Roger Rabbit 2: The Toon Platoon: The success of Who Framed Roger Rabbit led to a series of short animated films and, of course, talk of a sequel. Or rather, a prequel. The story was to take place several years before the original film, focusing on Roger’s early years, how he met his voluptuous wife Jessica and how he became a Toon star. The movie was to be a tribute to the Service comedies of the 1940s (Most of the popular comedians of the time made comedies where they joined the armed forced.) In the film, Roger would be a USO performer who foils a Nazi plot. Unfortunately, there was a problem regarding the rights to the characters. Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment, Disney Studios, and Roger Rabbit’s creator Gary K. Wolfe all fought over their piece of the profit pie and the franchise fell apart.
Strawberry Fields Forever: 25 years after the surreal animated film Yellow Submarine debuted, plans were made to film an animated follow-up to the Beatles’ cult favorite. The film was supposed to be done in the new medium of CGI animation. (Impressionists were going to voice the Beatles, but the songs would be done by Beatle recording.) The surviving Beatles didn’t approve of the screenplay and it never went past the script stage.
Superman Meets Batman: In 2002, Director Wolfgang Peterson wanted to resurrect the ailing franchises of the Man of Steel and the Caped Crusader (after Superman 4: the Quest for Peace and Batman & Robin both flopped) and planned to unite the two characters in one film. A script was written where Superman and Batman would join forces, but the idea was dropped in favor of the Justice League film, which itself was delayed for years but is now in the works again and scheduled for 2015.
Warhead: In the late 1970s, several years after Sean Connery had quit the popular James Bond Franchise, he was contacted by Kevin McClory, who had produced the James Bond film Thunderball. McClory, who had also left the franchise, didn’t like the turn the Bond series had taken and wanted to make a new Bond film starring the original and best Bond, Sean Connery. The film was to be a semi-sequel to Thunderball, but produced by a different production company. Orson Welles had agreed to play the villain. However, the financial power of United Artists (who produced the “proper” Bond series) managed to squash the project. Connery and McClory finally got to do another Bond film in 1983, when they made Never Say Never Again, which was basically a remake of Thunderball.
Wonder Woman: Warner Brothers owns DC comics. The three most popular comic heroes of the DC Comics universe are Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. Superman and Batman have both had successful film franchises made about them, so therefore it was natural that Wonder Woman was next. There had been a successful Wonder Woman TV series in the 1970s, starring Linda Carter. A script was written in the 1990s for a WW film and Lucy Lawless (Xena: Warrior Princess) was approached to play the lead role. However, Lawless refused the project because the script was too Xena-like for her and she feared type-casting. Other big names were tossed about for the role and the script was re-worked. After long delays, the studio ultimately got cold feet because superhero films featuring women had traditionally not gone over well (Supergirl, Catwoman, Electra.) They decided to make a new Wonder Woman TV series instead, since the character had already been successful on TV. It starred Adrianne Palicki as the eponymous heroine. The pilot was filmed but this version of the character was deemed too un-heroic. The pilot never sold and any future plans for Wonder Woman have faded into limbo, except for her expected appearance in the Justice League film.
Won’t Fade Out: In the 1980s, director Andrew Lederer decided to make a film that would be a homage to the aging stars of Hollywood’s golden years. The plot concerned a group of elderly actors who are reunited for a reunion tour and suddenly find fame late in life, which they have trouble dealing with. The legendary cast would have included Frank Sinatra, Burt Lancaster, Bette Davis, James Stewart, Ralph Bellamy, Roy Rogers, Ginger Rogers, Lillian Gish and some of the Little Rascals. Paramount executives were reportedly disappointed in the script because they expected a lite-hearted comedy, but the script was actually an emotionally powerful drama, so they passed on the film.
The truly sad thing about this list, is that it’s no where near comprehensive. There are so many films in Hollywood that never see the light of day. While we’d all like to assume there are good reasons they weren’t made, the truth is, we’ll never know if they could have been instant classics or not.