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Five Canceled Movies That Were Almost Made

Canceled movies Batgirl

Learn Why These Ideas Never Made it to the Big Screen

Every year, dozens upon dozens of movies enter development in Hollywood, but only a small handful of them ever see the light of day. Whether because of insufficient funds, lawsuits, or simply studio executives not interested in the project, an unproduced movie idea may sit on the shelf for good. However, sometimes, these ideas may get very close to being made before the plug is pulled. Here are five canceled films that nearly made it to the big screen. 

5.  Stanley Kubrick’s Napoleon

Canceled movies Napoleon

Before Ridley Scott took a crack at making a movie about the infamous French leader, there once was a time when legendary director Stanley Kubrick attempted to achieve such a task. Around the time of 2001: A Space Oddity (1968), Kubrick watched as many films and read as many books as he could about Napoleon Bonaparte before writing the first draft of the screenplay. He even had his assistants help make a card catalog that details the former general’s inner circle around the time of its operative run. After endlessly scouting locations, Kubrick decided to film the major battle scenes in Romania with him, even getting help from the Romanian People’s Army. Actors David Hemmings and Jack Nicholson were both considered for the role of Napoleon. The film was set to enter production but was ultimately, in large part, due to cost restraints for filming and the financial disappointment of another Napoleon movie, Waterloo (1970). 

The script has since made its way online. Details of this script include a scene where several people are all having sex while Napoleon just sits back and watches. Then there are the battle scenes in which Kubrick captured the size of scale in his writing. The script would live in infamy as many declared it “the best movie never made.” That being said, it appears all is not lost, as back in 2013, Steven Speilberg announced he would be turning Kubrick’s unproduced story into a miniseries on HBO. Speilberg had previously resurrected one of Kubrick’s other scripts, A.I.: Artificial Intelligence (2001). As of now, the miniseries remains in development, with Speilberg revealing it will contain seven episodes. So even though Kubrick himself never got to make a Napoleon film, his idea still lives on. 

See Ridley Scott’s Napoleon (2023) in theaters and on AppleTV+ on November 22. 

4.  Jurassic Park 4

Canceled movies Jurassic Park 4

While there was a fourth film in the Jurassic Park franchise in the form of Jurassic World (2015), that movie was more independent from the previous films, with it being the start of a new trilogy. However, the original Jurassic Park 4 would have been a direct sequel to the first trilogy, bringing back characters such as Alan Grant (Sam Neil) and Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum). Some reports have said that the movie was supposed to be the last of the series and even ignored the previous film. Steven Speilberg, director of the first two Jurassic Park movies, was set to serve as executive producer after previously doing so for Jurassic Park III (2001), with him even getting that film’s director, Joe Johnston, to return to the helm. Frank Marshall and Kathleen Kennedy were attached as producers. 

William Monahan penned an early draft that would have seen Grant and Malcolm in Costa Rica, with the two discovering dinosaurs breeding on the mainland and then trying to prevent a widespread of this in the hopes of avoiding an ecological disaster. Keira Knightley was originally in negotiations for two different undisclosed roles before being completely written out. Richard Attenborough was also expected to reprise his role of John Hammond. Stan Winston, who had worked on the practical effects for the Jurassic Park movies, was set to return with him designing animatronic velociraptors with internal motors. There was even some concept art made that was later released online. The film was initially set for production in 2004 with a 2005 release in mind. However, the movie was delayed due to a mix of constant rewrites with new writers being brought in and all those involved being busy with other projects. Eventually, the fourth installment was retooled as the start of a new trilogy with only Speilberg and Marshall remaining attached, the film having none of the original main characters back, and Colin Trevorrow in the director’s chair. The rest, as they say, is history. It is unclear how the original idea would have turned out, but at least audiences did get to see Alan Grant and Ian Malcolm reunite alongside Elle Sattler (Laura Dern) in Jurassic World Dominion (2022). 

The Jurassic Park franchise can be found on streaming services such as Peacock, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video. 

3.  Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash

Canceled Movies Freddy vs Jason vs Ash

Oh, if only. After the smash hit of Freddy vs. Jason (2003), New Line Cinema began developing a sequel. Originally, they wanted the first movie to end with Freddy (Robert Englund) and Jason (Ken Kirzinger) being dragged down to hell before being greeted by Pinhead (Doug Bradley) from the Hellraiser franchise. However, the studio failed to secure the rights to the character and instead decided to use Ash (Bruce Campbell) from the original Evil Dead trilogy. A script was written by Jeffrey Katz, which would have had Ash traveling to Crystal Lake in an attempt to find the infamous Necronomicon, aka the Book of the Dead. Unbeknownst to him, Jason has acquired it and uses it to resurrect Freddy as the two team up to bring hell on earth. Add in the usual stack of teenagers with the personality of sandpaper, and one has an action-packed slasher thrill ride.

Englund was, of course, on board, although there was no word if Kirzinger would have come back. Jason Ritter and Monica Keena, who played Will and Laurie in the last movie respectively, were also set to reprise their roles. Then came the attempt to get Bruce Campbell on board. At first, he was excited about the idea, but then disagreements came between him, New Line Cinema executives, and even supposedly Evil Dead creator Sam Raimi over issues of the story, particularly on how the film should end. The project was eventually scrapped, and all three franchises were each given a remake. However, much like the other films on this list, the idea was later salvaged. In 2007, comic companies Wildstorm and Dynamite Entertainment turned the script into a six-issue miniseries, much to critical acclaim. The comic was even successful enough to receive a sequel, Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash: The Nightmare Warriors (2009), which saw the return of several characters from both the Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th series. While horror fans may not have been able to see this crossover on the big screen, the fact that it was able to get turned into a comic was still pretty cool.

All movies in A Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th, and Evil Dead franchises can be found on Amazon Prime Video. 

2.  Workaholics

Canceled Movies Workaholics

A continuation to the hit show of the same name, this movie followed the main characters from the series, Blake (Blake Henderson), Adam (Adam DeVine), and Ders (Anders Holm), up to their same old antics of drinking, pulling pranks, and hardly working at their jobs of telemarketers. It was also expected to touch on working through the pandemic. The film was all set and ready to go with a script, cast, crew, and a start date within filming supposed to begin earlier this year and then expected to be released on Paramount+. But then, seemingly out of nowhere, with only five weeks until principal photography, Paramount decided to cancel the movie with the crew being told it apparently  “didn’t fit with the company’s new global strategy.” DeVine later went on record saying the crew had been trying to get Paramount to relinquish the rights to the film so they could try to sell it on another service, but the company has declined to do so. 

It is very peculiar that Paramount would let this film get as far as being weeks away from production only to take it back. The original series was both a critical and ratings success, with it lasting seven seasons and 86 episodes. Sure, it has been a while since the show ended back in 2017, but films like The Force Awakens (2015) and Jackass Forever (2022) have proven that studios can release a new installment several years after the last one, and it is still a huge hit. Who knows, maybe the movie will be resurrected by Netflix or even Hulu? Only time will tell.

The series Workaholics (2011-2017) can be watched on both Paramount+ and Hulu. 

1.  Batgirl

Canceled movies Batgirl

Ah, it wouldn’t be a list of canceled movies without mentioning this film. This makes the previous story look tame by comparison. The project was to be set in the DC Extended Universe, DCEU, with it being directed by the duo Adil El Arbi and Bilah Fallah, with Leslie Grace starring in the main role. J.K. Simmons was set to reprise his role as Commission Gordon, having previously portrayed the role in both versions of Justice League (2017), and Brenden Fraiser was cast as the villain Firefly. Michael Keaton was also supposed to appear as Batman, with The Flash (2023) originally being his introduction to the cinematic universe and setting up this film before that movie was delayed. With a budget of $90 million and a release of November 2022 on Max, then known as HBO Max, the movie was underway. Creators eventually completed most of the filming as it entered post-production. Set photos were even released with the first official look of Batgirl’s costume. But then, in August 2022, Warner Bros. Discovery announced that Batgirl would not be released with its CEO, David Zaslav, using the canceled project as a tax write-off.  

Many were left both confused and even angry over this decision. Later that year, Peter Safran, co-head of DC Studios alongside James Gunn, would go into more detail over the decision to not move forward with Batgirl by essentially saying that it was “not releasable” and would have “hurt those involved.” Out of all canceled movies, this might be the biggest “ouch” of all time. Kubrick’s Napoleon didn’t go forward in large part due to financial issues. Jurassic Park 4 was retooled due to the constant delays. Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash was passed on due to story disagreements. The Workaholics movie was shelved because the studio lost interest in it. But here is a project that was supposedly so bad it would have damaged everyone’s career. While the film will never see the light of day, the studio did reach out to Leslie Grace in hopes of returning to another project. Perhaps in the upcoming Batman movie, The Brave and the Bold (2025)? 

Films and shows featuring Batgirl can be streamed on Max.

Batgirl (2022) Official Warner Bros. Trailer 

Source: Dead Talk Live

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I am from Michigan. I am a recent graduate of Bowling Green State University majoring in Film Production with a minor in Media Production.
Elke Simmons' writing portfolio includes contributions to The Laredo Morning Times, Walt Disney World Eyes and Ears, Extinction Rebellion (XR) News/Blog, and Dead Talk News.