Two of Hollywood’s greatest hits almost didn’t make it

Sherry Lansing, former president of 20th Century Fox and CEO of Paramount Pictures, has revealed that two of her greatest film triumphs – "Fatal Attraction" and "Forrest Gump" – were previously passed on by several studios before reaching her desk.

"Fatal Attraction," which Lansing produced in 1987 through her production company Jaffe-Lansing, became the world's highest-grossing film that year and received six Academy Award nominations.

"'Fatal Attraction' was a movie that I think was turned down twice by every studio and was probably passed on by about 26, 27 directors," Lansing told CNBC Meets' Tania Bryer in an interview in Los Angeles.

Lansing added: "but it's really a good Rorschach test for your own belief because both Stanley Jaffe and I – my partner at the time – never gave up."

Lansing said that "Forest Gump", one of her biggest successes while at Paramount, was also overlooked by other Hollywood studios.

Her husband, William Friedkin, director of "French Connection" and "The Exorcist", told Lansing that "Forrest Gump" was a bad title.

A bloodied Glenn Close is tended to by Michael Douglas in a scene from the film 'Fatal Attraction', 1987
Paramount | Getty Images
A bloodied Glenn Close is tended to by Michael Douglas in a scene from the film 'Fatal Attraction', 1987

The film was released in 1994 and won six Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor.The film generated over $677 million in ticket sales to date, according to the Internet Movie Database (IMDb).

"It shows that you have the passion and no matter what anybody tells you, you're not going to let them stop that passion. So for me, the more people rejected it, the more I wanted to make it and the more I became convinced that we were right."

Lansing also produced films that fell short of expectations during her stint at both Fox and Paramount. While at Paramount, she oversaw "The Stepford Wives" and the 2004 remake of "Alfie", both of which struggled at the box office.

Still, she said, with all the films she helped deliver, it always came down to her passion for the script.

"Pictures that come together easily or pictures that are very difficult to make and you give up on – perhaps if you gave up on them, then you didn't really have the passion that you needed."

CNBC Meets: Sherry Lansing will air on Wednesday 17 July.