So the new Twin Peaks series is back on schedule again, with our beloved leader David Lynch back at the helm. As suspected, Lynch’s financial qualms were not just over his own paycheck, but over a matter of budget. Showtime had commissioned Lynch for a series of nine episodes, but when Lynch came back saying that to do the thing right there had to be more episodes and hence a larger budget, that’s where things stalled. If nothing else, Lynch is a man of vision and apparently he wouldn’t do the show if he couldn’t make it right. And Lynch isn’t the only visionary out there who either threatened to leave, actually left, or was asked to leave a project over artistic differences.
David Lynch – Dune
It is perhaps unsurprising that this is not the first time Lynch has taken issue with production overlords. We could talk about his discontent with the original Twin Peaks series as well, but lets stick with Dune. Considering Lynch turned down the chance to direct Star Wars: Return of the Jedi for this, it’s perhaps even more tragic that he considers the film his only failure. Lynch had constant conflicts with the studio during filming and the finished product is edited and twisted beyond recognition. Lynch disowned the film, crediting the screenplay to “Judas Booth” and the directing to “Alan Smithee”. Despite numerous offers from the studio for a director’s cut, Lynch has refused every one and dislikes discussing the movie in interviews.
Edgar Wright – Ant-Man
Remember when Ant-Man was supposed to be written and directed by Edgar Wright and everyone was really excited? While it wasn’t so long ago, it does seem like another time entirely. Now Ant-Man is on the verge of theatrical release with director Peyton Reed and screenwriters Adam McKay and Paul Rudd replacing the team of Wright and Joe Cornish. It was a classic case of artistic differences that lead to Wright’s lamented departure – or rather the studio heads taking wild liberties with his script and artistic vision. While Joss Whedon says that Wright’s script is the best that Marvel ever had, apparently the studio was wary about some elements of the script and ordered rewrites without Wright’s input. Understandably, Wright left the project just before filming began.
Dan Harmon – Community (TV Series)
Dan Harmon’s quirks and neuroses are well documented, as well as his contentious relationship with Chevy Chase and NBC in general. While Harmon is erratic and potentially grating, Chase is certainly no charmer either – and Chase doesn’t have the benefit of being a creative genius showrunning one of the funniest and most unique sitcoms in recent memory. It’s all pretty convoluted, but the general outline is that Harmon was ruffling the wrong feathers and was unexpectedly fired from the show after Community’s third season. Enter the Russo brothers to showrun a disappointing season four and a cast revolt lead by Joel McHale and Harmon is hired back for season five. Now the weird show that could is living out a second life on Yahoo!Screen, free to express it’s charming weirdness to its heart’s content. I’ll be looking forward to the inevitable kickstarter campaign to fund the Community movie.
Tim Burton – Superman Lives
This movie that never was – an adaptation of the Death of Superman comic to be directed by Tim Burton and starring Nicholas Cage as Superman – has gone down in legend and is now enjoying a resurgence of interest thanks to a recent documentary about the failed production. The reasons for its abandonment are also steeped in mystery, but rumors of a chaotic pre-production phase, multiple screenwriters, wacky producers, and floundering studio finances are among the contributing factors. Kevin Smith was even among the bevy of screenwriters hired and fired from the ever-changing, increasingly strange scripting process, and he has some interesting stories to tell about his brief involvement with the project. In the end, it wasn’t so much creative differences that ended the production, but financial differences. During this time, Warner Brothers had suffered a string of failures at the box office and was growing uneasy with the increasing quirkiness of the Superman project. They pulled funding, scrapped the project, and poured their money into The Wild Wild West instead – which was clearly a good investment.
Ronald D. Moore – Star Trek (TV Series)
While these days he’s most well known as the visionary who rebooted Battlestar Galactica, Ronald Moore also had a major hand in some of the most important storylines in the Star Trek television universe. He got his start writing episodes for Next Generation, but became a driving force and producer of Deep Space Nine. After the end of that series he went on to write for Voyager, but this is where his relationship with the show sours. His time with Voyager was brief, but there was something about the attitude in the writing room that he could abide – which unfortunately also affected his relationship with his occasional writing partner Brannon Braga for a time. Of course, this left Moore free to pursue other projects, namely Battlestar Galactica and currently Helix and Outlander.
Stanley Kubrick – Everything
While Kubrick usually had complete creative control over his own projects, his obsessive pursuit of his vision often left his collaborators none too happy after their experiences with him. While these fraught relationships have brought us some of the most iconic, artistic, and expressive films of all time, many swore never to work with him again – and many never did. Jack Nicholson is a prime example of an actor who worked with Kubrick, gave one of his best and most remembered performances in The Shining, but never wanted anything to do with the man again after filming wrapped. Kubrick was brutal with his actors, often demanding and controlling to the point of abuse, and detailed to the point of obsession. Many of his actors grew beyond frustrated filming take after take all while enduring his unending criticism. Almost everyone Kubrick ever worked with experienced “artistic differences”.