Contact Had A 'Cursed' Production From Start To Finish

Depending on who you ask, Robert Zemeckis' 1997 sci-fi drama "Contact" is either a philosophical masterpiece or a boring morality lesson. Wherever you land, though, it's hard to separate the film from the many problems it ran into after it was released. From George Miller suing Warner Brothers over a contract dispute to a First Amendment debate brought forward by the White House, a lot of attention was heaped upon the adaptation of Carl Sagan's 1985 novel, and not a lot of it was positive.

However, there was also quite a bit of trouble the film faced before and during production. The film, which centered around an extraterrestrial researcher (Jodie Foster) and a Christian philosopher (Matthew McConaughey) trying to make sense of a strange otherworldly signal, went through several rewrites and delays before eventually making it to theaters. Some of these problems were the result of human interference and error, but there were some instances of chaos that were completely out of the crew's hands.

It seemed to be wet a lot

In an oral history of the film published by Vulture, Foster and McConaughey were joined by Zemeckis and visual effects supervisor Ken Ralston to discuss the film as it approaches its 25th anniversary. While discussing the filming process, Foster referred to the production as "weather cursed," even referring to the conditions during production as the worst she had ever had to film through. "When we went to Puerto Rico, we had terrible storms with mudslides," she said. "When we went to D.C., we had just bitter, bitter cold for all these exterior scenes."

While McConaughey said he couldn't recall most of the bad weather that Foster described, he did say that he remembered being "wet a lot." The actors weren't the only ones discussing the weather, though, as Ralston recalled one nasty moment in Greenland. "A second unit group went to Newfoundland," he said. "We were shooting in helicopters and the weather turned really ugly; it started snowing like crazy. You could barely see what was happening."

A brief history of the other Contact curses

Of course, you just don't call a production cursed without the ability to back yourself up. During the interview, Foster gave other examples of the hardships she faced while on set, even if Zemeckis says that they didn't have any difficult times on set:

"I had to talk to somebody and then turn around and go into a jet. But the door was shorter than me, and every single time I did it, I banged my head. So I have this massive goose egg on my head. I also had a big scene where I'm running up a hill, and I got stung by a bee on my neck during one take. I'm in terrible pain, and I had this big thing on my neck. I see them in the film: the big red splotch on my neck, the giant goose egg. I'm telling you, it was a little cursed, the movie."

As previously alluded to, these were far from the only troubles the cast and crew had with the film. According to the DVD commentary track for "Contact," a scene involving a cyanide pill caused a rift between Sagan and NASA's advisor on the film, Gerald D. Griffin. Francis Ford Coppola also tried suing Warner Bros., as well as Sagan's estate, over the rights to the film, but the case was dismissed (via Variety).

"Contact" is available to rent or purchase on all major streaming platforms.