Considering how many movies they make throughout their careers, it’s only a matter of time before a director makes a film they’re not entirely proud of. Even the legendary Alfred Hitchcock disowned one of his movies!
From Tony Kaye trying to have his name removed from American History X to Joel Schumacher apologizing for Batman & Robin, here are some notorious filmmakers who’ve disowned their own projects.
Dennis Hopper Had His Name Removed From Catchfire
Dennis Hopper went all-out diva on his film Catchfire. Written during the 1988 Writers Guild of America strike, Hopper was in the middle of script rewrites when filming began. If that wasn’t bad enough, he wound up arguing with the studio about their multiple edits, as they cut his three-hour-long film down to a measly 98 minute run time.
He ended up being so disappointed with the film, something he also happened to star in, that he disowned it, removed his name, and had himself recredited as Alan Smithee. According to Art in the Movies, the name’s a “pseudonym of choice for disgraced filmmakers.”
Josh Trank Tweeted His Disownment Of Fantastic Four
People were thrilled when it was announced Josh Trank would be directing a Fantastic Four reboot. Unfortunately, the 2015 film wasn’t worth the hype, something Trank wasn’t afraid to voice to the public via Twitter. On the social media site, the director wrote, “A year ago I had a fantastic version of this. And it would’ve received great reviews. You’ll probably never see it. That’s reality, though.”
The reality was that Trank had a totally different vision for the film. According to IndieWire, his version was a “superhero film meets a David Cronenberg body horror movie.” The studio shut it down, editing it into something completely disownment-worthy in Trank’s book.
Stanley Kubrick Didn’t Want Anyone To See Fear And Desire
Legendary filmmaker Stanley Kubrick has so many classics under his belt, but there is one film that he famously didn’t want anyone to see: his directorial debut, Fear and Desire. In true Hollywood diva fashion, Kubrick trashed his film as often as possible, even saying, “It’s not a film I remember with any pride, except for the fact it was finished.”
Rumor has it that Kubrick was so upset with the final product that he rounded up all of its original negatives and had them destroyed so no one could ever see the film again! Talk about disowning one’s own work.
Jerry Lewis Never Released The Day The Clown Cried
Many directors throughout history have publicly shamed, ridiculed, and all-out disowned their films. But Jerry Lewis takes the cake. He literally took The Day The Clown Cried, stuck it in a vault, and refused to release it because he was so ashamed.
During an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Lewis said, “You will never see it. No one will ever see it because I am embarrassed at the poor work.” For those who are curious, Lewis has since released an incomplete copy to the Library of Congress, under the one stipulation that it is not theatrically released until 2024.
David Lynch Refuses To Talk About Dune
It might be a cult classic now, but director David Lynch still refuses to discuss any and everything that has to do with his 1984 film Dune. First, the studio took away his editing privilege, not allowing in on the final cuts. They didn’t even allow him to see his director cut!
The film wound up being a box office bomb that got ripped apart by critics. Depending on which cut a viewer watches, Lynch’s name might not even pop up. On select cuts, he asked the studio to credit him as Alan Smithee, the go-to pseudonym for directors who totally disown their work.
No One Hates Alien 3 More Than David Fincher
In his directorial debut, David Fincher was attached to the third installment of the beloved Alien franchise, Alien 3. According to the director, his debut was pretty much a “baptism by fire.” So, not good. There were many problems during filming, including shooting without a script and the studio rushing Fincher’s shots.
Fans and critics weren’t exactly happy with the outcome. But Fincher continues to go on record, saying, “No one hated it more than me; to this day, no one hates it more than me.” Alas, Ellen Ripley deserved so much better.
Noah Baumbach’s Name Isn’t Credited On Highball
He might be a beloved Indie filmmaker, but even Noah Baumbach has limits. As it turns out, one of those limits is making a film he can be proud of in six days. The director was so disappointed with Highball that not only did he discredit his name as a director but also as the writer!
The film now credits Ernie Fusco as the director and Jesse Carter as the writer. According to an interview Baumbach did with The A.V. Club, “We didn’t have enough time, we didn’t finish it, it didn’t look good, it was just a whole … mess.”
Tony Kaye Wanted His Name Removed From American History X
The drama American History X received lots of critical praise when it was released. But director Tony Kaye wants nothing more than to have his name removed from anything to do with the film.
Apparently, Kaye was a nightmare to work with on the set. So much so that New Line Cinema actually barred him from helping with the final edits. Kaye wound up hating the theatrical cut, saying that it was too sappy and that Edward Norton had too much screen time. But, like, he’s the lead?
David O. Russell Wants People To Forget Accidental Love
Between financial issues in the middle of shooting, actor drama, and the director walking out before filming was completed, Accidental Love turned out to be a disaster. In fact, David O. Russell wants people to forget his name was ever associated with the project.
Being a 2015 film, he couldn’t utilize the ever-so-popular director pseudonym of disownment Alan Smithee since it was discontinued in 2000. But that didn’t stop him! Russell went to the Directors Guild of America and asked them to change his credit to the fake name of Stephen Greene.
Steven Soderbergh Called The Underneath “Dead On Arrival”
Director Steven Soderbergh is pretty candid when it comes to his thoughts on his 1995 film The Underneath. Bottom line, he hates it! Between the long and dragging opening credit sequence to his heart not being totally in the movie while it was being shot, Soderbergh’s openly told the press that the film was “dead on arrival.”
According to the director, his mind was pretty much absent during the entire filmmaking process, something he swore was never going to happen to him again.
Arthur Hiller Made An Alan Smithee Mockumentary, Only To Wind Up Using The Pseudonym
In one of the more ironic moments in director history, Arthur Hiller made a mockumentary about the absurd nature of the Alan Smithee pseudonym in Hollywood, An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn. But after some complications, namely with the editing process, Hiller disowned the film, recrediting his name as Alan Smithee.
Apparently, the pseudonym was added after Hiller saw how writer Joe Eszterhas was editing the film. He objected to it and made it known that he wanted nothing more to do with the film by switching his name. Honestly, even if he didn’t disown the film, it’s a brilliant promotional strategy!
Kevin Yagher Left The Production Of Hellraiser: Bloodline
When Hellraiser: Bloodline wrapped up filming, Miramax requested some of the scenes be reshoot. Well, that wasn’t going to work for director Kevin Yagher, so he left the production. His director position went to Joe Chappelle, who took a whole lot of creative liberty when It came to character relationships and even the run time.
Yagher wanted nothing to do with this new “Chappelle” version of the film. He was so upset that the finished film strayed so far from his original vision that he used the Alan Smithee pseudonym as his credit, disowning the movie entirely.
Tomas Alfredson’s The Snowman Was A Failure
With an all-star cast and a thrilling murder-mystery plot, The Snowman should have been a riveting film. Instead, director Tomas Alfredson wound up disowning the film, expressing his utter displeasure at how 10 to 15% of the script wasn’t filmed, making the editing process difficult, to say the least.
During an interview with NRK, the director said, “Our shoot time in Norway was way too short, we didn’t get the whole story with us, and when we started cutting, we discovered that a lot was missing. It’s like when you’re making a big jigsaw puzzle, and a few pieces are missing, so you don’t see the whole picture.”
Babylon A.D. Wasn’t What Mathieu Kassovitz Imagined
When it was announced director Mathieu Kassovitz was going to tackle an English-language film, movie-goers were thrilled. It was going to be a major feat for the French director. Too bad he clashed with 20th Century Fox so badly that he wanted nothing to do with the film once filming came to an end.
Between not being able to shoot scenes how he intended to the script not being respected, Kassovitz was very much over Babylon A.D. once the cameras stopped rolling. Doesn’t the studio know not to mess with a director’s vision!?
Joel Schumacher’s Apologized For Batman & Robin
From the cheesy dialogue to the anatomically accurate bat suit, it’s no wonder Batman & Robin is often cited as one of, if not the worst, superhero films to ever be made. The thing is, director Joel Schumacher is fully aware that it isn’t his finest work. He doesn’t even try to defend it.
During an interview with VICE, Schumacher even went as far as to say that he owes every Batman fan an apology and that “No one is responsible for my mistakes but me.” One less ice-cold joke coming from Mr. Freeze could have done the script a world of good.
Alfred Hitchcock’s Rope Experiment Didn’t Pan Out
Never one to do things the old-fashioned way, Alfred Hitchcock opted for something completely different with his 1948 thriller, Rope. Instead of typical camera work and cuts, Hitchcock opted to do long takes, editing the film so it looked as though it was one continuous shot.
It didn’t work out as planned. Not only did the technique completely tire out the actors, but Hitchcock was not a fan of the finished product. In an interview, he called the film an “experiment that didn’t work out.” Well, that’s a nice way to disown something.
Michael Bay Dislikes The Transformers Sequel
After the success of Transformers, Michael Bay didn’t waste too much time prepping for a sequel. Unfortunately for the director, the universe was working against him and the script. While he was writing Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, the 2007–08 Writers Guild of America strike happened.
There wasn’t enough time to build the mystical world Bay was trying to illustrate on the silver screen. In the end, there were too many mistakes, and Bay was disappointed. Ironically, it was the highest-grossing film at the box office, and yet it won a Worst Picture Razzie. Maybe Bay’s on to something with the disownment.
Woody Allen Was Disappointed With Annie Hall
Just because something turns out to be a four-time Academy Award-winning film doesn’t necessarily mean a director’s proud of the work. As it so happens, that’s exactly the case with Woody Allen and his 1997 Best Picture Annie Hall. Evidently, the story he was trying to portray didn’t translate onto the screen.
During an interview with Collider, Allen explained why he was disappointed with the final product of Annie Hall. He said, “The film was supposed to be what happens in a guy’s mind… it was completely incoherent. Nobody understood anything…I was quite disappointed in that movie.”
Kiefer Sutherland “Alan Smithee(d)” Himself For Woman Wanted
Kiefer Sutherland is arguably better known for his acting than director capabilities. Which, as it turns out, is probably a good thing, considering he disowned his film Woman Wanted. Even though the film won two awards, including the Slamdunk Film Festival Award for Best Feature Film, Sutherland wants nothing to do with it.
The film is famous for being the last movie to ever have the director re-credit himself as Alan Smithee, the pseudonym for a director who totally and completely disowns their own films. The pseudonym was discontinued in 2000, a year after Woman Wanted was released.
Walter Hill Recredited His Name On Supernova As Thomas Lee
With horrible CGI, worse acting, and a mess of directors who were pretty much coming and going as they pleased, Supernova was a mess from the very beginning. Not to mention Walter Hill wasn’t the first or even second choice for director! And once he did land in the director’s chair, he reworked the script into something the studio hated.
Two more directors came in after the initial edits, and the resulting reshoots went horribly wrong. Hill hated that his film was being reworked into something other than his vision, so he recredited his name to Thomas Lee, completely disowning the work.