I’ve been running Moviehole for about 12 years now (God, am I that old!?), and during that time I’ve reported on so many movies, in particular a lot of sequels, that never came to fruition (at the same time, I’ve reported on so many sequels that I’m surprised came to fruition – for instance, “Showgirls 2″, “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull”, “Freddy vs. Jason”, “Tron Legacy” and “Terminator 3 : Rise of the Machines”) – for better or worse.
Typically, the sequel is canned for financial reasons – if the original didn’t make as much as projected or hoped, then the studio will drop the franchise. Sometimes, as in the case of “Vega Brothers” and Spielberg’s “E.T” sequel, it’s the creative forces behind the film that decide not to follow through with their venture – most basing their decision to dump on fears of tarnishing the original film.
So, let’s have a look at some of the sequels that, in my twelve years here at Moviehole, I’ve reported on at one stage as being good-to-go projects. The same projects are now as dead as Lance Guest’s movie career, Marco Antonio Garcia and Open-Air theaters.
1. E.T 2 : Nocturnal Fears
A few weeks after ”E.T : The Extra Terrestrial” opened, Steven Spielberg and Melissa Mathison reunited to pen a 9-page treatment that would serve as the blueprint for a sequel.Shortly after finishing the treatment, Spielberg decided he didn’t want to push forward with a sequel.
What would the story have been about? Well in it, an ‘evil’ race of E.T’s arrive on Earth. Soon enough, Elliot, Gertie and Michael find themselves captured. The hero from the first film eventually arrives to help his Earthly friends. Had the film happened – -Henry Thomas, Drew Barrymore, Dee Wallace and Peter Coyote’s characters would’ve returned.
2. Beetlejuice goes Hawaiian
Michael Keaton was to reprise his role as ‘The Ghost with the Most’ in a sequel that would’ve seen the Deets family moving to Florida, where Charles is building a resort. Unknown to Charles, the resort is going to be built on top of an old burial ground and pretty soon the spirits that lurk below surface to cause mayhem. Beetlejuice returns to help Charles scare off the ghostly rogues – and win a surfing competition.
For about a decade Warner Bros tried to make the film – which Tim Burton would produce – with Jonathan Gems the first scribe on a screenplay that would later be rewritten by Daniel Waters and Pamela Norris.
3. Total Recall 2
Well, in fact ”Total Recall 2” did get made – as ”Minority Report”.
In the original script, the hero was Douglas Quaid (Arnold Schwarzenegger), now a reformed police officer, who with the help of martian clairvoyants can stop murders – and capture potential murderers – before the crime has even taken place. Years later it was decided to gut the script and use it’s finer elements for a Tom Cruise vehicle. As you do.
4. Lethal Weapon 5
Shane Black, writer of the original ”Lethal Weapon”, was tapped by Warner Bros and producer Joel Silver to recently write and direct a new ”Lethal Weapon” film. Mel Gibson and Danny Glover would be back as Riggs and Martaugh, respectively, and Columbus Short (”The Losers”) had been in talks to play Martaugh’s grown-up son, Nick. In the film, Riggs would be on the verge of retirement but before he calls it a day, needs Martaugh’s help in solving one last case.
Mel Gibson ultimately turned down the project. It will likely never happen.
5. Batman Triumphant
This was to be the third Batman film for Joel Schumacher, following ”Batman Forever” and ”Batman & Robin”, but following the negative reviews of the latter, Warner Bros ultimately decided to scrap the project.
In Mark Protesevich’s script, Batman (returning star George Clooney) and Robin (returning star Chris O’Donnell) would do battle against the Scarecrow (Jeff Goldblum was attached to play the role) and Harley-Quinn, who would be after Batman for killing her father, The Joker. There was also a rumour that The Joker himself would appear as a Scarecrow-induced ‘hallucination’, though no word on whether Jack Nicholson would’ve come back to reprise the part.
6. Twins II : Triplets
Shortly after the release of ”Twins” in 1989, Universal approached director Ivan Reitman and stars Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito about doing a follow-up. Roseanne Barr, then at the height of her success thanks to her high-rating sitcom ”Roseanne”, had also been asked to take part (playing Schwarzenegger and DeVito’s sister, no less). Not quite sure who killed it – possibly Schwarzenegger, being that ”T2” was just around the corner – but the film didn’t even get to script stage.
7. Superman V : Superman Reborn
Like audiences, ”Superman” Producer Ilya Salkind and actor Christopher Reeve weren’t happy with the way ”Superman’s” 3 and 4 turned out. First order of business for ”Superman” 5 then? Hire a bonafide comic-book writer (Cary Bates) to come up with a storyline that would play as compelling as the the first two films. Or hope he’d come up with one as compelling, anyway. It was decided that Brainiac would be the villain of the film, and in it, he would shrink Metropolis. Aware that Clark Kent/Superman is still in the shrunken city, Brainiac, miniaturizing himself, heads into town to bring him down. And he does – in the third act, Superman would have died (though he would’ve been reborn shortly after as a mortal). A very ambitious project that sadly never came to fruition, mainly because Salkind lost the rights to the ”Superman” brand.
Joel Silver wanted to retain Arnold Schwarzenegger’s services and do a sequel to the 1985 action hit. Schwarzenegger, swiftly becoming a big star by that point, decided not to reprise arm-canoned John Matrix. Silver had much of ”Commando” rewritten and changed it’s title to ”Die Hard” – yes, that ”Die Hard”! (And yep, Schwarzenegger still knocked it back!)
9.Back to the Future 4
Yep, they were considering it at one time – if even briefly. Rumour has it that Ed Solomon had been commissioned to write treatments both ”Back to the Future” 4 and 5, the former of which would fix on Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) inadvertently causing the UFO crash in Roswell. Marty McFly (Michael J.Fox) would be replaced by a plucky female scientist (The frontrunner for the role was said to be ”Buffy”’s Sarah Michelle Gellar) who, in this particular two-part adventure, is charged with the task of helping ‘Doc’ set things right.
Despite handing in his treatments for the two flicks, Solomon was never contracted to write the sequels. Either Uni came to their senses (considering they’re apparently still interested in continuing the franchise, it’s unlikely)… or, as is likely more the case, the brains trust behind the films did (“Back to the Future” co-writer Bob Gale has said in the past that they’d never do another “Back to the Future” movie without Michael J.Fox, so he may have played roadblock. “The idea of making another Back to the Future movie without Michael J. Fox — you know, that’s like saying ‘I’m going to cook you a steak dinner and I’m going to hold the beef”, Gale said. “You can’t do that.” Too right!)
10. The Breakfast Club 2
John Hughes was somewhat interested in doing a sequel to 1985’s ”The Breakfast Club” – one that would be set ten years after the events of the original movie. In order to have the film play as realistically as possible, the filmmaker wanted to wait a decade after the first film’s release, so his actors can age. As the years ticked by though, Molly Ringwald had all but left acting behind (only recently returning to it) and Hughes and ”Breakfast Club” star Judd Nelson had had a huge bust-up, with Hughes refusing to ever work with the actor again. The idea just went away.
11. Ghost II : Second Sight
Shortly after the release of the 1990 smash hit ”Ghost”, starring Patrick Swayze as the kindly chain shaker, Paramount floated the idea of a sequel – presumably fixing on Whoopi Goldberg’s ‘medium’. Nothing ever come of it – thank goodness!
12. Flatliners 2
Screenwriter Eric Red (”The Hitcher”, ”Near Dark”), who had worked with director Joel Schumacher on an abandoned ”Lost Boys” prequel, was also charged the task of sequelizing Schumacher’s 1990 thriller. “In my story, a group of young international convicts, criminals, rapists and killers with much worse sins than the first kids, volunteer for an international space organization experiment”, explains Red. “Keifer Sutherland’s character has developed a cryogenic hypersleep capsule for long distance space travel where people are frozen and reactivated, i.e. killed and brought back to life, and they need human subjects to test the technology on. The new kids get put down much longer than the kids in the first film. And of course much worse horrors and sins come back with them. The third act is a fantastic voyage to the land of death where the convicts go on a rescue mission to bring back one of them from the other side, but some don’t make it.”
John Milius, the director of the Arnold Schwarzenegger-starring ”Conan the Barbarian” films, had tried for years to get another film in the series going. Schwarzenegger would reprise his role as the aged titular character. Robert Rodriguez and The Wachowski Brothers were also onboard the project at different times. After seven years in development hell, Warner Bros lost the film rights to Paradox. A reboot, starring Jason Momoa in the lead role, is now in production.
Aussie boy Nick Cave, who made the transition from music to film with his bravura ”The Proposition”, wrote a sequel – as did John Logan (”Charlie’s Angels”) at one stage – to the Russell Crowe hit.
The wild but welcomingly imaginative script saw Crowe’s ‘dead’ character Maximus battling Roman gods in the afterlife. Assumingly, a coward exec nixed the idea as soon as he heard ‘Crowe would be a Ghost’.
15. Wild Hogs 2
God was smiling down upon us the day Disney decided to can the ”Wild Hogs” sequel. Though a screenplay was in the works, and the original cast had all verbally expressed their interest in reprising their roles, the new head of Disney at the time simply decided it – and several other films – weren’t fit for consumption.
16. The Crimson Eagle
A second sequel (following “Jewel of the Nile”) was penned to the ’80s hit ”Romancing the Stone”… and boy would I have loved to have seen it come to fruition. Michael Douglas, Danny DeVito and Kathleen Turner were expected to reprise their roles.
In the script, Jack Colton (Douglas) and his partner take their two teenage kids to Thailand where they’re blackmailed into stealing a priceless statue.
The project was last heard of in 1997, when Douglas announced he’d be bailing ”U-571” in favour of the ”Stone” sequel.
17. St. Elmo’s 2 : Five Years Later
After the success of the first film, Joel Schumacher had ”St Elmo’s Fire” co-writer Carl Kurlander pen a sequel.
“It was definitely too soon, and, by then, it was not from the heart as much as an assignment”, says Kurlander. “And it was hard then to get all the actors together because they all were in different places with their careers.”
Was to be the sequel to ”The Sum of All Fears”, with Ben Affleck reprising his role as young CIA Analyst Jack Ryan.
Tom Clancy, creator of Jack Ryan, penned the novel with the imminent film in mind – thus, writing Ryan as a young man again. In it, Ryan had to stop an assassination plot from being carried out on Pope John Paul II. Paramount abandoned the project.
19. Bloodsport 2
This one has been on-and-off for years – and last time we checked, it was still off. Jean-Claude Van Damme was all set to reprise his role as real-life underground fighter Frank Dux in a sequel to his 1986 hit, right up until Dux himself nixed the project. Van Damme has been trying to get a similar-themed project (i.e one encompassing the same storyline) off the ground.
20.Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash
Written by my pal Jeff Katz, the treatment for ”Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash” saw the two iconic horror villains go head to head with ”Evil Dead” hero Ash, played by Bruce Campbell. It was farkin’ brilliant! Why didn’t it happen!? Sam Raimi. Raimi, being the brainchild behind the ”Evil Dead” films, and therefore the papa of Ash, didn’t go for the idea. The treatment was later adapted into a comic… Brilliant comic series, I should say.
21. The Vega Brothers
Not so much a sequel as it would’ve been a prequel…even a spin-off… Quentin Tarantino’s “Vega Brothers” would have teamed Vic Vega from “Reservoir Dogs” and Vincent Vega from “Pulp Fiction” played by Michael Madsen and John Travolta, respectively, in a story set before the events of their debut efforts. Considering Tarantino works slower than a one-legged nun in the sack, and the fact that both Madsen and Travolta have gotten too old to play the younger versions of characters they played over a decade ago, it’s safe to say this will never happen. Ever.
Again, not so much a sequel as it would’ve been a spin-off (though I’m sure cast members from the other films would’ve turned up, if even fleetingly), ”Mahoney” was a proposed spin-off of, not “Dick Tracy”, but the popular “Police Academy” movies. Steve Guttenberg was set to reprise the role of the womanizing beat cop and Warners seemed fairly gung-ho to put some time and attention into it… right up until realizing the appeal of the “Academy” flicks was waning by the film season.
23. The Proposal 2
After canceling the “Wild Hogs” sequel, new Disney chief Dick Ross then took moved the paper shredder closer to a treatment bearing the, er, finer points of a “Proposal” sequel. The first flick, despite being a surprise success, isn’t the kind of film the House of Mouse wants to make anymore. Ross is said to be only grenelighting $150 million-plus blockbusters with lots of CGI and merchandising, cheap ($30M) teen films, or films based on Marvel studios characters (for which Disney paid $4 billion last year).
24. Serenity 2
We can pray and hope it comes to fruition one day (it sure would be ‘Shiny’!), but for the moment, it’s not happening. It’s as dead as Wash. Writer/director Joss Whedon had hoped (he said so when I chatted to him a few years back for “Serenity”) to do a trilogy of films based on his short-lived series “Firefly” but, regrettably, the box-office could only sustain one. Suppose Buffy’s Pa was even lucky to get that. Rumours are always popping up regarding a potential sequel, but Whedon’s always quick to play truth smackdown on the whispers. “There’s no sequel, no secret project regarding Serenity or somesuch and I’m not even sure how anyone thought there was talk there”, Whedon posted on Whedonesque. “I’ve seen Nathan and Tim (and Summer and Alan) recently because they’re my friends because I’m so, yeah, awesome. So let’s put that to bed and smother it with a pillow.” Whedon has stated that if a sequel is made, he hopes to address the character Book’s backstory and deal with Jubal Early, a bounty hunter character in Firefly. I’ll keep praying….
25. The Naked Gun 4 : Rhythm of Evil
What’s Playing reported earlier this week that the planned third sequel to ’80s fave “The Naked Gun”, in development at Paramount Famous (the studio’s direct-to-DVD division), had been dropped from board’s to-do list. Big, big bummer. Script was awesome. Very funny. Apparently the brass thought the film too expensive to make, and those involved in the film weren’t prepared to make it if it meant doing it on the cheap. Leslie Nielsen was set to reprise his role as Lt. Frank Drebin for the flick who, this time, teams with a young rookie to clean up the city.
Part 2 Coming Soon…