Top 5... - August 21, 2016

Jane Got A Gun (and five other troubled film productions)
by James
James
by James hmv London, Bio "Like the legend of the Phoenix, I've just eaten a whole packet of chocolate HobNobs..." Editor, hmv.com

Jane Got A Gun (and five other troubled film productions)

The process of making a film – any film – is rarely straightforward, but sometimes the journey a film takes on its way from script to screen can take a very long time and anyone who has been following the saga behind the making of Jane Got A Gun will know that this particular film's path to the cinema screens has been one strewn with hurdles.

A modern Western based on a story written by Brian Duffield, the man who provided the script for Insurgent, the film was originally due to be directed by Lynne Ramsay, the acclaimed Scottish director behind films like Morvern Caller and We Need To Talk About Kevin, but days before shooting was due to commence Ramsay quit the project, citing a dispute with producers over funding and creative control of the film.

Instead, Warrior director Gavin O'Connor was drafted in as a replacement, but the film's personnel problems weren't confined to the director's chair. One of the other reasons reported for Ramsay's departure was her frustration at delays to the project which had already cost the film one of its lead actors, Michael Fassbender, when the pushed back filming schedule caused a clash with his role in X-Men: Days of Future Past. Ramsay had replaced Fassbender with Jude Law, but on learning that Ramsay had left the project Law also departed, saying that he had signed up specifically to work with Ramsay. Bradley Cooper stepped in, only to step back out again when another delay caused a similar conflict with shooting on American Hustle.

Eventually though O'Connor was able to assemble the final cast, which now includes Nathalie Portman, Joel Edgerton, Noah Emmerich, Rodrigo Santoro, Boyd Holbrook and Ewan McGregor. The film premiered in UK cinemas in April this year and arrives in stores on DVD and Blu-ray on Monday (August 22nd).

Set in the Old West, the film stars Portman as Jane Hammond, a woman who has escaped years of torment at the hands of a brutal gang of outlaws known as The Bishop Boys to make a new life for herself with her husband Bill (Emmerich), also known as 'Ham'. However, Jane's new-found piece is soon shattered when Ham stumbles home from an ugly stand-off with the gang's notorious leader John Bishop (McGregor), who has left Ham riddled with bullets and clinging on to his life.

Jane knows that the gang will be on their way to finish the job and, fearful of what might happen to her young family, is forced to seek help from an unlikely source – namely her ex-fiancé, Dan Frost (Edgerton). With the Bishops approaching, Dan and Jane will need to put their differences aside if they are to survive in a fight for their lives.

Whenever a film goes through a torrid time in development there's often a tendency to imagine what might have been, but despite the on-set difficulties Jane Got A Gun is on a par with some of the recent wave of Westerns that have enjoyed a resurgence over the last couple of years and if you enjoyed films like Bone Tomahawk and Slow West, this is well worth a watch. Besides, this is hardly the only film to struggle through the development phase and it doesn't always spell disaster.

You can find the trailer for Jane Got A Gun below, beneath that we've picked five other films that endured troubled productions. Some eventually got made, some are still on the way and at least one of them is dead in the water, but each and every one of them went through development hell...


 

 

The Man Who Killed Don Quixote

The saga of Terry Gilliam's film, loosely based on the novel by Miguel de Cervantes, is one of the longest-running in recent memory. Pre-production on the project began as far back as 1998 and the film did actually begin shooting two years later, but the production was plagued by problems, including equipment destroyed by flooding and its lead actor, Jean Rochefort, withdrawing due to illness.

It would be the first of no fewer than eight failed attempts to make the film, but Gilliam still hasn't given up on the idea he was talking up the project at this year's Cannes film festival, with his erstwhile Monty Python cohort becoming the latest actor to be in the frame for the role of Quixote. What was originally intended as a 'making-of' documentary, Lost in La Mancha, was eventually released in 2002 as a standalone film charting the film's troubled production. Whether or not this will ever see the light of day, we can only guess, but if Gilliam hasn't given up hope then maybe we shouldn't either.

 

Superman Returns

The film that eventually emerged in 2006 under the title Superman Returns started life as something very different indeed. Film producer Jon Peters had bought the rights to the Superman franchise in the early 1990s with the aim of completely revamping the character after the universally-panned Superman IV: The Quest for Peace. Peters already had form in this department; he was one of the producers behind Tim Burton's 1989 reinvention of Batman and originally Burton was attached to direct, with a scriptwriting team that included Kevin Smith providing a screenplay based on the storyline from The Death of Superman. Peters wanted to do away with some of Superman's iconography, including ditching the famous red and blue suit in favour of wearing all black and stipulating that Superman shouldn't fly.

Nicolas Cage was in the frame for the starring role, but after several years in development hell Burton bailed out. JJ Abrams was also attached at one point and had some interesting ideas of his own, including Krypton not having actually exploded and Lex Luthor revealed as a fellow Kryptonian. Eventually though Bryan Singer pitched his idea for what became Superman Returns and began work on the project in 2004. By the time of its 2006 release, development on the project totalled 13 years.

 

Akira

As the film that turned Manga Studios into a household name, Katsuhiro Otomo's 1988 animated masterpiece needs little introduction, but plans for a live-action remake have been mooted since Warner Bros. acquired the rights in 2002. To date, the studio has started – and then halted – production on the film on no fewer than four occasions in the last 14 years and there has been a laundry list of names associated with the project, including Leonardo Di Caprio as a producer.

James Franco, Zac Effron and Garrett Hedlund have all been in the frame for the role of Kaneda, while the role of the Colonel has been offered to several others including Gary Oldman and Ken Watanabe. Despite numerous setbacks, the project refuses to die and Justin Lin is the latest director to be linked with the project. It could still happen, but there's been nothing beyond rumours for a couple of years and, for now at least, the film remains in limbo.

 

The Dark Tower

Described by author Stephen King as his magnum opus, the series of novels that make up The Dark Tower are an appealing prospect for a big screen adaptation, but also a challenging one. King's stories have provided the basis for a litany of iconic films, from horror classics like The Shining and The Dead Zone to more mainstream films like The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile, but The Dark Tower is a huge undertaking. For starters, there are eight books in the series, which is a lot of source material by anyone's standards.

However, this one is happening. Development for a film began in 2007 with JJ Abrams slated to direct, but Ron Howard took over three years later and although he retains a producer role for the film, Nikolaj Arcel is now attached to direct, with Idriss Elba set to play the role of lead protagonist Roland Deschain. It's been through three different studios including Universal and Warner Bros., but Sony are now handling the project and the film is set for release in February 2017.

 

Dune

The film released in 1984 under the direction of David Lynch is memorable in its own right, but plans to adapt Frank Herbert's seminal sci-fi novel were hatched a decade earlier and initially the project was due to be directed by Alejandro Jodorowsky. Often described as 'the greatest film never made', Jodorowsky's concept for the film was hugely ambitious and was due to feature a cast that included Orson Welles, Mick Jagger, David Carradine and Salvador Dali, among many others, but the director's grand vision for the film proved too expensive and after years of financial problems the rights lapsed in 1982 and were picked up by Dino De Laurentiis, who drafted in David Lunch to create his own version.

The project became the subject of a 2013 documentary, Jodorowsky's Dune, which outlines the director's vision and points to its influence on other iconic sci-fi films like Star Wars and Alien. There are no plans to revive the project as things stand, but we'd highly recommend the documentary as it's a fascinating account of Jodorowsky's attempts to bring Herbert's story to the big screen.

 

 

Jane Got a Gun
Jane Got a Gun Gavin O'Connor

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