10 Directors Who Hated Their Own Movies

Source: Warner Bros.

There are many directors, including famous, master filmmakers, who hate their films. Some consider certain films mistakes, some cringe at the thought of the final product and others hated the experience and the delivered film so much, they pulled their name from the production. Does that mean these films are all bad? Hardly. Some were incredible box office successes, garnering impressive praise from the harshest of critics. There are even a few classics. Nonetheless, the directors were left with very sour tastes in their mouth. Here are 10 prime examples.

10. Michael Mann – HEAT

Considering the bigger picture, we’re throwing Michael Mann on here as an example of directors who hate their movies when they are re-cut for TV broadcast. Michael Mann was so vocal about his disdain for the “edited for television” Heat — a great film, which he loves and loved making — he took it to the mattresses. There are many directors who fit into this category, but none who continuously banged the drum like Mann. And he was right. It helped to offer more power and protection to directors when original works are edited for time and content. No TV audience will likely see old cuts of great films (e.g. Heat, Die Hard, Back to the Future) that have been “re-cut” as to not offend people’s eyes, ears or various schedules. It goes to show that complaining can be a good thing, when complaints are taken to the appropriate parties.

Source: Warner Bros.

9. Alfred Hitchcock – Rope

It is worth mentioning that a lot of the movies on this list are considered classics, regardless of directors disliking them, discounting them as failures or boldly proclaiming their hatred for a work. Such is the case for Alfred Hitchcock and Rope — an adaptation of a stage play that Hitchcock shot as if it were one continuous take. Audiences have to keep in mind the technology with which Hitchcock shot this film. The cameras were enormous, and ran 35mm film. The creative team maximized the length of the film rolls, then the camera creatively pushed, pulled and panned into objects — people — to create the cuts. At the time, Hitchcock disliked the film, calling it an experiment that failed. Little did he know the film would eventually score 8/10 on IMDb and 97 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, while visually inspiring Best Picture Award winners like Birdman.

Source: Warner Bros.

8. Woody Allen – Annie Hall

Woody Allen dislikes several of his movies, and Annie Hall is one of them. Woody is a neurotic fella, and regardless of the success of Annie Hall — even considering the fact that his film is often shown in the four year education of nearly every American film school — he maintains his dislike. For Woody, the film completely missed the mark. He wanted the film to be one thing — a stream of consciousness from his character, Alvy Singer — but it became a story about his relationship with Diane Keaton’s character (Annie Hall). Yes, that aspect of the film is utterly charming in the oddest of ways, and the film features a young Christopher Walken, as perfectly strange as ever, but Woody offers himself no leeway in measuring success. Either he executes what he set out to do, or the film gets tossed to the back of his personal pile.

Everett Collection

7. Alfonso Cuaron – Great Expectations

Welcome to Hollywood, Mr. Cuaron. Feel free to loathe your journey. For Mexican visionary, Alfonso Cuaron (Y Tu Mama, Tambien, Gravity), the 1998 version of Great Expectations nearly killed him. It is worth stating: the film is gorgeously photographed, and it is quite enjoyable in a lot of ways; however, for Alfonso, this was his first experience of going to war with a studio brass, and having his ultimate vision compromised. He had to “play the game” to such an extent, it made him question his desire to work in the business. This is the reason his next film was Y Tu Mama, Tambien — an independent in which he stripped the process down, and broke all rules of convention used on big budget productions. Alfonso never goes back to watch his films after they’re released, so his feelings for Great Expectations have faded.

Source: 20th Century Fox

6. Steven Spielberg – Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom

Guessing which Indiana Jones installment Steven Spielberg disliked, it has to be Kingdom of The Crystal Skull. This, because it was a complete departure from the tonality, and style of the franchise that lured so many to movie theaters in the first place… except that’s not it. He probably does loathe that film, but the one he admitted to disliking from the get-go was Temple of Doom. He used words like “dark” and “subterranean” to suggest he questioned his own choices in the making of the film. For lovers of the franchise, it is the film that was too scary, or creepy, to get into, while other fans think it’s the wildest ride of the original three. It would be interesting to see what other direction he could have taken such a story line. Brass tacks: we’d take 10 more “Temple of…” to one more “Kingdom of…”

Source: Paramount Pictures

5. David Fincher – Alien 3

Alien 3 was supposed to be the great arrival of filmmaker, David Fincher. Unfortunately, for the man who was well known as a music video director, the entire process became nothing more than an incredible pain in the neck, back and butt. The script was never ready for shooting, and the studio wouldn’t commit to the direction David wanted to take the story, so he ended up doing a lot of rewriting during the production. For anyone who has tried to direct anything — from family vacation videos to multi-million dollar feature films — rewriting on set or location is almost always bad news. As the production continued to spiral toward the point of no return, David washed his hands of the film, and didn’t participate much in the process of post-production. That stated, he rebounded nicely with his next film, Seven, in 1995.

Source: 20th Century Fox

4. Michael Bay – Transformers: Revenge of The Fallen

Love him or hate him, it’s hard to argue against Michael Bay’s ability to make an entertaining, visually stunning, popcorn flick. Yes, he has missed the mark of sentiment on several occasions, including Pearl Harbor and Transformers: Revenge of The Fallen. One could argue that all of the Transformers sequels have been less than desirable, but the second film was a mess of “Wait, what…!?” Sam goes to college. International trips to iconic wonders of the world. Megan Fox as a motorcycle mechanic: a mess of episodes. Michael was never satisfied with the story, and once the film was completed he was unsatisfied with the studio’s marketing of the film. Ultimately, it killed at the box office, but Michael knew it was pretty much a steaming pile. After the second film, Bay ditched a lot of shoulder weight for the third, including his frienemy, Megan Fox. It didn’t help.

©Paramount/courtesy Everett Collection

3. Tony Kaye – American History X

Who would have guessed that Tony Kaye hated American History X? Here’s a film that garnered Oscar nominations, is beautifully photographed and presents a story that is well told in the realm of independent filmmaking. Tony was so disappointed with how the film turned out — perhaps because he’s British and relatively disconnected to issues of American racism and the subsequent violence that manifests from such misguidance — that he asked the producers to credit him as Alan Smithee. This is the name used by directors when they don’t want to be credited for their work on a film. He presented a short version of the film, and forced producers to re-cut it with the help and guidance of actor, Edward Norton. It’s a shame he hates it. It holds up well, and tells a story that needs to be told often.

Source: IMP Awards

2. Joel Schumacher – Batman & Robin

Poor Joel Schumacher. What do you do when you push into production on a film that you know is going to stink like curdled milk? Joel Schumacher was so self aware of the funk emanating from the sets of Batman & Robin that he apologized for the film, apologized to his fans and apologized to the fans of Batman. The film is considered one of the worst ever made in the realm of big budget studio features. George Clooney as Batman was a terrible idea, and sadly, the script removed Batman from his own comic book world and placed him in a world akin to Archie Comics. It’s tough to blame a director when things are this bad. What could Joel have done with such a terrible script, based off such a terrible story idea? There was never a chance this film could sail north of Suck Island.

Source: Warner Bros.

1. Arthur Hiller – Burn Hollywood Burn

People were privy to early screenings of Burn Hollywood Burn, and the general consensus was in agreement with director, Arthur Hiller: it was awful. The film was supposed to be a cheeky satire of the Hollywood culture, and how much personal bull**** is stirred into the mix of the important decisions within the entertainment industry. Ultimately, the film was hitting too close to home, and too close for comfort regarding producers and distributors. And lest we forget to mention: the script was terrible. The film became known as An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn, and it is barely watchable at best. There were a few moments of gold in the mix, but it has gone down in the history of cinema insiders as the most ironic film ever made. Perhaps that’s what you get for biting the hand that feeds you.

Source: Movie Poster

James Sheldon