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Top 10 Movies That Were Never Made

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Written by Niki Neptune We’ll never get to know whether or not we would’ve loved them or hated them. Join WatchMojo.com as we count down our picks for the top 10 movies that were never made. For this list, we’re taking a look at films, or rather, proposed films that never made it all the way to theaters. These are movies that were either pitched to studios or even entered production before the plug was pulled entirely. Considering the types of projects and the individuals involved, there stands a chance that these movies could’ve either been iconic or major flops. You be the judge. Special thanks to our users Andrew A. Dennison, Legionleader, Matt2199, Brian Rose and Andrew A. Dennison for submitting this idea through our Suggestions Tool at WatchMojo.comSuggest
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Written by Niki Neptune

Top 10 Movies That Were Never Made


We’ll never get to know whether or not we would’ve loved them or hated them. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 movies that were never made.

For this list, we’re taking a look at films, or rather, proposed films that never made it all the way to theaters. These are movies that were either pitched to studios or even entered production before the plug was pulled entirely. Considering the types of projects and the individuals involved, there stands a chance that these movies could’ve either been iconic or major flops. You be the judge.

#10: Tim Burton’s “Superman Lives”

It was 1996 when Kevin Smith, of “Clerks” fame, pitched a script for a Superman movie. And while his original idea was bastardized into some bizarre “Star Wars”/“Wild Wild West” hybrid wherein the Man of Steel would fight a giant spider, the project moved forward. Tim Burton was signed as director, with Nicolas Cage as the Big Blue Boy Scout. And we gotta admit: with their dark and wacky ways, a Burton/Cage joint may’ve been a good fit. But yada yada yada, $30-million later, the project just faded into obscurity.

#9: Quentin Tarantino’s “The Vega Brothers”

Tarantino’s no stranger to interconnected universes or production problems, with his western follow-up to “Django Unchained” “The Hateful Eight” going through ups and downs on its way to fruition. However, he’d also planned – but failed – to tie together two of his most famous films: “Double V Vega” would’ve focused on the Vega brothers: Vic, played by Michael Madsen in “Reservoir Dogs,” and Vincent, played by John Travolta in “Pulp Fiction.” But, considering their respective character arcs and the current ages of the actors, this one’s likely shelved permanently.

#8: Jerry Lewis’ “The Day the Clown Cried”

Though completed, this film never made it to theaters – and by all accounts, that’s a good thing. Lewis reluctantly plays a German clown in a concentration camp during World War II. We say “reluctantly” because he worried his humor wouldn’t work with the dark subject matter. He was right. Those who’ve seen the film say it’s a disaster from start-to-finish, with misplaced jokes hitting all the wrong notes. Legal stickiness and Lewis’ embarrassment about the film were the final nails in its coffin, and it’s never been released.

#7: Paul Verhoeven’s “Crusade”

It would’ve been a gritty, action-packed look at the Crusades, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and with “Total Recall” director, Paul Verhoeven, at the helm. It’s said that sets were already being built on location in Spain when Verhoeven suffered a breakdown at a budget meeting for the film, effectively nixing any prospects of the project moving forward. And, with a budget of $100-million back in 1994, who can blame him? Another theory suggests Carolco Pictures pulled funding to pay for another of their blockbusters instead: the mega-flop “Cutthroat Island.”

#6: Robert Bresson’s “Genesis”

Referred to as the “patron saint of cinema,” renowned French director Robert Bresson set his sights on creating an extravagant, expansive epic film version of the Bible’s Book of Genesis. And he was the perfect man for the job, as he was known for his impact on the art of filmmaking and his penchant for Catholic subject matter. But, after securing financing once, and then a second time, Bresson scrapped the project for good – partly because he was unable to make the animals onset do his bidding.

#5: Alfred Hitchcock’s “Frenzy” [aka “Kaleidoscope”]

Though Hitchcock did make a film called “Frenzy,” it was not this movie. One of many Hitchcock films that didn’t make it to the big screen, this one was a little too risqué for the studio. Told through the eyes of a body builder who just so happens to be a serial killer, the story would’ve revolved around his sexual escapades, murder spree and eventual downfall. Hitchcock even got some silent test footage down before the studio pulled the plug altogether due to its explicit material.

#4: Alejandro Jodorowsky’s “Dune”

Ten-years before David Lynch’s 1984 version of Frank Herbert’s novel was complete, there was a more…psychedelic vision of the story in the works. Chilean director Alejandro Jodorowsky had lofty aspirations for the material, and wanted the film to be reminiscent of a hallucination. And, with Mick Jagger and Salvador Dali on the roster, and Peter Gabriel and/or Pink Floyd handling the music, he was on the right track. However, after over one-fifth of the budget was expended during pre-production of what would’ve been a 14-hour film, production stalled permanently.

#3: Peter Jackson’s “Halo”

Fans of this popular videogame series have been waiting since 2005 for the film adaptation of their beloved franchise finally make it to screen. And, c’mon, it’s meant to happen: the battle between aliens versus humans will never get old. Unfortunately, the project was hampered by an escalating budget and Microsoft’s iron grip on the creative output, as well as the company’s upfront financial demands. With Peter Jackson signed on to produce, “Halo” could’ve potentially been a blockbuster. Instead, it fell victim to the politics of the industry.

#2: Orson Welles’ “Heart of Darkness”

While his retelling of “Don Quixote” also remains unfinished, it’s Welles’ take on Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness” that intrigues us. Before he revolutionized the film industry with his legendary film “Citizen Kane,” Welles had another film in the chamber; unfortunately, he never got it off the ground. After tests were shot and the film was planned, “Heart of Darkness” was canceled by studio executives due to an over-inflated budget. Of course, audiences did get to see Conrad’s novel modernized in “Apocalypse Now,” but we wonder what could’ve been.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- Francis Ford Coppola’s “Megalopolis”
- David Fincher’s “Rendezvous with Rama”
- Terry Gilliam’s “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote”
- Various Directors’ “A Confederacy of Dunces”

#1: Stanley Kubrick’s “Napoleon”

Fresh off his triumph “2001: A Space Odyssey,” director Stanley Kubrick set his sights on developing a sweeping story about the notorious French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte. He surveyed locations, wrote a script-draft, cultivated extensive background info, settled on actors, and got all his ducks in a row before hitting a wall in production. The film was ultimately shelved for a number of reasons, including financial limitations and the poor response to another Napoleon-based movie. It’s too bad too, because Kubrick claimed this would’ve been “the best movie ever made.”


Do you agree with our list? What do you think is the greatest film that was never made? For more entertaining Top 10s published every day, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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