Offering a rare combination of major stars and mediocre material, Movie 43 arrived on Friday and went on to gross a middling $4.8 million in its opening weekend. Given the film’s $6 million budget, this is hardly a disappointment, but it’s not the kind of performance (or budget) you’d expect from a comedy featuring Halle Berry, Gerard Butler, Richard Gere, Hugh Jackman, Dennis Quaid, Emma Stone, Uma Thurman, Naomi Watts, Kate Winslet, and many other household names. Part of the problem is that none of these actors wanted to promote the film because (a) they’re not especially proud of their work and (b) they didn’t want to be involved in the first place.
According to Cinema Blend, producer Peter Farrelly—better known as half of the sibling directing team behind Dumb & Dumber and There’s Something About Mary—has been working on the project for several years, hoping to revive the spirit of John Landis’ 1977 anthology comedy, Kentucky Fried Movie. Farrelly and his fellow producers struggled to find anyone who shared their enthusiasm, but they managed to leverage their industry connections, lining up friends and past collaborators to contribute a day or two at their convenience. While most of the actors who agreed to appear in Movie 43 later tried to abandon the project, Farrelly did everything in his power to keep them on board. “They clearly wanted out, but we wouldn’t let them,” he said, adding that he relied on a few simple rules: “Wait for them. Shoot when they want to shoot. Guilt them to death.”
One of the few stars to talk his way out of the film was Colin Farrell, who deprived viewers of the opportunity to see him in the role he was born to play: a leprechaun. Known for his impeccable quality control, George Clooney was even quicker to smell a rat, making his complete lack of interest known the first (and likely last) time the project was presented to him, offering a simple, unambiguous response: “No f*cking way.”