Movies That Never Were

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Michael:M, Jun 23, 2006.

  1. Michael:M

    Michael:M Supporting Actor

    Mar 27, 2006
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    Something I read today reminded me of a movie project rumored but never (at least not yet) realized, and I thought it might make a good discussion here.

    Share or list movies you wished had been made and released but:

    *Began production then shut down, for whatever reason
    *Were rumored/in pre-production then put on hold/shelved/etc.

    I am not talking about dream cast & crews, or wish lists. Aiming for things that were actually in the works or close to it.

    Two off the top of my head:

    Gates of Fire - Michael Mann was set to direct a film about the Battle of Thermopylae (sp?), with George Clooney and Bruce Willis set to star. Had potential to be an incredible historical epic. I first read about it here:

    The Dark Knight Returns Back in the days before the 'Net, the newspaper was the only source of movie news for most folks. I distinctly remember reading a story that had Paul Verhoeven tapped to direct a live action version of Frank Miller's Batman epic, The Dark Knight Returns. Clint Eastwood was rumored for casting. That would have been badass. Of course, that was nixed and they brought in Tim Burton, and the rest is history.

    What other movies that were never made do you wish had been finished?
  2. Andy Sheets

    Andy Sheets Cinematographer

    Aug 6, 2000
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    The Hot Zone, directed by Ridley Scott, with Jodie Foster and Robert Redford. This was the nonfiction book by Richard Preston about a near-outbreak of ebola virus in Reston, Virginia. I remember reading this and feeling light-headed when the book described a Marburg virus victim puking out his own intestinal and tongue lining. Could have been a really good germ scare movie but for some reason it never came together and we got the mediocre Outbreak instead.

    A Princess of Mars. Been kinda-sorta in development by various people for about 75 years now, most recently by Paramount, who decided they'd rather try to rescucitate Star Trek instead of gambling on this.
  3. DavidPla

    DavidPla Cinematographer

    Jan 15, 2004
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    Steven Spielberg's Night Skies - Basically Spielberg wanted to do a film where a group of aliens attack a farm house and the people of the farmhouse must survive from them. Was going to be made in the early 80s with designs by Rick Baker but Spielberg ultimately scrapped it and made "E.T." about a friendlier alien instead. Still, would've been very interested to see what that would've been like. I guess we sort've got a taste of it with both "Signs" and the trapped in the farmhouse basement in "War of the Worlds".

    Tim Burton's Superman Lives - Yea I know! But I'm a big Tim Burton fan and while the film would've been a terrible Superman movie, and I'm quite happy to be getting Bryan Singer's Superman in a few weeks, I would have been very curious to see what Burton would've done.

    James Cameron's Planet of the Apes and Spider-Man - Conversely, I would've also been interested to see Cameron's takes on both of these films he was once ready to make in the early 90s. More out of curiosity sake. He probably would've made a great "Planet of the Apes".

    Martin Scorsese's Rat Pack Bio Pic - Tom Hanks as Dean Martin, John Travolta as Frank Sinatra, Jim Carrey as Jerry Lewis, Hugh Grant as Peter Lawford, Adam Sandler as Joey Bishop and Chris Rock as Sammy Davis Jr. Of course that was in the late 90s. Hopefully sometime soon he can still get that amazing cast together and make this film.
  4. Josh.C

    Josh.C Second Unit

    Dec 20, 2005
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    I love Spielberg, but I'm getting a little put out with the "alien" themed movies. I realize AI was Kubrink's project that Spielberg helped finish, but enough already. There have been several very good "alien" flicks, but I know there are many who would like to see him (and other directors) move on.

    He definitely has a facination with beings from beyond our solar system.
  5. Jesse Skeen

    Jesse Skeen Producer

    Apr 24, 1999
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    Speilberg was supposed to make a Peter Pan movie with Michael Jackson, which became "Hook" with Robin Williams instead.

    Superman III had a few different plots considered after Richard Pryor was already cast- one had Superman trapped in a computer game with Richard Pryor as an evil wizard.

    Biggest disappointment for me was "Mai The Psychic Girl", a musical based on the Japanese comic book with songs by Ron & Russell Mael of the group Sparks. They mentioned it as forthcoming in the liner notes of a best-of CD they put out in 1991, but never got off the ground. They ended up doing the music for the Van Damme masterpiece "Knock Off" instead.
  6. JohnRice

    JohnRice Lead Actor

    Jun 20, 2000
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    Real Name:
    Suprised nobody has mentioned Terry Gilliam's The Man Who Killed Don Quixote. As far as I know, it is the only one who's demise was actually filmed and released as a documentary, Lost in La Mancha. It is definitely fascinating to see how bad the production got, in a practically supernatural way. I was waiting for the earth to open up and swallow everyone.
  7. Andy Sheets

    Andy Sheets Cinematographer

    Aug 6, 2000
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    I remember that one. It was "Tim Burton's next film" for a few years in the early 90's.

    How about John Boorman's Lord of the Rings? I'm not sure how far he got with developing it (I do remember an interview in which he described an odd idea for the wizard's duel between Gandalf and Saruman - in retrospect it might be described as a high-falutin' equivalent of the rap battles in 8 Mile) but he was hot to do it. When he realized it wasn't going to happen, he went and made Excalibur instead.
  8. Jim_K

    Jim_K Executive Producer

    Apr 7, 2000
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    Aside from what was already mentioned, here are a few more Development Hell projects that really interested me.

    Dir: James Cameron
    Source material : AVATAR - original screenplay written by James Cameron.
    Summary: "Possibly the most beautiful script I’ve ever read. So far Cameron has stuck to earth (well, he did travel off-planet in ALIENS) and we now get to see his vision of an exotic alien world. Where giant panther-like animals lope around the jungle. And a peaceful race of people are being harassed by the humans who have installed an army base there and plan to encroach on their land.
    Cameron describes three epic battles here. If he can truly present this world, as described, and do exactly as he writes, I think it would be the pinnacle of the action genre. Cameron takes the time to develop a tender romance between a female alien and a human-alien hybrid. What happens and how it does (the people are fearful of him at first and later trust him as he proves himself) has been done mumerous times before, but it’s always Cameron’s striking landscape -- his dazzling visuals -- that make everything seem new." - Summary courtesy of Darwin Mayflower at

    Dir: Alejandro Jodorowski
    Source material: Dune by Frank Herbert
    Summary: There were many attempts at making this sci-fi epic. The most impressive would've been Jodorowski's planned 3+ hour version filmed in 70mm. Conceptual artists included H.R. Giger, Jean Giraud a.k.a. Moebius, Dan O'Bannon & Chris Foss. Pre-production started in '75 so it's an interesting notion had this battled Star Wars at the Box-office.

    The Blind Man
    Dir: Alfred Hitchcock
    Cast: James Stewart
    Source material: Original screenplay by Ernst Lehman (North By Northwest)
    Summary: Blind since birth, a pianist (Stewart) receives a double cornea transplant. The first thing he wants to see is Disneyland. The story take place mostly in the theme park where Stewart discovers that he’s been given the eyes of a murdered man. Stewart attempts to hunt down the killer as the killer is trying to murder him.
    Other trivia: Was planned to be made after Psycho. Walt Disney refused to cooperate after his disgust with Psycho.

    Dir: Salvador Dali
    Cast: Animation
    Summary: A Walt Disney/Salvador Dali collaboration. Nuff said! [​IMG]
    Other trivia: Planned during the mid 40’s. Test footage was shot but this idea never fully formed into a cohesive structure.

    Dir: Stanley Kubrick
    Cast: Jack Nicholson(Napoleon)
    Summary: Epic Bio of Napoleon. Kubrick planned expansive battle scenes & looked for a country to loan out their army.
    Other trivia: Was planned right after 2001:ASO. Was a bit too ambitious & costly for UA who pulled the financing. A competing film Waterloo didn’t help either.

    A Day at the U.N.
    Dir: Billy Wilder
    Cast: The Marx Brothers
    Source material: Original Screenplay by Billy Wilder & I.A.L. Diamond
    Summary: The Marx Brothers invade the U.N.
    Other trivia: The death of Chico Marx nixed this project. Was to have been made between The Apartment & One, Two, Three.

    Dir: Francis Ford Coppola
    Cast:Christopher Walken, Anthony Quinn, Lauren Bacall
    Summary: A live action take on the classic tale.
    Other trivia: Was though up by Coppola after the death of his son & was developed in the early 90’s. Coppola & Warner Brothers had a nasty court battle over the rights, which Warner retained.

    Roger Rabbit 2: The Toon Platoon
    Summary: A prequel set in 1941. Roger & friends join up to fight the stinking Nazi horde.
    Other trivia: The script is supposed to be better then the original film & it’s unknown why this didn’t get made.

    Star Trek 6: Starfleet Academy
    Dir: ?
    Cast: not the original cast
    Summary: Prequel featuring a new/younger cast which focuses the early years of Kirk, Spock, McCoy & the gang at the Starfleet Academy.
    Other trivia: Was to be made after the turkey - Star Trek V. The original cast members mounted a successful campaign at conventions starting false rumours that the new film would be a spoof ala Police Academy.

    Warhead: James Bond of the Secret Service
    Cast: Sean Connery (Bond), Orson Welles (Ernst Stavro Blofeld)
    Summary: Blofeld & SPECTRE in an all out assault on New York’s financial district. Sean Connery returns to the role he created.
    Other trivia: Was developed by Kevin McClory who retained partial rights to the Bond character. This was going to be the start of an alternate Bond franchise apart from the Broccoli/MGM/UA official series. Planned to start filming in 1978 with Sean Connery back as Bond but Broccoli/UA mounted a legal campaign to frighten off the investors. McClory & Connery eventually got to work together on another Bond project in the 1983 remake of Thunderball, Never Say Never Again.

    Ghost Soldiers
    Dir: Steven Spielberg
    Cast: Tom Cruise
    Source Material: Based on Hampton Sides' book. First draft of screenplay was written by Josh Friedman.
    Summary:Ghost Soldiers is the name given to those who survived the Bataan Death March of World War II, and were held captive in a Japanese prison camp until ultimately being freed by Allied troops. From

    Childhood’s End
    Dir: Stanley Kubrick
    Source Material: Novel by Arthur C. Clarke
    Summary: Mankind’s evolution is shaped by devil-like beings called the Overlords, who return to earth in gigantic ships to usher in mankind’s destiny among the stars.
    Other trivia: Was to be Kubrick's first choice before settling on making 2001:ASO. The rights to the novel could not be acquired.

    The Tourist
    Screenplay by Clair Noto
    Summary: Serious Sci-Fi Noir film has a group of aliens in humanoid form living amongst us endeavor to find ways to return to their home world.
    Other trivia: Reportedly a great script that had the misfortune of bad timing during its 2 attempts at development. E.T. & Starman took the steam out of the project in the 80’s & M.I.B. in the late 90’s.

    I Am Legend
    Dir: Ridley Scott
    Source Material: Novel by Richard Matheson
    Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger or Mel Gibson or Michael Douglas or Daniel Day Lewis
    Summary: Grim Post Apocalyptic Sci-Fi film has Robert Neville as the last human survivor in the world. The rest of humanity has been turned into something akin to vampires due to the result of Bio Warfare.
  9. Guy Martin

    Guy Martin Second Unit

    Nov 29, 1998
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    Actually two of the films in your list are now in production. Cameron has begun prep on a retooled Avatar over at the Playa Del Rey studios. It's rumored to be shot in 3-D HD. Casting has begun too, according to friend who works for a casting agent.

    I am Legend begins shooting in NY in a few weeks. Now it stars Will Smith and will be directed by Francis Lawrence (Constantine).

    A friend who did some 2nd unit work for Scorcese says that the Rat Pack Biopick is still very much on his to-do list too [​IMG].

    - Guy
  10. Jim_K

    Jim_K Executive Producer

    Apr 7, 2000
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    thanks Guy.

    Didn't know about Avatar getting the greenlight but as with any Cameron project for the past 10 years, I'll believe it when I see it playing in the theaters. [​IMG]

    However I did know about I Am Legend w/ Will Smith. Can't say I'm all that jacked but I will give it a fair chance when I see it (I did like I Robot despite any misgivings I may have had before hand).

    Ridley and Arnold (in his prime) doing the material would've been something to see.
  11. Patrick H.

    Patrick H. Second Unit

    Nov 23, 2004
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    That's a really interesting list, Jim. Some of those I knew about, some were surprises. Of them all, I'd have to say I actually lament the loss of the 'Roger Rabbit' sequel the most...the original was so great, and that plot sounds like it would've yielded terrific results.
  12. MarkHastings

    MarkHastings Executive Producer

    Jan 27, 2003
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    In 2002(ish), Leslie Nielsen was filming a spoof of Titanic. It was listed in his profile on IMDB, but I never heard what happened to it.


    EDIT: It was 1999 and the movie was called "Titanic Too: It Missed the Iceberg"
  13. todd s

    todd s Lead Actor

    Jul 8, 1999
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    DESCENT I saw this blurb in in 2002. It sounded very interesting. Don't know what happened....

    And this is not the same as the movie that was released in England last year of the same name.
  14. JonZ

    JonZ Lead Actor

    Dec 28, 1998
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    Oliver Stones Martin Luther King film.

    Kubrick had a bunch of films he wanted to do and never got around to. I would have liked to see his Napoleon.

    "Biggest disappointment for me was "Mai The Psychic Girl"

    Im pretty sure Tim Burton was attached to this for awhile in the mid 90s as well.

    I remember being excited for James Camerons Planet Of The Apes.

    But one I was really hoping would get made and died was Tarantinos adaptation of Elmore Leanoards western 40 Lashes.

    A studio in england was promising a new faithful adaption Judge Dredd trilogy. What ever happened to it??
  15. Dave Simpson

    Dave Simpson Second Unit

    Sep 18, 1999
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    As I'm currently reading Bob Boodward's Belushi bio Wired, I'll cite Sweet Deception, aka Noble Rot, intended at once as a light-hearted, slap-stick, Hitchcockian yarn of wine-tasting and diamond heists. It likely would have been a bomb, given Belushi's state, and his lack of suitability to the material. Cheers.

  16. Brook K

    Brook K Lead Actor

    Feb 22, 2000
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    Way back when, Jim ran a tournament about such "lost projects"

    I'll repeat my pick from that: the Coen Bros. To The White Sea starring Brad Pitt as a downed WWII pilot who doesn't speak the local language (can't remember if he's downed on a Japanese island or in the Aleutians) and Pitt is silent for most of the film. They couldn't find anyone to finance the film and dropped the project.

    Spike Lee has tried to make a Jackie Robinson movie for years but could never get financing. (IMDB now lists a Jackie Robinson project with another director and with Robert Redford playing Branch Rickey) I think more recently he's tried to put together a Jesse Owens project but with no success either.

    Btw, other interesting facts about Jodorowsky's Dune was that Salvador Dali would play the Emperor and it was going to have a score by Pink Floyd!

    Jim, Destino was finished by Roy Disney & director Dominique Monfrey and released in 2003 as a 7 minute short. I saw it shown before The Triplets of Belleville (which I thought was odd since that film was distributed by Sony), but I don't know if it's ever been included on any of the various shorts DVD's that are released from time to time. There's a little bit of info about it at imdb:

    "Destino" , the 6 minutes, 40 seconds long animated film based on a Mexican love ballad entitled "Destino". Dali and Disney admired each other's work and their meeting at a dinner party in 1945, inspired the idea for collaboration. Although, the film was abandoned in 1946 due to the economic problems created by WWII, Dali's storyboards, sketches, and paintings were saved. Work began on Destino in May 2001 and in June 2003, "Destino" premiered at the Annecy International Animation Film Festival.

    Set to the Mexican ballad, the idea behind the film was described by Disney as "just a simple love story - boy meets girl". Dali called it "a magical exposition on the problem of life in the labyrinth of time". The end result is a tender, beautiful, sad, and charming love story as only Dali could imagine it, complete with the images as only he could create by the power of his imagination - melting clocks, tuxedo-clad eyeballs without faces, ballerinas, ants that turn into bicycles, and surprising baseballs."
  17. Colin Jacobson

    Colin Jacobson Producer

    Apr 19, 2000
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    Don't think anyone's mentioned the aborted Ghostbusters 3 yet. It was actually listed on some DVD filmographies as a 1998 release (I think). When I interviewed Harold Ramis, I asked him about it:

    HR: Actually, it came up though that when Dan was beating the drums for a Ghostbusters 3, he wanted me to direct that.

    CJ: I can remember some early DVDs listed Ghostbusters 3 on Aykroyd’s filmography – I guess that was a little premature!

    HR: He wrote a draft – he definitely wrote a draft.

    CJ: Why didn’t that ever happen?

    HR: It turned out to be a deal that couldn’t be made. Everyone wanted too much – there wasn’t enough left for the studio.

    Shameless plug for the whole interview:
  18. Mark Hawley

    Mark Hawley Second Unit

    Aug 18, 2000
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    "Jaws 3, People 0". They were initially going to make the third Jaws movie a spoof and I believe Joe Dante was attached to direct it.
  19. PeterTHX

    PeterTHX Cinematographer

    Dec 30, 2002
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    Well, what about the classic "Creation" that Willis O'Brien started and aborted pre "King Kong"?

    I seem to remember an ILM version of "Frankenstien" that never got out of pre-production. I think some of the designs ended up in "Van Helsing" (Frankenstien's monster would have been completely CG).

    ILM & Ray Harryhousen were set to collaborate on a "Godzilla" type film and would have seen Harryhousen use "Go-Motion" animation for the first time (invented by ILM and used to animate the Imperial Walkers in "Star Wars: Episode V" and "Dragonslayer"). I remember seeing a production sketch that showed the monster rising from San Francisco Bay.

    Universal's late 80's "Earthquake: San Francisco", reportedly scuttled due to the Loma Prieta 1989 quake...the reason why the "Earthquake" portion of the Universal Studios tram tour sinks into a BART station (designed to tie into the film)>
  20. Sylvia*ST

    Sylvia*ST Stunt Coordinator

    Feb 17, 2005
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    Jack Finney's beloved novel Time and Again has been in development at Universal since at least 1979. As far as I have heard, the studio only owns the television rights, which of course stopped anyone else from buying the film rights (because they couldn't air the film on TV later), and when Universal had a flop with Somewhere In Time, the Finney story was shelved. Yes I know Somewhere In Time is a cult fave, but it was not a success.

    I have read at least two screenplays based on Time and Again, one a two hour, one a four-hour mini-series. The mini-series teleplay was very, very good and it's a shame it wasn't ever made. There was a Broadway musical made from the book, which premiered in San Diego, but it never made it to New York, despite also being quite good.

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