Sometimes they don’t get it! We all know that the film industry is a business and they want to make money, but Hollywood doesn’t always realize that the best way to do that is to make a good film. Sometimes, Hollywood’s habit of taking a known property and stretching them out to absurd proportions proves that they just don’t get the point. Fortunately, there are times when someone recognizes a bad idea and puts on the brakes. Below is a list of 14 films where someone was smart enough to notice that they were making a pile of trash and threw in the towel.
Beetlejuice Goes Hawaiian
Due to the success of Beetlejuice, Tim Burton was asked to do a sequel. And Beetlejuice Goes Hawaiian was the best plot they could come up with…The sequel would follow the Deetz family again, as they move to Hawaii. After running afoul of some ancient, angry Tiki Gods, young Lydia (played in the original by Winona Ryder) must summon Beetlejuice (played in the first film by Michael Keaton) for help. He agrees, but only as part of a plan he hatches to keep Lydia for himself. There would have been a ludicrous end sequence, featuring dinosaurs, the Easter Island heads and a Kaiju-sized Beetlejuice–called Juicifer–which is all settled when Lydia uses some new psychic powers to summon a giant wave to wash all the plot threads away. Burton, Ryder and Keaton were, not surprisingly, uninterested in this.
Darren Aronofsky’s and Frank Miller’s Batman Movie…
Director Darren Aronofsky and comic book author Frank Miller conspired together to make a bizarre Batman movie, unlike any other version ever put to film (and probably on page, as well.) In Aronofsky’s and Miller’s reimagining, Bruce Wayne runs off after witnessing his parents getting gunned down, vanishing into the streets of Gotham. He is taken in by auto mechanic “Big Al” (Alfred), the owner of a local garage. Bruce grows up amid the crime-ridden and violent streets, helping Big Al struggle to make a buck in their small business. Bruce is constantly exposed to all manner of human vices. He grows to become a dark and very violent man.
He spends his off hours in the little room he has above the Al’s garage, exercising. Reaching a breaking point after Big Al gets beaten up and robbed, Bruce starts fighting crime as a vigilante. Starting with the dealers and pimps on the street level of Gotham, he works his way up the food chain of crime and corruption, all the way to the top. His efforts shake Gotham to its core. Bruce becomes a local legend and is dubbed “the Bat-Man” because the marks his punches leave on criminals is similar in shape to a bat, due to a ring Bruce wears which belonged to his father with a ‘W’ engraving on it. (For “Wayne”.) Inspired by this nickname, he comes up with the full Bat costume. He and Big Al create a wide array of gadgets in the garage. The garage’s basement becomes the ‘bat cave’. Bruce upgrades a black Lincoln Continental into his Batmobile. He finds an ally in the only honest uniformed cop in Gotham, Jim Gordon. Gordon is on the verge of suicide due to the hopelessness of life in Gotham but he is inspired by the Batman to keep fighting. Bruce also meets a prostitute called “the Cat”. All this was just too risqué for Warner/DC and they passed on the project.
The Cannon Films Spider-Man:
In the mid 1980’s, shlock filmmakers Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus were trying to change their image as low-budget hucksters and so purchased the struggling Cannon Films. As their first big project—inspired by the success of the Superman movies—the duo bought the rights to Spider-Man from Marvel after Roger Corman lost them. The Israeli cousins didn’t seem to have a clear vision or understanding of the character. As director, they intended to lure in Tobe Hooper. Their strange idea for Spider-Man revolved around a mad scientist named Dr. Zork, whose Cyclotron explodes and creates mutants across the city, including Spider-Man. (A similar premise was used by the Flash series when Dr. Wells’ particle accelerator exploded creating the Flash and the meta-humans.)
In the film, Peter Parker would begin as a low-level employee of Dr. Zork’s, struggling to make money for his poor Aunt, until he gets turned into Spider-Man. Learning of his boss’s plan to take over the world, he has to fight Zork’s army of mutants. The story would have Peter slowly transforming into a mutant-arachnid himself, ultimately ending up as an 8-legged tarantula man. After saving the day, mutant Peter would say goodbye to his beloved Gwen Stacey and leave NY to find a cure for his altered state. (His search for a cure would be the plot of the hoped for sequel.) Golan and Globus hoped to lasso in Tom Cruise to play Peter Parker. Stan Lee himself was supposed to play JJ Jameson.
The “Wooden Monastery” Alien sequel:
Not that all the Alien sequels were masterpieces, but this idea is the oddest of all. In a script co-authored by John Fasano and New Zealand director Vincent Ward, they created what would infamously become known as the Wooden Monastery in Space film. The bulk of the film would be set on an orbiting wooden satellite full of devout but sexually frustrated space monks. They try to resist having sex with Ripley while Face-Huggers sneak around the wooden space station, implanting themselves in the hapless monks.
An Oliver Stone/ Arnold Schwarzenegger Plant of the Apes Film
Even before that 2001 Tim Burton/Mark Wahlberg misfire, Oliver Stone had his own unique idea for a Planet of the Apes movie in 1993. In this version, Arnold Schwarzenegger was set to star as a scientist who goes back in time in order to find a cure for a particularly virulent disease, which he believes once existed, based on a code he deciphers in the Bible. Going too far into the past, he encounters a race of intelligent apes that once ruled the world and enslaved our Cro-Magnon ancestors. Rendered temporarily mute by the time-jump, he is mistaken for a Cro-Magnon. After a fierce struggle, he is caged by Gorillas, learning what it’s like to live like the animals he used to experiment on in his own time period. The film was derailed because some Fox executive insisted on including an unfathomable sequence where the Apes play baseball (?). Stone refused to add the scene and this caused a rift that led to the cancellation of the project.
Geoffrey Wright’s Silver Surfer
Producer Bernd Eichinger had been wanting to make a Silver Surver movie long before the second Fantastic Four film came out. Geoffrey Wright was going to direct it. In the opening minutes of the script, the Silver Surfer arrives at Earth, summons his master Galactus and immediately loses his power due to getting caught in a solar energy experiment. He loses his silvery sheen and becomes like a normal human. Wandering aimlessly on the doomed planet, he falls in love with a cellist named Kat, and decides he needs to protect her from his master. He seeks to get his power back so he can save Earth from Galactus. There is also a subplot about him being hunted by a shape-shifting, CGI alien bounty hunter (Inspired by Terminator 2.)
ET 2: Nocturnal Fears
A discussed sequel to the mega-hit ET: the Extra-Terrestrial, would have had some heavy-handed social commentary with Racist white aliens coming to hunt down the darker ET species, who we learn are called the Zrek. The white aliens come tracking ET but he’s gone, so they take ET’s human friend Elliot captive and TORTURE him for information. This time, its ET’s turn to save Elliot, so the little alien swoops in and uses his powers for a rescue mission.
Michael Jackson as Edgar Allan Poe
Possibly the most bizarre casting idea in film history was suggested in the late 1990s, for an unproduced film called The Nightmare of Edgar Allan Poe. It was to be a combination horror/bio-pic (something in the area of John Cusack’s The Raven, mixing horror with true facts of Poe’s life) and would have been penned by Smallville writer Philip Levins, and directed by Fear Dot Com’s William Malone. The amazingly bizarre part of this project was the unimaginably absurd choice for the lead actor intended to play the legendary horror writer. Believe it or not, Levins and Malone wanted singer Michael Jackson to play Poe! Yes, you read that right. Michael Jackson. Does anyone wonder why this didn’t get green-lit?
Star Trek: Planet of the Titans
Philip Kaufman was hoping to write and direct a Star Trek film in 1976, several years before Star Trek: the Motion Picture was released. While ST:TMP was not exactly Star Wars, Kaufman’s ideas were a bit too non-Treky. In the script for Star Trek: Planet of the Titans, Kirk and his reunited Enterprise crew must go 1,000 years back in time to find the legendary Titans, but once there, the crew discover that they, themselves, are the basis for the Titan myths. Kirk somehow gets trapped in the past and lives alone for decades as a sort of Robinson Crusoe in space. Spock and the others return to the 23rd Century and must deal with a ‘Samurai-like’ Klingon, played by legendary Japanese actor Toshiro Mifune (Rashamon, the Seven Samurai, Yojimbo, Throne of Blood). Kaufman described his interpretation of Star Trek this way…
“My idea was to make it less “cult-ish”, and more of an adult movie, dealing with sexuality and wonders rather than oddness”. He even had a scene with Spock and Mifune’s Klingon character “Tripping out in space”. It was all very ‘out-there’. Kaufman himself knew that he was going to push some buttons. He said, “I’m sure the fans would have been upset, but I felt it could really open up a new type of science fiction.” Both the studio and Trek creator Gene Roddenberry agreed that fans would be upset. Also, William Shatner didn’t like the script because it focused mostly on Spock as the main character, leaving Kirk stuck in the distant past.
Rambo: The Savage Hunt
Before a fifth Rambo film was green-lit, Stallone was tossing out ideas for his return to the franchise. One script that was green lit was called Rambo: The Savage Hunt. When details of the script emerged online, fans were appalled that the series was moving into such far-fetched territory. (And that’s saying a lot for the Rambo films.) In this script, John Rambo is recruited to help capture a genetically created Super-Soldier (think of a berserk Captain America) who is loose in the wilderness, killing everyone and everything he comes across. It’s decided that only Rambo can stop him. When Stallone heard the internet backlash to this plot, he abandoned the whole idea.
Ferris Buller 2: Another Day Off
Written in 2007 by Rick Rapier, the script was entitled Ferris Bueller 2: Another Day Off. It revisited Ferris, now in his 40s, as he decides he needs a day off from his job. The story follows the formula of the original film, as Ferris works his usual magic around the city, trying to avoid being spotted by his boss or exposed by a jealous co-worker.
New Line Cinema thought that Se7en needed a sequel, despite that fact that it was meant to be a stand-alone film based on the 7 deadly sins. Even though Brad Pitt and director David Fincher were not interested in being involved, Morgan Freeman was supposed to return in search of a new serial killer who would have some sort of ‘8’ theme. Even stranger, the script by Ted Griffin and Sean Bailey would see the Freeman character suddenly having psychic powers. When David Fincher was asked about doing this sequel he said, “I have less interest in that than having cigarettes put out in my eyes.”
Gladiator 2: The Christ Killer
When Ridley Scott was asked to come up with ideas for a possible sequel to the Oscar-winning Gladiator, he got a kooky idea from kooky rock star Nick Cave. The plot would involve ancient mythological Gods and lots of magical hokum. In the planned sequel, the Roman Gods would return Maximus (Russel Crowe) to life because they are so blown away by his skill as a warrior (Despite his having been killed). As Nick Cave further explains it, “The Gods make him immortal and he goes down to purgatory. He is sent down by the Gods, who are dying in Olympus because there’s this one God; there’s this Christ character down on Earth who is gaining popularity. And so the many Gods are dying so they send Gladiator back to kill Christ and his followers.” Maximus then jumps around time, fighting in all history’s major wars and ends the film as a general at the Pentagon. Although Crowe loved this batty idea, no one else did (except Cave) and the project vanished.
Jurassic Park 4: Dino-Soldiers
The original idea for a fourth film in the series was a ridiculous mess that combined Jurassic Park with Universal Soldier. The messy story involves the military utilizing the Dinosaur cells of the abandon theme park and implanting them in soldiers, turning the troops into Dino-Soldiers. Enough said.
So the next time you’re watching a trailer and rolling your eyes about a movie idea or sequel, just remember to count your lucky stars some of these never came to pass.