Making a film is a herculean task on a good day and budget constraints, quality of effects, and last-minute changes can all put filmmakers in a position where they’re forced to improvise.
Many directors have resorted to reusing footage from other films to help them complete their movie and take their vision from the studio to the screen. Sometimes these movie-making tricks aren’t noticed by the average moviegoer, but others have become legendary moments in their own right.
Here's a look at 11 well-known movies that recycled footage from other films.
1. Robin Hood
- Year Of Release: 1973
- Directed By: Wolfgang Reitherman
- Recycled Footage From: Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs (1937), The Jungle Book (1967), The Aristocats (1970)
Animating a movie is a lot harder than it looks, and the people at #Disney know this for a fact. A famous workaround used by old-school Disney animators was recycling and drawing over old storyboards, character models and dance sequences instead of creating new ones. This was most evident in the hand-drawn version of #RobinHood.
During the musical number for "Phony King Of England" (watch the comparison below below), the Merry Men's dance choreography is a combination of recycled dances from Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs and The Jungle Book. The romantic dance shared by Robin Hood and Maid Marian, on the other hand, is a repeat of the dance shared by Thomas O'Maleey and Duchess in The Aristocats.
The biggest and most obvious repeat is Little John, who is depicted as a jovial, singing bear in the film. Not only were his design, personality and movements ripped from Baloo in The Jungle Book, but the voice actor (Phil Harris) was even the same guy doing the same act he did as a misplaced bear living in a jungle.
2. Game Of Death
- Year Of Release: 1978
- Directed By: Robert Clouse
- Recycled Footage From: Enter The Dragon and The Game Of Death
Before starring in Enter The Dragon, kung-fu legend #BruceLee was hard at work on his passion project: The Game Of Death. His magnum opus would have to take a break for his big Hollywood debut, but before he got to see Enter The Dragon hit the big screen or get back on the set of The Game Of Death, Lee died.
The half-completed footage of The Game Of Death was left alone, until producers decided that Lee's death shouldn't stop the movie from being made. Now titled #GameOfDeath, Enter The Dragon director Robert Clouse was tasked to tell a new story that would incorporate Lee's scenes, archived footage from Enter The Dragon, actual footage from Lee's funeral and cardboard standees of Lee.
Watch Lee fight NBA icon Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in Game Of Death below.
The end result was awkward at best and exploitative at worst. Viewed by some of Lee's most dedicated fans as highly unethical, Game Of Death is still worth watching just to see Lee fight one last time while donning the iconic yellow track suit that has since been immortalized in pop culture.
3. Blade Runner
- Year Of Release: 1982
- Directed By: Ridley Scott
- Recycled Footage From: The Shining
It's no secret that the theatrical cut of #BladeRunner was a disaster born of studio demands. One of the worst changes was the saccharine ending where #Deckard (Harrison Ford) and Rachel (Sean Young) ride off into a bright future, complete with a lot of trees despite the story's bleak, industrial, cyberpunk setting.
At the time of its original release, many thought the ending felt like it came from an entirely different movie, and it did. To comply with the studio's demands, Ridley Scott turned to fellow director #StanleyKubrick for help. Kubrick's latest film at the time, The Shining, opened with sweeping shots of the mountains in Montana, and Kubrick let Scott borrow some of the left-over helicopter footage for the revised Blade Runner conclusion.
Watch the theatrical ending of Blade Runner below.
Not only did this new ending betray the tone of the entire movie, but it was misplaced. Scott and company agreed with these sentiments, and have since distanced themselves from the theatrical cut of Blade Runner. Instead, they declared Blade Runner: The Final Cut as the movie they intended to make, which doesn't include the theatrical ending or Deckard's tacked-on narration.
4. Jaws: The Revenge
- Year Of Release: 1987
- Directed By: Joseph Sargent
- Recycled Footage From: Jaws and Jaws: The Revenge
#Jaws may be one of the greatest blockbuster thrill rides ever committed to film, but its sequels turned it into a joke. The fourth and last Jaws film, #JawsTheRevenge, dragged the killer-shark franchise into B-movie territory thanks to a combination of a shark with a vengeance and cheap editing tricks, like recycling footage.
Both Jaws and Jaws: The Revenge end in the same way, where the shark literally explodes. Though the cause of detonation is different in both films, Jaws: The Revenge just recycled the same explosion from the end of Jaws for its own climactic fight.
Watch the roaring shark explode in Jaws: The Revenge below.
Also, depending on which version of Jaws: The Revenge you watch, the movie recycles its own footage during the climax. In the AMC cut, Ellen Brody (Lorraine Gary) rams her boat into the shark twice not because she really hated it, but because the footage of her doing so was played twice and only a few seconds apart from each other.
5. Back To The Future Part II
- Year Of Release: 1989
- Directed By: Robert Zemeckis
- Recycled Footage From: Back To The Future
The #BackToTheFuture films all revolve around the concept of time travel, so it would make perfect sense for each passing installment to make direct call-backs and references to previous entries. For the first sequel, though, the reasons for the recycled footage go beyond #MartyMcFly (Michael J. Fox) returning to his father's teenage days.
Thanks to creative disagreements and financial disputes, the actor behind Marty's father, Crispin Glover, didn't reprise his role despite the fact that he was an integral part of the sequel. To get around this, director #RobertZemeckis used a combination of recycled footage, editing, prosthetics and a new actor with similar features to Glover to fool audiences into thinking Glover did in fact return.
All of this happened without Glover's consent, which led to him getting understandably upset and filing a lawsuit which he would eventually win. Glover's victory in court served as a safeguard that prevents a similar situations from ever happening again.
6. Star Trek: Generations
- Year Of Release: 1994
- Directed By: David Carson
- Recycled Footage From: Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
Star Trek: Generations is the movie that bridged the gap between two different crews of the U.S.S. Enterprise: the original crew led by #CaptainKirk (William Shatner) and the newcomers led by #CaptainPicard (Patrick Stewart). Generations did such a good job at this that some of its scenes felt like they really belonged in a previous #StarTrek movie - which of course, was the truth.
Star Trek IV: The Undiscovered Country ended with the destruction of the Klingon Bird-Of-Prey warship, and the scene was so iconic that Generations used the exact same explosion for its own climactic battle. The only change implemented was a bit of color editing, but other than that, it looked like the Klingon ship blew up a second time.
There's still no explanation as to why Generations recycled a three year old explosion, but it's safe to assume that it was done out of laziness and the complete lack of effort on the part of the special effects team.
7. Star Wars Episode II: Attack Of The Clones
- Year Of Release: 2002
- Directed By: George Lucas
- Recycled Footage From: Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace
One of the highlights of the #StarWars prequel trilogy was showing the #Jedi Council before it was purged. First seen in The Phantom Menace, the council reappears in the second installment as if not a day has passed even if the two movies have a years-long gap between their narratives.
As it turns out, the scene featuring the Jedi Council in the first prequel was just reused for its immediate follow-up, but with the main characters digitally replaced. Instead of Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson), now it's Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) who's standing before the older Jedi beside Obi Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor).
Director #GeorgeLucas had no choice but to recycle the Jedi Council's scene when production of Attack Of The Clones moved from England to Australia, making it difficult and expensive to bring the British extras who played the Jedi to another continent. This also explains why the Council barely spoke the second time they appeared in film.
8. The Room
- Year Of Release: 2003
- Directed By: Tommy Wiseau
- Recycled Footage From: The Room
#TheRoom is one of the best-worst movies ever made. It's become so infamous that a biopic titled #TheDisasterArtists has even been made, which chronicles its filming starring James Franco as director/producer/writer/star #TommyWiseau and is set to be released this year. Part of the movie's infamy stems from how it serves as a blueprint for how not to make a movie, and in this case, how not to make a sex scene.
In The Room, Johnny (Tommy Wiseau) and his girlfriend Lisa (Juliette Danielle) have two lovemaking scenes that look too similar to one another. The explanation is anything but coincidental, since the two distinct scenes are actually a part of a single, longer love session. Danielle was reportedly so uncomfortable with filming the sex scene that the crew agreed not to film any more lovemaking and recycled footage instead.
As a compromise, cut footage from the first sex scene was reused later on in the movie, but this time with a different soundtrack playing in the background.
However that was only one of may WTF moments in The Room. Watch one of the most quotable scenes from The Room below. It took 32 takes to film this particular moment.
- Year Of Release: 2007
- Directed By: Xavier Gens
- Recycled Footage From: Dark Angel
The first #Hitman film adaptation was mauled by fans for ignoring the lore of the source material in favor of an action-packed conspiracy story about genetically modified assassins - a premise that sounds as generic as it can get because it is. This premise was so generic, in fact, that some people swore that they saw it on TV before.
This was in fact true, since the opening montage in Hitman that showed Agent 47's (Timothy Olyphant) backstory as a genetically enhanced child soldier was literally lifted from the early 2000's espionage show #DarkAngel starring Jessica Alba.
The only changes implemented were some color edits and any focus on a younger Max (Jessica Alba's character) being removed for obvious reasons. Other than that, the shared backstory of Max and Agent 47 implies that they were born and raised in the same morally dubious institution.
10. Transformers: Dark Of The Moon
- Year Of Release: 2011
- Directed By: Michael Bay
- Recycled Footage From: The Island
In the third #Transformers movie, Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) and the Autobot Bumblebee take to a highway to escape their Decepticon pursuers. What follows is a kinetic chase with the Transformers shifting from robot to vehicular form, in a scene ripped right out of another Bay movie.
The other movie in question is The Island, a story about the end of times and Ewan McGregor's discovery of the dark truth behind his survival. Halfway through The Island, a car chase occurs between McGregor's character and his pursuers and in typical #MichaelBay fashion, it ends with a lot of destroyed cars.
Watch the comparison below.
Minus the digital addition of the Decepticons throwing cars at Bumblebee or crashing into cars, the vehicular carnage from #DarkOfTheMoon is an exact repeat of the one from The Island.
11. T2: Trainspotting
- Year Of Release: 2017
- Directed By: Danny Boyle
- Recycled Footage From: Trainspotting
The long-delayed sequel to the indie smash of 1996, #Trainspotting, will finally hit theaters this year. As expected, the 20 year old follow-up, #T2Trainspotting will reference its predecessor through means of flashbacks and some recycled footage, but it won't just be moments you've already seen from the previous film.
Scenes from Trainspotting (such as heroin sessions and certain deaths) that were both seen onscreen and left on the cutting floor will be brought back or referenced to highlight the painful nostalgia of the aged characters. The most tragic of these are scenes that show Begbie (Robert Carlyle) in his violent, youthful prime - events vividly remembered by a man who lost two decades of his life to a prison sentence and a betrayal.
Watch the trailer for T2: Trainspotting below.
What other movies do you know that recycled footage from other films or themselves? Let me know in the comments below.