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Scandal 1: Hugh Grant and Nine Months
How big of a problem was this for 20th Century Fox? Well, look at the movie's poster:
The irony was that until Grant went cruising down Sunset Boulevard, the studio was ecstatic to have him in the movie. Nine Months was Grant’s first Hollywood comedy since becoming a star thanks to the British mega-hit Four Weddings and a Funeral, and fans were eager to see him again.
Since Grant had already booked a number of major media appearances in the lead-up to the film's release, a decision had to be made: Should they cancel the appearances? Or have Grant face the music and hopefully not make things worse?
They decided Grant would keep the appearances, the first of which — on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno — became must-see TV. So many people tuned in, in fact, that The Tonight Show beat The Late Show with David Letterman in the ratings for the first time in a year. Leno got right to it, asking Grant, “What the hell were you thinking?”
The campaign to rehabilitate Grant's image (quickly) worked — Nine Months became the biggest comedy of the summer, grossing $138 million worldwide.
Grant, by the way, pleaded no contest to the crime and, after paying a fine, was placed on two years probation and ordered to complete an AIDS education program.
Scandal 2: Armie Hammer and Crisis
Crisis' writer/director, Nicholas Jarecki, had been feeling pretty good about his film's chances, as the initial reaction to it was positive, but then he got a text from a friend: “Why is Armie trending on Twitter?”
This was very, very bad news for a film that was already facing an uphill battle being released in the middle of a pandemic. Jarecki at first hoped that the now-ironically titled Crisis could proceed with a relatively normal promotional campaign, but it soon became clear that'd be impossible.
Hammer soon dropped out of all promotion for the film — no surprise. But the rest of the cast could still do promotion, right? Not so fast. While media outlets were interested in interviewing costar Gary Oldman...they insisted he agree to answer questions about Hammer before coming on (despite the fact Oldman only met Hammer once at a dinner to kick off filming).
The situation also made it difficult for Crisis' other costars to promote the film. Evangeline Lily, for example, understandably felt awkward sharing a poster with her face next to Hammer's, so she ended her caption with "(and proud to be in this poster with #GaryOldman. 😍) ." Unfortunately, her snub of Hammer turned into a minor story itself, refocusing attention on the scandal instead of the film.
Despite all this, the movie was released as planned on Feb. 26. So how did it do, you ask?
As it turns out...OK. It only grossed $1.1 million at the box office, but was the highest grossing independent film of its opening weekend. (And you have to remember box office grosses were very suppressed due to the pandemic.)
Even better? It became iTunes' most rented film on March 9 and stayed there for eight days.
So, in the end, while the scandal surely put a damper on the film's prospects, it also probably encouraged a few lookie-loos to check it out.
Scandal 3: Felicity Huffman and Otherhood
Netflix and director Cindy Chupack were left in the same quandary as the people behind the previous two films — exactly what the hell were they going to do? In mulling over their options, one idea rose to the top: pushing the release date.
Speaking of mothers...they might be the reason NOT to delay the release. You see, Otherhood was "a valentine to mothers" in the words of Chupack, and Netflix long ago planned this release date — two weeks before Mother's Day — to tie in with the holiday.
In the end, Mother's Day be damned, a decision was made to move the release date to Aug. 2. Chupack later mused, “It was just unclear exactly what the fallout of all of that was going to be. It just felt like it was too close, and it was too much of a distraction. It felt like no one would watch the film.”
The delay, it seems, was the right move. The movie was viewed by more than 29 million people, Netflix announced, making it their ninth most viewed original film of the year.
As for Huffman, she pleaded guilty and was sentenced to pay a $30,000 fine, 250 hours of community service, and 14 days in prison. She reported to prison on Oct. 15 and was released on the Oct. 25, four days early.
Scandal 4: Louis C.K. and I Love You, Daddy
This bombshell came just eight days before the film was scheduled to be released, so The Orchard — which acquired the distribution rights for $5 million — had to figure out what to do a whole lot faster than the other movies on this list.
For The Orchard, the question wasn't how they could salvage the release of I Love You, Daddy, but whether it was even releasable. After all, November 2017 was the dawn of the "Me Too" era, and the person at the center of this sexual misconduct scandal was not just the film's star, but its writer and director as well.
Costar Chloe Grace Moretz made her thoughts on the situation clear when she stopped promoting the film two weeks earlier after learning about the allegations. She was later asked by the New York Times if she thought the film should be released, and she responded, "No, I don’t think it should be. I think it should just kind of go away, honestly. I don’t think it’s time for them to have a voice right now."
The final nail in the coffin of I Love You, Daddy, though, was the movie itself. For starters, it was an homage to the films of Woody Allen (especially Manhattan), which, considering the situation, was...not great. But it got worse.
Considering all of that, it's probably no surprise that it took The Orchard just one day to release the following statement on Nov. 10: “The Orchard will not be moving forward with the release of I Love You, Daddy.”
In December, Louie C.K. bought the film's global distribution rights back from The Orchard. As of January 2022, the film has still not been released.
Scandal 5: Lana Turner and Another Time, Another Place
The case became a massive media sensation, and when an inquest was held on April 11 to determine what happened, hundreds of reporters crowded the courtroom. After four hours of testimony, the jury declared it a justifiable homicide, clearing Turner and her daughter of any wrongdoing.
Though Turner was cleared, public opinion of the scandal was all over the place. She was supported by many, but also criticized for having "put on a performance" at the inquest. Unfounded rumors also spread that she really killed Stompanato and had her daughter take the blame.
Now, because all of this happened ahead of the scheduled release of Turner's Another Time, Another Place costarring Sean Connery, Paramount had to play the now-familiar "What the heck do we do now?" game. Their decision? Not to push back the film, but to MOVE IT UP!
How the makers of these films chose to navigate these scandals — and how the public responded — really seems to have depended on when the scandals happened. This seems especially true of the pre- and post-internet eras.
For example, Hugh Grant was able to pretty much undo his scandal and save his film with just a couple of charming TV appearances. In the internet era, though, it's unlikely that cheating on his long-term partner with a sex worker would go so swimmingly.
Similarly, would Paramount have been able to get away with so cravenly pushing up the release date of Another Time, Another Place in hopes of financially capitalizing on Lana Turner's tragic situation? I doubt it — the backlash would have been swift, forceful, and RT'd over and over.