Misfortune Struck These 7 Major Movie Sets
Many successful films are able to breeze through production and effortlessly become a blockbuster success. But others aren’t as lucky. In fact, some films are downright unlucky. During the filming of these seven movies, cast and crew members were plagued with injuries, delays, budget issues, and sometimes even death. Here’s a look at some of Hollywood’s unluckiest movie sets.
1. The Passion of the Christ (2004)
Directed by Mel Gibson, The Passion of the Christ starred Jim Caviezel as Jesus and detailed the final hours and crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Throughout shooting the film, Caviezel experienced a string of bad luck, including being struck by lightning. “We were preparing to shoot the Sermon on the Mount and three seconds before, I was hit by lightning. I knew it was going to happen,” Fox News reports Caviezel saying. If that wasn’t bad enough, the poor actor also suffered through a case of near-hypothermia, a dislocated shoulder, a lung infection and pneumonia, writes Movie Fone. Caviezel also underwent an eight-hour makeup routine that left him with headaches and skin infections, and his bad luck continued when he was accidentally whipped on a few occasions, causing a chunk of his flesh to be ripped out. Maybe it wasn’t so much The Passion of the Christ set that was cursed so much as it was Caviezel.
2. Apocalypse Now (1979)
The filming was riddled with terrible luck. Production began in early 1976 with Harvey Keitel as the lead. A massive production delay occurred when director Francis Ford Coppola fired Keitel and replaced him with Martin Sheen, who later suffered a heart attack while on set, per MSN Entertainment. The bad luck trickled onto Marlon Brando, who arrived on set much heavier than anyone had anticipated. Coppola was then forced to film Brando’s face in tight close-ups and use a body double for all of his other scenes. The filming wrapped up in 1977 but needed so much editing that it didn’t hit movie screens until 1979.
3. The Man Who Killed Don Quixote (never completed)
How much bad luck does it take to end a movie all together? A lot, which is unfortunately what happened on the set of The Man Who Killed Don Quixote in 2000. Director Terry Gilliam decided to bring Don Quixote to the big screen, enlisting Jean Rochefort as Quixote and Johnny Depp to take on Sancho Panza. Many had high expectations for the movie, but things unfortunately took a terrible turn quickly. First, Rochefort injured his back, forcing him to drop out of the movie. The crew then discovered the Spanish location where they were shooting was near a loud NATO target practice area, which often interfered with shooting (no one could hear anything.) Finally, a flash flood destroyed the film’s sets and equipment and ultimately caused production to call it quits.
What does all of that bad luck equal? An estimated $16 million insurance claim. In an interview with The Observer, Gilliam said, “A part of me still doesn’t quite believe it happened. I mean, it had been a difficult project from day one, but what happened was so cruelly absurd, so surreal and devastating, I think it still has a grip on me.” However, The Hollywood Reporter writes that Gilliam is ready to try filming the movie again. He is planning to start production on September 29 in the Canary Islands. Hopefully (some) luck is on his side this time.
4. Town & Country (2001)
Featuring top-notch actors such as Warren Beatty, Goldie Hawn, Diane Keaton, Garry Shandling, and Andie MacDowell, there were high hopes that this comedy would be a blockbuster success. Filming began in the summer of 1998, but the script was never finished and ended up going through an excessive amount of drafts, putting production months behind schedule. More delays followed when Beatty requested take after take for each scene. A year later, Town & Country still wasn’t finished. Many of the stars ended up leaving for other projects, and couldn’t return for reshoots for over a year. Since there was such a gap in between shooting, the studio had to pay actors their salaries not once, but twice. The movie finally made its way into theaters in 2001, grossing just over $10 million worldwide. Time writes that the movie’s losses came in at $124,202,203.
5. The Omen (1976)
What do you get when you make a supernatural film about a U.S. ambassador who learns his child is the antichrist? Well, bad luck, of course. The ’76 horror film, starring Gregory Peck, was riddled with ominous events. First, while filming the movie, Peck and the film’s screenwriter, David Seltzer, took separate flights to England, both of which were struck by lightning. Director Richard Donner’s hotel was bombarded by the IRA, and he was also struck by a car. The Silver Screen Critic writes several principle members of the crew survived a head-on car crash on the first day of shooting, and the plane the crew had originally chartered but canceled then crashed, killing everyone on board. Despite all of that bad luck, no one was seriously injured. Maybe the set had a little good luck after all.
6. The Matrix (1999)
Tragedy plagued the poor cast members of The Matrix throughout filming, beginning when Keanu Reeves’s girlfriend, Jennifer Syme, gave birth to a stillborn. The couple then broke up, and shortly after, Syme died in a car accident. Aaliyah, 22, was in the middle of filming her role as Zee when she died in a plane crash, which postponed filming for a few months. Shortly after Aaliyah’s death, tragedy struck again. Another cast member, Gloria Foster, who played the role of The Oracle, also died. Meanwhile, Reeves ended up in the hospital after a motorbike accident and returned shortly after when he hurt his foot during filming. Reeves’ sister also suffered a leukemia relapse, causing a delay in filming when he left to be with her. \
The cost of making the film was spiraling out of control, so Reeves agreed to give up $24 million of his paycheck to keep production afloat, writes List Verse. Despite the bad luck during production, the movie ended up being a box office success.
7. Waterworld (1995)
Expectations started high for this movie, but that was pretty short-lived. Budget problems were the first issue. The movie was supposed to be well below $5 million but ended up costing around $200 million. It wouldn’t have been the end of the world, except the movie turned out to be a box office flop, making only $88 million in 1995, according to The Verge. Members of the cast and crew also suffered through their fair share of problems. Many experienced severe seasickness while filming, and one of the floating sets drifted away and got stuck underwater. Also, on more than one occasion, strong winds halted filming entirely.
But that’s not all. Kevin Costner’s stunt double almost died while doing a diving stunt, and more than one crew member was stung by a jellyfish. As icing on the cake, crew members’ unions demanded compensation for what it deemed as labor violations, only further delaying production.
More From Wall St. Cheat Sheet: