The journey of a film or series from the conception of an idea to its premiere in theaters or on a streaming platform can be quite long and full of all kinds of obstacles. And for every production that hits the public, there are hundreds that don’t even make it past the early stages of development and just sit there: ideas that didn’t work. The reasons for the failure of these ideas can vary. There are projects that, however brilliant, are conceived in an unfortunate context, so they usually turn into scripts that are hidden in drawers until another filmmaking team picks them up a few years later. Often it’s just a question of money: the filmmakers cannot raise the funds necessary to produce the film, or their approach proves too expensive. Other reasons include an idea alone that isn’t worth pursuing, or the production company has set its sights on another much more enticing project.
However, these are not the only reasons why large productions have not been made. There are as many reasons as there are movies that never came out. In many cases, a film may even be fully shot and ready to air, but the project is scrapped at the last minute, just like Scoob! Holiday Haunt, which leaves audiences wondering how the production would have turned out. Here’s a look at nine of the best movies that were never made.
A biopic about the life and career of Napoleon Bonaparte was to become director Stanley Kubrick’s most ambitious project. After the release of 2001: A Space Odyssey, Kubrick began researching the French emperor for an upcoming film, Napoleon, reading every book he could get his hands on, and even traveling multiple times with his partners to France and in England. However, this exhaustive investigation never paid off, because after the box office flop of Waterloo in 1970, no studio wanted to invest in a historical epic and the project was abandoned. In recent years, that project has been revisited by Cary Fukunaga and HBO, who have announced plans to turn Kubrick’s concept into a miniseries.
8/9 To the mountains of madness
Fox projector images
Since 2006, director Guillermo del Toro has been working on an ambitious project: to adapt HP Lovecraft’s sci-fi horror novel Mountains of Madness into a film. In fact, Universal had already budgeted for him to begin work on the project and producers such as James Cameron and Tom Cruise were brought on board. However, due to some creative differences, issues regarding negotiations, and the film being R-rated, the project was eventually scrapped.
7/9 Kill Bill vol. 3
The Kill Bill film series is one of director Quentin Tarantino’s most iconic productions. The two films were shot at the same time and released within a few months of each other, in 2003 and 2004. Since then, and over the years, he has repeatedly hinted at the possibility of working on a third film, Kill Bill Vol. 3 also with Uma Thurman, for which he had some ideas in mind. However, he’s changed his mind a lot over the years, and as of 2019, Tarantino has turned down the chance to work on the film.
6/9 Giraffe salad on horse
Salad of Giraffes on Horseback is a screenplay written by Salvador Dalí in 1937. The Spanish artist had the idea of making a comedy film with the Marx brothers. The film would represent a love story between an aristocrat and a surreal woman whose face would remain hidden from the public. This idea was scrapped because Metro Goldwyn Meyer, the company the Marx Brothers were a part of at the time, deemed it too surreal to make. Despite this, Harpo Marx was fascinated by the idea and tried to pursue it for many years, but without success.
5/9 Heart of Darkness
RKO radio images
Heart of Darkness is a novel by Joseph Conrad published in 1899 and inspired by his own experience in the Congo. Early in his career, director Orson Welles intended to work on a film adaptation of it, and in fact, it was the first screenplay he wrote. However, due to the sheer ambition of the project Welles envisioned, he was unable to secure the necessary funding, so he had to scrap the idea and stick to his Plan B: Citizen Kane.
4/9 Night fears
No one can doubt the success of ET the Extra-Terrestrial, the classic 1982 film directed by Steven Spielberg. This production became one of the most popular films in theaters and almost got a sequel called Night Frights. For this sequel, Spielberg teamed up once again with screenwriter Melissa Mathison to work on a screenplay featuring Elliot’s latest adventure, but this time a much darker one: the boy and his siblings would be abducted and tortured by carnivorous aliens. and ET wanted to save the day. However, due to the dark nature of this new project, Spielberg decided it wasn’t a good idea after all, so he dropped out of the project (via Reuters).
3/9 The train
20th Century Fox
In the late 1980s, director Ridley Scott teamed with artist HR Giger, with whom he had worked on Alien, to develop a film called The Train, scripted by Jim Uhls for Carolco Pictures. This production is said to be a sci-fi horror film featuring a genetically modified creature running amok on a crowded subway train. However, Scott ultimately walked away from the project to direct Thelma & Louise, and although The Train passed through many hands after that, Carolco eventually filed for bankruptcy and the film was shelved forever.
2/9 The Little Mermaid
Sony Pictures release
In 2014, Sofia Coppola began working in collaboration with Universal Pictures on a live-action version of The Little Mermaid, a film that would not be suitable for families: her idea was to produce a much darker version, closer to the fairy tale. Hans Christian Anderson. . However, due to creative differences and budgetary issues, Coppola ended up walking away from the project. The concept kept floating for a few more years and there were rumors that Chloë Grace Moretz would star in the film, but it ultimately never materialized.
1/9 Superman lives
After Batman and Batman Returns, Warner Bros. hired Tim Burton to direct Superman Lives, expecting his version to be dark and twisted. The original screenplay was written by Kevin Smith, and the actor tasked with playing Superman would be Nicolas Cage (via Collider). This production got off to a very slow start, but due to recurring creative differences between the filmmakers and the high budget required for the film, it was eventually scrapped, despite a $30 million budget being wasted.