With all the brouhaha on Spielberg right now, we just want to say this : hasn’t the man blessed us with enough fabulous entertainment over the years that – agree or disagree – he’s welcome to his opinion?
And we’ll move on from that and focus on the gifts Steven has plonked under our tree over the years.
One of the smartest and appreciative filmmakers of our times, Spielberg never does (or says..) something just for the sake of it. He’s you, me and the pimply kid in the front row – a film geek. Last thing he wants to do is to push a crumby film onto the world just for the sake of making some extra coin. Looking back through the films Spielberg has rejected over the years, you’ll find that most of them are sequels. Sure, he’s given us “Jurassic Park” and “Back to the Future” trilogies, he’s also about to chalk up his fifth “Indiana Jones” film, but by-and-large, Spielberg’s not going to do a sequel unless an audience calls for it.
Here’s a few sequels Spielberg has knocked back over the years:
E.T II : Nocturnal Fears
After the success of the 1982 film, Spielberg – knowing someone else probably would if he didn’t – began tinkering with ideas for a sequel. Quickly, Spielberg and “E.T” scribe Melissa Mathison put together a treatment for a follow-up in that flips the premise of the original on it’s head. Instead of Elliott and his family encountering a friendly alien, they meet an evil alien race – who have been at war with E.T’s family for years – who take them hostage, interrogate and torture them. Yep, what a bummer of a story.
“There was a lot of talk within his camp about sequels, but he never wanted to make them because he felt like what he did is just what it should be,” “E.T star” Drew Barrymore told Watch What Happens Live in 2018. The actress, who played ‘Gertie’ in the film, said that Spielberg informed her she was 7 years old that it wasn’t to be: “He said, ‘Nope, we’re never going to make a sequel, it’s just as it is.’ That was his philosophy, so who was I to question it?”
Close Encounters of the Third Kind 2
In 2017, Sony posted a mysterious video on YouTube, complete with on-screen text sending viewers to a mysterious website to sign up to “receive updates on UFO sightings.” immediately, folks jumped to the conclusion that a sequel to Spielberg’s sci-fi masterpiece was in the works. Instead, it was a promo for a re-release of the film.
Spielberg was developing a follow-up to the film at one stage – if even reluctantly. After Universal went ahead and made a “Jaws” sequel without him, the famed filmmaker decided he didn’t want the same thing to happen on “Close Encounters”, so started scribbling down ideas for a sequel that he could have creative control over. He hired John Sayles to script the film, based on an idea of his own, and attached himself as producer. “Night Skies” would tell the story of the Kelly-Hopkinsville encounter, where a Kentucky family claimed that they had been terrorized by gremlin-like alien.
After some time Spielberg decided he didn’t want to make a sequel to the film, but was intrigued by some of the ideas that they’d been discussing for the movie – largely the subplot involving a child’s relationship with the alien. The result? “E.T : The Extra Terrestrial”.
Yes, it was made – but without Spielberg’s involvement, let alone input. But has he since warmed up to the idea of possibly returning to the franchise? In an interview with Aint it Cool News in 2011, Spielberg says he has a nifty idea for a new “Jaws” film – though sounds unconvinced the world needs that film. “I have a very, very good scene which I thought would have been good for a sequel someday, which I will tell you someday because I don’t want it in print. But I’ll tell you my scene some day. Every time I think of this scene I think, “Hmmm, could this be another Jaws movie?” and I have to immediately stop myself and immediately pull myself back down to Earth.”
Jurassic Park 4
Long before Universal opted to reboot the series (as “Jurassic World”), Spielberg flirted with giving audiences a fourth film in the money-spinning “Jurassic Park” series. William Monahan (“The Departed”) was hired to script while John Sayles, who many years before had been tapped by the filmmaker to pen a “Close Encounters” sequel, was later hired to punch up the script. Mark Protosevich and the writing team of Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver would also work on drafts. The main story would’ve revolved around the dinos escaping Site A for the mainland, while a team of deinonychuses was being trained for a rescue mission and genetically modified dinosaur-human hybrids were being used as mercenaries. Keira Knightley was rumored to be the top pick for the new lead, while Sam Neill and Sir Richard Attenborough would reprise their roles from the earlier films.
The late, great Stan Winston – who worked the dino magic on the “Jurassic” films – told IGN that Spielberg abandoned the film because “he felt neither of [the drafts] balanced the science and adventure elements effectively. It’s a tough compromise to reach, as too much science will make the movie too talky, but too much adventure will make it seem hollow.”
Indiana Jones and the Monkey King
There was very nearly another Indiana Jones movie – one that would’ve been squeezed in between 1984’s “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” and 1989’s “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade”.
Chris Columbus, who Spielberg had worked with on “Gremlins” and “The Goonies”, was hired to write the script but after four drafts, both Spielberg and producer George Lucas realized the story was unfilmable.
As Fandom reminds us, “it opened in a castle in Scotland in 1937, where Indiana Jones, while on a fishing trip, investigates murders by a ghost, the Baron Seamus Seagrove III. Indiana returns home, where Marcus Brody tells him to aid the zoologist Clare Clarke in Africa, who has discovered a 200-year old pygmy named Tyki. Indiana meets up with her and his old friend Scraggy Brier in Mozambique, and discovers a suicidally lovestruck student of his named Betsy has stowed along. The Nazis, led by Lieutenant Mephisto and Sergeant Gutterbuhg (who has a mechanical arm), attack, and despite Indy’s best efforts in the ensuing boat chase, Tyki is captured.
Still, Tyki gave Indy a scroll which guides him to a Lost City via the Zambesi River. There, Indy, Clare, Scraggy and Betsy enter an uneasy alliance with pirates, led by Kezure. The Nazis attack in a giant tank, which Indy manages to rescue Tyki from by using a rhino as his steed. Tyki takes them to the city of Sun Wu King, where it is revealed Tyki is a prince. His father is then killed by the Nazis, and a battle ensues where Indiana is killed by Mephisto. The Nazis are defeated though, and Tyki takes Indy into a garden of immortal peaches, where Sun Wu King comes to revive Indy. Kezure eats a peach, but dies because he isn’t pure of heart. Sun Wu gives Indy his transforming Golden Rod, while Betsy decides to stay with Clare.”
“It was upbeat and full of the same nostalgia that we tapped into in Raiders of the Lost Ark, so in that sense Chris was right on the money,” Spielberg tells The Raider. “But I don’t think any of us wanted to go to Africa for four months and try to get Indy to ride a rhinoceros in a multi-vehicular chase, which was one of the sequences Chris had written. Once I got into the script, I began to feel very old, too old to direct it.”