The Best Films Never Made

Hacked, scrapped and ditched, they bring a whole new meaning to development hell…

TONIGHT, HE COMES
The money-snatch casting of squeaky-clean Will Smith strangled Hancock’s original R-rated script. A desperately dark meditation on man and his woes – and with a title that is equal parts promise and threat – Tonight, He Comes’ sex obsessed superhero screws prostitutes, watches porn and kills cops. And, yep, he’s the hero. With its explosive ejaculatory climax and nebulous morals, queasy studio execs sent in the script butchers.

ALFRED HITCHCOCK’S KALEIDOSCOPE
Hitch’s ballsy anti-Psycho concept for this necrophiliac serial killer romp famously set Francois Truffaut’s teeth on edge. Unlike his earlier horror dabblings, Hitchcock envisioned Kaleidoscope as a hyper-violent, sex-stuffed shindig with a New York murderer as the sympathetic protagonist. Though certain elements were later used in 1972’s Frenzy, Hitch never saw his Neville Heath-inspired murder mash make it into cineplexes.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE
Stung by the critical savaging of My Foolish Heart, author J D Salinger guarded the rights to his most prized work like a tot with a limited edition Transformer toy. To date, Billy Wilder, Jack Nicholson, Leonardo DiCaprio and John Cuask have all approached – and then backed slowly away from – the project, lured by its literary legend and knuckle-cracking lead Holden Caufield.

JOSS WHEDON’S ALIEN: RESURRECTION
Wordsmith Whedon’s stab at rejuvenating Ripley came to a sticky end under the goo-obsessed gaze of director Jean-Pierre Jeunet. Nifty ideas (hybrid Ripley) shrivelled next to inane silliness (an exorable Alien Queen). Says Whedon himself: “It was mostly a matter of doing everything wrong. They said the lines wrong. And they cast it wrong. They did everything wrong that they could possibly do.”

THE DEVIL’S TRIANGLE
Fresh from his success with The Exorcist, William Friedkin set his sights on a creepy Bermuda Triangle project. Signing a frankly startling cast of heavyweights (Marlon Brando, Steve McQueen and Charlton Heston), Friedkin found himself embroiled in completing Sorcerer, by which point Steven Spielberg had made Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Deemed too similar to Spielberg’s alien epic Triangle was puffed out.

TERRY GILLIAM’S DON QUIXOTE
Hilariously chronicled in documentary Lost In La Mancha, Gilliam’s failed attempt to realise The Man Who Killed Don Quixote should be in every film lecturer’s lesson plans on how not to make a movie. Plagued by bad planning, errant stars and hideous weather, Gilliam’s struggle ain’t over yet – rumour has it he plans to buy back shot footage and complete the project. And how about Johnny Depp for Best Performance Never Seen?

BATMAN VS SUPERMAN
A formidable clash of the titans penned by Andrew ‘Ke7in’ Walker, this moody bust up between the dark knight and the man of steel fell foul of studio indecision and a proposed JJ Abrams Superman trilogy. Plot? Blaming Superman for the death of his wife, the Bat waives his retirement and sets out for revenge… and one hell of a super-smackdown. Aching for a Bale vs Routh revival.

FRANK DARABONT’S CITY OF GODS
No Irina Spalko (Blanchett). No Mutt (LaBeouf). And no ruddy gophers. The fourth Indy divided fans (and us), but Darabont’s leaked, unused script – stamped on by Lucas – has been widely pronounced a superior effort. With more emphasis on Indy and Marion’s rekindled romance, slicker action, and less artless age quips, City Of Gods retained monkeys and aliens, but also Indy’s heart.

SOMETHING’S GOT TO GIVE
The granddaddy of unfinished films, Marilyn Monroe’s remake of My Favourite Wife was the last of the blonde bombshell’s projects – she died during filming. Monroe made headlines not only for her firing and subsequent re-hiring (she missed 17 out of 30 days of shooting), but also for insisting that she appear naked in a pool scene, something that no other Hollywood actress had attempted before.

STANLEY KUBRICK’S NAPOLEON
If ever the word ‘obsession’ could coalesce into human form, it would look like Kubrick. “Napoleon’s life has been described as an epic poem of action,” the director effused back in ‘69. Lovingly crafting a 25,000 card index detailing the days of his favourite Frenchman, Kubrick’s vision of an epic biopic included the planned use of 50,000 Yugoslavian and Romanian soldiers as extras. It never happened.

Via Total Film

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