When Movies Go Wrong: THE ISLAND OF DOCTOR MOREAU

HG Wells’ 1896 novel The Island Of Doctor Moreau was adapted for the screen for the troubled 1996 film starring Marlon Brando, Val Kilmer and David Thewlis. The now infamous film was originally set to be directed by Richard Stanley (Hardware) but he was removed from the production and replaced by John Frankenheimer. There were all sorts of issues on set. Brando was at his most eccentric (see the above image), while Kilmer was cast in the lead, only to decide that he wanted to take on the supporting role of Moreau’s assistant, Montgomery. The main role was then given to Thewlis.

Tensions ran high and rumour has it that Stanley would sneak on to the set to watch the carnage; dressed as one of the extras (some say he also tried to sabotage the production). The relationship between Frankenheimer and Kilmer was at breaking point – the director once stated he would never do two things: climb Mount Everest and work with Kilmer again.

The completed film is quite a curio, it didn’t set the box office on fire, but there’s something ballsy about it. It’s not quite the sum of its parts but it’s worth seeing. Budgeted at $40 million, The Island Of Doctor Moreau grossed $27 million at the US box office and over $49 million globally.