20th Century Fox
20th Century Fox

12 Movies That Were Shot, But Never Finished

20th Century Fox
20th Century Fox

Sometimes movies stop production due to financial problems, script issues, or just plain bad luck. Here are 12 movies that were shot, but never completed, and remain unfinished and abandoned.

1. Uncle Tom’s Fairy Tales

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In 1968, Richard Pryor and director Penelope Spheeris worked together on a subversive satire called Uncle Tom's Fairy Tales: The Movie for Homosexuals. While it's unclear what the film was about, it is believed that it followed a group of Black Panthers who kidnap a wealthy white man and put him on trial for all the racial crimes in American history. Spheeris had assembled a rough cut to screen for Pryor at his home, but Pryor's then-wife Shelley Bonis got into an argument with him about spending all of his time and money on the film. In a fit of rage, Pryor destroyed the negative.

According to the Richard Pryor biography Furious Cool, "Penelope spent days splicing the pieces of the film back together like a jigsaw puzzle. She reconstructed the forty-some minutes of film by arduously piecing together the mangled pieces, some only a few frames long. The result was so crumpled and patched together that the film danced all around as it ran through the projector gate."

Uncle Tom's Fairy Tales was thought to be lost until Spheeris found a brief clip in her archive and donated it to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 2005. It was screened during a tribute to the comedian, when it sparked Pryor's widow Jennifer Lee to sue Penelope Spheeris and Pryor's daughter Rain for allegedly stealing the original negative during the 1980s. The lawsuit is still pending.

2. The Man Who Killed Don Quixote

Terry Gilliam's long-gestating The Man Who Killed Don Quixote was supposed to be a follow-up to his 1998 film Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, but the project never came together in production. After Gilliam secured $32 million for his version of Miguel Cervantes's The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha, he experienced a long string of bad luck—choosing a filming location near a military base, a freak flash flood that destroyed a majority of its elaborate and expensive sets, and the lead Jean Rochefort's health problems all contributed to a production shut down after a few weeks of shooting in early 2000.

Lost in La Mancha documented Gilliam's process and frustrations while making The Man Who Killed Don Quixote. The documentary was originally supposed to be a bonus feature for the film's home video release, but ended up becoming a full length feature itself, which was independently released in theaters in 2002.

Gilliam moved on to other projects such as Tideland, The Brothers Grimm, and The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus while also spending the last decade trying to re-launch The Man Who Killed Don Quixote (without success). He's currently still trying to finish the project and expects to start shooting in early 2015.

3. Kaleidoscope

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Towards the end of his career in 1968, Alfred Hitchcock was at a commercial and artistic low after the releases of Marnie and Torn Curtain. He wanted to re-invent himself as an experimental director, so he conceived Kaleidoscope, a very adult thriller that was full of murder, rape, necrophilia, bodybuilders, and serial killers. Not only was Kaleidoscope supposed to be a graphic murder mystery, it was also to incorporate many innovative and irreverent film techniques such as use of natural light, hand-held filming, and point-of-view camera work.

Unfortunately, Hitchcock couldn't find funding for his cinéma vérité art film, so he scrapped the project after an extensive pre-production process. About an hour of raw footage from Kaleidoscope exists, while Hitchcock recycled some of its elements for his penultimate film Frenzy in 1972.   

4. The Aryan Papers

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While Napoleon and A.I. Artificial Intelligence—which Steven Spielberg eventually made in 2001—are two of the most popular unfinished Stanley Kubrick films, The Aryan Papers was closest to getting off the ground. Kubrick wanted to make a movie about World War II and the Holocaust, but couldn't find the right story to tell until he read Louis Begley's "Wartime Lies" in 1991. The novel followed a Jewish boy and his aunt who survived the Nazi occupation of Europe when the pair acquired Aryan identity papers and pretended to be traveling as Polish Catholics.

Kubrick secured financing through Warner Bros, began to scout locations in the Czech Republic, and cast Jurassic Park's Joseph Mazzello to play the boy and Dutch actress Johanna ter Steege as his aunt. The project was ultimately scrapped when Warner Bros. realized that The Aryan Papers would come out one year after Steven Spielberg's Schindler's List. So instead, Stanley Kubrick moved on to Eyes Wide Shut, which was his final film.

5. Nailed

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In 2008, before he was an Academy Award nominated writer and director for Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle, David O. Russell worked on a film project titled Nailed as his follow-up to 2004's I Heart Huckabees. Nailed followed a waitress, played by Jessica Biel, who survived a freak accident with a nail gun, but as a result spends the duration of the film shifting through multiple personalities. She then heads to Washington DC to campaign for victims of bizarre accidents, but gets romantically involved with a corrupt congressman (played by Jake Gyllenhaal).

Nailed was riddled with financial problems, which led to a number of production stoppages. Its financier David Bergstein and his production company Capitol Films were unable to pay actors and crew members after two weeks of shooting, and David O. Russell's reputation as a difficult director also contributed to Nailed's demise. James Caan reportedly walked off the film after the first day of shooting due to heated arguments with Russell over the proper way to choke on a cookie.

In 2010, Russell said of Nailed, "There was a lot that was going on that I liked, but it was kinda a stillbirth, you know? So when that happens, the whole thing gets kinda weird."

6. Who Killed Bambi?

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In 1978, Twentieth Century Fox wanted to make a movie starring The Sex Pistols after the British band's rise to fame. It was intended to be Hard Day's Night, but for punk music. Johnny Rotten and Sid Vicious wanted director Russ Meyer and screenwriter Roger Ebert—the masterminds behind their favorite movie, Beyond the Valley of the Dolls—to make Who Killed Bambi? However, after one day of shooting in England, Fox shut down the production after studio executives read the script. Apparently, Princess Grace of Monaco (one of the Twentieth Century Fox board members) objected to yet another X-rated movie from Meyer, despite the commercial success of Beyond the Valley of the Dolls.

Roger Ebert posted the entire screenplay for Who Killed Bambi? on his website.

7. The Works

New York Institute of Technology developed The Works in 1976 and it would've been the first 3D computer animated feature film ever—had it been completed. Graphics Researcher Lance Williams helmed The Works, whose production team consisted exclusively of programmers and computer engineers without the aid of a proper director or editor. The Works was ultimately scrapped in 1986 when the technology couldn't keep up with the film's high ambitions. Instead, Pixar's Toy Story ended up being the first 3D computer animated film when it was released in 1995.

8. Something’s Got to Give

In June 1962, George Cukor directed the screwball comedy Something's Got to Give for Twentieth Century Fox. Marilyn Monroe, Dean Martin, and Cyd Charisse starred in this remake of the 1940 comedy My Favorite Wife. After a few weeks into shooting, Fox halted production. The film was already behind schedule and over budget, both because of Marilyn Monroe's frequent illnesses, such as a severe sinus infection, fever, and bronchitis. She was subsequently fired from Something's Got to Give and the film was re-worked and re-cast as Move Over, Darling a year and a half later. Only 37 minutes of footage of Something's Got to Give exists.

Marilyn Monroe died in August, 1962, a few weeks after she was fired from Something's Got to Give.

9. My Best Friend's Birthday

Before Quentin Tarantino released Reservoir Dogs in 1992, he co-wrote and directed a comedy called My Best Friend's Birthday. Tarantino worked on the project with his video store co-worker Craig Hamann on and off between 1984 and 1987. It followed Clarence, played by Tarantino, who tries to surprise his best friend on his birthday, only to have his attempts backfire. The black & white amateurish film was partially lost in a fire at the lab where the 16mm negative was developed. Only 36 minutes of My Best Friend's Birthday's 70 minute running time survived.

The screenplay of My Best Friend's Birthday is now available online.

10. The Other Side Of The Wind

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Orson Welles' final film The Other Side of the Wind started production in 1969 and ran infrequently through 1976. The film, which incorporated elements of found footage, was about an aged director, played by John Huston, at the end of his career and his heated rivalry with a younger director, played by Peter Bogdanovich.

The Other Side of the Wind's production experienced a plague of problems and obstacles, including Welles' problems with the IRS and the Ayatollah Khomeini's government seizing footage during the Iranian Revolution in 1979 (the Shah of Iran's brother-in-law partially funded the film).

Legal rights to the footage and the Welles estate contributed to The Other Side of the Wind's completion problems, but Peter Bogdanovich and producer Frank Marshall are committed to finishing it for Orson Welles. "The problem is that a lot of different people own parts of it or claim to own parts of it. And so the chain of title is difficult to establish," Bogdanovich told The Playlist. "But it keeps inching forward and we keep getting closer and closer and things fall apart again. It's just a very, very difficult situation. I think it will get done some time, but not in the near future.”

11. Dark Blood

With only 11 days of shooting to go, director George Sluizer halted production on Dark Blood in 1993 after the untimely death of River Phoenix from a drug overdose. Phoenix played a character named Boy, a widower who lived in the desert near a nuclear testing facility. Dark Blood's film rights reverted to its insurance company, and Sluizer set on a 14-year quest to obtain footage and re-assemble the film to the best of his ability. The unfinished Dark Blood eventually screened during the Netherlands Film Festival in 2012 and the 63rd Berlin International Film Festival in 2013.

12. The Day the Clown Cried

Jerry Lewis' notorious and unfinished The Day the Clown Cried remains one of the most sought-after films in cinema history. The Day the Clown Cried was a European production about an ex-clown, played by Jerry Lewis, imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp during World War II.

The production suffered financial problems with producer Nathan Wachsberger unable to secure funds, so Lewis continued shooting with his own money. Once a rough cut was produced, Jerry Lewis was unable to work on the film due to a legal dispute with Wachsberger and its co-screenwriter Joan O'Brien over its rights. It is believed that there are only two copies of The Day the Clown Cried: one under lock and key in Jerry Lewis' personal archive and the other at Stockholm Studios, where it was made. Only brief behind-the-scenes footage exists.

During a Q&A in Los Angeles in 2013, Lewis said of the film, "I was ashamed of the work, and I was grateful that I had the power to contain it all, and never let anyone see it. It was bad, bad, bad."

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Pop Culture
What Would It Cost to Operate a Real Jurassic Park?
Universal Studios and Amblin Entertainment, Inc. and Legendary Pictures Productions, LLC.
Universal Studios and Amblin Entertainment, Inc. and Legendary Pictures Productions, LLC.

As the Jurassic Park franchise has demonstrated, trapping prehistoric monsters on an island with bite-sized tourists may not be the smartest idea (record-breaking box office numbers aside). On top of the safety concerns, the cost of running a Jurassic Park would raise its own set of pretty pricey issues. Energy supplier E.ON recently collaborated with physicists from Imperial College London to calculate how much energy the fictional attraction would eat up in the real world.

The infographic below borrows elements that appear in both the Jurassic Park and Jurassic World films. One of the most costly features in the park would be the aquarium for holding the massive marine reptiles. To keep the water heated and hospitable year-round, the park would need to pay an energy bill of close to $3 million a year.

Maintaining a pterosaur aviary would be an even more expensive endeavor. To come up with this cost, the researchers looked at the yearly amount of energy consumed by the Eden Project, a massive biome complex in the UK. Using that data, they concluded that a structure built to hold winged creatures bigger than any bird alive today would add up to $6.6 million a year in energy costs.

Other facilities they envisioned for the island include an egg incubator, embryo fridge, hotel, and emergency bunker. And of course, there would be electric fences running 24/7 to keep the genetic attractions separated from park guests. In total, the physicists estimated that the park would use 455 million kilowatt hours a year, or the equivalent of 30,000 average homes. That annual energy bill comes out to roughly $63 million.

Keep in mind that energy would still only make up one part of Jurassic Park's hypothetical budget—factoring in money for lawsuits would be a whole different story.

Map of dinosaur park.
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Comics
20 Things You Might Not Know About Garfield
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Everyone’s favorite lazy, lasagna-loving cat made his debut 40 years ago, but Garfield is still just as popular today. The comic strip spawned a TV show plus a number of video games, feature films, books, and, of course, holiday specials—not to mention one very memorable car window craze. We sat down with Garfield creator Jim Davis to nail down a solid list of 20 things you might not know about the wisecracking feline.

1. JIM DAVIS ORIGINALLY INTENDED TO FOCUS THE STRIP ON JON.


Courtesy of Jim Davis

“I ran some early ideas at a local paper,” Jim Davis tells Mental Floss, “to see how I felt about it and I called the strip Jon. It was about him, but he had this wise cat who, every time, came back zinging him. He always had the great payoff. At the time, I worked for T.K. Ryan—the cartoonist for Tumbleweeds—and I showed it to him and told him how every time I got to the punch line the cat zings him. And T.K. said, 'Well, what does that tell you, Jim?'" he laughs. “The strip must be about the cat. Go with it.”

2. JON WAS A CARTOONIST IN THE VERY FIRST COMIC STRIP, BUT IT WAS NEVER REALLY MENTIONED AGAIN.

“I didn’t want to tread on the fact that Jon’s a cartoonist because my biggest fear was getting a little too inside," Davis says. "That it would be a little too easy for me to write. I didn’t want to lose the readers just for my own enjoyment, or for a handful of peers. Also, I purposely gave him a job right off the top for the reason that The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet never explained what Ozzie did for a living. Nobody ever knew because he was always in the house with Harriet and Ricky and David. Just hanging around. So I thought I would give Jon a job right off the top to avoid being asked what he does for a living in interviews.”

3. GARFIELD WAS NAMED AFTER DAVIS'S GRANDFATHER, JAMES A. GARFIELD DAVIS ...

... who was named after President James A. Garfield. That’s quite a connection. Now just imagine a fat, wisecracking, lasagna-eating cat as the President of the United States of America. (Sounds like a dead-ringer for William Howard Taft!)

4. GARFIELD IS SET IN DAVIS'S HOMETOWN OF MUNCIE, INDIANA, BUT THAT'S ALSO MOSTLY LEFT UNSAID.


Courtesy of Jim Davis

“I would like for readers in Sydney, Australia to think that Garfield lives next door,” Davis says. “Dealing with eating and sleeping, being a cat, Garfield is very universal. By virtue of being a cat, really, he’s not really male or female or any particular race or nationality, young or old. It gives me a lot more latitude for the humor for the situations.” The farm that Davis grew up on reportedly had 25 cats, several of which he based the Garfield character on.

5. DAVIS MAINTAINS COMPLETE CONTROL OVER GARFIELD'S FINAL PRODUCT, BUT HE NO LONGER DRAWS THE DAILY COMIC STRIP.

“I’m sitting here working on the writing right now,” he says. “I see gags and I work with assistants on the strip and stuff like that. We do roughs and it all filters through me so that it has one voice. We all get together occasionally in the same room and draw and work on shapes of fingers and gestures and expressions and things like that so that if any one of us draws it, you can’t tell which one did it.”

6. HE REGRETS AT LEAST ONE LICENSED GARFIELD ITEM.

According to Slate, Garfield merchandise brings in $750 million to $1 billion annually. Davis’s creation has been adapted and licensed more times than anyone could probably count, and of all of those items, there's one that Davis isn't thrilled with. “A few years ago there was a Zombie Garfield,” he says. “It was really gnarly and I thought, 'Oh, this will be fun.' So I did it and it sold okay. It was really interesting. But then I looked at it later and I go, ‘It did nothing for the character’s advancement.’ I figured I just did it because it was cool and everybody was doing it at the time. I just didn’t have a warm, fuzzy feeling after doing it. But those T-shirts go away," he laughs.

7. GARFIELD HOLDS THE GUINNESS WORLD RECORD FOR BEING THE WORLD'S MOST WIDELY SYNDICATED COMIC STRIP.

Garfield is syndicated in more than 2500 newspapers and journals. The cat also has more than 16 million fans on Facebook. That’s one seriously popular feline.

8. GARFIELD'S CHARACTER DESIGN HAS CHANGED MANY TIMES OVER THE YEARS.

There's one constant, though: The fat cat has always been—and will always be—fat. “If he lost weight, that would effectively end Garfield as we know it,” Davis says. “Garfield sends a healthy message in that he’s not perfect. He knows that and he’s cool with that. He’s happy with himself. If everybody were, there would probably be fewer disorders of all natures. He’s not perfect. In fact, he’s the imperfection in all of us underneath. I think that makes him probably easier to identify with than a slim, athletic character in the comics.”

9. DAVIS REALLY ENJOYED SCARING KIDS WITH GARFIELD'S HALLOWEEN ADVENTURE.

"It was such a challenge to try to think of something that could be scary, but fortunately we got to work with animation—we could marry scary sounds with scary music and scary images, and set the stage for a scary experience," Davis says. "Even down to the use of the actor’s voice. C. Lindsay Workman [who voices the old man that tells Garfield and Odie about the vengeful ghost pirates] was just a great character actor. I think we took our time to build to a scary scene where the ghost pirates invaded the house to look for the buried treasure. We tried to throw as many elements together as possible to create a situation where, at least for a few minutes, it could create a scary situation for the young viewers."

10. CREATING THE GHOST PIRATES IN THE HALLOWEEN TV SPECIAL WAS MUCH MORE DIFFICULT THAN YOU MIGHT THINK.

“We did it in our own art department (here at Paws, Inc.) because we wanted to make it just right,” the Garfield creator told us. “It was done with a white, chalky pencil on a rough texture so that everything would be really grainy. Back then, we animated on real film, so in order to get that glow we did what’s called a double burn. We exposed the film twice to overexpose the ghosts, and that gave it that eerie glow. We were totally in control of the process and the results turned out very well.”

11. IN 2011, A FULL-LENGTH STAGE MUSICAL CALLED GARFIELD LIVE WAS STAGED IN MUNCIE.

The musical was supposed to start touring the United States in September 2010, but was delayed until January 2011, when it premiered in Muncie. Davis wrote Garfield Live, while Michael Dansicker and Bill Meade handled the music and lyrics.

12. DAVIS LOVED THE CASTING OF BILL MURRAY AS THE VOICE OF GARFIELD IN 2004'S GARFIELD: THE MOVIE.


Muncie Magazine

“It was because of Bill Murray’s attitude [that he was cast],” Davis tells us. “It wasn’t really so much his voice. It was the fact that he embodies the attitude that Garfield has always displayed in the strip. Lorenzo [Music] obviously wasn’t a choice since he passed away years ago, and when the producers said, ‘Bill Murray would like to do the voice,’ I thought, ‘Oh, cool.’ My biggest concern about doing a CGI Garfield with live action was that people wouldn’t buy into the fact that this was our Garfield—the Garfield we’d known all these years. But I thought that as soon as they heard Bill Murray’s voice they’d get it. There will be that emotional tag going with his voice. That will establish the fact that, ‘Yes, this character has attitude.’”

13. THERE'S A GREAT LINK BETWEEN GARFIELD VOICE ACTOR LORENZO MUSIC AND BILL MURRAY.

Lorenzo Music provided the voice of Garfield in all of the cat’s TV specials from 1982 to 1991, as well as during the 1988 to 1994 run of Garfield and Friends. Music also provided the voice of Peter Venkman in The Real Ghostbusters. Murray, of course, played Venkman in the Ghostbusters films and would, in 2004, provide the voice of Garfield in Garfield: The Movie. “I didn’t know about the relationship with Ghostbusters until years later."

14. THE MACY'S PARADE ONCE CITED SHAMU THE WHALE AS THE PARADE'S LARGEST BALLOON, BUT DAVIS SAYS GARFIELD WAS LARGER.

“In the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, they had published that their biggest balloon ever, by volume of gas, was Shamu the Whale with over 18,000 cubic feet," Davis says. "The fact is that the Garfield balloon was filled with 18,907 cubic feet of helium. So we just confirmed that the Garfield balloon, in fact, was the largest one by volume of gas.”

15. THERE ARE ONLY THREE COUNTRIES IN THE WORLD WHERE GARFIELD IS NOT NAMED GARFIELD.

“In Sweden, Garfield is known as Gustav,” the Garfield creator says. “There are only three countries in the whole world where he’s not Garfield and they’re all in the Nordics.” The other two are Norway and Finland.

16. THE STUCK ON YOU GARFIELD PLUSH WITH SUCTION CUPS WAS THE RESULT OF A MISUNDERSTANDING.


Amazon

In the 1990s, it wasn't unusual to see a number of cars with little Garfield plushes stuck to the windows with suction cups. But that wasn't the original design—or the intended use. “I designed the first Stuck on You doll with Velcro on the paws, thinking that people would stick it on curtains,” Davis says. “It came back as a mistake with suction cups. They didn’t understand the directions. So I stuck it on a window and said, 'If it’s still there in two days, we’ll approve this.' Well, they were good suction cups and we released it like that. It never occurred to me that people would put them on cars.”

17. THE GARFIELD COMIC STRIP BOOKS HAVE BEEN HUGE HITS.

“The 11 Garfield comic strip books have all been number one on the New York Times Bestseller List,” Davis says. “At one time there were seven on the list simultaneously. At that point, they changed the way the list was done because other publishing houses were complaining that their authors couldn’t get on the list because of Garfield. Garfield at Large (1980) was number one for two solid years. Over 100 weeks.” The title of every compilation book is a reference to either food or Garfield’s weight.

18. STEVEN SPIELBERG AND STEPHEN KING ARE AMONG THE MANY CELEBRITIES WHO OWN ORIGINAL GARFIELD STRIPS.

They both contacted Davis personally for the strips; the cartoonist happily obliged.

19. DESPITE GARFIELD BEING INSANELY POPULAR FOR DECADES, DAVIS IS STILL MOSTLY ANONYMOUS.


Muncie Magazine

“Being a cartoonist, you really enjoy a lot of anonymity,” he says. “You take a half-dozen of the biggest cartoonists and walk them down any street, nobody would notice them. They only know their characters. So I just hide behind Garfield. The only time anyone knows the name or spots me is if I’m out on book tour and I’m meant to do publicity. We don’t suffer any of the kind of attention problems that I think people do on TV or in movies. It’s not a big deal. I’m sitting here in the countryside of East Central Indiana, so it’s pretty quiet.”

20. DAVIS'S FATHER'S FAVORITE COMIC STRIP WASN'T GARFIELD.

Davis's father and namesake, who passed away in 2016, liked Garfield but preferred another comic strip: Beetle Bailey. “Nobody else knew that until today,” Davis tells us.

This article originally appeared in 2014.

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