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10 Successful Movies That Almost Didn't Get Made

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Successful Movies, Almost Failures, Motivation For Life, Inspirational Tips, How To Succeed, Production Story, Jaws, Gladiator, Star Wars, Back To The Future, Wizard Of Oz, Toy Story, Mary Poppins, Apocalypse Now, Slumdog Millionaire, Spotlight

Sometimes things in life don't go the way you wish for. Although you might have a great plan, there are always some obstacles that you have to deal with. You'll have your share of critics, non believers and negative people discouraging you from reaching your dreams.

If you're determined to succeed and really know what you want, the best success advice we can offer you is not to give up on your dreams. No matter how small people make you, you can achieve big if you believe and continue to work towards your goals and dreams.

To prove you that and to motivate you even more, we've selected 10 Successful Movies that actually didn't receive much support before they were made. In fact, some were about to be canceled in the starting stages.

If the people behind the creation of this great movies gave up on their dreams, today we wouldn't have this great movie masterpieces we all know about..

Despite the criticism and negative situations, the movie producers, the actors and  the companies behind the movies, manage to hold on to their ideas. Finding the necessary motivation to carry on, and got successful because of it!

Join our journey, as we present 10 Successful Movies That Almost Didn't Get Made and enumerate the inspirational facts behind this movie's great success stories, giving you the ultimate motivation:

10 Successful Movies That Almost Didn't Get Made


1. Jaws (1975)

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Steve Spielberg's Jaws had everything to be a disaster. At first Spielberg, almost departure from the picture, not wanting to be labelled as the "truck and shark director".
When they started shooting:

  • the production was hard, the mechanical shark, that the art department constructed, didn't worked well
  • the movie went over-budget, almost tripling the cost
  • and, they passed the schedule time by large margin. 

All this events could led to disaster, but they only made Jaws better! For example, the shark malfunction made Spielberg and his peers not to use the shark's effective presence. A movie with sharks without a shark? What they did was, instead of using a shark all the time, they suggested the presence of a shark, sea images combined with a breathtaking music score by John Williams indicated the presence of the shark. That increased the suspense and people literally panic in theaters. It is consider to be a masterpiece and one of the best terror motion pictures ever made. 

2. Apocalypse Now (1989)

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This movie directed by Francis Ford Coppola had a handful of problems. When they were ready to star shooting, Marlon Brando arrived on set unprepared and overweight. Some of the sets built for the movie in Iba, Philippines, were destroyed by a typhoon. The leading actor, Martin Sheen, had a breakdown and almost a severe heart attack on location. The movie release was postponed several times, while the director was editing numerous frames of footage. Eventually, this movie about the dramatic madness of the Vietnam War, got released and it became a huge success winning several awards. 

3. Slumdog Millionaire (2008)

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Slumdog Millionaire has a different motivational story from the movies we present here. It was a sleeperhit that got critical acclaimed and won 8 Academy Awards (including Best Picture), but that's not all! The most inspirational fact is that this movie, about a young Indian from the streets who wins the Indian version of "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire", was destined to be a DVD release without going to theaters across the US! Just imagine...

4. Star Wars (1977)

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This movie was released by the name of "Star Wars", years later it got changed to "Episode IV - A New Hope", because the director and writer, George Lucas, wasn't sure if they would ever let him release another Star Wars movie! Initially, the task Lucas had at hand was anything but easy:

  • he had to create a universe from nothing
  • build futuristic sets with little technology whatsoever; 
  • the fact that science fiction was considered at the time a dead genre and got little support from movie companies, made Lucas ask for a lower budget, being afraid of the movie possible rejection if he asked for more money
  • Lucas was constantly asked to show screenings of the incomplete movie to Fox directors, which were raw cuts without special effects. gaining little enthusiasm
  • rainstorms in the deserts of Tunisia canceled some of the shooting
  • most of the crew didn't actually believed the movie could be a success, thinking of it as a children's movie

Star Wars hit theaters and the rest is history, it became one of the best movies of all time, and Lucas gained the necessary resources to make his epic space saga that we all know about.

5. Toy Story (1995)

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Back in 1995, computerized movies weren't a new thing, but for Pixar the company behind Toy Story it was a new experience. They partnered with the successful Disney Studios for this movie but had their disputes with the Mickey Mouse giant:

  • Pixar didn't want the movie to be just another fairy-tail story, they wanted real characters with flaws that entertained the public. 
  • Disney had their own ideas including using humans has the main characters (not the toys?!?), or, to make the movie a musical. 
  • So the 2 companies went back and forth with rewrites and revisions of the script, even coming to a shutdown of the project by Disney. They didn't like the Pixar ideas. 
  • But Pixar eventually came their way by discarding a checklist provided by Disney, and focusing on telling a great story instead

Eventually the project got approved by DisneyToy Story came to live, it was a huge success that started a new venture for Pixar, establishing the company has the blueprint for a new age in animated motion pictures and becoming one of the most successful movie companies in the last two decades. 

6. Back To The Future (1985)

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Back To The Future got four years of rejections, that's right four years! The script didn't appealed to major Hollywood Studios, Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale saw their movie being criticized by numerous reasons:

  • it wasn't sexual appealing; 
  • the mother and son incest thing was also a problem;
  • the whole science fiction nature of it was seen as corny; 
  • by the time they got picked, their main actor, Michael J. Fox was seeing huge success with the TV series Family Ties, and wasn't available to shoot the movie. They had to make a deal with Family Ties, so Michael J. Fox could shoot both. It was very time consuming for Fox;
  • the secondary role, of Doctor Emmet Brown, was to be played by Christopher Loyd, who saw little enthusiasm from his wife to even look at the script (!).

 Back To The Future eventually got made, became a success, and still to this is a classic movie in the time travel genre. 

7. The Wizard Of Oz (1939)

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This fantasy storytelling movie had everything to be great at the time, Walt Disney Studios demonstrated that movie adaptations from children's books could be successful. With that in mind Metro-Goldwyn Mayer bought the rights to do the movie, but problems were coming...

  • the script went through dozens of rewrites
  • the movie changed from director to director, having 4 directors total; 
  • the first actor that was to play Tin Man got severe lunge damage because of his costume; 
  • and the Wicked Witch actress suffered from serious burns while shooting a scene where she was supposed to disappear in a cloud of smoke. 

Going against all this adversity, the movie got made, but was a disappointment on its initial release, doing bad at the box office. Despite this, the critics positively reviewed the movie, and Wizard Of Oz became widely known with it's TV release back in 1959, and it's consider to be a classic to this day. It is regarded as one of the best movies of all time.

8. Gladiator (2000)

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Gladiator stands out in our list, because unlike other movies we present here, this movie had it all to become big: starting with a 100 million dollars budget, having an accomplished director like Ridley Scott and a worldwide movie start like Russel Crow as the main character. What could go wrong?

  • The script wasn't fitted for many actors. It had to be rewritten and revised several times, two weeks before the shooting started they were still rewriting! 
  • Russel Crow heavily criticized every aspect of the script, considering it as "garbage", he even walked off set when he got no answers. 
  • Actor, Oliver Reed, who plays Proximo, died from a heart attack with still 3 weeks of shooting to film, they had to rewrite the script, and special effects had to be used to "kill the character"
  • Before that, Crow and Reed never got along on set, they actually were about to fight each other at one point. 
  • The movie demanded too much from a physical aspect, so Crow and others, had severe injuries throughout the whole process. making difficult to carry on with the shooting. 

Problems aside, Gladiator got finished, it was critical acclaimed and got many awards including Best Picture, and Best Actor for Russel Crow. 

9. Mary Poppins (1964)

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Adapting a children's book into a movie is one of the most successful formulas ever in Hollywood. This one of the main reasons why Walt Disney Studios became so successful in the movie industry. But with Mary Poppins it wasn't that easy! The original book author P.L. Travers was reluctant to give the rights to Walt Disney for years. The Disney movie "Saving Mr. Banks (2013)" retells this story and the way Walt Disney, himself, manage to convince Travers to allow the movie to be made. It was a hard road for Disney, as Travers made many demands like: the movie couldn't be a musical, shouldn't have animated characters, she wouldn't allow script adaptations from the book, she couldn't stand characters being miss-quoted, and so on... She threatened to leave the project many times. Either way the movie got made, Travers wasn't too happy about the final result, but the magical nanny who glides in an umbrella became a timeless classic in movie history.  

10. Rocky (1976)

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This is our favorite story, so let's go the distance with it: We all know that Rocky portraits the story of amateur boxer who had to overcome a lot, going the distance to become a professional boxer. What you might not know, is that this story was made to represent everyman struggles in life. This was who Sylvester Stallone was at the time, a struggling writer/actor who was failing to reach success. Stallone wrote the script in three and half days, being inspired by a fight he saw at the time and, of course, other fighters that inspired him as a kid (like Rocky Marciano or Joe Frazier). He wrote the script within 2 days and was amazed with his work. With a great script in hands what could go wrong?

No studio wanted to buy the script, one of the main complains was that "the script is too predictable". It was hard to negotiate with companies, as Stallone got rejection after rejection, but he kept on pushing as he was driven to succeed. Eventually, after many disappointments,  United Artists picked the script and offered good money for it. Great success story right?

That wasn't the end of it, the company wanted an established actor to star in Rocky, remember they offered a good amount for the script so they made this simple demand. Although Stallone was poor at the time, he was reluctant to accept the suggestion! He was Rocky, and only he could play Rocky. Eventually, he got what he wanted, but having an unknown face to play Rocky was too risky for the company, so the project got green light but with one condition: the budget for the movie had to be cut, to a roughly only 1 million (!) to cover for potential losses.

With a low budget the film was made using modest means: without money the casting was hard, the sets were the streets of Philadelphia, some of the minor characters had to be played by some of Stallone family members, even his own dog was Rocky's dog!

In the process of negotiations for the script, Stallone was so desperate for money, that he had to sell his own dog, when he finally got the deal he re-bought the dog, but had to negotiate with the new owner, even offering him a cameo in the movie!

So much turbulence, actually payed off big time! Rocky was a sleeperhit that won 3 Oscars, Best Picture included, and is one of the best sports and inspirational movies of all time. It became a movie franchise allowing Stallone to become a successful movie star, he made 5 more Rocky movies and the 2015 spin-off "Creed" after.


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