Making a movie is never easy, but sometimes it’s damn near impossible. When a script is bought by a studio, it may seem like a promising first step towards production and release, but, more likely than not, the script will end up on a shelf somewhere, never to be seen again.
Even if the film eventually gets into development, it is unlikely they it will ever move from development to production, then to post-production, and then finally, into a theater near you.
Scripts will often go through dozens of re-writes and then, right before they are greenlit, they go into cinematic limbo, suspended or indefinitely on hold. Some of the films on this list were just disasters in the making, and their cancellations merely sparing the studio the trouble of making them; but some are possible blockbusters that just never got fully realized.
These are ten movies that would have been great if they had ever been made but were, for some reason or another, shelved before production began.
1. Ghostbusters 3
Ever since the Ghostbusters 2 premiere in 1989, there had been talk of a third addition to the franchise. According to Ivan Reitman, he intended it to be a pass-the-torch type sequel, so he Harold Ramis, Dan Aykroyd, Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky had written a screenplay where Bill Murray’s character died within the first five minutes.
The film would have followed Oscar as the new leader of the Ghostbusters, and Peter Venkman would serve as an Obi-Wan Kenobi-esque ghost throughout the rest of the movie. Reitman claims that the script was very funny.
Sony had greenlit the film and production was about to start when Ramis passed away. Reitman admitted that he could not do the film without Ramis and it didn’t help that Murray’s heart was only half in it. The film was never made but the torch was, for better or for worse, passed to Paul Feig in 2016. The rest is history.
2. Akira Live Action Movie
Akira is one of the most popular Japanese manga series and the animated film that was based on the series was incredibly popular and still beloved by fans. The story is set in a dystopian future and features a teenage biker named Tetsuo Shima who finds he has psychic powers and he threatens to unleash the imprisoned psychic Akira.
Warner Bros. bought the rights to Akira way back in 2002 and they have been trying to produce a live-action film based on the series since then. Many actors have been attached to the project at some point or another including Leonardo DiCaprio, Justin Timberlake, Joaquin Phoenix, and Michael Fassbender- and, in true Hollywood fashion, none of them are Japanese.
Last that has been heard of the live action remake was in 2013 when Jaume Collet-Sera, director of some really awful Liam Neeson flicks such as Non-Stop and Unkown, came on board the project. Marco J. Ramirez, writer of the hit Netflix series Daredevil, was also attached the project recently but nothing has been set in stone.
Hopefully Akira fans know by now that their beloved series may never actually make it through Hollywood- and maybe it’s best if it doesn’t, because they would undoubtedly be heartbroken if Justin Timberlake appeared as the iconic Japanese hero.
3. The Sandman
Poor Neil Gaiman has always seemed to have trouble bridging the gap between his popular literary works and the silver screen However, a TV adaptation of American Gods is currently (and finally) in production and though Stardust was made into a film in 2007, it is severely underrated. The Sandman is a beautiful (not to mention award-winning) example of Gaiman’s literary prowess in the form of a comic book series which ran from 1989 until 1996 and is still beloved by many.
Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio (who wrote the screenplay for Pirates of the Caribbean) wrote a script for The Sandman which Neil Gaiman loved but producer John Peters did not. Gaiman is known for creating lofty mythologies for his stories and apparently John Peters just didn’t get it.
Roger Avery, who was a huge fan of the series, went on to write a new version of the screenplay but John Peters still didn’t like it. According to Avery, John Peters wanted The Sandman to be his Batman which led to one singular problem: The Sandman is definitely not Batman.
Gaiman declared that he would rather have no Sandman movie made than a bad one made. That being said, the movie was said to have a 2016 release date but that is definitely not going to be the case.
4. Superman Lives
When it comes to development hell, there are few stories more legendary than the tale of the Tim Burton-helmed Superman reboot starring Nicholas Cage.
Back before Nicholas Cage was Hollywood’s punchline, he was actually a respected actor who had a knack for playing strange or eccentric characters. In the 1990s, Warner Bros. wanted to make a Superman movie so they pulled out all the stops: they got Tim Burton on board to direct, Nicholas cage to star, and Kevin Smith even wrote one of the many scripts.
The movie was going to be called Superman Lives but the film itself eventually died. Years after they were taken, photographs of Nicholas Cage surfaced looking uncomfortable in his Superman costume. After seeing these photos, most thought that this movie had been destined to be a failure from its conception.
It turns out, however, that this costume test did not actually do the film justice. The actual footage of the costume test was eventually unearthed and his costume doesn’t look too far off from the costume worn by Henry Cavill in Man of Steel. Sure, this Tim Burton film would have been big, expensive, and totally weird- but it may have worked.
In all likelihood, however, the film would probably have been so weird, and received such mixed reviews that it wouldn’t be appreciated for decades after its release. When it comes to big blockbusters such as superhero movies, the weirder you get, the longer it takes to find an audience.
5. Galaxy Quest Sequel
Galaxy Quest is somehow one of the most widely loved yet still undeniably underrated comedy films in the past twenty years and, as it turns out, a sequel was in the works at some point.
The sequel, according to Sam Rockwell, was going to be produced for Amazon and the entire cast was ready to sign up for it- even the director of the original film, Dean Parisot, and co-writer Robert Gordon agreed to do the project. Unfortunately, the plans fell through when Alan Rickman passed away in January of 2016 and, really, how could anyone else fill the shoes of Alan Rickman?
Even if the crew had decided to make the film without him, Tim Allen’s schedule was too busy by that point to fit in filming for the sequel. It just wasn’t meant to be. However, this is probably for the best because if it followed in the footsteps of most Hollywood sequels, it would not have done the original any justice.