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Frank Darabont and the Indiana Jones movie that never happened

03.02.2012

Anyone remember Frank Darabont trying to get INDIANA JONES AND THE CITY OF THE GODS made? This was before the days of the Crystal Skull-f*cking.

Author of "The Greatest Sci-Fi Movies Never Made", David Hughes is back with another book about cinema's failed endeavors called "Tales From Development Hell". In this excerpt, Hughes gives the details on what Darabont's vision was all about and how even after approval from Spielberg and Ford, George Lucas shut that shit down.

"Darabont’s script, entitled Indiana Jones and the City of the Gods, opens in 1952 with the hot rods racing in the Nevada desert, and Indy’s betrayal by an old friend — here, a Russian named Yuri Makovsky, rather than a Brit named Mac, who is on the trail of plutonium, rather than mummified alien remains. Instead of being captured by Russians infiltrating a U.S. military base at Area 51, Indy sneaks into the base (a scene reminiscent of the 1998 PlayStation game Tomb Raider III: Adventures of Lara Croft), where he discovers the “huge cavern filled with…well, everything. It’s a maze of gantries, catwalks, experimental arcana, machinery, and mountains of crates marked ‘Top Secret.’”

"The next several scenes closely mimic those from the final film: a Jeep chase through the cavernous hangar, narrowly avoiding the blasts of flame from experimental jet engines, Indy and Yuri propelled across the desert on a rocket sled. Indy is captured by the Russians, thrown in the trunk of a car, driven to a fake town constructed as part of an A-Bomb test, where he survives the blast by hiding in a lead-lined refrigerator. After a radiation scrub and debriefing, Indy is accused of selling secrets to the Russians, put on a leave of absence from the university where he has tenure, gets drunk and bewails his lot to the statue of Marcus Brody, before visiting a display case containing, among other artefacts, the Cross of Coronado from Last Crusade and the fertility goddess from Raiders."

OH, and so you don't think I'm a huge tease, here's the part about Lucas:

"While Lucas, Spielberg and Ford considered Darabont’s draft, delivered on 4 October 2003, the appetite for a fourth Indiana Jones was further whetted by the DVD debut of the original trilogy, previously available only on video and laserdisc. While fans reveled in the copious bonus features on the new DVDs, Spielberg and Ford both reacted enthusiastically to Darabont’s script. Lucas, however, did not. “It was a tremendous disappointment and a waste of a year,” Darabont later told MTV. “I spent a year of very determined effort on something I was very excited about, working very closely with Steven Spielberg and coming up with a result that I, and he, felt was terrific. He wanted to direct it as his next movie, and then suddenly the whole thing goes down in flames because George Lucas doesn’t like the script.” A despairing Darabont confronted Lucas directly. “I told him he was crazy. I said, ‘You have a fantastic script. I think you’re insane, George.’ You can say things like that to George, and he doesn’t even blink. He’s one of the most stubborn men I know.”

To read the rest (care of the awesome Neil Miller), head over to Film School Rejects.

Extra Tidbit: Wanna read the excerpt about Frank Miller and Darren Aronofsky's YEAR ONE? Of course you do.
Source: FSR

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2:56PM on 03/02/2012

The good and bad

I can remember before Crystal Skull was even a glimmer in Lucas' eyes,. everyone pretty much taking the same opinion of Temple of Doom. That film was railed against ever since its release. Now, folks tend to enjoy it more than they used to. I sense the same will happen to Crystal Skull once folks get over 2nd Coming of Christ level of expectations.

All in all, it was a decent film and I have to say that thought I like all of them, I do prefer it to the overdone slapstick in Crusade.

It
I can remember before Crystal Skull was even a glimmer in Lucas' eyes,. everyone pretty much taking the same opinion of Temple of Doom. That film was railed against ever since its release. Now, folks tend to enjoy it more than they used to. I sense the same will happen to Crystal Skull once folks get over 2nd Coming of Christ level of expectations.

All in all, it was a decent film and I have to say that thought I like all of them, I do prefer it to the overdone slapstick in Crusade.

It has some good elements. The mayans and crystal skulls and the Cold War paranoia in the 50s was a good setting to put it in with a good McGuffin. The use of the Mayan culture was a great choice. Having a bit of adventure at Indy's school was fun. Dealing with Indy's son was a natural progression in the expansion of the Indiana Jones character just as the inclusion of his father in Crusade was. The chase scene in the ducks was pretty cool. The hot rod drag race in the beginning was a great opening. The choice of Soviets as the villain was appropriate.

Having said that the film was not without problems. The ants though well done IMO were already seen in Doom as the insects. They could have gone with an aquatic creepy crawly like eels or pirhannas to keep it fresh and give the audience something familiar but new. The alien aspect was o.k. considering the time frame and context of the McGuffin, but I think it would have been better played had the aliens had more of a supernatural presence like in 2001: a Space Odyssey, where their presence is sensed but never actually seen. The quicksand scene with a snake-as-rope sequence was embarassing slapstick. They don't have vines in the jungle? And native Americans in the temples were hiding inside the walls, for how long exactly? The monkeys were dumb.

I didn't have a problem with nuking the fridge because all the Indy's have these kinds of outlandish derring do elements. Doom has the raft as parachute, Raiders has the light shaft that senses movement, and Crusade has a whole bunch of them.

In the end Crystal Skull proved exactly what it was supposed to be, a fun popcorn flick. Not a deep thinker.
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12:19PM on 03/02/2012
What I really liked most about Darabont's treatment was how it treated the Cold War. Whereas in the movie, the Soviets are treated as Nazi replacements...here its much more of a 'Cold' conflict in a James Bond/Ice Station Zebra/Red October kind of way. The Soviets had to be outwitted and outmatched so we DIDN't have to slaughter each other en masse like we did the Nazis. As well, the script reached a logical character conclusion as to Indy...he totally would have been 100% against a nuclear
What I really liked most about Darabont's treatment was how it treated the Cold War. Whereas in the movie, the Soviets are treated as Nazi replacements...here its much more of a 'Cold' conflict in a James Bond/Ice Station Zebra/Red October kind of way. The Soviets had to be outwitted and outmatched so we DIDN't have to slaughter each other en masse like we did the Nazis. As well, the script reached a logical character conclusion as to Indy...he totally would have been 100% against a nuclear arms race...courtesy of his years spent keeping other 'power of god' objects out of the hands of madmen and 'bureaucratic fools.'
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+2
12:11PM on 03/02/2012
Darabont's script was OK, it's ironic that Lucas shot it down, only to deliberately lift whole scenes. Darabont's was stronger than "Saucer Men from Mars", which has Indy flying in a UFO and I'm sure it was stronger than M Night's, which hasn't ever surfaced as far as I know.
Darabont's script was OK, it's ironic that Lucas shot it down, only to deliberately lift whole scenes. Darabont's was stronger than "Saucer Men from Mars", which has Indy flying in a UFO and I'm sure it was stronger than M Night's, which hasn't ever surfaced as far as I know.
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11:05AM on 03/02/2012
I still think you're a huge tease, Niki.
I still think you're a huge tease, Niki.
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10:08AM on 03/02/2012
The opening scene of the City of Gods script was the tits. Indy at a desert diner, quietly listening to his friend Yuri eat burgers and gush about how much he loves Rock n Roll and American girls. Instantly put you on the hook for the 1950s Sci Fi theme of the movie. As Short Round points out, the script was clearly a draft that needed some work.
The opening scene of the City of Gods script was the tits. Indy at a desert diner, quietly listening to his friend Yuri eat burgers and gush about how much he loves Rock n Roll and American girls. Instantly put you on the hook for the 1950s Sci Fi theme of the movie. As Short Round points out, the script was clearly a draft that needed some work.
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9:33AM on 03/02/2012
There were some good things in Darabont's script (no Mutt, Marion actually acted like Marion) but I wouldn't go so far as to call it a fantastic one. I mean, he made Indy no longer afraid of snakes until he was swallowed and subsequently regurgitated from a giant one. And he had Indy say "Welcome to earth" right before he shot the alien at the end. That made me groan when I read it.

But like I said, there were a lot of good things in Darabont's script. If he had tweaked and refined it
There were some good things in Darabont's script (no Mutt, Marion actually acted like Marion) but I wouldn't go so far as to call it a fantastic one. I mean, he made Indy no longer afraid of snakes until he was swallowed and subsequently regurgitated from a giant one. And he had Indy say "Welcome to earth" right before he shot the alien at the end. That made me groan when I read it.

But like I said, there were a lot of good things in Darabont's script. If he had tweaked and refined it some more it would've made for an excellent Indiana Jones movie. But if the version I read had been produced I suspect the reaction would've been only slightly better than KOTCS.
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9:24AM on 03/02/2012
So Frank Darabont came up with the nuke fridge scene? Seriously? The man who wrote one of the best screenplays of all time(the Shawshank Redemption) wrote the worst scene in cinematic history? I am gobsmacked.
So Frank Darabont came up with the nuke fridge scene? Seriously? The man who wrote one of the best screenplays of all time(the Shawshank Redemption) wrote the worst scene in cinematic history? I am gobsmacked.
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10:01AM on 03/02/2012
The nuke the fridge scene was something that was insisted upon by Lucas. As were the ant swarms.
The nuke the fridge scene was something that was insisted upon by Lucas. As were the ant swarms.
11:19AM on 03/02/2012
Spielberg took responsibility for the fridge, actually. And nuke the fridge was the most original bit out of that whole movie (essentially a rehash of the other Indy movies with a little Mummy thrown in there).
Spielberg took responsibility for the fridge, actually. And nuke the fridge was the most original bit out of that whole movie (essentially a rehash of the other Indy movies with a little Mummy thrown in there).
8:30AM on 03/02/2012
So what exactly was the McGuffin in the script?
So what exactly was the McGuffin in the script?
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9:38AM on 03/02/2012
Crystal skulls still.
Crystal skulls still.
7:44AM on 03/02/2012
All the fantastic things Darabont has been involved in and what has Lucas done that's so amazing recently that he can not listen to another quitet possibly more talented member of the industry. Oi Lucas, no!
All the fantastic things Darabont has been involved in and what has Lucas done that's so amazing recently that he can not listen to another quitet possibly more talented member of the industry. Oi Lucas, no!
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9:04AM on 03/02/2012
The problem is Lucas did great things thirty years ago and now all he does is write new entries in those same franchises. Newer, inferior entries, because he can.
The problem is Lucas did great things thirty years ago and now all he does is write new entries in those same franchises. Newer, inferior entries, because he can.
7:11AM on 03/02/2012
I really enjoyed Darabont's script. Even though it had the nuke the fridge scene, everything in the script felt like a real Indiana Jones story. His script didn't have the awkward flow, pacing issues, and Indiana Jones didn't take the backseat while his Son does stupid shit (his son wasn't even in Darabont's script). Darabont's script flowed rather seamlessly, and Indiana Jones felt like Indiana Jones.

With Darabont's script I could forgive the nuke the fridge scene the same way that I
I really enjoyed Darabont's script. Even though it had the nuke the fridge scene, everything in the script felt like a real Indiana Jones story. His script didn't have the awkward flow, pacing issues, and Indiana Jones didn't take the backseat while his Son does stupid shit (his son wasn't even in Darabont's script). Darabont's script flowed rather seamlessly, and Indiana Jones felt like Indiana Jones.

With Darabont's script I could forgive the nuke the fridge scene the same way that I could forgive the "using a raft as a parachute" scene in Temple of Doom.

In the end KotKS was more like diet Indiana. It had moments, but for the most part it was like the Indiana Jones character was just sleep walking through the story. And when his son started taking over, it completely stopped being an Indiana Jones movie altogether.
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+7
6:17AM on 03/02/2012
I guess Lukas made this his own by adding CGI-gophers, CGI-ants, CGI-monkeys and CGI-aliens. Besides these I fail to see the difference or what made Darabon´s script so "terrific" judging from the article above.
I guess Lukas made this his own by adding CGI-gophers, CGI-ants, CGI-monkeys and CGI-aliens. Besides these I fail to see the difference or what made Darabon´s script so "terrific" judging from the article above.
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4:19AM on 03/02/2012
I envy the alternate universe where this movie was made. I envy the alternate universe more where there never was a fourth indy movie.
I envy the alternate universe where this movie was made. I envy the alternate universe more where there never was a fourth indy movie.
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8:17AM on 03/02/2012
we're in the darkest timeline!
we're in the darkest timeline!
3:53AM on 03/02/2012
Darabont's script isn't that great, but there are some things that make it much better than Crystal Skull: the drunk fight in the museum, no Mutt, the FBI don't magically disappear, we see Indy on horseback in the jungle, Indy shoots an alien. The bad points? Indy shoots an alien, Connery reduced to a terrible cameo (no wonder he turned it down), same lousy 'The Mummy'-style ending.
Darabont's script isn't that great, but there are some things that make it much better than Crystal Skull: the drunk fight in the museum, no Mutt, the FBI don't magically disappear, we see Indy on horseback in the jungle, Indy shoots an alien. The bad points? Indy shoots an alien, Connery reduced to a terrible cameo (no wonder he turned it down), same lousy 'The Mummy'-style ending.
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3:54AM on 03/02/2012
that's how I remember it anyway, can't be bothered to read it again!
that's how I remember it anyway, can't be bothered to read it again!
2:30AM on 03/02/2012

remove the lucas

With all the top-class lawyers in Hollywood, you would think one of them could remove Lucas from this franchise.
With all the top-class lawyers in Hollywood, you would think one of them could remove Lucas from this franchise.
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1:46AM on 03/02/2012
I re-found it:

[link]

Given its authenticity isn't verified, I'd take it with a grain of salt. Upon glancing through to make sure it was the one I read before, I noticed Mutt isn't in it, but Sallah is...so I guess that's a plus?
I re-found it:

[link]

Given its authenticity isn't verified, I'd take it with a grain of salt. Upon glancing through to make sure it was the one I read before, I noticed Mutt isn't in it, but Sallah is...so I guess that's a plus?
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1:38AM on 03/02/2012

Sounds like a shitty script

Many of my most hated moments in the movie itself must have come from Darabont's version. Damn. Now I kinda wish neither ONE was ever imagined.
Many of my most hated moments in the movie itself must have come from Darabont's version. Damn. Now I kinda wish neither ONE was ever imagined.
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1:27AM on 03/02/2012
I love Darabont, but I wish he would let it go already. Aside from a pretty cool chase/fight scene in a museum clock tower, his script for Indy 4 was pretty terrible.

It's basically the same as the finished movie, but with the added oddity of things like Indy getting pooped on by a scared monkey, and a jungle filled with giant hummingbirds and snakes (one of which swallows Indy).

...And I seem to recall there being an additional quasi-villain (a hispanic general/dictator?) who gets
I love Darabont, but I wish he would let it go already. Aside from a pretty cool chase/fight scene in a museum clock tower, his script for Indy 4 was pretty terrible.

It's basically the same as the finished movie, but with the added oddity of things like Indy getting pooped on by a scared monkey, and a jungle filled with giant hummingbirds and snakes (one of which swallows Indy).

...And I seem to recall there being an additional quasi-villain (a hispanic general/dictator?) who gets turned into a frog by the aliens and stepped on in the end. I wish I was making this stuff up.
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4:44AM on 03/02/2012
"I love Darabont, but I wish he would let it go already."

Let what go? This is an excerpt from a book that comes out next week by David Hughes - not Frank Darabont.
"I love Darabont, but I wish he would let it go already."

Let what go? This is an excerpt from a book that comes out next week by David Hughes - not Frank Darabont.
10:45AM on 03/02/2012
Well, I assumed that the last snippet was an interview Darabont did for the book itself, but I now see it was just a recounting of things he said to other sources. My bad.

That said, I seem to remember a pretty recent interview where he again put George on blast and sounded extremely bitter about his script not being used. I completely understand what it's like to pour your heart and soul into a project and have it be shot down, but you can't be bitter about it forever.

...Well, you CAN
Well, I assumed that the last snippet was an interview Darabont did for the book itself, but I now see it was just a recounting of things he said to other sources. My bad.

That said, I seem to remember a pretty recent interview where he again put George on blast and sounded extremely bitter about his script not being used. I completely understand what it's like to pour your heart and soul into a project and have it be shot down, but you can't be bitter about it forever.

...Well, you CAN but you shouldn't. And maybe he isn't! Maybe I simply misread his words (or the interview wasn't as recent as I remember), but the vibe I got was still pretty negative.
1:15AM on 03/02/2012

Nuke the Fridge?

So the infamous "nuke the fridge" scene from the finished film was actually in Frank Darabont's draft? Maybe his script wasn't much better than the disaster that was Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. At the very least, it appears to have some problems that existed in the final product.
So the infamous "nuke the fridge" scene from the finished film was actually in Frank Darabont's draft? Maybe his script wasn't much better than the disaster that was Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. At the very least, it appears to have some problems that existed in the final product.
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1:16AM on 03/02/2012
With that said, I still have a problem with the way George Lucas produces films.
With that said, I still have a problem with the way George Lucas produces films.
1:05AM on 03/02/2012

First rule of Fight Club...

I would love to get piss drunk and beat the shit out of George Lucas. From the implications implored here, his obdurate ass would probably just wipe the blood pouring from his face and mutter, "Is that the best you got?!" Ugggh... then I'd have to f*cking curb stomp him. And lord knows I'd get my salad tossed HARD in prison. I guess either way, he'd win. What a dick.
I would love to get piss drunk and beat the shit out of George Lucas. From the implications implored here, his obdurate ass would probably just wipe the blood pouring from his face and mutter, "Is that the best you got?!" Ugggh... then I'd have to f*cking curb stomp him. And lord knows I'd get my salad tossed HARD in prison. I guess either way, he'd win. What a dick.
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8:20AM on 03/02/2012
great link!
great link!
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