There really was a Johnson County War in Wyoming and James Averill, Nathan Champion and Ella Watson were actual historical figures. In the real war, however, the U.S. Army arrested the cattlemen for hiring the killers and did not threaten to arrest the homesteaders for defending themselves, as happens in the film.
While doing press for Desperate Hours (1990) in the fall of 1990, Michael Cimino, in a TV interview, claimed full responsibility for what had happened during the making of this film.
The production shoot for this picture ran for 165 days
At the time, it was the biggest and most expensive Hollywood flop ever. Its failure resulted in the sale of the United Artists studio to MGM.
Real horses' entrails were used to add realism to the gorier scenes.
At one point, the head of United Artists along with fellow executives proposed selling the movie to producer Barry Spikings in order to rid themselves of the financial burden and also allow Michael Cimino to finish the film any way he liked, as long as it was not under the banner and scrutiny of United Artists. Under the proposed deal, Cimino would have complete control of the finished product with Spikings overseeing everything. United Artists would have looked after the distribution rights for the film in the U.S. and abroad. After looking at all the financial records for the film at that point which had reached approximately $15 million, Spikings instantly refused to take over the project. |