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6 Movies That Were Almost Other Movies

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With the number of remakes, reboots, and re-imagined movies coming out of Hollywood lately, the industry seems intent on taking everything old and making it new again. And while that's hardly just a recent trend, you might be surprised at some of the films from the last few decades that started out as very different projects, only to have their scripts, characters, and other elements find new life on their way through the development cycle.

From Beverly Hills Cop to Who Framed Roger Rabbit, the list of projects that began as something else entirely includes more than a few classic films, as well as some cult classics with notable origins.

1. Die Hard

We have Arnold Schwarzenegger to thank for Bruce Willis' debut as tough NYPD cop John McClane: the former Moonlighting star was only cast in the role after the Governator turned it down. The film—now considered one of the greatest action movies of all time—was originally intended to be a sequel to Schwarzenegger's testosterone-fueled Commando, and a script was commissioned based on Roderick Thorp's 1979 novel Nothing Lasts Forever, about an NYPD detective fighting German terrorists who take over a skyscraper. However, the disappointing box-office performance of Schwarzenegger's first attempt at a sequel, Conan the Destroyer, led him to drop out of Commando 2. The script was then repurposed into a standalone action film, and the rest is Hollywood history.

2. Cyborg

This violent, post-apocalyptic 1989 film starring Jean-Claude Van Damme as a mercenary with the musical moniker “Gibson Rickenbacker” began its production cycle as a sequel to 1987's live-action He-Man adventure Masters of the Universe. After studio Cannon Films was forced to cancel its deal with toy company Mattel for the He-Man license (as well as a deal with Marvel for a live-action Spider-Man movie), it was left with more than $2 million in costumes and sets for the project. In an effort to recoup its expenses, the studio repurposed the props and sets for a new film, and cast up-and-coming actor Van Damme as the lead. This is the reason that the movie is still occasionally labeled Masters of the Universe 2: Cyborg in television listings.

3. Beverly Hills Cop

In its original incarnation, the movie that would become Beverly Hills Cop was a far more serious, action-heavy film set to star Sylvester Stallone as a Pittsburgh detective transplanted to the West Coast. After Stallone's suggested script changes met with resistance from the studio, the Rocky star was replaced by Eddie Murphy, who injected the film with much of its trademark humor due to some heavily ad-libbed comedy. Stallone later used many of the elements he had suggested for Beverly Hills Cop in his 1986 movie Cobra.

4. Die Hard With A Vengeance

If the relationship between John McClane (Bruce Willis) and Zeus Carver (Sam Jackson) feels a little familiar, that's because the third film in the Die Hard franchise began as the fourth film in the Lethal Weapon franchise, which famously stars Mel Gibson and Danny Glover as odd-couple cops who are always too crazy or too old, respectively, to be dealing with these types of adventures. The project was initially titled Simon Says before getting a rewrite and being repurposed into the first example of what was to become a buddy-cop theme in subsequent Die Hard films.

5. Solace

This upcoming film starring Anthony Hopkins began life as a standalone script that was snatched up by New Line Cinema with an eye toward making it the sequel to David Fincher's 1995 thriller Se7en. Penned by Ocean's Eleven screenwriter Ted Griffin, the Solace script follows a doctor with psychic powers who becomes involved with the investigation of a serial killer. New Line Cinema hoped to bring back Morgan Freeman as Detective William Somerset in the lead role, and call the film Ei8ht. After meeting resistance from Fincher, the project was abandoned, only to find new life years later as a standalone film—just as it was originally intended. Now back to its first title, Solace, the movie is scheduled to hit theaters in 2014.

6. Who Framed Roger Rabbit

One of the most surprising examples of one script becoming the primary source material for another, 1988's Who Framed Roger Rabbit featured an underlying narrative borrowed from the storyline for Cloverleaf, the planned third installment of Jack Nicholson's Chinatown trilogy. Nicholson's dark, crime-noir franchise was initially conceived as a three-part story that followed hardboiled detective J.J. Gittes (Nicholson) as he investigates various mysteries in and around Los Angeles during the early 20th century. The storyline for the final chapter, Cloverleaf, would find Gittes caught up in a plot to raze a portion of the city and replace the trolley-car system with a freeway—a storyline that also happens to be the central narrative of Roger Rabbit. Screenwriters Jeffrey Price and Peter S. Seaman have made no secret of the connection between their script for Roger Rabbit and the Chinatown trilogy, and named the evil company in their film “Cloverleaf Industries” as a nod to the series. Unlike Roger Rabbit, however, Cloverleaf never made it to the screen, as plans for the film were scrapped after the poor performance of the second film in the series, The Two Jakes. 

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16 Geeky Coasters to Keep Your Coffee Table Safe
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Avoid unsightly ring stains on your coffee table with this delightful selection of coasters:

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we only get commission on items you buy and don’t return, so we’re only happy if you’re happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

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2. MARIO; $20

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Etsy

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Game of Thrones coasters
HBO Shop

Avoid a royal mess with house sigils of houses Targaryen, Stark, Baratheon, and Lannister.

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Rock on: These fancy agate coasters will look solid resting under your glass.

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These glowing coasters are perfect for chemists, Breaking Bad fans, and anyone who forgot to pay their electric bill.

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7. BUILDING BLOCKS; $19.99

Build your own coaster with this LEGO-esque design.

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8. STAR TREK; $16.63

Star Trek ship coasters
Amazon

This ceramic set celebrates all the best ships from Star Trek.

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Just make sure you don’t accidentally send your glass into a different time period when you set it down.

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Rilakkuma coaster
Bonanza

Cover your counter space with the cute face of Rilakkuma.

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11. HARRY POTTER; $50

Set of wood burned coasters featuring the crest of each Harry Potter house
Etsy

All the houses are present in this set of wood coasters.

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fallout coasters
Etsy

Just because it’s the end of the world doesn’t mean all manners go out the door: Never forget to use a coaster!

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13. BRAIN; $19.99

This set comes with 10 coasters, each with a slice of brain specimen. When you’re not using them, you can stack them together to create a full brain.

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14. THE LAST AIRBENDER; FROM $13

Aang and his entourage face off on these wooden coasters.

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Getting totally wigged by the idea of a stained table? All your favorite characters from Buffy the Vampire Slayer can give you an assist.

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16. STUDIO GHIBLI; $25

Studio Ghibli Stone Tile Coasters
Etsy

These coasters feature scenes from the classics My Neighbor Totoro, Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, and Howl's Moving Castle.

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15 Educational Facts About Old School
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DreamWorks

Old School starred Luke Wilson as Mitch Martin, an attorney who—after catching his girlfriend cheating, and through some real estate and bitter dean-related circumstances—becomes the leader of a not-quite-official college fraternity. Along with his fellow thirtysomething friends Bernard (Vince Vaughn) and newlywed Frank (Will Ferrell), they end up having to fight for their right to maintain their status as a party-loving frat on campus.

The film, which was released 15 years ago today, marked Vaughn’s return to major comedies and Ferrell’s first major starring role after seven years on Saturday Night Live. Here are some facts about the movie for everyone, but particularly for my boy, Blue.

1. THE IDEA ORIGINATED WITH AN AD GUY.

Writer-director Todd Phillips was talking to a friend of his from the advertising industry named Court Crandall one day. Crandall had seen and enjoyed Phillips's movie Frat House (1998) and told his director buddy, “You know what would be funny is a movie about older guys who start a fraternity of their own.” After being told by Phillips to write it, he presented Phillips with a “loose version” of the finished product.

2. SOME OF THE FRAT SHENANIGANS WERE REAL.

While Crandall received the story credit for Old School, Phillips and Scot Armstrong received the credit for writing the script. Armstrong put his own college fraternity experiences into the script. “We were in Peoria, Illinois, so it was up to us to entertain ourselves," Armstrong shared in the movie's official production notes. "A lot of ideas for Old School came from things that really happened. When it was cold, everyone would go stir crazy and it inspired some moments of brilliance. Of course, my definition of ‘brilliance' might be different from other people's.”

3. IVAN REITMAN HELPED OUT.

Ivan Reitman, director of Stripes and Ghostbusters, was an executive producer on the film. Phillips and Armstrong wrote and rewrote every day for two months at Reitman’s house, an experience Phillips described as comedy writing “boot camp.”

4. THE STUDIO DIDN’T WANT VINCE VAUGHN.

Vince Vaughn in 'Old School' (2003)
DreamWorks

It didn’t seem to make a difference to DreamWorks that Phillips and Armstrong had written the role of Bernard with Vince Vaughn in mind—the studio didn't want him. After his breakout success in Swingers, Vaughn had taken roles in dramas like the 1998 remake of Psycho. “So when Todd Phillips wanted me for Old School, the studio didn’t want me,” Vaughn told Variety in 2015. “They didn’t think I could do comedy! They said, ‘He’s a dramatic actor from smaller films.’ Todd really had to push for me.”

5. RECYCLED SHOTS OF HARVARD UNIVERSITY WERE USED.

The film was mainly shot on the Westwood campus of UCLA. The aerial shots of the fictitious Harrison University, however, were of Harvard; they had been shot for Road Trip (2000).

6. VINCE VAUGHN FANS MIGHT RECOGNIZE THE CHURCH.

In the film, Frank gets married at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Pasadena, California. Vaughn and Owen Wilson were in that same church two years later for Wedding Crashers (2005).

7. WILL FERRELL SCARED MEMBERS OF A 24-HOUR GYM.

Frank’s streaking scene was shot on a city street. As Ferrell remembered it, one of the storefronts was a 24-hour gym with Stairmasters and treadmills in the window. “I was rehearsing in a robe, and all these people are in the gym, watching me. I asked one of the production assistants, ‘Shouldn’t we tell them I’m going to be naked?’ Sure enough, I dropped my robe and there were shrieks of pure horror. After the first take, nobody was at the window anymore. I took that as a sign of approval.”

8. FERRELL REALLY WAS NAKED.

Ferrell justified it by saying it showed his character falling off the wagon. “The fact that it made sense was the reason I was really into doing it, and why I was able to commit on that level," Ferrell told the BBC. "If it was just for the sake of doing a crazy shot, then I don't think it makes sense.” Still, Ferrell needed some liquid courage, and was intimidated by the presence of Snoop Dogg.

9. ROB CORDDRY WAS NOT NAKED, BUT HE STILL HAD TO SIGN AWAY HIS NUDITY RIGHTS.

Old School marked the first major film role for Rob Corddry, who at the time was best known as a correspondent for The Daily Show. He had a jewel bag around his private parts for his nude scene, but his butt made it into the final cut. He had to sign a nudity clause, which gave the film the right to use his naked image “in any part of the universe, in any form, even that which is not devised.”

10. SNOOP DOGG AGREED TO CAMEO SO HE COULD PLAY HUGGY BEAR IN STARSKY & HUTCH.

Phillips admitted to essentially bribing the hip-hop artist/actor, using Snoop Dogg’s desire to play the street informant in the modern movie adaptation of the classic TV show (which Phillips was also directing) to his advantage. “So when I went to him I said, 'I want you to do Huggy Bear,' he was really excited. And I said, 'Oh yeah, also will you do this little thing for me in Old School a little cameo?' So he kind of had to do it I think."

11. SNOOP WANTED TO HANG OUT WITH VINCE VAUGHN ON SET, BUT NOT LUKE WILSON.

Snoop Dogg in 'Old School' (2003)
Richard Foreman, Dreamworks

Vaughn and his friends accepted an invitation to hang out in Snoop Dogg’s trailer to play video games on the last day of shooting. Vaughn recalled seeing Luke Wilson later watching the news alone in his trailer; he had not been informed of the get-together.

12. WILSON WAS TEASED BY HIS CO-STARS.

Vaughn, Wilson, and Ferrell dubbed themselves “The Wolfpack”—years before Phillips directed The Hangover—because they would always make fun of each other. A particularly stinging exchange had Ferrell refer to Legally Blonde (which Wilson had starred in) as Legally Bland. Wilson said it didn’t make him feel great. Wilson retorted by telling Ferrell that "the transition from TV to the movies isn't a very easy one, so you might just want to keep one foot back in TV just in case this whole movie thing falls through!"

13. TERRY O’QUINN SCARED HIS SONS INTO THINKING THEY WERE TRIPPING.

Terry O’Quinn (who went on to play John Locke on Lost the following year) agreed to play Goldberg, uncredited, in what was a two-day job for him. He neglected to inform his sons he was in the movie, and when they saw it, one of them called their father. “I got a call from my sons one night, and they said, ‘What were you doing in Old School? We didn’t even know you were in it!’ They said, ‘We’re sitting there, and the first time we see you, it’s, like, in a reflection in a window. And when we saw it, and we both thought we were, like, tripping or something!’”

14. THE EARMUFFS WERE IMPROVISED.

Before filming, Vaughn worked with Ferrell to figure out their characters' backstories and how they knew each other; he credited that with helping him figure out who Bernard was, which led to several ad-libbed moments. “The earmuff scene where he swears in front of the kids, and then I tell the kid to earmuff, that all is off the cuff. But that stuff is a lot easier to do when you know who you are and your circumstances, and who your characters are,” Vaughn explained.

15. FERRELL AND VAUGHN DIDN’T LOVE A SCRIPT FOR A SEQUEL.

Armstrong had written Old School Dos in 2006, which saw the frat going to Spring Break. Ferrell said that he and Vaughn read the script but felt like they would just be “kind of doing the same thing again.” Wilson, on the other hand, was excited over the new script.

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