Like Danny Boyle’s James Bond, 5 films you’ll never see because of ‘creative differences’

Danny Boyle’s departure from Daniel Craig’s final James Bond movie means we’ll never get to see his take on the iconic character. Here are 5 other films that were killed by ‘creative differences’.
Chris Hemsworth, Daniel Craig and Bill Skarsgarg in stills from Thor: The Dark World, Skyfall and It.
Chris Hemsworth, Daniel Craig and Bill Skarsgarg in stills from Thor: The Dark World, Skyfall and It.
Updated on Aug 25, 2018 08:41 AM IST
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Hindustan Times | ByRohan Naahar, New Delhi

Earlier this week it was announced rather unceremoniously in a tweet that director Danny Boyle had departed the upcoming James Bond film, which is supposed to be star Daniel Craig’s final appearance as the iconic character. This happens all the time, but somehow this time the announcement felt almost inevitable, and therefore perhaps not as sad as, say, when Edgar Wright departed Ant-Man. There was no uproar for Boyle, no fan outcry, but instead, just a flurry of articles offering suggestions for replacement directors.


The reason given in the bland tweet was just as matter-of-fact as the general feeling it left among fans. It is unbecoming of a franchise as majestic as Bond, and a legend of modern cinema such as Danny Boyle. Where was the controversy? Where were the juicy details?

But it is interesting to note a few key details in the language used in the tweet, which is being considered as the official statement, because neither the studio nor Boyle have released one of their own.

In other examples of ‘creative differences’ studios and filmmakers make it very clear that the decision to part ways was mutual - perhaps in an effort to not burn bridges for future collaborations. No one wants to shun a future Christopher Nolan. But this time, the statement made it very clear that it was Boyle who had chosen to walk away from the gig. “Michael G Wilson, Barbara Broccoli and Daniel Craig today announced that due to creative differences Danny Boyle has decided to no longer direct Bond 25,” the official 007 account said. Also worth noting is the creative control Daniel Craig’s lucrative new deal has afforded him.

For a guy who infamously said that he would rather slit his wrists than play Bond again, and was instrumental in getting Boyle on board in the first place, it’s quite disheartening to see Craig openly turn his back on the Oscar-winning filmmaker.

But the worst outcome of this story isn’t that we’ll probably have to wait longer for a new Bond film, but that we’ll never get to see a Danny Boyle James Bond movie. And that’s the downside to hiring auteurs on big movies, there can be no half measures. There has to be complete trust in the director’s vision, because if the studio’s going to confine them within boundaries, why hire them at all? Why not simply pull a Salman Khan or a George Lucas, and get a puppet to sit on the director’s chair while Craig calls the shots?

It’s because studios always like the idea of flirting with serious filmmakers, but rarely show the courage to follow through on their instincts. And on the flip side, very few directors can effectively toe the line between true art and mass appeal. For every Ryan Coogler, there is a Darren Aronofsky.

So like Boyle’s Bond, here are five other movies that came this close to becoming a reality, but were undone by those pesky words: ‘Creative differences’.

Ava DuVernay’s Black Panther

Black Panther broke all expectations to become the best reviewed Marvel movie ever.
Black Panther broke all expectations to become the best reviewed Marvel movie ever.

While Ryan Coogler’s movie is a famous example of just how wonderful it can be when a good old-fashioned Hollywood blockbuster comes together, he wasn’t the first choice to direct. Keeping aside Wesley Snipes’ mid-90s attempt, director Ava DuVernay was initially approached to helm the Marvel Cinematic Universe film. After she left, Ava wasn’t shy about expressing the truth about what happened behind-the-scenes. “It really wasn’t going to be an Ava DuVernay film,” she told Time bluntly, and it was better to part ways sooner rather than later.

David Fincher’s Steve Jobs

Michael Fassbender won an Oscar nod for Steve Jobs.
Michael Fassbender won an Oscar nod for Steve Jobs.

It’s a common practice in Hollywood to package directors and stars for a follow-up to an enthusiastically received film, in an attempt to ride the wave onto another project. That’s what happened when the Social Network writer-director team of Aaron Sorkin and David Fincher were set up to spearhead another biopic of a tech legend, Steve Jobs. But Fincher being Fincher, he knew just how valuable he was, coming off an Oscar nomination and a $250 million picture. He refused to accept anything less than a $10 million paycheck for Jobs, and the - ahem - job eventually went to Danny Boyle, who left his stamp on the material, but was let down by ho-hum marketing which sank the film at the box office.

Patty Jenkins’ Thor 2

Chris Hemsworth called Thor: The Dark World ‘meh’ recently.
Chris Hemsworth called Thor: The Dark World ‘meh’ recently.

As the story goes, Patty Jenkins - then with only one indie under her belt - was offered the chance to helm a big superhero movie, which would have made her the first woman to direct such a film, but she could not see eye to eye with Marvel over the direction in which she wanted to take the characters. She wanted to tell a more classic love story, inspired by Romeo and Juliet, which would have been a thematic continuation to Kenneth Branagh’s Shakespearean first film. But Marvel wanted a more rollicking, intergalactic adventure. The final film is one of the least admired in the MCU - even its eventual director Alan Taylor has dismissed it - and is yet another example of Marvel’s overbearing ways. Jenkins, however, went on to direct Wonder Woman to immense success. Interesting side note -- she replaced original director Michelle McLaren on that film.

Cary Fukunaga’s It

It went on to become the highest-grossing R-rated horror film in history.
It went on to become the highest-grossing R-rated horror film in history.

True Detective director Cary Fukunaga spent years developing an adaptation of Stephen King’s opus, with the writer’s blessing. He’d got so far as to have cast Will Poulter as Pennywise and was close. But due to budget constraints and ‘bigger disagreements’ with New Line, the studio, Fukunaga left the project. “I was trying to make an unconventional horror film. It didn’t fit into the algorithm of what they knew they could spend and make money back on based on not offending their standard genre audience,” he said later - which basically means that they couldn’t agree on a budget, and on his take. “I’m actually thankful that they are going to rewrite the script. I wouldn’t want them to stealing our childhood memories and using that,” he concluded. A draft of Fukunaga’s script was later leaked online, and he ended up receiving co-writer credit on the final film, which was directed by Andres Muschietti.

Steven Soderbergh’s Moneyball

Brad Pitt won an Oscar nomination for Moneyball.
Brad Pitt won an Oscar nomination for Moneyball.

One of the most infamous examples of directors departing a project at the eleventh hour is Lynne Ramsay’s disappearance from the set of Jane Got a Gun on the first day of filming. While Steven Soderbergh didn’t pull quite the same power move, he did depart the Brad Pitt sports drama Moneyball mere days before filming was supposed to begin. Under his direction, the film was shaping up to be a very unique take on the sports genre - Soderbergh wanted to include player interviews and documentary segments, which Sony didn’t respond to. He was replaced by Bennett Miller, who delivered a commercial hit that went on to score six Oscar nominations.

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The author tweets @RohanNaahar

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