The six weirdest movies which almost got made
Despite numerous attempts, D.M. Thomas’s harrowing novel “The White Hotel” has never been filmed, earning itself a reputation as “one of the great unadaptable works of modern literature”.
Due to a staggeringly unlucky sequence of lawsuits, creative differences, bankruptcy, bombings and untimely deaths, the film has remained in pre-production for decades, attracting – and then losing – stars such as Meryl Streep, Isabella Rossellini, Juliette Binoche and Nicole Kidman along the way.
Undeterred, the BBC has brought Dennis Potter’s 30-year-old screenplay to life as a Radio 4 drama. To mark this achievement, here are six of the weirdest films that never quite made it to the silver screen.
The visionary director Stanley Kubrick – a long-time admirer of Napoleon – wrote a script detailing the French emperor’s military genius alongside his more unusual sexual proclivities. Jack Nicholson was cast as the lead, alongside Audrey Hepburn, Peter O’Toole, Charlotte Rampling and Alec Guinness.
But with epic battle scenes planned, involving 40,000 Romanian soldiers as extras, the budget soon spiralled out of control. A string of studios jumped ship, leaving Kubrick’s obsession dead in the water.
When Russell Crowe asked his friend Nick Cave to pen a sequel to Gladiator, the brooding polymath came up with a genius workaround to the problem of Maximus’ death at the end of first film.
In the script for Gladiator 2, they resurrect Maximus and command him to assassinate Christ – who turns out to be the gladiator’s own son.
Cave’s script sees the Roman gods lamenting the rising popularity of a young heretic named Jesus of Nazareth. They resurrect Maximus and command him to assassinate Christ – who turns out to be the gladiator’s own son. Enraged and bereft, Maximus becomes an immortal mercenary, turning up at the Vietnam War by the end of the film. Crowe wasn’t impressed.
Cave has since said of the project, “I enjoyed writing it because I knew on every level that it was never going to get made.”
Claire Noto’s 1982 erotic sci-fi screenplay tells the story of a homesick alien, exiled on planet Earth, who passes for human by taking on the form of a glamorous business executive. When she’s not closing deals in her plush office, she frequents underground alien sex bars full of horny intergalactic creatures. Physical contact is fatal for her, but she has tremulous mind orgasms by whispering into people’s ears.
H.R. Giger – the artist responsible for Ridley Scott’s iconic Alien – produced some racy designs for the film involving lots of slime, tentacles and contorted flesh. But the project ground to a halt as various producers tried – and failed – to sanitise the highly unique script. Noto herself believes that the film can no longer be made, stating that her original ideas have been plundered by mainstream franchises such as Species and Men In Black.
In the toe-curlingly naff synopsis of E.T. II: Nocturnal Fears, a spaceship lands on Earth with a crew of carnivorous and war-mongering aliens – “mutations” of the friendly, cuddly species we’re more familiar with from the first film. They abduct and interrogate Elliott and his gang before the original E.T. returns to save the day.
Director Steven Spielberg has stated that sequels too often corrupt the magic of the original, leading some online commentators to suggest that he deliberately wrote a treatment so awful that it would never see the light of
Over a decade before David Lynch released his flawed but cult 1984 adaptation of Frank Herbert’s sci-fi novel “Dune”, Alejandro Jodorowsky attempted to produce his own interpretation of the sprawling space odyssey.
Planning a 14-hour film, the director of Dune managed to secure the services of Pink Floyd, Mick Jagger, Salvador Dali and Orson Welles.
Despite the director’s script clocking in at a sanity-testing 14 hours, he managed to secure the services of Pink Floyd, Mick Jagger, Salvador Dali and Orson Welles. However, after protracted negotiations, Jodorowsky was unable to raise the funds for his opulent venture, and the film rights expired in 1982.
The eventual collapse of this stellar, ambitious project was so epic that documentary maker Frank Pavich made a much-loved film about it. Jodorowsky’s efforts, though ultimately thwarted, went on to influence a generation of science-fiction filmmakers.
Imagine a Superman film written by uber-nerd Kevin Smith, directed by sentimental goth Tim Burton, starring the intense and shouty Nicolas Cage. Now picture development shots of the madcap actor with long unkempt hair, sporting a polished blue codpiece.
Even though this production folded only weeks before filming was scheduled to begin, Cage claims that the unmade film, “in your imagination, is more powerful than any of the Superman movies.” In the topsy-turvy world of Hollywood celebrity, failure is no barrier to success.