It's not always smooth sailing when Hollywood releases a film. In fact, controversy has surrounded many movies, whether it's because of events that happened on set or issues that emerged after it hit the screen. Wonderwall.com is rounding up some of the biggest scandals in movie history, starting with a film that almost didn't come out. "The Hunt" has had a tumultuous road to theaters. The violent movie starring Hilary Swank, Betty Gilpin, Justin Hartley and Emma Roberts centers around liberal elites who kidnap and hunt citizens referred to as "deplorables." Though it was originally slated to open in September 2019, the release was canceled in the wake of mass shootings in both El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. There was even a tweet from President Donald Trump criticizing it and claiming it was "made in order to inflame and cause chaos," resulting in Universal Pictures pushing the release date. It's now scheduled to hit theaters on March 13, 2020. Keep reading to brush up on more movie scandals…
It was pretty much a guarantee that animal lovers were going to show up in droves to see "A Dog's Purpose" in 2017 — at least until a video surfaced that featured a potential case of animal cruelty. Yep, a video emerged on TMZ that showed a distressed dog being thrown into a pool. American Humane, which supervised the treatment of animals on set, claimed that the dog in question, a German shepherd named Hercules, was specially trained for those scenes and wasn't ever forced to swim. (It also later cited a third-party independent investigation that found the clip was "deliberately edited for the purpose of misleading the public and stoking public outrage.") But since the video seemed to show otherwise, it led to massive boycotts and likely dampened box office results.
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It was the Facebook post heard round the world! Dwayne Johnson sounded off on one of his "Fast & Furious 8" co-stars in 2016. "This is my final week of shooting 'Fast & Furious 8.' There's no other franchise that gets my blood boiling more than this one," he began the post, going on to praise the crew and his female co-stars. "My male co-workers however are a different story. Some conduct themselves as stand up men and true professionals, while others don't. The ones that don't are too chicken s–t to do anything about it anyway. Candy a–es." He didn't name names and fans of the franchise attempted to figure out which male star he was talking about. The options ranged from Scott Eastwood to Jason Statham, but ultimately it was revealed that the man in question was Vin Diesel. The two movie stars had a hard time seeing eye to eye, so The Rock called Vin out for allegedly diva-ish behavior. Though TMZ later reported that the men met and resolved their feud, we're willing to bet there's still some bad blood between these two.
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In January 2020, producer Oprah Winfrey pulled her support for the documentary "On the Record," which explores sexual harassment in the music industry as well as Russell Simmons' alleged sexual misconduct. (To date, 20 women have spoken out against the hip-hop music mogul; he's claimed the encounters were consensual.) Oprah's decision led to confusion as she'd previously said she believed his accusers. Days before the Apple TV+ project bowed at the Sundance Film Festival, Oprah explained her exit, telling "CBS This Morning" she left the project and released it to its filmmakers because "I just care about getting it right, and I think there are some inconsistencies in the stories that we need to look at." Those who support the film were shocked. "I'm still just trying to wrap my head around the fact that somehow this is where we all find ourselves going into Sundance, which was already a source of anxiety, and now it's just turned into a pressure cooker and it's really, really scary," Drew Dixon, the primary accuser featured in the film, told The Hollywood Reporter. Oprah was unapologetic, telling "CBS This Morning," "Until the thing is on the screen, you have the right to change your mind."
Matt Damon's "The Great Wall" is not best known for its box office receipts or killer story but for the controversy that surrounded it. Filmmakers were accused of whitewashing, as the flick was meant to tell a Chinese story yet starred a famous white American actor. When the trailer dropped in 2016, fans were unhappy with the casting and proved it when it came time to head to the theater: The film was a box office bomb and ultimately lost the studio an estimated $75 million.
One day before Apple TV+'s movie "The Banker" was due to premiere at AFI Fest in 2019 ahead of a December 2019 theatrical release and a January 2020 debut on the streaming service, the movie was delayed. The rollout of the film — which follows two African American bankers, Joe Morris and Bernard Garrett, who hired a white man to front their real estate business — was paused to give filmmakers an opportunity to review accusations of historical inaccuracy and sexual abuse after allegations of misconduct were leveled against Bernard Garrett Jr. — a co-producer on the project and the son of one of the main subjects — by half-sister Cynthia Garrett. The cast and crew released a statement standing by the film saying, "Though we have no way of knowing what may have transpired between Mr. Garrett's children in the 1970s, including the allegations of abuse we have recently been made aware of, our hearts go out to anyone who has suffered… We stand by the film and its positive message of empowerment." Apple TV+ set a new release date for March 2020 but in January, two wives of the late Garrett Sr. implored the company to permanently shelve the film, which stars Anthony Mackie, Samuel L. Jackson and Nicholas Hoult. Apple+ ultimately decided the movie would have a limited theatrical release and still debut on the stream on March 20, 2020.
Martha Mansfield was a well-known actress in her day, having starred on Broadway in "Little Women" before becoming a Hollywood star. Unfortunately, a freak accident on the set of her film "The Warrens of Virginia" took her life in 1923 and left a sad stain on the movie. Martha was taking a break on set, resting in a car, when someone accidentally threw a lit match into the window after lighting a cigarette, lighting Martha on fire. She was in costume, wearing a Civil War-era gown that was layered with flammable tulle, and though she was taken to the hospital, she passed away a day later. She was just 24.
"Snow White and the Huntsman" made headlines for all the wrong reasons in 2012 after it was revealed that the film's director, Rupert Sanders, was involved with its much younger star, Kristen Stewart. Making this even more scandalous? Kristen was attached to her "Twilight" co-star Robert Pattinson at the time, and Rupert was married to model Liberty Ross, with whom he had two children. Photographic proof of their affair ran in Us Weekly, and though they both managed to reconcile with their partners in the short term, both relationships eventually ended. When most people think of the film, the affair is one of their first thoughts. Neither returned for the follow-up, "The Huntsman: Winter's War."
To say there was an uproar when Scarlett Johansson was cast as Major Motoko Kusanagi in "Ghost in the Shell" is an understatement. The original movie was set in Japan with a Japanese cast, so many fans were offended when Scarlett was hired for the remake. In 2016, fans organized a petition calling for her to be dismissed from the role and asking for DreamWorks to stop whitewashing Asian characters, claiming, "DreamWorks could be using this film to help provide opportunities for Asian-American actors in a market with few opportunities for them to shine." Scarlett addressed the controversy in 2017, telling Marie Claire magazine, "Diversity is important in Hollywood, and I would never want to feel like I was playing a character that was offensive… Also, having a franchise with a female protagonist driving it is such a rare opportunity. Certainly, I feel the enormous pressure of that — the weight of such a big property on my shoulders." Not shockingly, this response didn't exactly appease those who were upset.
One of the movie industry's biggest scandals ever went down at the Academy Awards in 2017 when it was time to hand out the best picture trophy. Instead of the correct winner, "Moonlight," being announced when the envelope was opened, presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway incorrectly revealed it to be "La La Land." Awkwardly, the producers and cast of "La La Land" took the stage and started an acceptance speech — only to be interrupted and told that "Moonlight" was actually the victor. "La La Land" producer Jordan Horowitz gave the surprising news, telling viewers, "There is a mistake. 'Moonlight,' you guys won best picture. This is not a joke. 'Moonlight' has won best picture." The rightful winners then took the stage and it was soon revealed what happened: Warren was given the wrong envelope by the accountant in charge of the winners envelopes backstage (the exec had been tweeting!). He and Faye opened the backup envelope for best actress, which had gone to Emma Stone for "La La Land" moments earlier.
We're pretty sure only one film is history potentially started a war and caused terrorist attacks, and that's "The Interview." When Sony's servers were hacked, the organization behind the hack threatened terror attacks if the film was shown in theaters. Why? Because the plot involved James Franco and Seth Rogen attempting to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un.
Brad Pitt was one half of America's favorite couple when he signed on to star in "Mr. and Mrs. Smith." By the time the film wrapped in 2004, he was part of one of the most infamous love triangles in Hollywood history thanks to rumors that he and co-star Angelina Jolie had started an affair on set. Ultimately, where there was smoke, there was fire. Brad and Jennifer Aniston announced their split in January 2005, Brad and Angelina were spotted vacationing together that April, and the film was released in June. Years later, both Brad and Angelina admitted in interviews that they'd fallen in love during filming — when he was still a married man.
"Twilight Zone: The Movie" wasn't just a creepy ride for audiences. It was also responsible for a tragic moment in movie history in 1982. Actor Vic Morrow was shooting a scene in which he was carrying two children, actors Myca Dinh Le and Renee Shin-Yi Chen, through a river when a helicopter in the same scene crashed, killing all three actors. Lawsuits followed, with the parents of those children claiming they didn't even know their kids would be shooting a scene with a helicopter. Later, it was revealed they'd been hired illegally. The film was still released, but it received mixed reviews.
The set of 1962's "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane" was a pretty tumultuous place. Stars Bette Davis and Joan Crawford's infamous rivalry even spawned its own TV show, FX's "Feud: Bette and Joan." So what were the stars constantly arguing about? Joan reportedly hooked up with someone Bette fancied years before they worked together on the movie, resulting in an unpleasant situation on set filled with animosity and hijinx. Their feud even boiled over to the next year's Academy Awards, where Bette was nominated for the film and Joan not only campaigned against her but arranged to accept the award for the woman who beat her, Anne Bancroft, just to rub a little more salt in the wound.
While shooting "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" in Oahu, Hawaii, Jennifer Lawrence found herself in hot water after sharing what she thought was just a funny story from the set. When the movie star visited Graham Norton's talk show in the U.K., she explained how she'd scratched her behind on a stone when she had an itch, causing it to come loose and fall, destroying the sound guy's equipment. She shared that the Hawaiians on set claimed it could be a curse, since the stones in question were "sacred rocks" with a lot of spiritual importance. When she shared the story, some Hawaiians were angered, as it was discovered that the cast was filming in the Waimea Valley, the site of burial caves of important ancestors like astronomers and doctors. Jennifer later apologized on Facebook, writing, "I meant absolutely no disrespect to the Hawaiian people… I really thought that I was being self-deprecating about the fact that I was 'the curse,' but I understand the way it was perceived was not funny and I apologize if I offended anyone."
The set of "Suicide Squad" was a strange place in 2015. Jared Leto infamously went full method, reportedly sending his co-stars disgusting gifts, but that wasn't the weirdest thing that happened on set. Nope, that honor goes to director David Ayer's odd rehearsal plan. The director told Yahoo back in 2016, "It wasn't a normal rehearsal. We'd talk about their lives, their history, and really got them to open up as people to each other. I also had them fight. I had them fight each other. You learn a lot about who a person really is when you punch them in the face. It gets rid of a lot of the actor stuff." Totally normal, right?
2014's "Exodus: God and Kings" was meant to be a tale of Moses's life in Egypt. Unfortunately, the cast was made up of mainly white actors — with Christian Bale playing Moses, Joel Edgerton as Ramses and Aaron Paul as Joshua. When this was brought up, director Ridley Scott created controversy by telling Variety, "I can't mount a film of this budget, where I have to rely on tax rebates in Spain, and say that my lead actor is Mohammad so-and-so from such-and-such. I'm just not going to get it financed. So the question doesn't even come up." Yikes.
Co-stars often hook up on set, but this next one caused quite a scandal. Back on the set of "Star Wars," a 19-year-old Carrie Fisher hooked up with a then-33-year-old Harrison Ford — and it wasn't the age difference that raised eyebrows when Carrie revealed what happened in her memoir "The Princess Diarist" in 2016. Harrison was married with children at the time, and the two had a three-month-long affair. Carrie wrote in her book, "…as far as I know the only time he cheated on any of his three wives was with me," and also noted the two were often drunk or stoned during their time together.
In 2019, Universal shelved the movie "The Hunt" because the thriller featured a storyline involved a particular kind of gun violence. The cancelation came on the heels of two mass shootings in Ohio and Texas that left more than 30 people dead and many more wounded. As reported by Vulture, the film "focuses on a group of Americans who are kidnapped and dropped off in a rural area in Europe. In this natural arena of sorts, they are then hunted down by rich people who have paid for the Most Dangerous Game experience of murdering them with an array of weapons, including guns." As the studio explained, "Now is not the time to release this film."
One of the saddest moments in film history involves the death of Brandon Lee, who was killed on the set of 1994's "The Crow." The actor was filming a scene where his character gets shot, but the fake gun used as a prop turned out to be just as lethal. It hadn't been cleaned correctly, so debris from a blank cartridge was fired into Brandon's chest. He died at a local hospital due to blood loss, branding the film with a heartbreaking legacy.
Tilda Swinton found herself in hot water when she was cast as The Ancient One in Marvel's 2016 flick "Doctor Strange." The character from the beloved comic book was meant to be Tibetan, so fans were in an uproar when the white British actress was cast, claiming whitewashing. Making matters worse, Tilda reached out to comedian Margaret Cho to get her take on the outrage. Margaret eventually took their conversations public and claimed she felt like "a house Asian" and like Tilda's "servant" when she was asked for her input.