Last week, in a rather surprising video, Peter Jackson essentially apologised for the Hobbit trilogy not being as good as it should have been. In a featurette to accompany the home release of the third Hobbit movie, The Battle of the Five Armies, the director said, “I didn’t know what the hell I was doing” during a rushed production that never gave him the time to properly plan his films. He’s not the first director to apologise for his own film. These people also offered post-release mea culpa.
1. Joel Schumacher – Batman and Robin
And well he might apologise. Batman has always been considered virtually bulletproof as a film property, but Joel Schumacher tested that with his garish sequel and showed that, yes, you could royally bugger up a Batman film. Villains that were camp but unfunny, a plot that managed to be both overly complicated and barely there at all, benippled batsuits. It was all wrong. “I didn’t do a good job,” Schumacher told Variety in 2015. “George [Clooney] did. Chris [O’Donnell] did. Uma [Thurman] is brilliant in it. Arnold is Arnold.” We’d dispute that anyone is great in it, but good of him to take the weight of the blame.
2. Josh Trank – Fantastic Four
The world may never know the true details of what went on behind the scenes on Trank’s Fantastic Four reboot, which came out in 2015 to poisonous reviews and very weak box office after many stories of fighting behind the scenes. The director was very quick to distance himself from it, before it had even opened, saying on Twitter, “A year ago I had a fantastic version of this. And it would’ve received great reviews. You’ll probably never see it. That’s reality though.” He quickly deleted it but the unprofessional petulance of rubbishing his movie the night before it opened probably won’t win him much favour in Hollywood.
3. David Fincher – Alien 3
Not so much an apology for as a continued damnation of. Fincher has never talked kindly of Alien 3, which is famously one of the most troubled productions in cinema history. Fincher was never allowed to make the film he wanted and hasn’t kept that a secret. He’s rarely talked about the production since, but in an interview for the BBC shortly after release he said, “We failed to give people the broad, safe entertainment that, in the United States at least, they seem to want. They want to go to the cinema and get away from it all…If we had just gone out and done a shoot ‘em up we would have cheapened the thing in the long run. Instead we did something weird and fucked up out there. I just think in terms of the world box office we may have chosen wrong.”
4. Cameron Crowe – Aloha
Crowe – who has made such beloved films as Jerry Maguire and Almost Famous – hit a big bump with Hawaii-set romantic comedy Aloha. First it was slagged off by various Sony Pictures execs in leaked emails, and then Crowe was pilloried for casting the very white Emma Stone as a part-Asian character. While he defended the casting, saying Stone’s character was based on a real woman who had Asian roots but as a red-head found few people believed her heritage, he said, on his blog, “I have heard your words and your disappointment, and I offer you a heartfelt apology to all who felt this was an odd or misguided casting choice.”
5. Sam Raimi – Spider-Man 3
After two excellent Spider-Man movies, Raimi’s third was a mess, rushing toward a release date before the script had been properly finished and everyone knew just want film they wanted to make. The sight of a greasy-haired emo Peter Parker dancing down the street is still upsetting. In a very level-headed interview with the Nerdist podcase last year Raimi talked of how he and the studio wrongly focused on topping the first two movies, rather than working out what would be the best story. “I messed up plenty with the third Spider-Man, so people hated me for years — they still hate me for it,” he said. “It’s a movie that just didn’t work very well.”
6. Neil Blomkamp – Elysium
A brilliant debut movie can be a mixed blessing. After huge critical and commercial success with District 9, Neil Blomkamp followed up with Elysium. With a plot about Earth’s wealthy elite moving to a Paradise-like man-made space station to escape our ravaged planet, where the poor would remain, it started well but descended into confusion. “I feel like, ultimately, the story is not the right story,” Blomkamp told Uproxx. “I still think the satirical idea of a ring, filled with rich people, hovering above the impoverished Earth, is an awesome idea. I love it so much, I almost want to go back and do it correctly. But I just think the script wasn’t… I just didn’t make a good enough film is ultimately what it is.” We would kind of like him to go back and make it properly too.
7. Jennifer Lee – Frozen
Why would you apologise for making the biggest animated movie in history? Because of that damned song. Of the ubiquitous ‘Let It Go’, co-director Jennifer Lee said to The Hollywood Reporter, “A year ago, I’d meet people who, when they found out who I was, they’d say, ‘Oh, we love the songs! We sing them all the time.’ Now they’re like, ‘Yep, we’re still listening to those songs.’ I’ve gone from, ‘Thank you,’ to, ‘Sorry!'”