The biggest on-set movie scandals of 2016

Ben Arnold

2016. Hailed by no one as ‘the best year ever’, it’s been as tumultuous on-set as it has been out there in the real world.

Herein lie some of the biggest scandals of the year…

Hellish conditions on The Revenant

(Credit: Warner Bros)

Sure it was a realistic portrayal of the brutality of the wilderness, but the over-budget, over-schedule set of Alejandro G. Inarritu’s ‘The Revenant’ was described as ‘a living hell‘ by some. The weather was horrifically cold, reports suggest the planning was bad thanks to sometimes getting just an hour-and-a-half light per day, crew-members quit, an actor was dragged naked along the ground during the battle scene, a planned two week break turned into six weeks of inaction, sometimes there was not enough snow, and then sometimes it was minus 25 degrees. “Everybody was frozen, the equipment was breaking; to get the camera from one place to another was a nightmare,” said Inarritu. But it got Leo an Oscar, so it was all totally worth it, right? Right?

The million dollar scene cut from Ghostbusters

(Credit: Sony)

So the snippet – mild spoiler alert – which features in the end credits, in which a possessed Kevin (Chris Hemsworth) performs a dance routine to the Bee Gees’ ‘You Should Be Dancing’ with a phalanx of cops and soldiers, was actually intended to be a scene in the film. Except it didn’t test well with audiences. Fine, cut it, you might think. Except that it reportedly cost a million dollars to film. Ouch.

Massive Rogue One reshoots

(Credit: Lucasfilm)

Star Wars fans almost had kittens when news emerged that ‘Rogue One’, Gareth Edwards’ ‘Star Wars’ prequel was going into multi-million dollar reshoots. Was it going to be bad? After all, Edwards has such little experience in making big budget features. Features full-stop, in fact, having only three films under his belt. Rumours suggested that Disney wasn’t happy with the first results, and the movie wasn’t ‘testing well’, and that writer Tony Gilroy had been drafted in to help ‘reshape’ the movie – reportedly earning him $5m in the process. But Disney later said reshoots were always part of the plan.

Studio in-fighting on Suicide Squad

(Credit: Warner Bros)

In August, The Hollywood Reporter published an expose of in-fighting, competing cuts, and ‘high anxiety’ on the set of Warner Bros, DC Comics property ‘Suicide Squad’. It was suggested that the initial script wasn’t up to snuff, and the tone of the first cut was all wrong, not straddling effectively the dark side and the fun from the first trailer. Indeed, it was a complete mess when it finally arrived at the cinema, with rumours another company came in to re-cut director David Ayers’ first effort. Critics hated it, but in the end it made a respectable $745 million at the box office.

The Jane Got A Gun misfire

(Credit: The Weinstein Company)

The Natalie Portman-produced ‘Jane Got A Gun’ finally emerged at the cinema this year, but only after some dazzling upheaval along the way. Director Lynne Ramsay sensationally quit after a single day on set. Producer Scott Steindorff called the move ‘insane’. Jude Law then quit too, saying he’d signed on to work with Ramsay. It eventually got back on track, with Gavin O’Connor taking over the lens, and some other re-castings, and it was released in April this year. But it bombed in a breathtaking manner, making just $3 million from its $25 million budget.

The ‘Titty’ furore on Swallows & Amazons

(Credit: BBC)

Arthur Ransome’s buccolic British classic ‘Swallows & Amazons’ was remade as a feature film by the BBC this year, with Kelly Macdonald and Rafe Spall. But it caused fury after it changed the name of the character Titty to Tatty during production. Barbara Altouyan, the niece of Titty, who was based on a real person, said in a letter to the Daily Telegraph: “I would absolutely wring someone’s neck if could only find out whose neck I could ring. It’s just the most disgustingly pompous thing to do, to feel you can change somebody’s identity without any permission or discussion.”

Grimsby offends all of Grimsby

(Credit: Sony)

Sacha Baron Cohen, never one to be inoffensive, emerged with his latest comedy ‘Grimsby’ this year. But not before completely offending the entire city, depicting its denizens as overweight, drunken, fag-smoking, pub-scrapping laybaouts during its shoot. It was particularly annoying to local folk because it wasn’t even shot in Grimsby, but in Tilbury, Essex. “A lot of people in this town are unhappy about it, especially his fat, tattooed women characters. I don’t know where he’s seen them around here, I certainly haven’t,” said one pub landlord. Others got their own back by mocking Baron Cohen’s ‘terrible’ Grimsby accent.

Whitewashing Doctor Strange

(Credit: Disney)

In April, it emerged that Tilda Swinton was being cast opposite Benedict Cumberbatch in the exciting new Marvel prospect ‘Doctor Strange’. Except that in the comic books, her character The Ancient One is a mystical character of Tibetan descent, something no number of bald wigs could assist with. The film was immediately and vocally accused of ‘white-washing’, the practice of putting white actors in roles that should be played by actors from other ethnicities. Marvel hit back, saying: “The Ancient One is a title that is not exclusively held by any one character, but rather a moniker passed down through time, and in this particular film the embodiment is Celtic.” So there.

Sausage Party animators got stiffed

(Credit: Sony)

Animators on the raunchy Seth Rogen animation ‘Sausage Party’ were queuing up to slate one of the movie’s directors, Greg Tiernan – also the boss of the Canadian animation house Nitrogen, which produced it. Anonymous comments began appearing on a story on the Cartoon Brew website, alleging poor working conditions, demands that animators work overtime for free or face being blacklisted, and workers missing from the credits. 36 of 83 animators involved were said to have been stuck from the final credits. The allegations would tally with the movie’s $20 million budget, substantially lower than what would be expected for an animated movie of its kind.

Dylan O’Brien badly injured on Maze Runner sequel

(Credit: Fox)

The star of MTV’s ‘Teen Wolf’ Dylan O’Brien had a pretty serious-sounding run-in with a moving vehicle on ‘Maze Runner: The Death Cure’. Documents leaked from the worker’s compensation board WorkSafeBC in British Columbia detailed how O’Brien, who was attached to a vehicle with a harness, was yanked to the ground and then dragged under it, ‘suffering concussion, facial fracture and lacerations’. Crikey, shouldn’t stunt men be doing this stuff?

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