It’s a terrifying prospect. Spending months and sometimes years on a project only to see it fall through and apart faster than a hiccup. It’s why sitting in that director’s chair is so damn frightening. Millions of dollars and critical profit margins are riding on your deliverance, not to mention your good name and faith in yourself as a talented creative. Sometimes these projects never get off the ground and sometimes they crash and burn during the decent. Here are eight films we almost got to see before they went up in flames.
I didn’t like Zach Snyder’s interpretation of Alan Moore’s Watchmen. Sure it was flashy and stylish, but it was too long and lacked the immediate thwack the cinema requires. Before Snyder stepped in the director’s chair, visionary filmmaker Terry Gilliam (12 Monkeys, Brazil) had previously accepted the job…twice.
He really wanted to make the film but the powers that be at Warner Bros. balked on the deal and it never came to fruition.
What was his pitch?
He wanted to make the graphic novel a five-part miniseries, which would have allowed the depth of Moore’s characterizations to mature and unfold in a more organic way. As for his thoughts on Snyder’s interpretation: “It was almost too respectful of the original ... it needed a kick in the ass, frankly.”
Way back in 1990, a decade before Bryan Singer’s initial X-Men adaptation, Chris Claremont (X-Men scribe that wrote the famed Dark Phoenix saga) and Stan Lee visited James Cameron shortly after the Terminator director created his own production studio. Claremont pitched Cameron a bad-ass X-men film with Bob Hoskins as Wolverine and Angela Bassett as Storm. Cameron loved the pitch until Stan Lee brought up the idea of a Spiderman franchise. Then he forgot who the X-men were.
Oh, Hitchcock. How I love thee. Why couldn’t you have made an awesome James Bond film? Because you had to go off and make your perennial American classic, Psycho? That’s no excuse. Ian Fleming wrote you a personal letter asking you to make the first Bond film (Thunderball) but you said no just so you could make one of the greatest horror films of all time. Instead we got Dr. No and a slew of ridiculous, British spy films. Selfish.
It’s part of Hollywood lore. The infamously cursed set of Terry Gilliam’s The Man Who Killed Don Quixote (Gilliam has shown up twice on this list ... maybe he's the one who's cursed) There’s even a documentary made about how shitty, God, treated Terry Gilliam’s set. The aborted film, which starred Johnny Depp and Jean Rochefort, would have been the follow-up to his highly acclaimed 1998 adaptation of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (also starring Depp).
Everything was good to go…until the first week of filming. That’s when God sent fighter jets, flash floods and critical injuries to ruin the film (literally). Apparently “The Man Upstairs” doesn’t want anyone to successfully adapt Don Quixote to the big screen. It’s his favorite.
It’s heartbreaking to see anyone lose two years of their life’s work. But, that’s exactly what happened to director Guillermo del Toro back in 2010 when production delays of his two-part Hobbit series we’re delayed due to a shaky MGM almost falling into the unemployment line.
Guillermo’s originally planned investment of three years in New Zealand had turned to six. It was unacceptable to the Mexican director, and he quit the production after building all the sets, creatures and animatronics needed for both films. Talk about a shitty break-up.
Let me preface by stating that Mary Harron helmed American Psycho, and she did a fine enough job. With that said, this is David Cronenberg we’re talking about. He’s made two of the finest (and personal favorite) films of the past decade: A History of Violence and Eastern Promises.
His work in the '80s was a garish mix of body-horror that veiled his interests in the ever-evolving integration of media, technology and the human experience; American Psycho would have been a perfect project for the Canadian-born director.
Brett Easton Ellis recently stated that he had worked with Cronenberg during the initial stages of the film before Harron took over, with Brad Pitt in the starring role. Would the Cronenberg/Pitt pairing have been as good as the Harron/Christian Bale effort? Who knows, but my guess is that it would have been amazing.
This is one of those films that could have been good or horrible. Lynch is not known as the go-to guy for standard, big-budget Hollywood fare. He makes bizarre, cryptic films that are meant to be absorbed, studied and figured—not the kinds of films you break out during a night in with the family.
Still, he’s a talented filmmaker, and George Lucas recognized this when he approached Lynch to make the final film in his original trilogy, The Return of the Jedi. After being courted by Lucas at his illustrious Skywalker Ranch, Lynch got a “headache” and promptly turned down the job. So much for seeing Lynch’s backwards-talking midget plying his craft as a Jawa. *Make sure you watch this video as Lynch, hilariously, recounts his defiance toward the Lucas project.
Do I really need to explain to you why this would have been awesome? Dan Aykroyd’s Ghostbusters was and still is a great film, and Ernie Hudson did fine enough in the utility role of Winston. With that said, this is 1984 Eddie Murphy we’re talking about here, when he was at the height of his powers. Can you imagine how much more awesome that would have been? Bill Murray and Eddie Murphy riffing for two hours about ghost catching? My brain just died from excitement.