Making a blockbuster is a big task and, try as Hollywood might, you can’t just rush them out. It takes a large team two plus years to create a tentpole movie, no matter if it’s a nuanced, thought provoking masterpiece or a vile, cash grabbing mess.

Often in the years it takes to bring a film from concept to screen there will be major changes – recastings, plot alterations, director switches, even release delays – which can lead to audiences getting worried. Few troubled productions end with a quality product and in a market where the height of blockbuster season bring a new mega-movie each week, no film can afford any bad press.

Take this week’s World War Z, which defines a troubled production. From a meandering start in adapting the popular novel, the film has suffered from extensive reshoots, rushed yet crucial rewrites and most recently studio interference. The novel plays heavily with political affiliation, but with references to the zombie virus’ origins altered and key political scenes cut completely to secure larger distribution it seems unlikely the film will follow suit.

But it’s not just new films vying for your cash that have faced these issues. From minor changes to total U-turns, many of our favourite film series could have ended up very differently. In tribute to troubled productions everywhere, here’s eight trilogies that could so easily have been a world away from what now sit on our DVD shelves.

Don’t be expecting examples such as Joel Schumacher’s Batman Beyond, the Atlantis Indy or Rami’s Spider-Man 4; they divert from the trilogy structure too strongly to really sit alongside these other films.

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This article was first posted on June 19, 2013