12 films that weren't directed by who you think

  • 12 films that weren't directed by who you think they were

Film directors are often a massive draw for film fans, people will go to see Quentin Tarantino, Christopher Nolan and Edgar Wright films on only the strength of the directors' reputations.

Sometimes, famous directors choose to use their influence and reputation to produce a film, letting another director takes the reins, and despite them not being heavily involved, their names are inextricably linked to the movie.

So here is a list of films that weren't directed by who you think...

1. Poltergeist wasn't directed by Steven Spielberg

With a clause in his Universal contractthat prevented him from directing another movie while he made E.T., Steven Spielberg was unable to direct cult horror flick Poltergeist.

Despite coming up with the idea, writing the script and being involved in much of the production and post-production, Spielberg was forced to relinquish directing duties to The Texas Chain Saw Massacre director Tobe Hooper

Hooper was battling a cocaine addiction during filming, so Spielberg's on-set presence was likely a welcome figure.

When quizzed about how much he contributed to the film, the legendary director explained: "Tobe isn't... a take-charge sort of guy. If a question was asked and an answer wasn't immediately forthcoming, I'd jump in and say what we could do. Tobe would nod agreement, and that became the process of collaboration."

2. Cloverfield wasn't directed by J.J. Abrams

Thanks to a very effective marketing campaign, the movie - shot in a found footage style - saw New York being destroyed by a giant monster, and was a massive success upon its release in January 2008.

While promoting Mission: Impossible III in Japan, Lost co-creator J.J. Abrams thought up the idea of America having its very own Godzilla-style monster and Paramount Pictures picked up the idea with Abrams as a producer.

Despite having directed episodes of TV shows Lost and Alias, as well as M:I:III, Abrams chose his Felicity co-creator Matt Reeves to direct, with Abrams producing the 'spiritual successor' 10 Cloverfield Lane while Reeves served as executive producer.

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3. George Lucas did not direct The Empire Strikes Back OR Return of the Jedi

When George Lucas couldn't obtain the rights to Flash Gordon, he created, wrote and directed Star Wars (which later turned into Star Wars: A New Hope), which quickly became the highest-grossing film of all time for five years.

When it came round to the sequel The Empire Strikes Back three years later, Lucas funded the project independently to avoid studio interference and chose to act as executive producer (and receiving story credit), offering the directing role to Irvin Kershner, one of his former professors at the USC School of Cinematic Arts.

Lucas again personally funded the third installment, Return of the Jedi and approached David Lynch and David Cronenberg to direct, but both declined. Lucas went with Richard Marquand to direct, while he worked as executive producer and got a screenwriter credit.

With the release of the prequel trilogy, all directed by Lucas, it has been said by many that the best Star Wars films are the two in which he had the least involvement.

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4. Joss Whedon did not direct The Cabin in the Woods

The 2012 meta-horror was praised for smartly deconstructing well-known horror tropes, with Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator Joss Whedon heralded for his refreshing new take on the slasher genre.

However, most people are unaware that Joss Whedon co-wrote the script with Cloverfield screenwriter Drew Goddard, and Whedon served as producer, while Goddard did the directing duties in his directorial debut.

Goddard would go on to write The Martian and is working on Deadpool 2 with Ryan Reynolds, while Whedon directed The Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron and, after a falling out with Marvel, is directing the DCEU's Justice League out later this year.

5. The Nightmare Before Christmas wasn't directed by Tim Burton

Often being referred to as Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas would make you think that Burton had a large hand in the stop-motion dark fantasy film - which he did, but not as a director.

Burton had worked on the idea since 1982, where he wrote it as a short poem, then looked to turn it into a TV special, and then in 1990, he and animator Henry Selick set about turning the story into a stop-motion feature film using the abandoned models that they had made years before.

Due to commitments on Batman Returns, and not wanting to have to deal with "the painstakingly slow process of stop motion", Burton handed the directing duty to Selick and stayed on as a producer.

This caused confusion in 2009, when the Selick-directed stop-motion animation Coraline was released, with the film's marketing stating that it was from the director of The Nightmare Before Christmas, however, due to Tim Burton's name being so heavily attached to Nightmare, many Burton fans were mistakenly led to believe it was directed by Burton - possibly an intentional plan on behalf of the Coraline marketing team.

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6. The 2014 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot wasn't directed by Michael Bay

Nickelodeon and Paramount purchased the rights to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles property in 2009 and set about producing a new live-action film and teamed up with Michael Bay's Platinum Dunes production company to produce the reboot.

After some unsuitable scripts, it was announced that Bay had decided that the film would be titled 'Ninja Turtles' and the turtles would be "from an alien race," which went down terribly with fans of the original films and cartoon series.

The decision was reversed and the original backstory was kept largely intact, and Wrath of the Titans director Jonathan Liebesman was in the director's chair, but despite that, the Transformers director still receives most of the negative feedback from fans disappointed with how the film turned out.

7. Quentin Tarantino didn't direct From Dusk Till Dawn

The cult classic is notable that it starts out as a crime movie with the Gecko brothers fleeing the FBI, before an about turn halfway through in which it turns into a gore-filled vampire horror comedy.

While Quentin Tarantino's face features on the poster and the dialogue unmistakably Tarantino-esque, his influence stops there, as it was his Grindhouse colleague Robert Rodriguez who was behind the camera.

In the early '90s, special effects artist Robert Kurtzman gave the aspiring screenwriter and director $1,500 to write a screenplay based on his idea, and in return, he would do the effects for the ear-slicing scene in Reservoir Dogs.

Tarantino wrote the script for From Dusk Till Dawn and was initially set to direct when the production went ahead in 1996, but instead decided to focus on being in front of the camera for his role of Richie Gecko and showed the script to his good friend Robert Rodriguez, who jumped at the chance to direct.

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8. Swingers wasn't directed by Jon Favreau

While a struggling actor and screenwriter, Jon Favreau saw breakthrough success as heartbroken Mike Peters in Swingers, the comedy-drama about aspiring actors which saw co-star Vince Vaughn take the limelight as the confident, smooth talking Trent Walker.

Favreau penned the screenplay in two weeks, loosely based on his own experiences when he first moved to LA having just broken up with his girlfriend, and characters including Vaughn's are based on themselves, and he picked another of his pals, Doug Liman to direct the film.

Liman is often overlooked as director, while Favreau, who also directed the Swingers 'spiritual successor' Made (also starring Favreau and Vaughn) and the likes of Iron Man and Avengers: Age of Ultron, is usually assumed to have directed his breakthrough hit as well.

9. John Carpenter didn't direct Halloween II or Halloween III

After viewing John Carpenter's 1976 film Assault on Precinct 13 at the Milan Film Festival, producer and financier Irwin Yablans approached Carpenter about making a horror film about a psychotic killer that stalks babysitters, and Carpenter set about drafting a story with his then-girlfriend Debra Hill that turned into the runaway Michael Myers-slashing success Halloween.

With the money-spinning success of Halloween, a reluctant Carpenter and Hill were given a big salary to write a sequel, but Carpenter declined the offer to direct the sequel, and chose inexperienced and unknown director Rick Rosenthal, but stayed on during the production, and directing some scenes himself including adding some gory scenes as he believed Rosenthal's film to be too tame.

For the third film, Halloween III: Season of the Witch, John Carpenter and Debra Hill only agreed to participate if it was an entirely new concept and make the series an anthology, but this was turned down and eventually Halloween art director Tommy Lee Wallace was given his directorial debut (and tasked with rewriting a lot of the script) while Carpenter and Hill stayed on as producers.

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10. Judd Apatow did not direct Superbad, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Step Brothers, Pineapple Express or Bridesmaids

Having directed and written short-lived cult '90s TV show Freaks and Geeks, Judd Apatow broke into Hollywood with the raucous comedy The 40-Year-Old Virgin, followed up by Knocked Up, both of which he directed and wrote, recruiting a lot of the actors from Freaks and Geeks to play cast members.

Apatow - who wrote the likes of Happy Gilmore, Liar Liar, and The Wedding Singer - then used his rising reputation to get two films that his pal Seth Rogen had written, Superbad and Pineapple Express made, serving as producer for both.

Apatow has helped produce some of Hollywood's finest comedies of recent years, including both Anchorman films, Get Him to the Greek, Bridesmaids and Forgetting Sarah Marshall, and with his name usually attached to increase the films' profile, many have been incorrectly attributed to him as a director by fans.

11. Gremlins wasn't directed by Steven Spielberg or Chris Columbus

The 1984 comedy horror has become loved by old and young alike, and the idea was initially conceived by Mrs. Doubtfire and Home Alone director Chris Columbus, who was inspired by a nest of mice in his loft that would come alive at night.

Columbus wanted to use the script to show off his ability rather than expecting it to be made, but Steven Speilberg was impressed by the script and decided to make it with himself as executive producer.

Spielberg brought in Joe Dante, who had previous success in horror comedy with The Howling, but despite that, Speilberg and Columbus' names overshadow Dante when it comes to remembering who directed the Christmas classic.

12. Mike Myers didn't direct the Austin Powers films

Mike Myers conceived the idea of Austin Powers as a swinging '60s spoof of the James Bond movies and set about writing a script that turned into Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, with Myers playing both Austin Powers and villain Dr Evil (who he initially approached Jim Carrey to play, not wanting to play multiple characters) and showed it to his friend Jay Roach and the pair got the ball rolling on making it into a film.

Myers produced and co-wrote all three, while Roach directed all three of the Austin Powers films, but despite that, Myers' position at front and of the films mean that director Jay Roach's contribution to the series is largely overlooked.

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