During the mid-1990s, Bruce Willis’ career was riding high, thanks to Pulp Fiction, Die Hard with a Vengeance and the science fiction movies 12 Monkeys and The Fifth Element. But this was almost derailed when he left a rom-com that had already been filming for several weeks in 1997.
According to FilmStories; Disney was looking for a way to recoup the money that already been spent, and there would potentially be some legal action against Willis. Instead, they arranged a deal with Willis, if he agreed to star in three upcoming Disney movies, this would offset his salary from the rom-com that was never finished.
In turns out that both Willis and Disney would make out terrifically from this deal. The first of the three movies was Armageddon, and having Willis’ star-power meant they won the box office wars with Deep Impact. The second would be the biggest hit of Willis’ career – a horror movie from an almost completely unknown director still in his 20s – M. Night Shyamalan. The Sixth Sense would go onto make $670 million, which is even more than Armageddon.
The third movie was The Kid, which is mostly forgotten now, but still made $110 million. So, Willis paid Disney back several times over and came out with a profit for himself.
Regarding the rom-com that never came to be, the Los Angeles Times reported at the time that it allegedly came down to Willis trying to wrestle control from director Lee Grant, at a time when women behind the camera were very few and far between. It was called Broadway Brawler and Willis was to play a retired hockey player romancing Maura Tierney. Cinematographer William Fraker was quoted as saying; “Bruce was telling other actors how to act…Bruce just took over.”
Check out our guide to the best 90s movies to see if you can spot a Bruce Willis movie or two.