With the recent announcement of Quentin Tarantino’s next project – a true life story based on the Manson Family murders – he's edging ever closer to his retirement plan. He's stated many times that his tenth film will be his last, and the Manson project will take him up to number nine; by his count, anyway.
Tarantino is a director who likes to take his time deciding what film he’ll tackle next, but he also famously loves to talk about projects he might make. His name has circled around a lot of potentially exciting movies over the years, only for a handful to wind up being made. He keeps threatening to unleash Kill Bill: Volume 3 – fingers crossed that will be number ten – but fans have gotten used to the sting of disappointment when certain projects don't materialize.
In the past, his name has been attached to a Green Lantern, a Westworld remake, a Friday The 13th sequel, and even an adaptation of Half-Life, among many others. Gathered here are 15 Abandoned Quentin Tarantino Projects that sound amazing, and the reasons they didn’t happen. Some of these projects got further along in development than others, but they all sound cool for different reasons.
15 Luke Cage: Hero For Hire
It took a long time for a live action version of Luke Cage to arrive, and over the years, actors such as Idris Elba, Jamie Foxx, and Tyrese were considered for the bulletproof hero. Mike Colter finally took on the role for the Netflix series and has earned plenty of fans in the process.
While Tarantino prefers to create original characters rather than adapt pre-existing material, he’s considered a few comic book movies in the past. In addition to briefly mulling over a Green Lantern movie, legend has it that he wrote a Silver Surfer script in the early nineties. He’s also a vocal fan of the Luke Cage comic, and gave serious thought to helming an adaptation during the latter portion of that decade.
He thought Laurence Fishburne would be perfect for the role, and that it needed to stay close to the roots of the comic by being set in the 1970s. Tarantino eventually talked himself out of it, though, feeling he’d rather create a new comic book character than be boxed in by an existing creation.
14 Kill Bill Prequel Animes
In the first volume of Kill Bill, Tarantino choose to depict the backstory of Lucy Liu’s O-Ren Ishii through a stylish – and incredibly gory – anime sequence. It was an unexpected but inspired touch, and Tarantino flirted with the idea of producing two anime prequels to the Kill Bill saga.
The first would be an origin story for Bill, and how he transformed into a ruthless killer under his mentors Pai Mei and Hattori Hanzo. The second prequel would be an origin for The Bride, including how she met Bill and her time in Deadly Viper Assassination Squad. It doesn’t appear that development got very far on either movie, however, and it’s unknown if Uma Thurman or David Carradine would have reprised their roles.
It appears neither movie will happen now, and Tarantino goes back and forth on the notion of Volume 3, where Vernita Green’s grown daughter would come after The Bride seeking revenge for her mother's death.
13 The X-Files "Never Again" Episode
While Tarantino is known for his ravenous love of all things cinema, he’s dipped his toes into television a few times too. In 1995, he helmed an episode of E.R. called “Mother”, and also a two-parter for CSI dubbed “Grave Danger” back in 2005.
He was also a fan of The X-Files, so the producers wrote an episode for him to direct in season four. Dubbed "Never Again", the episode involves a man who gets a tattoo that starts speaking to him, driving him to murder. Oh, and the tattoo is voiced by Jodie Foster.
Tarantino was excited about helming the episode, but was ultimately prevented from doing so by the Directors Guild Of America, since he wasn’t a member. Rob Bowman took over directing duties instead, and the outing is noted by fans for showing a different side to Scully. While it turned out well, it’s hard not to imagine how QT would have approached it.
12 Modesty Blaise
Tarantino is a fan of the pulp comic character Modesty Blaise, who has appeared in numerous novels, comic strips, and movies since the 1960s. In fact, Vincent Vega is seen reading a Blaise book in Pulp Fiction. Miramax Films acquired the rights to the character when Tarantino expressed interest in helming an adaptation, and author Neil Gaiman wrote a script based on the novel I, Lucifer, the third book in the series.
Sadly, little is known about the development of the project, though it’s interesting to note that Miramax funded a straight to DVD Modesty Blaise film in 2004. It was shot in 18 days and bears the name “Quentin Tarantino Presents”, suggesting Tarantino was still mulling over a potential film, so the studio greenlit a cheapie action film based on the character to keep the rights a little longer.
It’s been a long time since Tarantino has mentioned the project, so it looks like he grew cold on it.
11 The Psychic
Director Lucio Fulci is best remembered for his nightmarish, blood soaked horror movies like Zombie Flesh Eaters and The Beyond; he didn’t come to be known as the “godfather of gore” for nothing. Tarantino is a big fan of Fulci's eerie, dreamlike style, and gave serious consideration to updating the director's 1977’s thriller The Psychic.
The story follows a woman who moves into a house with her new husband, but when she has visions of a young woman boarded up in the walls, she tears them down and finds a body inside. When her husband is arrested for the murder, she investigates herself to learn the truth. Fulci’s trademark gore is mostly absent from the film, and it’s more of a psychological chiller that leads to a bleak ending.
Tarantino spoke to his Jackie Brown co-star Bridget Fonda about taking the lead, but like many of his abandoned concepts, The Psychic fizzled out while he focused on other projects.
10 Django Unchained: Miniseries Version
Django Unchained seems to have had a slightly messy production, where numerous actors signed up and then dropped out during filming, like Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Kevin Costner, and Kurt Russell. It was also clear looking at the script that many scenes were deleted or never shot, with Tarantino himself confirming a lot of material got snipped out in the final edit.
This includes extended scenes of violence and major subplots, which comes to about ninety minutes worth of excised material. Shortly after the film’s release, Tarantino revealed he was considering taking the unused footage and re-editing Django into a four-part miniseries, with each episode being an hour long.
He claimed audiences wouldn’t accept a four-hour movie, but if it was in mini-series form, viewers would love it. It’s been around four years now, and the idea hasn’t been mentioned again, and since he appears focused on wrapping up his 10 film slate, it’s unlikely that he’ll dive back into the editing room to reshape Django.
9 The Berlin Game
Tarantino’s fondness for the Bond series is well known, but he’s also professed his love of author Len Deighton's Game, Set And Match trilogy of novels. The books – Berlin Game, Mexico Set, and London Match - follow Bernard Samson, an aging and jaded British agent who is tasked with travelling to Berlin to retrieve another agent. Betrayal, double crosses, and death follow, and Robert Forster's character is seen reading a copy of Berlin Game in Jackie Brown.
The series is grittier and more down to earth than the Bond franchise, and was previously adapted for an acclaimed miniseries starring Ian Holm in the late eighties. Tarantino has brought up the books in numerous interviews, stating he’d love to travel to England and do a faithful adaptation of the whole trilogy, and put his unique stamp on the spy genre.
He dangled names like Simon Pegg, Kate Winslet, and Anthony Hopkins as dream castings for the proposed franchise, but there hasn’t been a peep said about them since 2009.
8 John Brown Biopic
Another one of Tarantino’s dream projects is a biopic of John Brown, a slave abolitionist who was hanged for inciting a failed slave revolt in 1859. Brown believed slavery would only be abolished by violence and force, and many historians believe his actions eventually led to the Civil War.
Tarantino has expressed his admiration for Brown many times in the past, and has even spoken of wanting to play the role himself in a potential film version. Django Unchained and The Hateful Eight have shown that he’s not afraid of handling stories with racial themes set in less-than-enlightened times, and he suggested at one point that a Brown biopic could be his tenth and final movie.
He’s seemingly backed away from the notion now, because in an interview promoting The Hateful Eight, he stated biographies are too creatively limiting. He’s also dealt with similar themes and the notion of violence begetting more violence in his most recent films, too.
7 Less Than Zero
Less Than Zero was the first novel by author Bret Easton Ellis, who go on to pen American Psycho and The Rules Of Attraction. The story follows a group of rich, young drug addicts in L.A., and the story gets progressively darker as events unfold.
A film version of Less Than Zero was released in 1987 with Robert Downey, Jr. and James Spader in leading roles, though the movie was only a very loose adaptation, and Ellis himself wasn’t a big fan. The author revealed around the time he was promoting sequel novel Imperial Bedrooms in 2012 that Tarantino had been in touch with Fox about directing a remake of Less Than Zero.
Despite Ellis and Tarantino being admirers of each other’s work – with the director even appearing on Ellis’ podcast – nothing has been heard of him directing a new version since. Given the current trajectory of his career, it hard to see him circling back round to it.
6 Forty Lashes Less One
Tarantino is a huge admirer of Elmore Leonard, and he adapted the author’s book Rum Punch for his third – and arguably best – film, Jackie Brown. Leonard’s books have also served as the basis for movies like Out Of Sight, 3:10 To Yuma, Get Shorty, and the TV series Justified. He’s great, basically.
For years now, Tarantino has owned the right to Leonard’s book Forty Lashes Less One, a western which follows two men – a black soldier and an Apache half-breed – who are given a reprieve from their death sentences to hunt five down dangerous criminals. Like the best of Leonard’s work, it’s a gritty story with great characters and dialogue, and it sounds like an easy fit for Tarantino.
In fact, it feels like the director has tackled similar territory before – particularly with Django - which might be the reason he hasn’t committed to it. He’s also suggested he might turn it into a miniseries, but for now, the idea is seemingly on the back burner.
5 The Man From U.N.C.L.E
Guy Ritchie’s remake of The Man From U.N.C.L.E was a stylish if slightly hollow spy romp, and while it didn’t make a huge splash at the box office, it’s earned something of a reappraisal since its release. Tarantino actually circled a potential movie version twice, with the first time coming shortly after Pulp Fiction’s release.
Tarantino was the first of many directors who were attached to the project, but he opted to make Jackie Brown instead of pressing ahead. Steven Soderbergh and Matthew Vaughn also came onboard at different times, but the studio could never decide on the right tone for the movie.
The movie briefly came back to Tarantino shortly after he experienced his first box office failure with Grindhouse, and pretty much every studio in Hollywood threw scripts at him. While the director has a fondness for the original series, he decided whatever he tackled next had to be self-created.
4 Django Sequel Novel
Tarantino fans are probably aware that The Hateful Eight started life as Django In White Hell, a sequel novel where the bounty hunter would be trapped with various shady characters during a snowstorm. While the director didn’t feel like making a movie sequel, he thought Django's continuing adventures would be perfect for a series of paperbacks.
He started writing with this in mind, and while it was progressing well, he realized it had a big flaw; Django himself. The character was too much of a hero in a story that shouldn’t have one, so he replaced him with Major Warren instead. Eventually, he fell in love with the story so much he decided to make it his next film, and the rest is history.
That put the Django paperback novels on hold, and it’s likely to stay that way until he retires. Tarantino has spoken of becoming a novelist or critic once he hangs up the director’s cap, so he might revisit Django then.
3 Killer Crow
Inglourious Basterds and Django Unchained are both movies that act as revisionist history in Tarantino’s mind, where the oppressed rise up and take revenge on the oppressors. Around the time Django was released, he spoke of making the third installment of this unofficial trilogy, where a group of black soldiers would go AWOL during WWII and go on a killing spree of white officers and soldiers.
The working title was Killer Crow, and the concept was originally part of the Inglourious Basterds screenplay during a period when he considered making it a miniseries, but he removed that segment from the eventual film to tighten up the plot. This means he's already written a large chunk of Killer Crow already, and for a time, he spoke of polishing off the script and making a thematic trilogy.
Eventually, The Hateful Eight stole his attention away, and it looks like he’s lost the spark to pursue Killer Crow.
2 Double V Vega
When Pulp Fiction was released back in 1994, only the most observant fans realized John Travolta’s Vincent Vega and Michael Madsen’s Vic Vega - aka Mr. Blonde - were supposed to be brothers. It was a neat link between movies, and for years, Tarantino teased a potential movie where the two would team up.
Since both Vega brothers are dead by the end of their respective films, the director had the idea of a prequel where the two own a nightclub in Amsterdam and end up falling out over a woman. Sadly, the director never found time to sit down and write Double V Vega, and as the years wore on, Madsen and Travolta only got older.
Madsen later revealed Tarantino found a way to make it work; instead of being a prequel, it would be a sequel, where the twin brothers of Vincent and Vic team up to avenge their deaths. Again, he focused on making other movies instead, and finally decided the actors were too old for the movie to go forward.
1 Casino Royale
Probably the most heartbreaking failed project on the list is Casino Royale, which Tarantino wanted to make with Pierce Brosnan following Die Another Day. He envisioned an old school spy thriller set in the 1960s that would be faithful to the original novel, and the way he saw it the producers had nothing to lose by experimenting with their formula.
He suggested Uma Thurman could play Vesper Lynd, and even filming it in black and white. Brosnan was onboard with Tarantino’s vision and even pitched it to the producers, who weren’t interested. When they heard the positive fan response to a possible Casino Royale film, they decided that should be the next movie, but they needed a new Bond.
Brosnan was kicked out, Daniel Craig was hired as his replacement, and Martin Campbell came on as director. It was a smart move on their part; the film was a huge hit and remains one of the best-reviewed entries of the franchise. The move broke Tarantino’s heart, though, who felt snubbed and that they only warmed to the idea once he suggested it. As a result, he's claimed to have never watched Craig's initial 007 outing.
What other films did Tarantino almost make? Let us know in the comments.