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5 Classic Movies That Almost Never Got Made

From on-set mishaps to inflating budgets and egos, making these movies was almost too much to handle.

A handful of classic films are so engaging you can re-watch them time and time again without ever getting bored. But what you may haven't realized is there are many things that can happen behind the scenes that may be even juicier than the films themselves. From starlets almost dying on set to catastrophic mechanical errors, there are a huge variety of hurdles a film can face—that may even lead to production being halted. Luckily, these all pulled through in the end, but read on to discover the five classic movies that almost never made it to your screen.

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1
Jaws

A scene directing Jaws the movie.
Photo by Universal/Getty Images)

Jaws, directed by Steven Spielberg and released in 1975, is one of the most famous American thrillers of all time. However, there were plenty of issues that could have stopped it from becoming the iconic film it is today.

One of the first problems that arose was Spielberg's hesitation to even be involved in Jaws. According to CNN, Spielberg didn't want to be typecast. "Who wants to be known as a shark-and-truck director?" he complained. Can you even imagine what the film would have been (or if it even would have been) without his masterful eye behind the camera?

Another major issue that almost halted the film was the infamous shark that the crew jokingly named, Bruce. This mechanical 25-foot shark worked well when submerged in fresh water during testing but was a disaster in salt water that ended up sinking to the bottom of the Nantucket Sound.

And it wasn't just one shark, Spielberg had commissioned three Bruces to be made, all of which couldn't handle the salt water. This huge mechanical error caused the company to go way over budget and some weren't even sure if they would be able to move forward, but luckily Spielberg came up with a brilliant idea. Instead of showing the shark in great detail, he opted to use a more Hitchcock-like approach and hint at the shark's presence using chilling music and specific angled shots—a film style that has been emulated ever since.

2
Toy Story 2

Toy Story 2 with Woody and Buzz Light Year.
Pixar/Disney

Toy Story and Toy Story 2 are beloved Pixar movies that most everyone has seen. Toy Story 2 however, almost didn't get made due to a terrible production error.

When this cartoon was set to be released in 1998, the film was nearly finished and edits were almost finalized. Unfortunately, someone hit the wrong button and Oren Jacob, the assistant technical director on the movie, watched as the film was deleted before his eyes.

Jacob told The Next Web, "Unfortunately, someone on the system had run the command at the root level of the Toy Story 2 project and the system was recursively tracking down through the file structure and deleting its way out like a worm eating its way out from the core of an apple."

Luckily, Galyn Susman, who was the supervising technical director for the film, discovered a two-week old backup on her computer and ended up saving the day—a lot like Woody might have done.

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3
Back to the Future

Back to the future scene
Universal Pictures

Back to the Future had many obstacles in its way before finally being released in 1985. The first major issue was simply getting someone to make it.

Pitching the film turned out to be a long and grueling process for Bob Gale, one of the co-writers, and his team: The script was passed over a total of 40 times. They even tried their luck with Disney, where Gale told Esquire one of the company's executives said, "Are you guys out of your minds? You can't make a movie like this here. This is Disney, and you're giving us a movie about incest! The kid with his mother in the car, that's horrible!" Luckily for viewers, it was eventually picked up by Universal Pictures. 

The second biggest issue the production team encountered was that time-traveling DeLorean. "As cool as it looks on film, it's by no means a performance car," said Gale. "It broke down a lot, and little things on the car would break during a scene, and we'd have to wait for the FX guys to repair it."

Lastly, it was clear to everyone after five weeks of filming that Eric Stolz, who was originally cast as Marty McFly, was not working for the role. Eventually, director Robert Zemeckis fired Stolz and hired Michael J. Fox. Recasting the main role and re-filming all his scenes cost Universal Pictures 4 million dollars—but it certainly seems like it was worth it in the end.

4
The Wizard of Oz

The Wizard of Oz scene.
Silver Screen Collection / Getty Images

The Wizard of Oz, released in 1935 was one of the first films to ever be shown in color and to this day is one of the most beloved classics. But filming this iconic movie was not for the faint of heart and turned out to be a disaster on set. Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!

Being shot in technicolor made the set extremely hot. In his book, The Making of A Wizard of Oz, cinematographer, Harold Rosson wrote, "We had enormous banks of lights overhead. We borrowed every unused arc light in Hollywood. It was brutally hot. People were always fainting and being carried off the set."

Another problem that almost halted the film was the director leaving mid-way through. Victor Fleming ditched filming to go direct Gone With the Wind. Luckily, King Vidor took over for the final three weeks.

Lastly, Margaret Hamilton who played the Wicked Witch of the West got third degree burns on her face and hands when filming a scene where she leaves Munchkinland. She needed six weeks to recover before going back to work. In an interview before her return she said, "I won't sue because I know how this business works, and I would never work again. I will return to work [on] one condition–no more fireworks."

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5
Mary Poppins

Scene of Marry Poppins.
Disney

Mary Poppins is an enchanting film from Walt Disney Pictures that still stands the test of time with its playful characters and show-stopping tunes. However, there were a few major problems that impacted the films release date and more.

Walt Disney wanted Julie Andrews for the role of the iconic nanny after being impressed with her talent in the broadway performance of Camelot. But when Andrews was offered the role, she happened to be pregnant with her first child. Instead of finding a new actress, Disney postponed filming to wait until Andrews gave birth.

When she finally joined the cast, Andrews almost died during an on-set accident. In an interview with Stephen Colbert, Andrews said she was wearing a harness to film a flying sequence for the movie when she felt herself slipping.

"There was a very dangerous day right at the end of filming when I was in this excruciatingly painful harness," explained Andrews. "And I was hanging around up there for the longest time with the umbrella. I thought I felt the wire leave and drop about six inches. I was nervous and very tired."

While production crew was lowering her down, Andrew plummeted to the stage. Luckily for Andrews and her fans, we still got to witness the star sing "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious."

Lauren Jarvis-Gibson
Lauren Jarvis-Gibson is an Associate Editor at Best Life. Her work has been published in Teen Vogue, Allure, HuffPost, and more. Read more
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