Hollywood is the land of ideas and stories big enough to change pop culture forever. It is also the place where larger-than-life dreams go to die. It takes a lot of perfect circumstances and moving parts to nurture a movie from concept to finish. Because of this, many phenomenal directors have experienced their greatest ambitions fail to ever see the light of day.
Plenty of these film ideas have been picked up by other directors or studios, but the original intent is long gone by then. It’s simply hard to forget about certain actor-director duos, ideas, and concept art once you’ve heard directors talking so passionately about them.
Guillermo del Toro’s The Haunted Mansion
Ryan Gosling made headlines in 2015 when he mentioned that he was in talks to star in Disney’s revamped The Haunted Mansion. Guillermo del Toro was set to direct it, and the two spent a lovely day at Disneyland together. The team seemed like an unbeatable combo.
Unfortunately, the film completely fell apart as the years went on, breaking fans’ hearts. After the Disneyland trip, no major news came out about it until 2019 when del Toro said he was not sure if the film would ever happen. Del Toro would have been an incredible choice to bring the magical darkness of the ride to life. His foray into dark fantasy has won him many accolades, including Best Picture at the Academy Awards for The Shape of Water. Gosling’s acting abilities would have also brought a more serious tone to an otherwise kooky premise.
Gore Verbinski’s Bioshock
Bioshock is one of the most beloved sci-fi horror games in the world, and it has always deserved an incredible director for an adaptation. Gore Verbinski is a master of directing movies with stunning, creepy visuals and has an eye for the eerie. He has directed films like The Ring and A Cure For Wellnessthe latter of which had the most Bioshock-esque style.
The film never came to fruition though, with Verbinski and Universal butting heads on tone, rating, and budget. Verbinski was clear on what he had set out to do with the adaptation and how to handle its mature themes and graphic imagery. There was hesitancy in the late 2000s regarding spending so much money on anything that was R-rated though. Verbinski refused to have his time wasted after already having talked to the game’s creator, Ken Levine. Despite gorgeous concept art and brilliant action ideas from Verbinski, it is almost certain that no one will ever see his ambitious vision of Rapture.
Neill Blomkamp’s Alien
Neill Blomkamp is no stranger to existential extraterrestrial films. He has become known for his disturbing creature creations and grotesque body horror. This would have made him the perfect fit for a new Alien movie.
Blomkamp was all set to direct an Alien movie until Fox decided to move forward with a Ridley Scott version that would continue the Prometheus story. A breath of fresh air might have saved the franchise though, because Alien: Covenant failed horribly at the box office and with critics, and put the franchise in limbo. Blomkamp’s vision was crushed by the studio and the situation even put him off working on properties based on other people’s IPs forever.
Tim Burton’s Superman Lives
No other scrapped superhero movie carries more infamy than Tim Burton’s Superman Lives. Burton and Kevin Smith’s Superman movie even reached a cult status that inspired a documentary called The Death of Superman Lives.
The production of the film was plagued with every sort of problem and the studio even wasted 30 million dollars on it before Warner Bros. got cold feet and finally laid it to rest. Test footage of Nicolas Cage in the Superman suit will live on in the heart of comic fans forever though.
Ridley Scott’s Blood Meridian
Blood Meridian is an intensely violent tale of the Wild West during manifest destiny in the United States. More of a horror story than a Western, Cormac McCarthy wrote of the bloody adventures of a group of men on a mission to tame the wild country. The subject and its lack of narrative momentum have made it especially difficult for filmmakers to bring it to life.
Many have wanted to adapt it, but no one would be able to do it justice better than Ridley Scott. The tale is often offensively vicious, but it stays true to the horrific realities of the brutal, old West. Scott is well known for his bloodthirsty themes, but he has talked extensively about how studios do not want to make his version of it. He has said that the film would be, “an NC-17 anti-western” film, which made sure it has never seen the light of day.
David Cronenberg’s Frankenstein
David Cronenberg is one of the masters of horror and created his own genre of it by vividly exploring the disturbing convergence between the human body, sci-fi, and the subconscious. Frankenstein’s monster is the ideal subject for what he does best, with themes of monstrosity and alienation.
In the 80s, fans almost got to see his take on Frankenstein. He had planned on using most of Mary Shelley’s intelligent and sensitive ideas while making the monster more emotionally complex than versions prior. The project fell apart due to unknown reasons though and Cronenberg left it behind.
Baz Luhrmann’s Alexander the Great
Baz Luhrmann has a style unlike anyone else in Hollywood. His films are filled with flashiness, flamboyance, and chaos due to his highly choreographed and colorful way of directing. There is no one else who combines pop culture and period pieces like him.
This is why his version of an Alexander the Great movie would have been perfect. It never came to see the light of day though thanks in part to Oliver Stone’s, Alexander, which came out around the same time. Stone’s version was already in development by the time that Luhrmann wanted to make his own, leading to the collapse of the project.
Steven Spielberg’s Robopocalyspe
Steven Spielberg has made some of the most iconic sci-fi movies in cinematic history. With films like Jurassic Park and War of The Worldsyou could call him a bit of an expert on the subject.
During the surge in sci-fi entertainment during the early 2010s, Spielberg became attached to a project called Robopocalyspe, an adaptation of the book of the same name. By 2012, Chris Hemsworth and Anne Hathaway were attached to the film, distributors had been put in place, and all looked well. The project fell apart in early 2013 though over Spielberg’s concerns about an underwhelming script and his boredom with blockbusters.
Nicolas Winding Refn’s Jekyll
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a classic Gothic novella that tells the tale of a well-respected scientist who meddles with the dark side of science. The duality of man and repression are strong themes within the story, and who better to portray these than a director known for his stylishly haunting antiheroes.
Refn would have been a perfect choice to bring Jekyll to the big screen, and he just about did that with the help of Keanu Reeves in 2009. Refn has said that he wanted the adaptation to be as realistic as possible and to take place in modern America. It would have been an interesting take on it, but Refn dropped out of the project to make Drive instead.
David Fincher’s 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea
Few scrapped movies have a bigger fan base than David Fincher’s version of 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea. And for good reason, no unrealized movie has come so close to production before it fell apart, with Disney’s enormous budget for the 3D version of it.
Jules Verne’s classic underwater adventure would have been a sight to see with a budget like Disney’s. And Fincher is well-known for his incredible cinematography, heavy moralistic themes, and wild imagination when adapting books. Imagining what a Fincher version of one of the grandest aquatic voyages would have looked like might reduce you to tears.
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