The highly competitive world of cinema brings its own set of challenges — not just for actors but for the men and women behind the camera as well. Doubt runs rampant in Hollywood’s directorial pool. Look at five instances where directors doubted their passion projects would succeed – and some of these examples might surprise you!
Avengers Age of Ultron – $1.4 Billion
Following the immeasurable success of the first Avengers installment in 2012 which grossed over $1.5 billion worldwide, director Joss Whedon had his doubts he could bring back the magic that made the first film such a smash-hit. The pressure to replicate that formula-for-success crippled Whedon with doubt he had never experienced before in all his years of directing. In the end, Joss snapped out of his uncertainty and produced one of the greatest installments of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The Theory of Everything – $123.7 Million
Director James Marsh found himself questioning whether audiences would understand the complex nature of his 2015 Steven Hawking biographical romantic drama. While Marsh believed whole-heartedly in the direction of the film, he doubted that it would become a box office smash. Marsh feared that a film riddled with meticulous detail would fly right over the head of the average moviegoer. In hindsight, he did not need to worry. The film awarded its lead actor Eddie Redmayne a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Motion Picture Drama.
Baahubali: The Beginning – $100 Million
Notable Indian director and screenwriter S. S. Rajamouli’s films are best known for their technical finesse and craft. The director, however, has expressed that while he knows he is a very talented storyteller, he has doubts about his skill behind the camera. Rajamouli often changes his mind in the editing stages of a project, going back and forth between keeping or cutting certain scenes. No matter the process it takes to get to the end result, the subsequent numbers speak for themselves. In the end the two-part film series became the highest grossing Indian multilingual film franchise of all time globally with a cumulative box office payout of $330 million!
Star Wars: A New Hope – $775.4 Million
A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, the greatest saga of our lifetime premiered on the silver screen. Did you know that it began with a simple bet? That’s right, the success of the most influential movie franchise in the history of film hinged on one simple bet between two motion picture giants. Filled with doubt about his space-saga passion project, director George Lucas sought the advice of his longtime friend Steven Spielberg. After seeing the grandeur on the set of Steven’s own passion-project, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, George bet Steven a percentage of the royalties that Spielberg’s film would outshine his own. Steven took the bet gaining a percentage of all sales on all unique Star Wars merchandise, and the rest is history.
45 Years – $13.9 Million
Director Andrew Haigh, most notably known for his British romantic drama film Weekend, took on a different kind of love story in 2015. A film spanning six complete days in the life of Geoff and Kate Mercer, 45 Years eloquently portrays the couple’s heartwarming journey to celebrating forty-five years of marriage. Haigh expressed numerous times his doubts that audiences could relate to the humanization of an older generation. In the end, the film was nominated for an Academy Award for Charlotte Rampling’s heartfelt portrayal, and ended up winning over fifteen independent film critic awards across the globe.
It’s a hard job to direct a film and it makes sense that directors doubt their projects from time to time. In this case, these films were more than worth the risk though – and movie-goers benefitted.