The Writers Guild of America (WGA) has called another strike, 15 years on from the last union action that impacted Hollywood in many ways.
When the writers of Hollywood went on strike for 14 weeks in 2007-08 over unfair royalty practices, movie studios went into meltdown, rushing half-finished films into production, praying that nobody even paid attention to those dumb word thingies on the page.
Read more: WGA Spells Out Vast Differences That Led to Strike (Variety, 3 min read)
They were wrong and several movies released in 2008/2009 sucked as a result. It quickly became the fashion to blame any underwhelming, under-performing movie of the period on the writers’ strike: here are the films that struck out…
Quantum Of Solace
After getting back to basics in Casino Royale, many were disappointed by Marc Forster’s Bond follow-up Quantum Of Solace, which seemed a lot scrappier and flabbier than Martin Campbell’s lean and mean reboot. The reason, it seems, was the writers’ strike, which left Forster and co unable to rewrite scenes on the fly.
“I wrote the script myself,” said Daniel Craig in 2012, who admitted that Paul Haggis’s original screenplay arrived just two hours before the strike began. “We were f***ed,” said the actor. “We had a bare bones of a script and then there was a writers’ strike and there was nothing we could do. There was me trying to rewrite scenes, and a writer I am not.”
Director Marc Forster later admitted he'd considered quitting the movie due to the time constraints imposed on his film.
Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen
There’s a joke in one of the later series of 30 Rock where Liz Lemon glimpses a poster for 'Transformers 5’, boldly carrying the credit “Written by No One”. This is actually the situation that producers on the second Transformers movie found themselves in when the strike curtailed the script work done by Alex Kurtzman Roberto Orci, which was really more guidelines than hard copy.
The only man available to pick up the slack? Director Michael Bay, a man for whom action speakers louder than words. Bay plugged the plot gaps himself but later called the movie “crap” and admitted “It was just terrible to do a movie where you’ve got to have a story in three weeks.” Nonetheless, 'Revenge Of The Fallen’ made almost a billion dollars worldwide because explosions.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine
Although you’d never know the script was rushed by watching it (LOL, just kidding, it’s terrible), the first ever X-Men spin-off movie was written at 1,000mph by a studio desperate to get it out the door before the writers’ strike began. Rumour has it the film went into production before the script was finished and the shooting schedule was extended to compensate for rewrites completed after the strike.
To make matters worse, an effects-free version of the movie leaked before release; Fox must have been lining up their excuses awaiting the inevitable catastrophe, but the movie still made a respectable £250 million worldwide. Never forget: Wolverine is invulnerable.
G.I. Joe: The Rise Of Cobra
Wait, this thing had a script? It certainly did, but it was written by Stuart Beattie with the writers’ strike looming. Producer Laurence di Bonaventura said at the time: “Given what’s at stake and the time we have left, our writers on every project are working under inhuman amounts of pressure.”
Fittingly, the finished movie was inhumanly bad, suggesting that Beattie’s turbo-script was overlooked in favour of crayon drawings of explosions that director Stephen Sommers knocked up before his afternoon nap. After all, this was a movie where ice sinks in water and Channing Tatum tries to beat up a hologram.
The real reason Christian Bale so furiously erupted on the set of Terminator Salvation? He knew it was going to be a dud: the production had been troubled from day one, and no amount of lightning engineers wandering into his eyeline could change the fact that the script was rushed to be complete before the writers’ strike.
Read more: McG teases 'darker cut' of Salvation
McG publicly stated that the script needed a top-to-toe rewrite but he had no time to do so: the strike ended in February 2008 and his movie started shooting in May. Jonah Nolan did knock up a revised script in those three months but the ticking clock did Terminator Salvation no favours. It was pardoned as the worst Terminator movie by Terminator Genisys, a film so bad we wanted to strike the writers.
Although the script for JJ Abrams’ spacefaring adventure was completed before the writers’ strike began, the director found himself in a curious position while shooting. He and writer Damon Lindelof would think up funny alternate lines while filming, but as both men were members of the Writers Guild of America, they were unable to shoot the extra takes as doing so would have contravened the rules of the strike.
Okay, so the odd dropped Kirk zinger didn’t exactly tank the movie, but no director likes feeling gagged when it comes to gags.
Angels & Demons
It takes a team of cryptologists months and months to make sense of the texts of Dan Brown, but Sony found themselves in an awkward position when it came to bringing Da Vinci Code follow-up Angels & Demons to the big screen. Unlike everyone else on this list, they didn’t rush a half-finished script into production and instead delayed the film six months from its December 2008 release slot to give them more time to polish the script.
Admirable, but over those six months, the public appetite for all things Dan Brown took a serious downturn: shouted down by bigger, ballsier, less library-centric summer blockbusters, Angels & Demons majorly underwhelmed audiences upon its eventual release.
Rumour has it the only reason that the atrocious Dragonball Evolution exists is because Hollywood’s writers put down their pens. With a gaping hole in their schedule, Fox allegedly realised they could rush a movie — any movie — into production, and the tattered old screenplay for a Dragonball movie was available, having gathered dust in the corner since 2002.
The movie got made, then got slated for being terrible, then was forgotten about completely until this very moment, so apologies for reminding you of its existence. This film is the single worst thing to happen due to the writers’ strike.
Watch: The Writers Strike explained