Some examples of movies that never made it to the big screen but inspired others that did.
Did you know that Alfred Hitchcock (the mastermind behind Psycho and The Birds) had a movie that was never released? The film went by the names Kaleidoscope and Frenzy. The story revolved around a necrophiliac serial killer (classic Hitchcock creepiness). Unfortunately, the movie itself was too violent, and the production staff discouraged the talented filmmaker from bringing this story to life. Since there was a script left unused, years after Hitchcock became a legend, someone brought back the filmmakers’ idea and used it for a movie called Frenzy, which was released in 1972.
It’s funny how movies that we never heard of have become the source of inspiration for stories we all have enjoyed in the past. Unsurprisingly, this happens a lot more often than we realize. In fact, there are a lot of famous directors that, for one reason or another, had to let go of projects in the past. Some of the most remarkable cases are:
Napoleon by Stanley Kubrick
At some point during Kubrick’s career, there was an idea of a story that involved a fragment of Napoleon’s early life. The story was set in Paris, and it seemed like a very ambitious project. Kubrick spent months doing exhaustive research on every detail about the famous character's life. Unfortunately, he got so caught up finding information that film studios got tired of waiting and eventually turned down the project. Right now, there are a couple of follow ups to this film, but none of them have arrived to the big screen just yet. One of them is a TV series that will be directed by one for Kubrick’s biggest fans, Steven Spielberg.
Kill Bill Vol. 3 by Quentin Tarantino
Yes, there was going to be a third part to this bloody and brilliant story. Kill Bill Vol. 3 was supposed to be set 10 years later after the second one had occurred. The plot would focus on Black Mamba’s daughter, who is thirsty for revenge on all her mother’s past enemies. Unfortunately, this movie didn’t happen because Tarantino was never really convinced of giving this story a follow up. He even said once: "I felt I said what I had to say." Nevertheless, knowing the weirdness that characterizes Tarantino, we may get to see another version of this idea in the future. He’s very unpredictable about his work, so we may even get to see a novel or short film inspired by this unfinished project.
Ronnie Rocket by David Lynch
It’s a shame this film was never made, since it was a true Lynchean work of art. The movie revolved around two very particular stories: on the one side, we have Ronald d'Arte, a teenage dwarf who calls himself Ronnie Rocket. He happens to be the kind of rockstar that depends on electric energy to either create music or mass destruction. On the other hand, there’s a detective looking for the so called "Donut Men," who use electricity as a weapon. Sadly at the time this story was born, Lynch was also working on other side projects and was unable to find someone to finance this very bizarre tale. So he used this work as inspiration for a new story that later became the even more bizarre The Elephant Man.
Gershwin by Martin Scorsese
There was a moment when the legendary Martin Scorsese worked on a biopic about the American composer George Gershwin. If you don’t who he is, you can look for him in Disney’s Fantasia 2000 film. The story about jazz in Harlem is set to one of his most popular masterpieces. While a movie about this composer’s life seemed like a very attractive project for Scorsese, the project never made it to the big screen, partly because studio politics were skeptical on this story, and also because the script wasn’t “ideal,” and there were legal issues in the matter. This only became a source of inspiration for more ambitious and heavier stories to be developed. It is said that after this failed project, Scorsese focused all his effort in Silence, one of the most striking movies he has ever made.
Superman Lives by Tim Burton
Do you remember that Batman movie directed by Tim Burton and set to Prince’s music? Hated by many and acclaimed by others, this film gave a lot to talk about. What if I told you that Burton was also planning a DC movie based on the story that followed Superman’s death? In 1996, the eerie director was working on a superhero movie that supposedly would star Nicholas Cage as the mysterious Clark Kent. However, the movie just wasn’t meant to be made. The script was never entirely finished, and the concept itself of the movie was never fully defined. Even though this movie didn’t inspire another superhero story, it was later rekindled in the documentary The Death of "Superman Lives": What Happened?, which was released in 2015.
Let's be honest, there are film projects that were not meant to be on the big screen, and that's okay (sorry, but I just can't get over the fact that Cage was going to be Superman). In the end, filmmakers will never get tired of telling stories. Even though some of them will be left undone, many others will blossom because of this. Who knows what kind of unfinished movies will give birth to the next masterpieces we'll probably fall in love with.
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