarring, as the potential the album could have had brings sadness to many listeners.
  • A milder example but one that still qualifies, the sessions for The White Album found The Beatles largely working alone with whatever engineers they had handy and spending hours jamming with no results. The tense atmosphere and lack of productivity caused their longtime engineer Geoff Emerick to quit halfway through and even George Martin felt he had to take a vacation. It pretty much marked the point when the arguments and fights that would later break up the band first reared their ugly head. The ambient was so bad Ringo even left the band for a couple of days, leading Paul to play drums in both "Back in the USSR" and "Dear Prudence".
    • The Beatles started work on Let It Be thinking that returning to the good ol' days of studio jams would get them out of their rut. It didn't work, of course, and the documentary film that was supposed to capture genius at work instead captured the ugly breakdown of a once great band. The album was eventually released several years later when Phil "Wall of Sound" Spector cobbled together what usable bits existed of the recording sessions and turned them into complete songs (such was the acrimony among band members that they never actually recorded a complete take from beginning to end). In 2003, Paul McCartney completely remixed the album producing a rawer, more stripped down sound that he claimed was closer to the band's original vision. The accompanying film has not been shown publicly since the mid-80s because the remaining Beatles say that it brings back too many bad memories.
  • Pink Floyd's late seventies-early eighties albums.
    • The Wall: the band had to leave the UK for tax reasons, and recorded the album in studios in France and the USA. Homesickness predictably ensued. Roger Waters started really becoming the band's dictator, and argued with producer Bob Ezrin. Rick Wright was fired for his refusal to cut his vacation short and rush back to the studio when the album turned out to be behind schedule. The extravagant tour ended up losing the band money, except for Wright, who was the only "official" member to profit from the tour on the basis that he played and was paid as a session musician during the tours.
      • The movie was just as bad, with Waters, director Alan Parker and animation director Gerald Scarfe constantly getting into each other's nerves.
    • The Final Cut: Roger completely took over by this point, not allowing David Gilmour any input and becoming quite the Small Name, Big Ego — at one point he lost his shit and argued with Michael Kamen after finding that Kamen had just scribbled "I must not fuck sheep" repeatedly instead of taking notes. Nick Mason was replaced for a few songs by session drummers as he was suffering from self-confidence issues and marital problems. As a result, Gilmour requested to have his name removed from the producer's credits, but still received producer's royalties.
    • A Momentary Lapse of Reason: much less angsty but still a bit. Gilmour had problems with writer's block and brought in numerous musicians to help, while Mason and Wright (the latter whom, at the time, was not an official member until 1994) themselves didn't do much due to, again, self-confidence issues (Gilmour said that Waters had a talent for "making others feel worthless"). Finally, at the same time the album was produced, Gilmour and Mason were fighting a lawsuit against Waters over ownership of the Pink Floyd name.
  • The Rolling Stones' beloved Magnum Opus Exile on Main St. Much like Pink Floyd, the Stones left the UK in 1971 for tax reasons and settled in France. Most of the backing tracks were recorded in the basement of Richards' villa at Nellcôte, a poorly-ventilated environment where the heat would cause the guitars to go out of tune. Recording took place all night but none of the Stones ever showed up all at the same time — Wyman sat out most of the sessions, Jagger was frequently AWOL and Richards was just getting started on his infamous substance abuse. He was joined in said substance abuse by Taylor, producer Jimmy Miller, session musician Bobby Keys and engineer Andy Johns — Wyman claimed in his autobiography that he, Watts and Jagger were the only people in the villa who abstained to some degree. The band then took the piecemeal recordings and backing tracks to Los Angeles, added all the overdubs and assembled them into Exile.
    • An awesome example is the 1969 tour that was being documented by a film crew. The crew just happened to be on hand to capture the planning for and performance of the infamous concert at the Altamont Speedway. This was intended to be the Stones' Crowning Moment of Awesome, but things started to go wrong very early, giving the whole proceedings an aura of doom. The event just barely got pulled together, and was marked by fighting in the crowd. The cameras were able to capture the whole fiasco, including the murder of an attendee by a Hell's Angels guard. The production was intended to be a standard concert film, but became Gimme Shelter, a dark documentary that shows how what was intended to be an answer to Woodstock became seen by some as the event that marked the end of the hippie era.
  • Extensive use of cocaine marked much of the production of the Fleetwood Mac album Rumours, recorded shortly after two members of the band had divorced, another two members were in a on/off relationship, and the drummer discovered that his wife was having an affair. The resulting LP was a huge critical and commercial success, and regularly appears on lists of the best albums ever made.
  • The same problems continued, just turned up a few notches, when they went back into the studio to make the double album Tusk. Lindsey Buckingham was largely in charge, and he found yet another way to piss off his ex-girlfriend, Stevie Nicks, by cutting "Sara" down to six and a half minutes from the original 14. He was influenced by the New Wave sound of the time, and it shows. For the title track they got the USC marching band to play along. It cost a million dollars to make, the most expensive album ever recorded at that time, and although it generated three hit singles ("Sara" among them) and sold four million copies it was widely regarded as a failure because that was nowhere near the business Rumours had done.
  • Pete Townshend, after Tommy's immense success, intended to create another rock opera, this time with a sci-fi bent, called Lifehouse. Its plot would involve a dystopian heavily polluted virtual reality-based future (virtual reality before the term was even coined), where a Scottish farmer family go to the Lifehouse concert in London, the perfect note rings out and the concertgoers disappear after having achieved musical Nirvana (no, not that kind). The Who would take over the Young Vic theatre, develop new material with influence from the audience and a story would evolve. It would be a movie. Pete would modify his new synths to pick up information from audience members to create musical portraits (something basically impossible then and still pretty complicated now). Unsurprisingly, this was a recipe for disaster. Pete's inability to figure out just what the fuck he wanted caused him to have a nervous breakdown, and after spending four months of live concerts at the Young Vic and unproductive studio sessions, he finally junked the whole Rock Opera concept. The Who gathered up their best songs, and entered Olympic Studios with producer Glyn Johns. The result was Who's Next.
  • Metallica's mainstream breakthrough Self-Titled Album, to a certain extent. To recap: band members get sick of hyper-complicated prog-metal songs that are "too fucking long" during the ...And Justice for All era, hire Motley Crue producer Bob Rock, he proceeds to alter the band's schedule and actually challenge them on songwriting (something previous producers Jon Zazula, Paul Curcio and Flemming Rasmussen never did; in one specific example, Rock told Hetfield up front that his original, crib death-themed lyrics for "Enter Sandman" sucked hard and he needed to write better ones) and emphasising the still-picked-on Jason Newsted in the mix (in contrast to Justice's infamous lack of bass), lots of arguments ensue. Metallica themselves said that they somehow bonded during the sessions through finding new ways to torment Rock — Hetfield claimed that at one point he was browsing a magazine which happened to contain a gay ad that startled Rock, so the next day he plastered an entire room with gay porn. Despite all the animosity, Metallica stuck with Rock due to the success they had with the Black Album (which is still the best-selling album of the Sound Scan era and the best-selling Heavy Metal album), all the way up to the disastrously received St. Anger.
    • St. Anger itself, as the Some Kind of Monster documentary (filmed during recording of said album) handily proved.
  • U2 have had a few:
    • Achtung Baby was recorded at first in Berlin's famous Hansa Ton Studios (formerly Hansa By The Wall, what with them being right next to the Berlin Wall) at the same time that an intra-band conflict started up: Bono and The Edge, burned by the poor reception of Rattle and Hum and their own Creator Backlash, wanted to go in a cyberpunk-industrial-electro-alternative-rock direction, inspired by the contemporary growth of the Alternative Rock, Shoegazing and Madchester scenes. Larry and Adam, on the other hand, wanted to keep the "old U2" sound. Hoping that they would be inspired by the post-Cold-War-ending euphoria, the band instead found the mood in Germany something of a malaise and their hotel really poor. Cue lots of arguments and little tangible progress despite the aid of producers Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois. They decamped back to Ireland with the tapes, managed to sort them out and came out with one of their most beloved records.
    • Pop was meant to further the band's explorations into electronic and dance music, recorded with the help of more producers. They were so confident they allowed their manager to schedule a tour for the summer of 1997. Then Larry had to sit out a lot of the sessions due to back surgery, the band hit some walls creatively and ended up in a mad rush to finish recording the album in time for the PopMart tour — Bono's vocals for "Last Night on Earth" were, funnily enough, recorded on the last day of mixing and mastering, and the whole band basically worked like they were Japanese until the CD was finally released, then just went straight into touring. This left them no time to practice for the tour, resulting in some pretty poor early shows (including a disastrous start in Las Vegas, where they had to stop and re-start "Staring at the Sun" because they lost timing).
  • Smile, by Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys, is one of the most fascinating examples of this in music history. It was meant to be, in Brian's words, a "teenage symphony to God", a whole album's worth of music similar in style to their smash hit "Good Vibrations", and the album that would top his previous masterpiece, Pet Sounds. But as time went on, Brian's already fragile psyche began to crumble, coupled with his heavy consumption of cocaine and LSD, to the point that he began believing that one of his songs was starting fires around the studio it was recorded at. Things weren't going well around him, either; by that time, the band was suing Capitol Records over royalties and trying to set up their own record label, Brian's brother Carl Wilson was nearly drafted for the Vietnam War, and worst of all, Brian's bandmate and cousin Mike Love came into heated arguments with Brian's lyrical partner Van Dyke Parks over the meaning of such lines as "columnated ruins domino" and "over and over, the crow cries uncover the cornfield", eventually driving Van Dyke Parks into leaving the project behind. By that point, Smile was basically over, and on May 6, the project was officially shelved. (more than 30 years later, Wilson resurrected the thing as a solo album)
  • Guns N' Roses' Chinese Democracy. 11 years of development, millions of dollars spent, at least 11 musicians involved, and much pressure on getting the album released.
  • While recording Synchronicity in Montserrat, the members of The Police each recorded their parts in different rooms and only overdubbed instruments when just one of them was in the studio at a time because they couldn't stand to be in the same room. Additionally, Sting and Stewart Copeland started a fight while recording "Every Breath You Take", which almost made producer Hugh Padgham walk out.
    • It got even worse when they went back to try to record what would have been their sixth album, where they were going to do new recordings of all their greatest hits (it was released, with only "Don't Stand So Close to Me" updated). According to Andy Summers, one morning, as he expected, Stewart and Sting got into a fight about how to program a Synclavier shortly after they began working. He slipped out and came back seven hours later ... only to find them still having the same exact argument.
  • Happy Mondays' New Sound Album Yes Please! was a production so troubled that it bankrupted the label that financed it, Factory Records. The album went way over budget, members became addicted to crack (while attempting to kick a heroin habit), and a recording session in Barbados resulted in recorded instruments but no vocals (due to the members forgetting to write the lyrics). When the album was released, it was universally panned and failed to sell.
  • Of the two big post-September 11th benefit concerts, "The Concert for New York City" proved a sensation, while "United We Stand: What More Can I Give" in Washington, D.C. proved a debacle. The Daily Show brutally mocked it with the correspondent sent to cover it hoping that the proceeds were going to a charity that could get him several hours of his life back. This Salon article (calling it "The Worst Benefit Concert Ever!") and this kinder MTV article provide the details; among the "highlights" noted:
    • Several billed performers didn't show up, such as Mick Jagger and KISS.
    • Myriad technical difficulties not only interfered with the performances but put the show over three hours behind schedule. (Luckily this show, unlike its N.Y.C. counterpart, wasn't broadcast live.)
    • Mariah Carey's appearance came in the wake of her public breakdown and the flop of Glitter — which her appearance still tried to promote.
    • A few sets were marred by performers' careless use of the American flag as a prop.
    • Top-billed, show-climaxing Michael Jackson (the concert's organizer and one of those careless flag users) lip-synched his way through his one solo number before the grand finale.
  • Starflyer 59's sophomore album, Gold. Prior to recording, "internal tensions" reduced the band's members to Jason Martin, and then the pressure of recording the album all by himself pushed Jason to the verge of a nervous breakdown. As J. Edward Keyes' semi-official biography of the band describes it:

 Martin entered the studio with engineer Bob Moon – and wouldn’t emerge again for a month. Not to sleep. Not to visit friends. Not for anything.

Moon’s recollection is vivid. “It was just insane. I remember at one point standing outside the studio with Jason, and hearing him say that it was the first time he’d seen the daylight in seven days.”

“I didn’t leave the Green Room for a month. Period. [...] I was having a semi-breakdown,” he admits. “It was a sick experience.”

  • The creation of Public Image Ltd's third LP, Flowers Of Romance, was plagued with setbacks, most stemming from the departure of Only Sane Man bassist Jah Wobble over monetary disputes, all worsened by Keith Levene's heroin addiction and John Lydon's increasing paranoia. It shows.
  • Michael Jackson's Invincible had over 50 songs recorded for it over four years (the final album had only 16 of them), and the production costs soared to $30 million before it was finally ready in the fall of 2001 under pressure from Sony chief Tommy Mottola. For reference, the album had originally been promised for Christmas 1999. By that point, Jackson was both planning to leave the label over contract disputes and unwilling to do a U.S. tour to support the album. Instead, he staged two Madison Square Garden concerts with fellow artists paying tribute to him as the lead-in to a set that, among other things, reunited him with his brothers for the first time in years that September. Unfortunately, the first concert was plagued by delays between sets, and while the second night went better, it happened to take place on September 10th. The Sept. 11 attacks wiped discussion of the shows off of the media's table (save for an Entertainment Weekly cover story by an unimpressed attendee), and when the album arrived at the end of October it didn't sell nearly as well as expected/needed in the wake of mediocre reviews. When Sony decided to stop pushing the album through videos, singles, etc. in early '02, Jackson proceeded to claim they intentionally sabotaged its promotion out of racism.
  • The boys from Canadian band Rush had some of this while making their fifth album Hemispheres as Neil explains this interview. The album would eventually go to Platinum status in the US.
  • Steely Dan's 1980 album Gaucho has one of the more troubled productions in rock music history. For starters, guitarist/songwriter Walter Becker was hit by a car before recording began, and while recovering from leg injuries, developed other infections which further delayed recording. Also, Becker and co-leader Donald Fagen became control freaks in production, demanding dozens of takes from studio musicians and continuous tweaks to already recorded material (the fade-out for "Babylon Sisters" alone took 55 attempts for Becker, Fagen and their longtime producer Roger Nichols to decide on a version they liked). Then, a song called "The Second Arrangement" — which the band had slaved over more than any other track — was accidentally wiped by a recording assistant and eventually had to be scrapped. Lastly after the album had been finally been finished, a three way legal wrangle sprang up between the band's former label (MCA), the label that the band had just signed to and planned to release the album on (ABC/Warner), and the band themselves, who just wanted the darned thing to be released. MCA won out, and released the album for an inflated price exclusively because the band were popular.
    • Fagen and Becker, long-time friends and the only two permanent members of the band, began to grow distant due to Becker's drug use and Fagen's plans on releasing a solo album. Steely Dan broke up under a year after Gaucho's release, with Fagen and Becker not reuniting the band for 15 years.
  • The Kovenant's fabled fifth album, Aria Galactica, has been in Development Hell for nearly a decade.
  • Def Leppard's most successful album, 1987's Hysteria, suffered from an immensely troubled production. They began working on it in late 1983 after completing the tour for their previous album Pyromania without that album's producer (Mutt Lange), aware that they'd likely struggle top a Diamond-certified album. Disaster struck in December 1984 when drummer Rick Allen had a car accident that cost him his left arm, but he was determined to continue playing the drums with one arm and set about learning to play a modified electronic kit. Meanwhile, Executive Meddling resulted in the recruitment of Jim Steinman as producer over the band's objections; when Steinman failed to produce anything meaningful with the group he was sacked, but still had to be paid. Eventually they finished the album with a returning Lange, but it had gone so far over its budget by that point that they barely covered it's costs in spite of selling about three million copies. They didn't catch a break until "Pour Some Sugar On Me" was released as the fourth single and propelled the album back to the top of the charts.
  • Sly & the Family Stone's There's a Riot Goin' On has this trope written all over it. The band was agreed to be on a roll, due to the combined effect of the hit Stand album, their triumphant Woodstock appearance, and the new singles on the hit Greatest Hits album. Behind the scenes things were falling apart. Sly Stone moved from San Francisco to LA, creating physical and personal distance from the others. He and some other members greatly increased their drug intake. The Black Panthers, showing odd priorities, were pressuring Sly to fire drummer Greg Errico and saxophonist Jerry Martini because they were white. Errico did leave around that time, mainly because Sly's use of drum machines and guest musicians was leaving him with little to do. During all this turmoil, song lyrics showed a surprising level of bleakness. The resulting album is remembered as simultaneously one of the group's classics and the beginning of the end for the Family Stone.
  • Foo Fighters' One by One. Probably helped by the band being burned out by years of touring, no one was satisfied with the recordings. Then during a UK minitour, drummer Taylor Hawkins had an overdosis. As he left the hospital, the band rushed back to their Virginia studio, eventually moving to a top-notch LA one... and not only the frustration continued, but tensions were escalating. The band eventually decided to take a break — where, to make it worse, Dave Grohl went touring with Queens of the Stone Age, raising some ire from Hawkins. The band eventually decided they'd at least play the Coachella festival — where the rehearsals were mostly silent until guitarist Chris Shifflet (who was recording his first album with the band) said "Man, is it just me or we can cut the air here with a knife?" and fights broke out. But the concert was done, and since the band enjoyed their performance, they decided to re-record the album from scratch in Virginia during just two weeks. As Dave put out: "This version of 'All of My Life' cost $1 million and sounds like crap. This was recorded in half an hour in my basement and is the biggest fucking song we've ever had!"
  • Exhumed's debut album Gore Metal, as chronicled in the liner notes of the 2015 Updated Rerelease. Half the band, frontman Matt Harvey and bassist Ross Sewage, were butting heads over the musical direction and song choices, unaided by Sewage being sick of his Butt-Monkey status despite being the one who gained them their traction by that point. Harvey wanted a more deathgrind sound as opposed to Ross' insistence on thrashy goregrind, which explains the album's musical style. The album's mixer, James Murphy, whom the band chose since he was one of their heroes, had a then-undiagnosed brain tumour that made him a complete Jerkass who would issue violent threats if they didn't play like he wanted, refuse to hear their say on the record's matter, lash out at the most innocuous things and quipping South Park just to annoy the band for no reason. The producer they chose was naïvely picked because he had recorded rehearsals for Testament, one of the band's influences, later their own rude awakening that producing records and recording rehearsals are two completely different things. Things were so bad, Exhumed themselves weren't sure about releasing it in the first place, but their label, Relapse Records, loved it enough to think otherwise. Although Sewage left the band shortly after release to join rival band Impaled, it became their breakthrough, helping to revitaltize the dying extreme metal scene at the time and establishing them as one of the sub-genre's tour-de-force acts.
  • Carcass' Reek of Putrefaction was smooth sailing until their mixer screwed up the sound so badly, the band had to hurrily remake the entire 22-song affair in a matter of days, predictably having to release the final version in its unfinished state regardless. Then, they got busted on the grounds of obscene content pertaining to its infamous cover, a collage of corpses... Despite (or because of) all this, it gave birth to the entire goregrind sub-genre, spawning countless imitators and innovators to this day, rushjob be damned.
  • Perhaps the most morbid example was Mayhem's Magnum Opus, De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas. Back in 1991, before most of the songs were fully written, (initial songwriting began in 1987) lead singer Dead offed himself by hacking his wrists up multiple times before blowing his brains out with a shotgun. Almost immediately after Dead's suicide, stories about guitarist Euronymous taking pictures of the body and even making a stew out of the brain (along with Euronymous's generally poor treatment of Dead when he was alive) had prompted bassist Necrobutcher to leave the band. Mayhem, lacking both a vocalist and a bassist, brought on Attila Cishar and Euronymous's then-friend Varg Vikernes to help finish recording. From the start there were issues with finishing what Dead started. Meanwhile in 1992 Varg and Euronymous were out burning churches along with the rest of the "Black Circle" started by Euronymous. However, tensions soon rose between the duo over both priorities (Euronymous feared Varg was using Mayhem and the Black Circle's crimes to boost Burzum record sales) and politics (Euronymous leaned far to the left, and Varg was even farther to the right). The details of what eventually happened are still disputed but by the end of it Varg had stabbed Euronymous to death in 1993, with recording just finished. He was arrested and sentenced to 21 years in prison for both the murder and the arsons. Drummer Hellhammer was asked by Euronymous's family to remove Varg's bass and redo the parts, but eventually he simply left it in, most likely because he had no idea how to play bass. The album would not be released until 1994 due to the controversy surrounding the murder. (Oh, and their next album? 1995's Dawn of the Black Hearts, an LP with one of Euronymous's postmortem photos of Dead as the cover.)
  • Doctor Who 'trock' band, Chameleon Circuit, experienced a hard time making their two albums. They were forced to release their first album unfinished because their producer left them. Their second album, their new producer, Michael Aranda, was stuck in France for two months, because the boarder officials won't let him go to London. Their second album was number 23 in the US Heat chart.
  • Wings' 1973 Band On The Run album was also troubled. On the eve of the recording of the album, guitarist Henry McCullough and drummer Denny Seiwell leave the band, reducing the group to Paul McCartney, wife Linda, and guitarist/bassist/singer Denny Laine. The three of them decided to record in Lagos, Nigeria, helped by a recommendation from Ginger Baker and feeling that the change in atmosphere and sunny weather would do them good. Except it turned out that Nigeria was in the middle of monsoon season, and was going through violent revolution. The studio, owned by EMI, was a seriously under-equipped 8-track facility with limited microphones and underexperienced engineers. The hotel arrangements were miserable, and engineer Geoff Emerick (an associate from the Beatles days) was freaked out by the Nigerian creepy-crawly and reptilian population (Paul and Linda pranked Geoff by dumping dead spiders in Geoff's studio bed). Moreover, as Paul and Linda were out for a stroll, they were robbed at knifepoint, and (among other possessions) the demos of the songs Paul wrote for the album were stolen from them, meaning Paul had to work from memory and/or write new material in the studio. They only got out with their lives as they were white, and the black thieves felt Paul and Linda would not be able to identify their muggers due to their skin color. On top of that, Paul suffered a bout of sunstroke while going outside for a break, and the band were cornered by a visiting Fela Kuti, who was convinced that Paul had come only to steal African beats and profit from them (Paul had to play back what Wings had recorded to Kuti to prove it untrue). The album was finished in England by transferring the Lagos recordings to 16-track for horns, strings and overdubs.
  • Garbage's Bleed Like Me. The first sessions were mostly fruitless and lead the bandmembers to fight each other. After a four month breakup, they decided to resume recording with an outside producer, John King — who was eventually ditched for the band to finish themselves, though one of his tracks is on the final album. The thing still burned the group so much the album's tour was cut short and the band entered a hiatus afterwards, only playing together again two years later. The band blamed new label Geffen for the bad vibes — singer Shirley Manson declared that “We got dumped on a label who did not give one flying fuck about us. And it just became a very joyless process. Something that should be really incredible, exciting and adventurous became like a noose around our neck. And we sort of turned in on each other as a result, I think.”
  • "Rock Me Tonite", the music video that killed Billy Squier's career, fits this trope. According to the Wikipedia article, he had come up on his own with a concept whereby he and some fans would be shown, in grainy film and subdued colors like American Gigolo, getting ready for a concert and then going to it. The first director he approached, the guy who'd done "Beat It", was willing to do it but only if he got a bigger budget, and as he knew Squier's label, Capitol, would likely not give him that much money, he turned it down. The second director had his own concept which Squier didn't like. So, with two weeks to go till the World Premiere Video date they promised MTV, and his tour coming up, they were receptive when Kenny Ortega offered to do it. Squier was too nice a guy to refuse to do the video when he saw the set, or tell MTV to wait, or reject the whole thing and do another video. But if he had been, we'd have been spared the spectacle of him prancing around the bedroom set, rolling around on the satin sheets and tearing off a pink tank top. Everyone thought he was gay, and he stopped selling out shows.


  • Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, The Musical take on the comic book, had a hard time just getting to its preview period on Broadway...whereupon It Got Worse due to seemingly endless injuries to its performers, inspiring parodies on Conan, snarky coverage by The Onion A.V. Club, and even an episode of Law & Order: Criminal Intent. With a $65 million budget, it will have to sell out for three years to break even. The preview period kept getting extended, and finally theater critics had enough and wrote/ran reviews of the February 7, 2011 performance (which, had it not been pushed back again, was supposed to be the official opening date)... most of which were scathing. In response, the producers (finally!) panicked and brought in script doctors, along with having Bono and The Edge write new music. Director (and famous prima donna) Julie Taymor refused to go along with the changes and was either fired or quit. It finally opened on June 2011.
    • In January 2012, the producers suggested that the show might periodically add new scenes and songs to encourage repeat customers. The cautionary tale of Turn Off the Dark continues to unfold.
      • Offstage as well. Taymor has filed suit against the producers and Bono and Edge, claiming not that she was unjustly fired but that they used her rewrites after they did, without giving her credit.

Video Games

  • Daikatana, as chronicled in Knee Deep in a Dream. First, Ion Storm had some internal warring because the Daikatana team felt the development of Dominion: Storm Over Gift 3 was stealing resources and staff. Then, they tried to move from the old Quake engine to the Quake II one, a process much more complicated and time-consuming than they thought. During the development of the game, the staff changed completely three times and the game ended up delayed so much that when it came out, it was already outdated. The resulting product ended up being a complete bust and pretty much ended the fame and career of the then-fledging John Romero.
  • Similar issues came up as some of the reasons behind Duke Nukem Forever's infamous development, and instead of ruining a single man's career, the issues demolished DNF's development staff. The fourteen-year development hell that ensued was due to switching engines, 3D Realms founder George Broussard publicly insulting DNF's publisher, tons of changes beyond engine switches that would necessitate restarting the entire project, and more. DNF is truly spectacular, in that its production was so troubled that the staff had nothing worth publicly showing aside from a couple of screenshots. In the end, Gearbox Software took over production, and suddenly revealed the game would come out. Gearbox took the code and levels that 3D Realms had "finished" — which were largely conceptual and unrelated — and, in one year, completed the project that 3D Realms couldn't in fourteen.
  • Tattoo Assassins, Data East's (specifically, developed by the US-based Data East Pinball, now known as Stern Pinball) Mortal Kombat clone is definitely this. This site very much tells the story behind the troubled development of the game.
  • Jurassic Park: Trespasser: As explained in an online feature or this video about this infamous botched 1996 FPS, Trespasser had a host of design and logistical problems that caused its design team to severely scale it back from their initial goals. An ambitious plan to have friendly and hostile dinosaurs that reacted to you through a groundbreaking AI system was largely abandoned because the creatures couldn't decide what mood to pick (the AI was set to maximum hostility as a quick fix). The melee weapons didn't work (so they had all their mass removed, making almost all of them useless), textures were largely scaled back because of compatibility issues and there were serious issues with the game's physics system. A botched licensing deal (they couldn't use John Williams iconic music in the game, so they had to create their own), mismanagement between the game's design team, and a continuously-delayed release caused the game to be dead on arrival, and it was quickly forgotten.
  • Metroid Prime. Not counting that producer Shigeru Miyamoto asked to throw out basically everything during early stages, at a certain point, the Japanese crew was spending most of their year in America overseeing the game and Retro's staff was pulling all-nighters, working 80-100 hours a week neglecting family and nourishing on atomic fireball candy (a total of 72 gallons of them among the staff).
  • Splinter Cell: Conviction: It took almost four years from the time the game was announced (via an internal leak of images from the game in mid-2006) to its release because of several major gameplay shifts, including a halfway-finished product that was essentially thrown out midway through production. The original game, helmed by Ubisoft Montreal, featured Sam Fisher (now on the run from Third Echelon) as some type of homeless drifter sporting a beard, hoodie and makeshift weapons and devices, and the gameplay was intended to be a sandbox-type shooter where Sam would investigate various locales to get information (and memories) about his daughter. The game was seen as a serious departure from the franchise, and Ubisoft canned it midway through development over negative fan reaction and claims that its gameplay was too similar to the original Assassin's Creed. Several features were unceremoniously thrown out (including several abilities that enabled Sam to blend into his environment, move objects around and fight hand-to-hand against enemies), and the game's entire structure was revamped. Conviction would eventually be released in early 2010.
  • Gex, as discussed by one of the programmer here. The development team was inexperienced, overworked to the point of doing 12 to 16 hours a day, understaffed and rushed to finish the game for Christmas. A lot of content was cut due to time and manpower constraints, and the Lead Designer was fired after hiding an insulting message that included an employee's actual phone number.
  • The infamous E.T. The Extraterrestrial for the Atari 2600, which was so rushed that it ended up to be made just in six weeks. Considering that it was made basically by a single person, Howard Scott Warsaw, and that programming for 2600 was notoriously idiosyncratic, it's actually a minor miracle that the game is playable at all. The game was enormously hyped by the Atari's marketing department, so when it turned out to be So Okay It's Average, the failed hopes of the gamers led it to be an enormous flop and to its (somewhat undeserved) reputation of both being So Bad It's Horrible and almost singlehandedly causing The Great Video Game Crash of 1983.
  • Atari's home port of Pac-Man was supposedly the demo version, made with great difficulty over six weeks due to the differences in underlying hardware. When the developer showed it to the suits, they said "OK, we're shipping this." It did well on the strength of the title but took a pounding in the media.
  • The Sega Saturn game Sonic X-Treme is perhaps the most tragic example of all, as unlike the other examples here, the game was never finished. The problems started when the design team decided to use the NIGHTS engine for the game, but Yuji Naka would have none of it and forbade them from using the engine, setting the developers back several weeks, then the publishers decided that they wanted to use the engine in the boss battles for the whole game, causing further delays, Chris Senn ended up doing most of the work himself, tirelessly working 20 hours a day until doctors told him he had 6 months to live, he then realized that there was no chance of finishing the game before the holiday season, so there was no choice but to pull the plug on the game.
  • LA Noire competely destroyed Team Bondi due to the lead designer having serious rage issues and treating it like his Magnum Opus. In order to get the game back on budget, they hired and chewed up nearly every budding game programmer and artist in Sydney and they were so hostile that publisher Rockstar publicly swore off ever working with them again.
  • Oni started life around 1997-1998 as an ambitious throwback to cyberpunk anime inspired by the likes of Akira and Ghost in the Shell, extra emphasis on the latter. It was supposed to come out by late 1999, but was frequently delayed due to development issues (possibly overbudgeting and clashing visions among them if the many different in-game art styles are any indication) Then the developers got bought out mid-production by Microsoft, meaning they were none other than Bungie (its West division behind this only game of theirs in particular), also busy with other projects such as Myth 2 (who's finance-draining one-million-dollar pre-release recall via a formatting glitch could of indirectly affected this game in some way) and a little game by the name of Halo. The game had to be rushed out the door before the employees, with a little bit of help, either jump ship or move to their new offices at Microsoft, resulting in many promised features cut like, as infamously alluded to by the cover, dual-wielding, certain weapons and dual-wielding certain weapons. Since Take Two Interactive owned a fifth of Bungie at the time, they took the IP with them & made the aforementioned aid publish it on PC & now PS2. Keep in mind it was meant to be PC exclusive, indicating it could've been revamped to fit the PS2's memory in mind at T2's behest last second, unaided by it being difficult to develop for at the time, making it even more hastily made than it already was. While it got good scores, with many amazed by the surprisingly polished combat in particular, they also agreed that the Dummied Out features were far too painfully apparent, resulting in a promising, but underwhelming game that time forgot, except its small, yet passionate cult following. And if you thought that was enough to ensure (Spoiler warning) a bonafide Stillborn Franchise...
  • Psychotoxic, as seen in this video 43 minutes in. After being picked up by publisher CDV Entertainment Software AG for their tech demos, developer Nuclear Vision Entertainment begun work on this project, albeit on a tinier scale by a smaller budget, half the team intended (One of them later quitting that caused many more hurdles on its own) and 7 producers down the line. While NVE was smooth sailing at first, CDV meanwhile were bleeding money from their mismanaging of projects, cancelling tons of them & firing their own staff just as much to keep itself afloat, this game forced to be spared as Nuclear Vision met their milestones, something the devs themselves weren't informed about. After the publisher just stopped sending money, the devs sought others (including Ubisoft in their local Germany and GM-X Media overseas, both of which ended up with two seperate fund-draining lawsuits after CDV took notice of the former & the latter refusing to pay up) before finally launching under Vidis Entertainment locally to technical issues (the anti-piracy DRM going haywire on certain copies for one) & accidentally competing with a little game called Doom 3, unaided by Vidis' lack of marketing budget and another lawsuit for their stopping to pay NVE for agreeing on the price drop, dooming the game to failure. Later on, it was published overseas by Whiptail Interactive, only to screw the devs over enough to cause yet another lawsuit, claiming bankruptcy not long after. Without any funds and no future plans, NVE shut their doors and went their own seperate ways.
  • Shantae began on SNES or PC, then it was overhauled for the Playstation before the final build on the Game Boy Color. At first, no publisher was willing to pick it up as it would've taken 32-bit megabit batteries to function properly, itself very expensive to manufacture, until Capcom stepped in... only to release it after sitting on it for about a year after completion and when the Game Boy Advance was then a year old. They would also tell creator Matt Bozon that games with female leads don't sell, nevermind that they themselves had female-led best-sellers before and doomed the game to an early grave themselves to begin with. Despite glowing praise from critics, the game fell into obscurity overnight until internet word-of-mouth allowed the franchise to continue after numerous cancelled games.
  • Two developers claims this happened to the infamous Last Action Hero licensed game. After the planning stage, word from a lawyer came that Arnold Schwarzenegger did not want to be "associated with violence" due to his then-recent involvement in family-friendly comedies, and that the game could not feature him using firearms, completely ruining the original concept. This lead to the game being hastily retooled as the deadline was fixed with no chance for extension. Communications with the legal department was exceptionally slow, leading to the developers being clueless on even basic questions such as wheter or not Arnold's character could punch, and the development of the PC version was ground to an halt after the graphic artist refused to do work because of an unrelated payment issue with the publisher.
  • The Sega Saturn game for Msagic Knight Rayearth was initially listed as one of the first games for the system. It didn't show up until six months after support for the system came to an end. What caused this game from Working Designs to fall this far down? Numerous problems, including:
    • The usual need to translate and dub the voice bits from Japanese to English.
    • The computer holding the data for the game crashing, forcing them to rebuild pieces of it.
    • A fight between WD and Sega over what to name the main heroines (Sega had realized Rayearth was a good enough series to franchise to the States. However, as it was common at the time, they wanted to give them English names. Both Sega and WD had different names for the girls before they both threw their arms into the air and left them Hikaru, Umi and Fuu.)
    • And after it was all done, then Sega head honcho Bernie Stolar's draconian policy against third party developers kicked in, leaving them high and dry until the Saturn was dead in the water.

Web Original

  • The Year 2 and 3 That Guy With The Glasses anniversary Massive Multiplayer Crossovers (hopefully Year 4 can be just as awesome without using this trope!):
    • Kickassia. Almost everyone involved was injured somehow, the worst being cameraman Rob Walker getting a nasty leg injury on the first day, but he was still quite a Determinator as he kept cramming himself into tight places and waiting until filming was over to seek any medical attention. Also, Lord Kat twisted both his ankles, which forced his role to be severely reduced, and the extremely tight four day filming schedule meant that the climax had to be significantly trimmed down, with scenes like Spoony revealing himself to still be Insano never being filmed.
    • Suburban Knights was even worse, with the weather causing so many problems that Doug Walker was fully prepared to scrap the whole thing, until everyone banded together and convinced him they were willing to get the film done whatever it took.
      • Thankfully, injures were minimal compared to Kickassia. However, the few that did happen created controversy shortly before SK came out. During filming, Elisa of Team NChick was duct taped to a wall and got a little overheated. Somehow this got interpreted as "crucified upside-down" and one of the site's biggest critics used this info to try and "ruin" TGWTG. Thankfully it didn't go anywhere.
  • On a smaller scale, the big crossover review between The Nostalgia Critic, Spoony and Linkara for Alone in The Dark. To begin with, Doug Walker had lost his voice the day before Spoony and Linkara arrived in Chicago (hence the use of text-to-speech). Secondly, construction work was being done outside Doug's house, so they had to film the review in Doug's basement. In addition, they didn't decide which Uwe Boll movie to review until the day they started writing. Spoony gives the scoop here.

Western Animation

  • The 90's Incredible Hulk Animated Adaptation is this according to the original producer.
  • Disney and Pixar have had several of these:
    • The very first Toy Story was subject to constant Executive Meddling, pushing to make it more adult and cynical. When a preview cut was declared unwatchable, production was shut down for two weeks, while Lasseter and the others basically rewrote the entire movie.
    • The Emperors New Groove started as Kingdom of the Sun, a Prince and Pauper epic directed by The Lion King's co-director Roger Allers. Since the writers weren't very successful in adding original material and test audiences weren't reacting well, another director, Mark Dindal, was hired to see if things evolved. As the deadline got closer and Allers and Dindal were basically working at two movies simultaneously (the former with a drama, and the latter with a comedy), the higher-ups intervened and Allers quit. After a six-month interval where Dindal and some writers reworked the movie, the film became the screwball comedy that eventually saw the light of day. It was all documented in The Sweatbox, a film shot by Trudie Styler (as her husband Sting wrote songs for the movie) that Disney makes sure that never gets released.
    • Ratatouille was originally developed in 2001 by Jan Pinkava, but Pixar lost faith in Pinkava and ultimately replaced him with Brad Bird.
    • Bolt suffered from this in spades. The film was originally helmed by Lilo and Stitch director Chris Sanders, who wanted to make another quirky animated family film. To that end, he envisioned American Dog, which followed a popular television star dog named Henry who (after being knocked out and waking up on a train to Nevada) enlists the help of two other talking animals, including a cat and oversized bunny rabbit, to drive him back home (while believing he's still in a television show). The film went through several different cuts (and suggestions from John Lasseter and other Pixar directors on how to improve the film), but Sanders reportedly rejected all of the changes. Lasseter then fired Sanders from the project, and the film was drastically reworked (under a constrained timeframe) into the final product. Tellingly, American Dog is not mentioned anywhere on the film's DVD features, and only receives a passing reference in the making-of book The Art of Bolt.
  • The film version of Astro Boy managed to go through no less than three different directors, several different writers and a budget that spiraled out of control due to constant production delays. The bottom fell out when the film's production company went bankrupt a few months before opening. The final product manages to show the chaotic production with its unevenness and lack of direction in terms of plot.
  • Family Dog, a Steven Spielberg produced animated spin-off of Amazing Stories didn't debut until 1992 seven years after the original "Family Dog" episode of Amazing Stories had aired. Only five episodes of the finished product aired.



  • A 2011 commercial for the Citi card is told from the perspective of a makeup artist working on a film. This trope seems to be in play if the lead's cell phone going off, rain delay, and demand for a bigger explosion are any indication.

 I thought we'd be on location for three days. It's been three weeks.



  • Tropic Thunder parodies this phenomenon, with specific jabs at Apocalypse Now.
  • A fictional example can be found in Werner Herzog's Incident at Loch Ness. To give any details would be ruining it.
    • As the folder for real examples above shows, it is inspired by Herzog's actual career.
  • Living In Oblivion is a nineties independent flick in which Steve Buscemi plays the role of a director in a nineties independent flick where everything goes wrong. The movie itself is supposedly based on the director's experience while working on a Brad Pitt movie called Johnny Suede.
  • The film within the film for Singin in The Rain (The Dueling Cavalier) experienced severe troubled production due to the transition from silent to talkie pictures; the crew was too inexperienced to realize that every sound could be recorded and the actors were unable to adjust to the idea of speaking into microphones, leading the film to be laughed off by audiences at its first screening. This lead to the film being retooled into a campy musical called The Dancing Cavalier and a complete dub of the female lead's voice.
  • At one point in Walk Hard, Dewey Cox (under the influence of a number of drugs) attempts to create his bizarre masterpiece "Black Sheep" (a clear parody of the above mentioned Brian Wilson song "Smile"), which leads to the band and his wife to break up with him and his inevitable drug fueled rampage through the city in nothing but his underwear.

  I need ten thousand didgeridoos!

  • Shadow of the Vampire fictionalizes the production of Nosferatu highlighting the disagreements between stars and producers, director and crew, and an actual vampire.
  • Irreconcilable Differences is mainly about young Drew Barrymore divorcing her parents, but the best parts involve Ryan O'Neal's hilariously overblown Gone with the Wind clone spinning out of control.
  • The film-within-a-film of Scream 3, based on the 'real-life' Woodsboro murders, is quickly shut down when Ghostface starts targetting the cast.


Live Action TV

  • Slings and Arrows has one of these every year. The first two turn out well; the third one ends with the lead actor dying and everyone else involved in the production being fired.
  • Part one of the Young Indiana Jones movie The Hollywood Follies revolves around Indy engaging in a battle of wits with Real Life primadonna director Erich von Stroheim over Foolish Wives.
  • Pretty much any of Vincent Chase's movies on Entourage (Smokejumpers, Aquaman, Medellin... pretty much all except Gatsby) fall victim to this trope.
  • The Community episode "Documentary Filmmaking: Redux" depicts the Dean trying to film a 30-second ad for the college and slowly driving himself and all the other characters to madness. The episode is shot as Abed's documentary, which explicitly described as the Hearts of Darkness to the Dean's Apocalypse Now.


  • The Producers, when they weren't troubling their own production, were overjoyed with the 'bad luck' that struck it, until the worst disaster: audiences loved "Springtime for Hitler".
  • The play being performed in Curtains! is one big screwed-up mess, thanks to a lot of back-stage drama, an entire number being badly-choreographed, the lead actress giving a terrible performance, and a whole lot of murders happening. Fortunately, the detective investigating said murders is a Promoted Fanboy who puts just as much time into improving the quality of the play.

Web Original

  • The crappy student film Marble Hornets was called off due to "unworkable conditions," with the director getting increasingly hysterical and paranoid. Later analysis would reveal that in this case, "unworkable conditions" means "driven to near-insanity by the constant presence of a creepy guy with no face."

Western Animation

  • The Simpsons while filming the Radioactive Man movie.
  • The Animaniacs episode "Hearts of Twilight", yet another Apocalypse Now spoof.
  • Metalocalypse: Every single in-universe album during the show's run. The first is done underwater in an attempt to sound as "analog" as possible, deafening the producer. But the biggest example of this trope is the second album: the band procrastinated big time getting it out, causing mass panic. When they finally got to it, Nathan demanded to perform in a suit of armor that made recording difficult, Pickles was starved while everyone else ate, Toki and Murderface produced their own song which, due to how bizarre it was, failed to even make it on the album and to top it all off, Guitarist Skwisgaar Skwigelf was forced by feedback to do his guitar parts skydiving, and thanks to Toki deleting the parts, they did it twice.
  • An episode of What's New Scooby Doo revolved around director Vincent Wong's attempt to make a re-make of a cheesy spy movie Spy Me A River. Besides the lead actor quitting halfway through, no one reading the script, Mystery Inc. being used as stunt doubles, and a Classically-Trained Extra with eyes on the lead role, the production was haunted by the Faceless Phantom who turned out to be the director who wanted to sabotage the film after realising how awful it was.
  1. Nagano routinely hated Tomino's style and the direction where he was taking the show, up to the point that The Five Star Stories basically started as his Start My Own towards their other collaboration, Heavy Metal L-Gaim.
  2. She chose Nagano, and they still seem to be Happily Married.
  3. Harrison arguably got the last laugh when he became the only one of the film's three stars to receive an Oscar nomination for his performance.
  4. Some of the cut footage has been recovered in recent years; the film's fans continue to harbour hope that all of the cut footage may someday be restored and the film released as Mankiewicz originally intended.
  5. in which Roddy McDowall (who played Octavian in Cleopatra) requested, and received, a small role to alleviate boredom during the endless delays to Cleopatra
  6. Patricia Ja Lee's contract stated that, playing as a main character, she had to get top billing in the credits instead of as a guest of some sort. However, Saban was reluctant due to the fact that they weren't sure about Valerie Vernon's fate and were forced to back down.