Apocalypse Now (1979)
Directed by: Francis Ford Coppola
Starring: Marlon Brando, Martin Sheen, Robert Duvall
What went wrong: Apocalypse Now was scarred from the get-go. George Lucas was originally tapped to direct, with Coppola as producer, but that version of the film languished in development hell for years. Coppola finally took the project on himself, and was met with a series of woes: he fired lead actor Harvey Keitel and replaced him with Martin Sheen, who was battling alcoholism and suffered a heart attack during shooting. The stress of the shoot led Coppola to have a seizure. Booze and drugs were a big problem on set, with the actors and crew reportedly being drunk or high through much of filming.
"Ask anybody who was out there, we all felt like we fought the war," actor Dennis Hopper later said.
The weather in the Philippines, where the film was shot, also compromised many of the sets, and wild animals and tropical illnesses terrorized the crew. Veteran actor Marlon Brando brought his own set of problems, namely arriving on set at around 300 pounds, a far cry from the lean fighting machine Coppola had envisioned for the role of the mystical Colonel Kurtz. What was meant to be a six-week production eventually took 68 weeks to complete. The set troubles were so extraneous that it spawned a famous making-of documentary, Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse, directed by Coppola's wife, Eleanor.
How it turned out: Apocalypse Now won the Palme d'Or at Cannes, was nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars, and despite initial mixed reviews, is considered one of the greatest films ever made.