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Top 10 Best Movies That Were Never Made

01.26.2018by: Alex Maidy
There are countless directors and writers who work for decades to try and get their passion projects on screen, but making a movie is an expensive undertaking. While some filmmakers have realized their dreams, others have projects that just never came to be. Here is a list of the ten best passion projects that filmmakers tried to get made and never happened. If you think we missed one or disagree with our ranking, let us know in the comments below.

Stanley Kubrick's NAPOELON

One of the most notorious films on this list, Stanley Kubrick's NAPOLEON was all set to begin filming in the late 1960s when every studio got cold feet for such a momentous undertaking. Kubrick spent 2 years researching his screenplay including taking well over 15000 photographs for pre-production. The full script is available in book form and for a long time rumor had Baz Luhrmann set to direct the film for HBO.

David Fincher's TORSO

Fincher has dozens of projects he intended to make but never got around to (20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA, anyone?) but one that he was incredibly passionate about was TORSO. Based on the acclaimed graphic novel of the same name, the film would have been a look at the hunt for the Cleveland Torso Murderer, a serial killer who eluded Elliott Ness. The film was rumored to feature Brad Pitt, Rachel McAdams, and Matt Damon but the rights have since lapsed and there has been no buzz on if they will ever be renewed.

Clair Noto's THE TOURIST

In the 1980s, Clair Noto wrote the screenplay for THE TOURIST which became one of the most buzzed about projects in Hollywood. For years, Noto tried in vain to get the film produced and even had ALIEN artist H.R. Giger provide illustrations to sell the project. Billed as very sexual and erotic, the script was a blend of BLADE RUNNER, THE HUNGER, and ALIEN. The story followed a group of aliens hiding amongst humans in modern day New York trying to get home. Sound familiar? That is because MEN IN BLACK so similarly mimicked the plot of THE TOURIST that it could likely never be made today.

Paul Verhoeven's CRUSADE

The pairing of Paul Verhoeven and Arnold Schwarzenegger should have been more than enough to get this movie made. In 1994, with both actor and director at the peak of their popularity, CRUSADE got as far as even having market posters made to try and get the film produced. Alas, the controversial religious screenplay made studios wary about getting the film made. Now, two decades later, both Verhoeven and Schwarzenegger are just to old to make this movie a reality.

Alejandro Jodorowsky's DUNE

Not much needs to be said about this as there is already a riveting documentary about how the surreal filmmaker's adaptation of Frank Herbert's novel never came to be despite extensive pre-production work. While it certainly would not have been for everyone, Jodorowsky's bonkers style would have definitely made for a memorable movie. With Denis Villenueve on the brink of finally making a faithful DUNE movie, maybe we don't have to wonder what could have been.

David Cronenberg's FRANKENSTEIN

The ad above for Cronenberg's take on Mary Shelley's film was nothing more than an overly ambitious producer getting a verbal yes from the filmmaker and running with it. Cronenberg never truly was going to make FRANKENSTEIN but he did explore the concept of a faithful adaptation of the source novel that was less monster movie and more existential examination. Still, I would love to see what a David Cronenberg monster movie would look like....oh, wait. All his movies are monster movies!

Robert Rodriguez's BARBARELLA

Described as a HEAVY METAL meets STAR WARS, Robert Rodriguez and star Rose McGowan got as far as screen tests to make an updated version of BARBARELLA. Universal got cold feet and the project was all but dead when a German company offered the director $70 million. But, having to film in Germany would have pulled the filmmaker too far from his children and he scrapped the project. Ten years later, it seems unlikely we will ever see Rodriguez and McGowan partner on this or even their rumored RED SONJA movie.

Guillermo Del Toro's AT THE MOUNTAINS OF MADNESS

Like Fincher, Guillermo Del Toro is a director who has had tons of projects in development. While only a fraction have actually been made, the one movie the filmmaker and his fans have wanted more than any other is AT THE MOUNTAINS OF MADNESS. Adapted from the H.P. Lovecraft story, it would have been the first major Cthulhu movie ever made. Tom Cruise was set to star for a while before Del Toro scrapped the project after seeing PROMETHEUS and feeling it was too similar. With Del Toro on the brink of winning an Oscar, maybe there will be hope for a studio to finally make this dream project a reality.

David Lynch's RONNIE ROCKET

A musical horror science fiction fantasy thriller, RONNIE ROCKET was potentially going to be Lynch's followup to ERASERHEAD. The story followed a dwarf rock star who could harness electricity to fight mysterious henchmen trying to find an alternate dimension. Sounds like classic Lynch, right? Well, three decades after ERASERHEAD, Lynch still teases that RONNIE ROCKET could happen but we have yet to ever see anything. Then again, who thought there would have been a news season of Twin Peaks?

Neill Blomkamp's ALIEN: AWAKENING

20th Century Fox had a choice: go with Neill Blomkamp's vision for a new ALIEN that would have brought back Sigourney Weaver as her iconic Ripley as well as Michael Beihn and even an adult Newt or let Ridley Scott make a sequel to PROMETHEUS. Despite James Cameron and Weaver loving Blomkamp's script and the pre-production art the filmmaker shared online, the studio went with Scott who made ALIEN: COVENANT. With that movie underperforming last year, the odds are we will never see what ALIEN: AWAKENING could have been.

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