Wednesday, September 23, 2009

What might have been...

Have you ever sat down and wondered about what might have been?

You've probably done it once or twice in your life; thought about a girl you should have asked out or how life would have turned out had you met a different friend in kindergarten, etc, etc.

Myself, I'm a big fan of reading about movies that for one reason or another, didn't come together. There's a book on the subject but I've unfortunately forgotten the title.
What movies you ask? Where is he going with this? (keep on till the end, I promise there's a good laugh in it)

There are four films (or not films I guess) that I love the stories of.

The first is Alejandro Jodorowky's take on Dune.
Had this movie been made it was would have been achievement. Who knows if it would have been watchable (some reports estimate by the size of the script it would have been 14 hours long) but think of it in these terms. It would have been a sci-fi film directed by the same man who directed El Topo, starring David Caradine, Mick Jagger, Orson Wells and Salvador Dali (yes that Dali) with art direction by comic book artist Moebius and H.R. Giger and music by Pink Floyd. And not just any Pink Floyd, Pink Floyd just off of Darkside of the Moon.

I swear I am not making any of this up.

Even if this version of Dune had been a failure, what a failure. But unfortunately someone looked at the budget and the script and the funding dried up.

The little anecdote to this is that you probably thought you had heard about a movie that ahd both Moebius and H.R. Giger work on it. You are correct. You see the head of special effects on Dune was a guy named Dan O'Bannon. Dan's next film project was actually a script he was working on before he left.

That script was called Alien.
Funny how that worked out and even more interesting is to consider maybes in that scenario. Dan met Moebius and Giger while working on Dune. Dan then passed on both of them to director Ridley Scott when he began Alien. Had Dune worked out, would we have gotten Alien? Or for that matter would Pink Floyd gone on to do Wish You Were Here or would the soundtrack that they would have done right before it influenced them in a completely different way?

Next up on the maybe list is Jaws 3....
People 0.

Having just done Jaws 2, the producers thought maybe it was time to pull out the funny. So involving National Lampoon alumni John Hughes to write a script that would spoof the franchise. Studio heads however prevailed and we got Jaws 3d and then Jaws 4 which bought Micheal Caine a very nice house. but in an era of Scary Movie and going back to the classics of Airplane, would this have been a bad idea? And the title alone Jaws 3 People 0 is just great. Backing that up with John Hughes's writing, it may have been something cool.
Gladiator 2 is another one of those surprising sequel projects that weirdly enough got to scripting stages. When you see Gladiator, it's not a movie that screams sequel, especially when the main character from the first film is dead. But the studio wanted it but luckily director Ridley Scott and star Russell Crowe had a bit of clout and went "Alright, but we get to set the direction of the film."

Enter Nick Cave.

I guess Crowe had seen The Proposition (which Cave ahd written...go rent this movie NOW!) and requested Cave write a script for Gladiator 2.
And what a script it is! Cave stealthily gets around the whole Maximus being dead thing by him dead. We follow Maximus through the after-life, a little bit of reincarnation, World War 2, as ridiculous as it sounds, it works (google "Gladiator 2 script", it'll pop up quick enough).

So what happened?

Well studio heads happened. In fact here's what Cave told me a few weeks ago:

"Ridley Scott told me, the script is great. No one will ever make this."

Straight from the horse's mouth.

The final film on the list is Superman Lives. Not to be confused with Superman Returns but the film that was in the works long before Bryan Singer made Superman more boring then I figured possible.
Superman Lives is one of those projects where everyone has a story about it. The most famous of these is Kevin Smith's.

Kevin is the fanboy made good. A fellow who loves film and comics and has done both. After Mallrats was in the can, Warner Brothers gave Smith a crack at Superman. Here, let's have Kevin tell his version (warning, this is about 20 mins long and not work friendly but funny as hell. Those of you who want to skip the video, I'll have a brief summary below):

Funny eh? To sum it up for those who didn't want to watch the whole thing, Smith wrote a treatment and then later, a script, the producer of the film Jon Peters is a little whacky and Tim Burton comes in with his own people, no Smith Superman movie.

The next part of that is the fact that Tim Burton's version never got filmed.

Why? Given the time period, Burton makes a decent choice for the re ignition of the Superman franchise. Batman and Batman Returns made Warner's a lot of money. So sure some of Tim's script choices might be odd. Okay his casting ideas were a little out there but hey, everyone laughed at his choice of Micheal Keaton as Batman and everyone turned out wrong in those regards.

So why did this fall apart?

Well the largest rumor of how the film started to fall apart was people (now sometimes this changes between average people and studio execs, I tend to believe it would be the latter) were given an image of Nicholas Cage in the tights (a costume fitting) and this picture was surrounded by laughter.

People could not take Nic Cage seriously as Superman.
Then Burton started arguing with Peters about the film and it just fell apart. Burton regards the whole thing as follows:
"I basically wasted a year. A year is a long time to be working with somebody that you don't really want to be working with."

What are we left with?

$30 million dollars (on a combination of scripts, set pieces, actors, crew and Burton's 5 million pay or play deal) was spent and the WB has only the following to show for it:

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