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The Writer/ Director Curse

Updated on July 3, 2012

There has been something known as the Writer/ Director Curse going around in Hollywood for the last 15-20 years. You may know of it but here’s a better look at a small list we have compiled.

This is a strange phenomenon and hasn’t really been explained. Well, until now that is.

Writers in Hollywood are as they say, “ a dime a dozen”. But how many Writer/ Directors are there? Well I would say just as much, maybe more. There have been many successful Directors that have written their own movies. Even funded the damn thing themselves but above all else, had the most control over their film as humanly possible. And sadly with those conditions, flops consistently come out and loss in perfectly good reputation is a regular thing for these people.

Christopher Nolan is definitely not a failure. With such great and thought provoking movies like Memento, The Batman revival franchise and Inception. He has taken control over the full process and is able to make that a reality with superb vision and structure.

Martin Scorsese is another Writer/ Director that has made a rather poignant success. With Mean Streets, Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, Goodfellas, The Aviator and Gangs of New York. I would say he knows what he’s doing.

James Cameron is possibly one of the most successful Writer/ Directors in terms of gross at the box office. With movies like Terminator 1 and2, Aliens, True Lies, Titanic and Avatar behind him, there’s no telling what he’s doing next. Well we actually do know, he is going to be making 2 more Avatar movies and is apparently doing another Terminator. He may have lost his mind, but we will wait and see.

Now we need to get to the least successful.

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M. Night Shyamalan

The man that had more potential than the invention of the wheel. Shyamalan, god knows how to actually say his name, was a rookie visionary genius when he wrote and directed The Sixth Sense. This movie is a very important film and shows what can be done with a simple story to great effect. He had so much steam, so he went off and wrote Unbreakable. Also starring Bruce Willis. Now I personally don’t have any opinion on this movie but I know many people who both like and dislike this so it is still split down the middle.

Then he made the hugely successful Signswith the returning to acting Mel Gibson. I loved this movie and wished he had changed his style but it was pretty clear he was just rehashing many of his tricks from Sixth Sense. But it worked and money certainly talked in this instance. So next up is the ridiculous The Village. I personally liked the idea and concept, it really could have done much better. But the execution was off and miscalculated to a degree of complete failure both financially and critically. I’m glad Joaquin Phoenix (I always Google the spelling of this) managed to salvage his career from a poorly constructed piece of crap.

Lady in the Water was the straw that broke Disney’s back and his second strike. He made 2 dismal films, that both flopped for exactly the same reasons. He went on to write and direct The Happening with the frightfully one dimensional terrible actor that is Mark Wahlberg and The Last Airbender. Each have flopped, and there doesn’t seem to be any hope for this once rising star.

I really hope he gets it together soon and goes back to his routes of true artistic filmmaking. Please don’t make anymore like you’ve threw up on our screens in the last 10 years. Just try!

Guy Ritchie

Guy is a victim of his own success in many ways. He made Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch, 2 movies with the same cast almost, same tone, pace, similar story and same acting and directing style. So I don’t feel they have their own movie slot since they are the same movie. But he then went on to make the huge flop Swept Away with his then wife Madonna. Where do you go from there? Well backwards of course. Guy went down the gangster route again that was initially so kind to him with Revolver.

He actually said he wouldn’t do another one of these and Revolver was a bit of a disappointment to say the least. To bill a film from Guy Richie at this stage is like saying Robert DeNiro is in the next summer blockbuster. People will go see it but they know this just isn’t right and feel guilty after they bought the ticket and sat down. He then ate his own words and made RocknRolla that unfortunately bombed at the box office. He has been stuck in this same movie genre for some time and doesn’t seem to be able to show us anything different. Until now.

Thankfully Mr Richie has come through with Sherlock Holmes 1 and 2 starring Robert Downey Jr. Love this movie or hate it, but the work and attention to details that went into them was outstanding and I give him top marks for effort. He tried, and it showed. We just need more people like Guy Richie in this list.

He is on this list for his past but he does seem to be getting the hang of not pissing about. Show us more of this effort Guy. Think of your family Guy. Oh no I didn’t. Now that was not meant I swear.

Rob Zombie

Rob is a gothic rock musician that always loved film and horror in particular. He is an eccentric soul that kind of parodies the monster movie genre to a comedic level. I have to be honest I did watch House of a Thousand Corpses after relentlessly seeing it all the time in the video rental store. Back when they were still relevant that is. And it was awful. It was poorly scripted, disjointed characters and a plot that was really predictable and lacking in any kind of scare or point. He was all over the place with his style and couldn’t work out if he wanted to shoot a psychedelic horror or an art house flick. In the end it was a mess. But...

He did come back with the sequel,Devil’s Rejects. Now this isn’t to say that this is a good film. It was just miles apart from the very disappointing House of a Thousand Corpses and it actually was sentimental. It was well driven, paced and dare I say it, even better acted than the last. Although not hard to do.

He has cast his wife, Sheri Moon in every movie he has made, and is fond of the leading male looking like Rob Zombie himself. A little too much control?

He amazed Hollywood so much with his last film, that they went looking for him to direct the Halloween remake in 2007. This may seem like a strange choice, but Zombie has been asked by Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino to direct a fake trailer for their movie Grindhouse named Werewolf Women of the SS.

Zombie had a remarkable amount for control over the Halloween movie and it’s sequel. Unfortunately it bombed critically and the second instalment made nearly $50 million less than the first. He was trying his best but his strange mix of insane horror and ultra violence just didn’t work in this instance. He is a promising talent, and with the ability to write sick and twisted characters that are convincing regardless of the acting ability, he will come out with something for almost everyone.. Maybe we as an audience just aren’t ready for you Rob.

Judd Apatow

Judd is one of those directors that just showed up. It’s like turning round and unexpectedly finding an old friend standing behind you and you both go off and have an awesome night with strippers and shots. He directed the hugely funny Forty Year Old Virgin starring the crazy hilarious Steve Carell. Where was he back in the 90’s huh? Imagine him with Jim Carey in the Dumb and Dumber days? Apparently Steve was actually in Curly Sue in 1991. Worth a Google.

He went on to make the crude but great Knocked up but then it all went wrong for Judd. He wrote, directed and produced the largely unfunny, Funny People. The film was easily Adam Sandler’s worst as it dealt with heavy subject matter and nothing but lame fart jokes. For me it picked up and became warm and actually funny after half way in but by then it was uneven and a bit annoying.

Judd has done 2 movies that were liked all over the world and seemed to be a promising star in comedy. He knows what he wants, and knows how to get it. I just hope his next project This is Forty turns out to be his return to greatness. Although Judd has produced some very good movies and some bad ones. Including the boring and forgettable Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Step Brothers, Pineapple Express, Year One, Get him to the Greek, Bridesmaids and The Five Year Engagement. As you can tell, some good, and a LOT of bad ones.

We at Mike and Rusty’s hope the writer/ directors in this list can get it together and realise their true potential and actually try hard to make something good again. If not for us film lovers, but at least for their wallets.

All the directors on this list have one thing in common. They have all made a lot of money. And the things is, it's easily in the millions or tens or hundreds of millions. Can they not live on that? Do they need to make anymore? No! And the reason is now that they are successful in terms of bank balance, they are in it for pride now. Then why are they still failing? They won't for long. Guy is trying, what happens now? We will have to wait and see.

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    • Two Minute Review profile image

      Two Minute Review 

      6 years ago from Pennsylvania, United States

      Yep, you sure did. I read it then missed it. Oooops...

    • mikeandrustys profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      I did mention The Lady in the Water. This movie was the end of his relationship with Disney which later would be noted to be the downfall of Night. I also don't like Rogan but I don't mind Jonah. I think he is getting better. Rogan appears to have too much control these days and studios have confidence in him that they didn't even have in Scorsese back in the day. I think his movies should be vetted for same tired old jokes and sexist writing passed off as wit.

    • Two Minute Review profile image

      Two Minute Review 

      6 years ago from Pennsylvania, United States

      You forgot Shyamalan equally crap-tacular "Lady in the Water", which came out in 2006 (after "The Village" and before "The Happening"). And I will NEVER forgive Apatow for introducing the world to Seth Rogen and Jonah Hill, who are not as funny as people think they are!!

    • mikeandrustys profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      Yeah he hasn't been able to convey any trust to the audience that he made a film to be believed in. Sherlock Holmes is a very good start to his career revival. They weren't masterpieces, but they were good and good for him for really trying.

      I'm just happy I'm looking forward to what he will do next .

    • Grim Master profile image

      Grim Master 

      6 years ago from Below the Earth

      Guy Ritchie does an OK job. Much better than most of Shyamalan's recent films, but still lacks a certain seriousness to his work. I'm not saying Guy doesn't put effort into his movies, but that I can't help but think something's missing. I guess it would be ambiguity. I would really love to see his next sherlock film have a little more depth and mystery to it. Just an idea. A Game of Shadows seemed to lack the necessary mystery element that would make it a Sherlock Holmes movie.

      Love the list, couldn't agree more. Christopher Nolan is one of my favorite writer/directors.

    • ndaffinee profile image


      6 years ago from Jumbled Brain, USA

      I agree, this is very well written (and so true in my opinion). Thumbs up :-)

    • mikeandrustys profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      Thank you very much! :) I do try. I'm glad you liked it and I hope to be doing much more in the near future. If you haven't already, check out our site at for more features, reviews and new releases. If you have any suggestions, give us an email . Take it easy and thanks again!


    • Angela Brummer profile image

      Angela Brummer 

      6 years ago from Lincoln, Nebraska

      Opps I thought I wrote a comment. Crazy pc today. This is very well writen and offers great information and I will share this!

    • Angela Brummer profile image

      Angela Brummer 

      6 years ago from Lincoln, Nebraska

      What a well writen hub that is an eye opener! Welcome to hub pages! I will share this for you!


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