There are a few directors who are so renowned that moviegoers can’t get enough of their stuff. So, while many film projects come and go from their development slates, because their fans want to know when they can expect their next project, we get to hear about every project they’re involved with in the earliest stages of development.
James Cameron, Guillermo del Toro, Quentin Tarantino, Steven Spielberg, and J.J. Abrams are among these directors. Another one is Sir Ridley Scott, who has as many unrealized projects as he does realized ones. So, here are 10 unrealized Ridley Scott projects we want to see.
10 The Forever War
After the release of James Cameron’s Avatar, Ridley Scott got all excited about the kind of movies he could make with the new 3D shooting technologies pioneered by it. His first thought was to adapt the classic science fiction novel The Forever War by Joe Haldeman – a visceral account of a fictional intergalactic war told from the gritty frontlines – into a giant, big-budget 3D extravaganza.
Unfortunately, the movie fell through and all we ended up with was one piece of concept art that was developed for the film. Scott moved on from The Forever War and made Prometheus instead. Yay.
9 Crisis in the Hot Zone
In the literary world, you don’t often hear the words “nonfiction” and “thriller” describing the same book. That’s probably what drew Ridley Scott to Richard Preston’s book The Hot Zone, which tells the story of various viral outbreaks across the world.
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This could’ve been a true-life version of a movie like Contagion or Outbreak, with a focus on real-life threats like the Ebola virus and the Sudan virus. Jodie Foster and Robert Redford – a pair of stellar actors – were cast in the lead roles, but sadly, the studio got cold feet and ultimately dropped the project.
There’s a Robin Hood movie that Ridley Scott almost made that would’ve been an intense cinematic masterpiece. Of course, Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe did make a Robin Hood movie, but that was the result of this one getting watered down by nervous studio executives.
The original script was called Nottingham. It was written on spec by Ethan Reiff and Cyrus Voris, who painted the Sheriff of Nottingham as a hero and Robin Hood as a down-on-his-luck guy who ended up with the “pretty s***ty gig” of catching outlaws and collecting taxes. It was described as a “medieval Fight Club.”
7 I Am Legend
Back in the ‘90s, Ridley Scott developed a film adaptation of Richard Matheson’s sci-fi horror novel I Am Legend. He cast Arnold Schwarzenegger in the lead role of Dr. Robert Neville and recruited Mark Protosevich – writer of such famously unproduced movies as Batman Unchained and Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park IV – to write the script.
Still, the 2007 version directed by Francis Lawrence starring Will Smith turned out pretty good. The visual effects on the vampiric creatures weren’t the best, but Smith gave a fantastic, engaging, emotionally charged performance in the lead role. It’s hard to imagine Schwarzenegger matching that level of pathos and humanity. But Scott’s visuals would’ve been incredible.
6 The Train
In the ‘80s, Ridley Scott began working on a sci-fi thriller called Dead Reckoning, which would later be retitled The Train before eventually going unproduced.
The script was written on spec by Jim Uhls, the guy who would later adapt Fight Club for David Fincher, and in Uhls’ own words: “It was a sci-fi action thriller set in the future, in which an altered form of life gets loose on a high-speed runaway underground train. The creature was a humanoid with a genetically-altered brain that was intended to be used as the ‘hard drive’ in an artificial intelligence project.” The great H.R. Giger did some design work before the project was dropped.
5 Gladiator 2
When Gladiator became a huge hit back in 2000, Ridley Scott considered a sequel – despite Maximus’ death at the end of the original. Nick Cave apparently wrote some wild stuff for the sequel that there was no way a studio would finance. He had a story where Maximus battles his way through demons in the afterlife and another where he’s transported through history, fighting in World War II and the Vietnam War and eventually serving as a general in the Pentagon in the present day.
The studio shut the sequel down as soon as they got a whiff of Cave’s insane script. However, in 2018, it was reported that Scott was developing a sequel and trying to convince Russell Crowe to reprise his role.
4 Blood Meridian
Cormac McCarthy’s novels have been adapted for the screen into some of the greatest movies of the 21st century, like No Country for Old Men and The Road. Before it was cool to adapt McCarthy’s work, back in 2004, Ridley Scott was working on an adaptation of Blood Meridian.
The novel is a breathtaking, bleak, ultraviolent western story and there have been a few failed attempts to adapt it for the screen. Oscar winner William Monahan was on to write the script, while Tommy Lee Jones was attached to star before it fell through. Scott would later direct the movie The Counselor from McCarthy’s first-ever original screenplay, but unfortunately, that movie sucked.
Long before Denis Villeneuve came along and directed Blade Runner 2049, a belated sequel that lived up to the original, Ridley Scott and his brother Tony Scott were developing a web series set in the Blade Runner universe. Each episode would be 5-10 minutes long and have the same gorgeous, influential, unique sci-fi neo-noir visual style of Blade Runner.
However, the web series was canceled after the Scott brothers struggled to get the funding. Realizing a beautiful, futuristic, slick, industrialized metropolis isn’t cheap, and after the financial failure of Blade Runner 2049, the Purefold project is probably dead forever.
Ridley Scott was one of many directors, along with Arthur P. Jacobs and Alejandro Jodorowsky, who pitched their vision for a film version of Frank Herbert’s seminal sci-fi novel Dune before David Lynch took over and produced an astoundingly bad and universally hated adaptation.
Denis Villeneuve, having come through on the Blade Runner sequel Scott never got made, is currently working on a new version of Dune starring Timothée Chalamet and Oscar Isaac. So, who knows how many other entries on this list he’ll be picking off in the years to come? Either way, Ridley Scott’s Dune would’ve likely been a sight to behold.
1 Alien 5
In 2002, it was reported that Ridley Scott was working on the fifth movie in the Alien franchise. This was long before the Alien vs. Predator movies and Prometheus, back when the franchise could be salvaged.
The movie would reportedly have told the story of the Aliens’ origins, which might sound an awful lot like Prometheus, the loosely connected prequel that ended up being a bitter disappointment that asked more questions than it answered. But James Cameron was signed on to write and produce this version of the origin story, so it could’ve been as great as Alien and Aliens combined.