For every successful movie in Hollywood, there are countless others that have never made it to production. And then there’s the middle ground of movies that are shot but never completed. Often budgeting issues have a huge impact on whether or not a film gets made, but there are plenty of other reasons that would-be films can’t make it off the ground – or into theaters.
Sometimes a script is just downright terrible, or the producers, directors, and actors can’t come to an agreement on the vision of the film. In certain instances, natural disasters and freak accidents have even been the cause of failure.
In many cases unfinished movies are unfinished for a reason – they wouldn’t have been good anyway and they just weren’t worth the work. Those are the ones that we’re glad we’ll never have to see. But what about all of the films that could have been so amazing, but we’ll never get to watch? We’ve got the scoop on both sides of the aisle – the good and the bad.
Here are 7 Amazing Unfinished Movies We’ll Never Get To See (And 8 Too Bad To Finish)
15. Bad – Revenge Of The Nerds
To the relief of many fanboys around the world, the Revenge of the Nerds remake was canceled almost as soon as it went into production. Meant to be a new take on the original cult classic, production company Fox Atomic was aiming for younger viewers and hoping to launch the new cast into stardom the same way the original did.
After just a couple weeks of filming, production was halted in 2006. Emory University in Atlanta was meant to be one filming location, but officials changed their minds after reading the script, which apparently was awful.
The remake was to star Adam Brody, Katie Cassidy. and Kristen Cavallari, among other young upcoming actors of the moment. 20th Century Fox has made it pretty clear that this remake will never see the light of day.
14. Amazing – The Shadow King
The Shadow King is one masterpiece we may never get to see. Helmed by Henry Selick, the director of the acclaimed stop-motion film Coraline, The Shadow King had all the makings to be a success.
The movie follows an orphan with unusually long fingers who figures out that he can make shadows come to life. These shadows then become his army in a shadow war. The boy must defeat a shadow monster before it destroys New York. As crazy as the premise sounds, anyone who saw Coraline knows that this would have been a visually stunning film and compelling story.
Unfortunately, after spending $50 million, for budget concerns and other unknown reasons Disney pulled out of the project. Though The Shadow King was originally set to come out in 2013, it has stayed in limbo ever since. Selick doesn’t want us to lose all hope yet, saying recently as 2016 that he’s still working on completing the film.
13. Bad – 10 Things I Hate About Life
In an attempt to bank off the success of 10 Things I Hate About You, a sequel 10 Things I Hate About Life was planned as a follow up to the teen favorite. Evan Rachel Wood was cast alongside Thomas McDonell. They always say the sequel is never better than the original, and almost everything that could go wrong did.
After just a few weeks of filming, the production company ran into financial issues. Many claim that Wood’s pregnancy was the reason for the delay in filming, but that’s where it gets even more interesting.
A lawsuit was eventually filed against Wood, citing she had been paid but didn’t show up to set or want to complete the film. Wood was having none of it, and fought back claiming the “financially troubled producers” were trying to place the blame on her for them running out of money.
12. Amazing – Night Skies
Though Night Skies never actually got off the ground, it was almost the film we got instead of Steven Spielberg’s eventual classic ET: the Extra-Terrestrial. Night Skies had a completed screenplay and almost $1 million spent already on designs and animatronics before Spielberg decided to scrap the project and instead use it as inspiration for E.T.
Night Skies was intended to be a sequel to Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Originally titled Watch the Skies, it was a film loosely based on a real family in Kentucky who claimed to have been visited by aliens in their rural home.
Ultimately Spielberg realized that the best part of the Night Skies script was not the violence of the encounter, but the relationship between the alien and young boy in the family. This realization prompted Spielberg to scrap the project and go in a more personal direction, which became E.T.
11. Bad – Nailed
Though it was ultimately recut and released as Accidental Love, David O. Russell’s original film Nailed remains one of the writer-director’s unfinished products. In fact, Russell was so disappointed with the new version – which was completed without him – that he only allowed his name to be attached to Accidental Love under the pseudonym “Stephen Greene.”
The movie stars Jessica Biel as a waitress who, because of a nail stuck in her head, becomes an unpredictable version of herself. It also stars Jake Gyllenhaal as a corrupt politician.
The original project Nailed started filming in 2008, but with many setbacks, Russell quit in 2010. Critics and audiences highly disliked the final cut of Accidental Love, making it clear the Russell’s hatred of this version was well-founded.
10. Amazing – The Man Who Killed Don Quixote
If you love Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, it may come as a disappointment to know that Terry Gilliam almost gave us a follow-up film starring Johnny Depp called The Man Who Killed Don Quixote. Although the movie has now been reshot with new actors and is coming out this year, we’ll never get to see Gilliam’s original undertaking.
Even after securing the money for the film, Gilliam ran into problems. The shooting location located near a military base caused issues with the audio recording. A flash flood destroyed production equipment and actually changed the color of surrounding cliffs, causing consistency issues in filming. To add insult to injury, many actors didn’t show up to set at all.
It was a failed attempt on all fronts, and after only a couple weeks of filming in 2000, the production was canceled. Hopefully the newly revamped 2018 version will make this 18 year wait worth while.
9. Bad – Divine Rapture
As many unfinished films show us, money is everything. Budgeting issues have been the downfall of many could-be incredible films, but sometimes quitting while you’re ahead is the best choice. Unfortunately in the case of Divine Rapture, they never got ahead.
Divine Rapture was meant to star Johnny Depp, Marlon Brando, and Debra Winger. Though the film had a strong cast and could have been a success, the destruction of the Irish town Ballycotton, where filming took place, has forever tainted this movie’s image.
Two weeks into filming, production company CineFin ran out of money. Not only did they stop the project, but the consequences for the Irish village were dire. The failed production almost bankrupt the small town, and a documentary Ballybrando actually recounts all of the films issues. A gravestone sits in Ballycotton, it reads, “‘Divine Rapture born 10th July 1995, died 23rd July 1995, RIP.”
8. Amazing – Midnight Rider
Sometimes you can have all the right ingredients for a good film, but disaster still strikes. Midnight Rider, meant to be a biopic about the popular musician Gregg Allman of the Allman Brothers, had a horrible turn of events on the very first day of filming.
The crew was set up on an active railroad bridge on location in Georgia when camera assistant Sarah Jones was hit and killed by a train. A handful of other crew members were also injured. Production was immediately halted and an investigation began.
Discovering that many safety issues were not addressed, lawsuits were filed and Jones’s family and friends started the Safety for Sarah movement, aiming to highlight the importance of following safety protocols on film sets.
7. Bad – Fight Harm
Harmony Korine is one filmmaker we may never fully understand. He wrote the movie Kids, which gives you a small glimpse into his unique mind and what he considers art. But his film Fight Harm is by far the craziest venture yet.
The premise of the film was that Korine himself went around Manhattan instigating people to the point of getting into a real fight. Interestingly enough, there were rules to this madness. The person Korine instigated had to throw the first punch, and also preferably had to be bigger than him.
To almost no one’s surprise, Korine was eventually arrested for the public fighting. It also turned out that Korine couldn’t physically handle all of the punches, and production was eventually canceled. We have to give it to Korine for his dedication to his craft, but this is one movie everyone agrees is better left unfinished.
6. Amazing – Something’s Got To Give
It may come as a shock that in the height of her fame Marilyn Monroe was actually fired from a film, but that’s exactly what happened with Something’s Got to Give. Apparently, even the biggest star in the world can only miss so many shooting days before angering the higher-ups.
Due to consistent illness, Monroe failed to show up to set several times. One day, when she called in sick yet again, it was the final straw. Amidst budget and timing issues with their film Cleopatra, Fox decided that firing Monroe was their best option if they wanted the film to be made at all.
Dean Martin, who was also to star in the film, refused to continue without Monroe. The film was eventually recast and came out about a year later under a new name, Move Over, Darling. A mere 37 minutes of footage remains from Something’s Got to Give. Monroe died only weeks after she was fired from the film.
5. Bad – The Day The Clown Cried
Possibly one of the most legendary unfinished films, The Day the Clown Cried follows an ex-clown, played by Jerry Lewis, who is imprisoned in a concentration camp. This unfinished film has been the topic of discussion for film buffs and critics for years. Many consider this film so bad, that it actually might be a masterpiece.
Aside from the usual production issues of budgeting and conflicting ideas, Lewis said himself that the film was terrible. He admitted, “You will never see it. No one will ever see it, because I am embarrassed at the poor work.”
Apparently, he may not have stayed true to his word. Before Lewis died, he donated a copy of the film to The Library of Congress, under the condition that they not allow the film to be viewed until 2024. So while we may have to wait, the full cut of this film could be released after all.
4. Amazing – The Waterman Movie
One of Leslie Neilsen’s last projects is a film we will likely never get to see. The Waterman Movie was an independent animated film based on the web series of the same name, Waterman. While it did well as a web series, the film version was never completed.
Maybe the biggest regret of this unfinished film is that it would have given audiences one last hoorah for Neilsen. He had already completely voiced his part before he passed away in 2010, but it wasn’t Neilsen that was the issue in finishing the project.
As the story often goes, financial difficulties killed the could-be Waterman adaptation. According to Waterman series creator Bryan Waterman, the film was only 40% complete at the time production halted. Assuming the film would have been just as hilarious as the web series, audiences seriously missed out on another Neilsen comedy gem.
3. Bad – The Works
Before Toy Story, we almost got a very different first ever 3D computer animated feature film called The Works from the Computer Graphics Lab with New York Institute of Technology. The film was worked on between 1979-1986, and had it been a success, would have predated Toy Story by almost 10 years.
Unfortunately, timing and a misunderstanding of the film industry played a big role in the failure of The Works. It had nowhere near the proper planning and technology that Pixar would later pull off. The Works team consisted mainly of programmers and computer engineers. They made the mistake of not including creative professionals, and it ultimately lead to the film’s downfall.
Around the same time, George Lucas created his new department Lucasfilm which was working on similar computer animation tactics. CGL ultimately realized that it couldn’t compete with Lucasfilm and other bigger studios who understood what it takes to make a successful movie. Only 10 minutes of The Works was ever created.
2. Amazing – Kaleidoscope
Alfred Hitchcock may be a film legend, but even legends have their failed projects. In fact, Hitchcock has a whopping 19 unproduced movies under his belt. Kaleidoscope is one film fans truly wish had been finished. Approximately 1 hour of raw footage exists, but the full production will never be realized.
The closest fans can get to a full movie of Kaleidoscope is Hitchcock’s film Frenzy (1972), which borrows heavily from his original ideas for Kaleidoscope. Investors were turned off from the graphic premise of the movie, and Universal ultimately rejected the film.
Hitchcock planned to use many innovative film techniques in Kaleidoscope, hand-held filming and natural light to name a few. The remaining footage can be seen in documentaries Dial H for Hitchcock: The Genius Behind the Showman and Reputations: Alfred Hitchcock.
1. Bad – Who Killed Bambi?
The British band The Sex Pistols came close to having their very own punk rock version of the Bealtes film Hard Day’s Night. But unlike their predecessor, which was a critical and commercial success, The Sex Pistols’ project Who Killed Bambi? was a complete failure before it even made it to the screen.
After only one day of shooting in England, Fox pulled the plug on the film. According to some, the timelines vary, but screenwriter Roger Ebert claims they filmed for no more than a day and a half. Fox decided that the script was not only bad, but too X-rated for the company to justify shooting any longer.
That’s right: Roger Ebert, renowned film critic, was the scriptwriter for Who Killed Bambi? He eventually posted the script, originally titled Anarchy in the UK, to his website.
Which of these movies would you most want to see? Share your thoughts in the comments!
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