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Directors Who Quit Before The Movie Was Finished

Generally, when a director signs onto a film, they know they're joining a massive project for the long haul, and they have no intention of quitting. After all, directors usually get involved with a movie because their vision is perfect for the story being told. They're often in sync with the producers and the stars, and a director is hired because something about his or her style and unique skill set will help bring the project to life.

But for a variety of reasons (generally lumped together under the mantle of "creative differences"), sometimes a director has to leave a picture early. In a lot of those cases, the split isn't pretty. Like any job, the line between "fired" and "quitting" is often very, very thin. But even though there are often two sides to the story, these are the instances where it seems like the director had finally had enough, threw up their hands, and walked away from the film.

Edgar Wright said au revoir to Ant-Man

Marvel Studios excited a lot of film geeks when they announced Edgar "Three Flavours Cornetto" Wright would be at the helm of Ant-Man, bringing his razor sharp dialogue and kinetic style to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. About a year later, Wright was out the door, replaced by Peyton Reed. Wright cited the classic "creative differences," and it wasn't until a few years after Ant-Man was released that the filmmaker elaborated on his exit.

Wright is used to being in total control of his films, which didn't totally gel with Marvel's methods. When asked about the behind-the-scenes drama, Wright told Variety's "Playback" podcast, "The most diplomatic answer is I wanted to make a Marvel movie, but I don't think they really wanted to make an Edgar Wright movie....I was the writer-director on it, and then they wanted to do a draft without me, and having written all my other movies, that's a tough thing to move forward."

Sure, it was a sad development for Wright fans when the English auteur walked away, but it wasn't a total loss. Peyton Reed did a really great job with the material, and Wright's departure allowed him to focus entirely on Baby Driver. Plus, the film still has some ant-sized elements of Wright's original vision. 

Vincent Ward said adios to Alien 3

Another troubled production of legendary proportions, Alien 3 was eventually released as a Frankenstein's monster of writing and editing. A lot has been said about the different concepts that were floating around out there for Alien 3, and few are regarded with as much "what if?" wonder as Vincent Ward's script.

Ward's version of Alien 3 focuses on monastery planet made of wood, and it features an order of monks who've eschewed modern technology. Many saw the potential in Ward's take, but Sigourney Weaver and the producers at Fox didn't like the script. According to Den of Geek, the Hollywood suits were especially troubled by the whole wooden planet angle. But Ward refused to change the film, so he quit instead.

The final release of Alien 3 still follows the basics established in Ward's screenplay, although many of the changes that executives had asked for were implemented. Sadly, Alien 3 is not generally regarded in the same light as its predecessors. Could Ward's script and direction have saved it? We'll never know, but his vision remains one of the greatest films never made.

Tim Miller stepped away from Deadpool 2

Deadpool is very much Ryan Reynolds' baby. It's doubtful the film would have even gotten made if someone hadn't leaked test footage of the film. Even so, much of the original film's success has to be attributed to director Tim Miller. He and Reynolds were so clearly in sync with their vision for the film and what they wanted to achieve, making for a tight, breezy, and refreshing superhero origin story.

That's why it was so shocking when Miller quit the sequel, which had a huge budget increase based off of the first film's success. Miller reportedly clashed with Reynolds over the creative direction of Deadpool 2 and some key casting decisions. When executives sided with Reynolds, Miller decided to walk. Miller allegedly wanted Argo's Kyle Chandler cast as Cable and Mackenzie Davis to take on the role of Domino. Neither of them ended up in Deadpool 2, and Miller moved forward to direct Terminator: Dark Fate. In other words, he swapped one time-traveling, gun-toting cyborg for another.

Danny Boyle told Bond 25 goodbye

When Danny Boyle signed on for the 25th Bond film, the movie didn't even have a title. But that didn't stop Danny Boyle from quickly dropping out of the production, however. He walked away as writer and director for the film, and he was replaced by Cary Fukunaga, best known for True Detective. Boyle has opened up about why he quit the film in the months after his split, and this time, it's a bit more in-depth than the catch-all "creative differences."

Apparently, disagreements sprang up over a partnership Boyle has kept since his work on Shallow Grave. John Hodge has worked as Boyle's writing partner on many of his films, and as the director told Empire, "I work in partnership with writers and I am not prepared to break it up....We were working very, very well, but they didn't want to go down that route with us. So we decided to part company."

It sounds like Boyle left on good terms, although we're incredibly curious what his version of Bond would've looked like, as the filmmaker promised his take "could have been really good." However, Boyle told Metro that he would never work on a franchise film after leaving Bond 25. Of course, we're taking that with an enormous grain of salt.

David O. Russell had a lot of drama with Nailed/Accidental Love

One of the most famous "disaster projects" in recent memory, David O. Russell's Nailed first began production in 2008. Starring Jessica Biel and Jake Gyllenhaal, the romantic comedy didn't come out until 2015 (under a different title, Accidental Love). But instead of listing Russell's name, the credits claim the film was directed by a so-called "Stephen Greene," who doesn't exist. So what happened here?

Pretty much everyone involved points the finger at everyone else for the financial troubles that delayed the film for almost a decade. Unions pulled support for the movie before shooting was complete, and one of the film's financiers, Ronald Tutor, paid millions to reshoot the movie and have it edited. Russell refused to attach his name to the final project (hence the imaginary director), and the film was released under the new title.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Russell's biggest issue was a huge reduction in salary to the film's producers after Tutor paid to get the film back on track. When it was all said and done, Russell seemed to get the better of the film's hasty re-edit: as of this writing, Accidental Love is sitting at a 9 percent Rotten Tomatoes score.

Ben Affleck said bye, bye to The Batman

Ben Affleck took on the role of Batman as DC was trying to build a cinematic universe to rival Marvel's, and he wound up playing the part in three films. However, the man never played the Caped Crusader in a standalone movie, so we never got to see the best Bat that he could be. Perhaps his true test as an actor would've come from his ultimate vision for the character—The Batman, which Affleck originally would've starred in, co-written, and directed.

Sadly, Affleck walked away from his directorial role on The Batman in 2017, saying that he wanted to channel all his focus into his acting in the film. As he explained, "Performing this role demands focus, passion and the very best performance I can give. It has become clear that I cannot do both jobs to the level they require."

Fast forward to about a year later, and Affleck decided to walk away from the film entirely. He told Jimmy Kimmel that he "couldn't crack [the story]" as a writer and director, and that ultimately led to the decision to hang up the cape and cowl for good. Fortunately, his replacement has plenty of experience playing bat-men.

Patty Jenkins knew Thor: The Dark World was going to be godawful

Patty Jenkins did some amazing work for the superhero genre by absolutely nailing Wonder Woman, but not a lot of people know she actually had a shot at a superhero film before her DC debut—the much maligned Marvel sequel Thor: The Dark World. Who knows what would've happened with that film with Jenkins at the helm, but she walked away after only a few months.

At the time of her departure, everybody cited "creative differences" as the reason she left the project. After the success of Wonder Woman, Jenkins eventually opened up about leaving The Dark World, and it sounds like she knew it wasn't going to be one of Marvel's best. She told IndieWire, "I knew that [walking away] was good because I didn't think I could make a great film out of their script." She also said that she thought to herself, "If I do it, and it's what I think it's gonna be, I can't help the fact that it will represent women directors everywhere, and then that's going to be bad for everybody."

It's subtle, but it certainly sounds like Jenkins is suggesting she couldn't fix such a broken script, so she was happy to let someone else crash that ship. Luckily, she gave the DC universe a chance to succeed with Wonder Woman, a movie that's one of the best superhero films ever made.

Kevin Reynolds didn't sink with Waterworld

Kevin Reynolds has collaborated with Kevin Costner on more than one film, despite the fact that the two don't always see eye to eye. Reynolds directed Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves in 1991, and the relatively new director struggled to keep control of the set. Waterworld had a similarly troubled production, and Reynolds actually walked away before he was finished cutting and editing the film.

Three months before Waterworld was due to premiere, Reynolds decided he was done with the movie. According to SFGate, Reynolds screened his unfinished cut of the film to Costner and Universal Studios to get recommendations on how to finish it. Apparently the feedback they gave him was not good, as Reynolds abandoned ship and left the film for Costner to finish. Of course, Costner couldn't save the film from its inflated budget, and when the film finally hit theaters, Waterworld made box office bomb history.

Darren Aronofsky parts ways with The Wolverine

Darren Aronofsky was fresh off some wildly successful films, like The Wrestler and Black Swan, when he was brought on to help right the ship of the X-Men franchise. The mutants had gone through some rocky straits with X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and Aronofsky could change all that with The Wolverine.

Unfortunately, he had to quit the production due to family issues. Deadline writes that Aronofsky's breakup with Rachel Weisz and the ensuing custody cases involving their son forced the director's hand. After all, a good chunk of filming would take place in Japan, and he couldn't justify being out of the country for as long as shooting on The Wolverine required.

Upset, Aronofsky released a statement, saying, "I am sad that I won't be able to see the project through, as it is a terrific script and I was very much looking forward to working with my friend, Hugh Jackman, again." However, the film was eventually directed by James Mangold, who turned the samurai adventure flick into one of the best films of the franchise.