Home STREAMING AND TV GUIDE 20 Great Movies That Had Multiple Directors

20 Great Movies That Had Multiple Directors

Movie directors are almost unanimously reticent to share duties on a film — as doing so can have career implications and ruin reputations in the process. Thanks to the delicate dance between directorial and studio power over a film, a project may see multiple directors take the helm over creative differences or the need to adhere to a studio’s vision for a movie. Because of that dynamic, directorial duties are often taken on by multiple people — sometimes willingly, as in the case of sibling duos like the Wachowskis and the Coen Brothers — and other times at the studio’s behest. The result is usually a bad omen for a film’s release, but in some cases has produced some of the most-beloved films ever made.

In the days of Hollywood’s Golden Age between The Depression and 1960, studio power maintained a stronghold over every aspect of film productions, with our contemporary idea of directors’ power really being the advent of the New Hollywood movement thereafter. Studio moguls like David O. Selznick and Louis B. Mayer often held these productions in the balance, exercising authoritarian control over films that — despite their creative setbacks — became iconic motion pictures. Despite the changing landscape of those at the helm of these films, the outcome never suffered for it.

The following are 20 great movies that had multiple directors.

20 Four Rooms

Tim Roth and Quentin Tarantino in Four Rooms
Miramax Films

Four Rooms had four directors — two of them iconic helmers in Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez — but in this case it was by design, utilizing some of the ’90s top directing talent to tell four separate tales that exist in the same hotel, tied together by a single bellhop played by Tim Roth. This composite of stories don’t relate to one-another beside geographically, but all have a tongue-in-cheek quality, with the first, “The Missing Ingredient”, following a coven of witches (including Madonna) who take advantage of their bellhop’s good nature for some devilish purposes. The others consist of a hostage situation, a tale of misbehaving children left alone in their room, and Quentin Tarantino’s hyper-climactic finale about a bet gone wrong. The result is a fun adventure that moves the audience through different creative worlds that all exist under the same roof.

Related: Quentin Tarantino’s 10 Favorite Directors, and Why

19 City of God

Alexandre Rodriguez in City of God (2002)

Thought of as one of the 2000s’ greatest films and garnering 4 Oscar nominations, City of God also had the distinction of having two directors. Fernando Meirelles had been inspired by Paulo Lins’ novel of the same name to create a film that took place in Brazil’s favelas in the 1970s. As a test run, he co-opted the help of Kátia Lund, who had a high profile job as an assistant director on a Michael Jackson video which had previously shot in the favelas — and the two made a short film essentially as a sizzle reel. Lund had been so indispensable she became co-director of City of God by the time the shoot began, utilizing non-actors who had grown up in the favelas to help give the film its authentic appeal.

18 Menace II Society

Menace II Society
New Line Cinema

Hailing from Detroit, twin brothers Albert and Allen Hughes had an early interest in making crime dramas, but first made a few music videos for the likes of Tupac Shakur. The Directors Guild of America allowed them a special waiver to co-direct their first feature, Menace II Society, at just 20 years of age. The Hughes brothers made the film on a tiny $3.5 million budget, fashioning an innercity tale around a young man swept into a life of crime. The film benefited from the earlier success of Boyz n the Hood, which suddenly created interest in South LA’s stories. The Hughes brothers managed to navigate the pratfalls of a film with two directors, and have ever since, making features and documentaries together and independently.

17 Superman II

Superman challenging Zod to a fight in Superman 2
Warner Bros.

Superman II was written by Mario Puzo, author and screenwriter of The Godfather, and featured a power struggle worthy of one of Puzo’s stories — as the original director, Richard Donner, had major infighting with producers over the rapidly swelling budget. The original film had been a big box office success, and Superman was, at the time, the only bankable superhero franchise in film — making for a high pressure set. Eventually Donner was replaced with Richard Lester, but that didn’t stop the film’s financial woes, as Marlon Brando sued the producers for $50 million claiming he had never received his percentage of the film’s gross. Despite all the troubles, the movie still turned a tidy profit.

16 Casino Royale

Columbia Pictures

The 1967 spy-spoof Casino Royale was based on the same Ian Fleming novel that inspired the Daniel Craig film version, albeit with very different results. It’s unclear why, but five different directors helmed different segments and stunt coordinator Richard Talmadge co-directed the final set piece. Despite the inclusion of Orson Welles and comedic genius Peter Sellers in the cast, the film suffered from too many cooks in the kitchen, but remains a fun watch as a testament to the type of drug-addled experimentation happening in the late ’60s — and the film’s completely different approach to the later Bond film. Despite an incongruous story and some whacky segments, the film has plenty of laughs and remains the silliest approach to a James Bond story ever produced.

15 Payback

Paramount Pictures

While Brian Helgeland is credited with directing the film Payback, the distinction was merely nominal, as Helgeland clashed mightily with the star and producer Mel Gibson during the film’s production. So who did direct Payback? The answer isn’t entirely clear, with some claiming production designer John Myhre directed reshoots, and others giving credit to either Paul Abascal or Gibson himself. Whatever the answer is, the film is an exciting neo-noir action thriller, with plenty of ultraviolence to keep it in the realm of Gibson’s usual bloody affairs. Despite an unnecessarily swollen budget, the film made good on its economics, grossing $161 million at the box office.

14 Twilight Zone: The Movie

Warner Bros.

Another feature that includes four featurettes, and thusly four directors, Twilight Zone: The Movie was in turn produced by “Thriller” director John Landis and Steven Spielberg. The film mimicked the TV series’ episodic format, with the most memorable short, “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet”, featuring a terrified John Lithgow as a haunted airline passenger. Despite being a worthy homage to the Twilight Zone TV show, the film was overshadowed by the death of actor Vic Morrow and two child extras during filming of the first segment, which was directed by John Landis himself. Due to some major safety oversights, a giant, explosive set piece led to the tragic deaths, with criminal and civil trials later determining the fates of many of the crew members and actors’ surviving families.

13 Grindhouse

Dimension Films

Another Quentin Tarantino/Robert Rodriguez collaboration, Grindhouse, was double feature, with each auteur helming his own featurette. Despite the high profile of both directors, the film flopped, as audiences and critics didn’t quite grasp the material, which was referential to ’70s exploitation films that had inspired the two filmmakers. The film has, however, aged like a fine wine, with enough shoot-em-up set pieces and insane stuntwork to garner more recent appreciation. The film is diagrammatic of how, no matter how entertaining, a film can often be too esoteric and self-indulgent to be properly appreciated during its time.

12 Sin City

Frank Miller's and Robert Rodriguez's Sin City
Miramax Films

Sin City saw yet another directorial collaboration from Robert Rodriguez, this time with graphic novelist Frank Miller, who had already helped refashion the Batman franchise with his much-darker approach to storytelling. Sin City didn’t waver from that ethos, with production design that was black and white and red all over. The film borrowed the incredibly frontal and super-graphic design of Miller’s novels, with all the gore-soaked noir and some incredible special effects makeup to bring the characters into his realm. The result was a film that influenced the onslaught of resulting comic book movie reboots, proving that audiences of these films care more about being entertained than staying true to the source work.

11 Solo: A Star Wars Story


Solo: A Star War Story was initially panned by critics and didn’t make quite the enormous profit expected from a Star Wars film. Why? It’s hard to say — but re-casting an iconic role like Han Solo (played by Alden Ehrenreich here) can be fraught with disgruntled fans and critics, who will inevitably hold such performances to the enormously-high standards of the original.

Signs of a coming failure were ever-present during the film’s production, which began with Phil Lord and Christopher Miller at the helm, before creative differences with Lucasfilm led to Ron Howard being hired to complete production as director. Despite the poor reception, Solo has grown on Star Wars fans since, with a greater appreciation for the amazing set pieces that were, at the time, overshadowed by contempt for Ehrenreich’s performance not adequately filling Harrison Ford’s enormous slippers.

Related: Barbie-Wan Kenobi Cosplay Brings the Barbie and Star Wars Franchises Together

10 WarGames

A scene from WarGames
United Artists

WarGames was a Cold War Era thriller that got a head start on the AI debate, showing how hackers could manipulate computer software with nuclear consequences. The film started production with Martin Brest directing, though Brest hadn’t yet made his highest-grossing films Beverly Hills Cop and Midnight Run. 12 days into shooting, a creative conflict between Brest and the producers led to John Badham replacing him. The outcome couldn’t have gone better, as the prescient film fed America’s Cold War habit with a visionary idea that’s become all-too-real nowadays, with the rise of Artificial Intelligence and the many ways it could potentially threaten our daily lives.

9 Spartacus

Spartacus movie
Universal International

Spartacus was originally set to be directed by actor Laurence Olivier, who ended up playing Crassus in the film, before, shortly before production, Anthony Mann was hired as his large-scale Westerns had fared well in recent years. Star Kirk Douglas was, himself, an executive producer on the film, and after clashing with Mann a week into shooting, Stanley Kubrick was hired to replace him. Kubrick didn’t disappoint, making an epic that pushed the boundaries of big stunts and those massive gladiatorial scenes. Still, Kubrick later rued the decision, as Spartacus was the only one of his films over which he did not exercise complete creative control.

8 Ratatouille


Despite its enormous success, Ratatouille‘s production was not without its faults, as the film started with Jan Pinkava slated to direct, before a last-minute replacement saw Pixar director Bob Peterson take over the helm. Three months into shooting, Pixar was unhappy with how things were developing, so they replaced Peterson with Brad Bird. The decision proved fateful, as Bird created a much more coherent, action-packed story that led to the film grossing an astonishing $623.7 million at the box office and garnering a reputation as one of the most-beloved Pixar films ever made.

7 The Outlaw Josey Wales

The Outlaw Josey Wales
Warner Bros.

The Outlaw Josey Wales had initially hired Philip Kaufman, who wrote the script with famed director Michael Cimino, to helm the film. Kaufman was a prototypical ’70s auteur, however, leading to strong-minded opinions about ways in which some of the political stance of the original novel be toned down. In hindsight, Kaufman had a point — it turned out the “Cherokee” author of original novel turned out to be a KKK leader and segregationist, a fact that the film’s success had exposed. Still, given the Era in which it took place, it wasn’t far-fetched for Eastwood’s character to be as grizzled as his literary forebear. Eastwood opted to direct the film himself, deputizing Cimino, who credits Eastwood with his own career’s success, and fast-tracking Eastwood into becoming a renowned director in his own right.

6 Dumb and Dumber

Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels in Dumb and Dumber
New Line Cinema

Another brotherly duo who have left an indelible impression on the world of comedy films, Bobby and Peter Farrelly have always divied-up their various writer, producer, and director hats only nominally, with both usually taking on all-of-the-above. Such was the case with Dumb and Dumber, though Peter Farrelly was given a lone directing credit on the film, largely due to the Director’s Guild of America’s standards and practices. The result of this collaboration needs no introduction, as it remains one of the most widely-beloved comedy films of the ’90s, and launched the brothers into the stratosphere of Hollywood’s greatest comedy filmmakers.

5 The Matrix

The Matrix
Warner Bros.

Keeping with theme of siblings, Lana and Lilly Wachowski (then Larry and Andy) shunned directing conventions as much as “traditional” lifestyles — with the duo breaking boundaries in filmmaking while helping the Hollywood community grasp the changing landscape of gender conformity — through their own, brave mid-career transitions. With the help of their incredible Matrix franchise, the duo revolutionized the film industry by expanding on possibilities of CGI, multi-versal subjects, and a philosophical ethos that permeated technologically-forward films. In their case, the two were allowed to co-direct these films, and their joint approach to the task made them LGBTQ+ pioneers in the process.

4 Singin’ in the Rain

Singin’ in the Rain

Sometimes a film’s star is so influential, his acting duties bleed into those of the director. Such was the case for Gene Kelly, who had built such an incredible rapport with director Stanley Donnen on An American in Paris, that the two were slated to co-helm Singin’ in the Rain shortly after. In the film, Donnen would take ownership of the musical’s visual conception, and Kelly rightfully managed the film’s music and choreography. Having these complementary roles fleshed out, the duo again produced one of the Golden Age’s most memorable musicals, cementing Kelly as the greatest song-and-dance man of this seminal Hollywood era.

3 Gone With the Wind

Gone with the Wind

So iconic has Gone With the Wind become in Hollywood lore, we forget what a troubled production the iconic film once had, as it was first delayed by two years, then had three directors in total. The film started with George Cukor at the helm, who was quickly replaced with Victor Fleming — the credited director of the film. Despite that fact, even Fleming could not survive the exhausting yearlong production, eventually needing his own replacement in Sam Wood due to exhaustion. The film didn’t suffer for the changing leadership role, becoming one of the most famous films from Hollywood’s Golden Age.

2 The Wizard of Oz

Dorothy and the Wicked Witch of the West from The Wizard of Oz

The Wizard of Oz was another film credited solely to Victor Fleming, who astonishingly directed both this and Gone With the Wind in the same year, 1939. Richard Thorpe began production as the director, but only lasted two weeks, being replaced (sort of) by George Cukor — yes that George Cukor. Again, studio exec Mervyn LeRoy was unhappy with the results, and despite Cukor influencing the final product, Victor Fleming was brought on to replace him, before doing so again on Gone With the Wind, leaving the last two weeks of shooting The Wizard of Oz to King Vidor. The fact that Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer was still able to salvage one of the most revolutionary films of the 20th Century is testament to the enormous power of studios in the Golden Age, who had such a well-funded apparatus around the production of major films, they could mix and match creatives and still achieve a maximized result.

1 Fargo

Gramercy Pictures

Thanks to the inevitable power struggles of Hollywood union politics, it was rare in the ’90s that two directors were given credit on the same film — even when they shared the tasks that fell under the auspices of “director”. Like the Farrelys, Joel and Ethan Coen have long shunned these conventions, with both brothers taking on aspects of screenwriting, producing and directing their movies. Though Fargo‘s direction was credited solely to Joel Coen, the Coens’ films are always family affairs, with Joel’s wife Frances McDormand often appearing in them, as well. The Ladykillers — produced eight years after Fargo, would be the first time the brothers were allowed to be credited as co-directors, although it had already been the case for most of their films.


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