Much has been made in recent times of "studio interference" - when money-driven fat cats decide to start meddling with a given movie project, despite never having been in spitting distance of a film camera.
It’s an unfortunately a common occurrence that draws the ire of both audiences and filmmakers themselves. After all, what does some greedy suit know about good moviemaking?
From Alien 3 to 2016’s Suicide Squad, the phrase has become something of a dirty word; a calling card for movies that are destined to disappoint. And, much like the latter two examples, this is normally the case. But what about flicks that actually got better because of studio interference?
It might be a difficult thing to stomach, but sometimes these multi-million dollar studios do know what's best for a given movie project.
From directors being overly exuberant with their runtime to writers who may compromise the tone of a flick, there are several rare cases where studio meddling has resulted in a better film.
Spoiler warnings from here on out as we look at ultra rare cases of beneficial studio interference.
10. Donnie Darko
Donnie Darko was a critical and cult hit at the time of its release and set a growing number of cinephiles on course for a life-long love affair with auteur film. The abstract plot, labyrinthian story and dense philosophical atmosphere led to a strong word of mouth promotion that only increased the film’s popularity post-release.
In order to eke out as much monetary return as possible, the studio moved forward with a director’s cut; a version closer to director Richard Kelly’s “original vision” and, to put it kindly, this cut was a hot mess.
Clocking in a whopping twenty minutes longer than the theatrical cut, much of the abstract elements had simply disappeared from the story. There are whole segments of the new cut that depict pages of The Philosophy of Time Travel (a book Donnie is reading) up on the screen for audiences to scrutinise.
This, in turn, explain too much of what is going on. Much of the original film's charm was how much was left up to audiences to interpret, as well as rewarding repeat viewings.
A further and yet more controversial change saw the opening needle drop of Echo and the Bunny Men's 'Killing Moon' replaced by 'Love Will Tear Us Apart'; both absolute bangers to be sure but still very much unnecessary from a tonal perspective.
When Kelly’s sophomore effort ‘Southland Tales’ also bombed for the same reasons it became clear that this was a creative error consistent with the director’s oversight. In a twist worthy of Frank the Rabbit himself, the studio mandated cuts were one of the main driving forces of Donnie Darko’s original success.