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Dane DeHaan in Chronicle / YouTube
Dane DeHaan in Chronicle / YouTube

8 Rejected Ideas for Movie Sequels

Dane DeHaan in Chronicle / YouTube
Dane DeHaan in Chronicle / YouTube

Although some movies are popular enough to get a sequel, what you see on the screen is often not the first suggested story idea. We’ve written before about proposed sequels that (thankfully) never happened. Here are eight more rejected ideas for movie sequels.

1. ROGER RABBIT II: THE TOON PLATOON

Written by screenwriter Nat Mauldin, Roger Rabbit II: The Toon Platoon took place in 1941, six years before the events of the first film. After he learns he was adopted, Roger moves to Hollywood from the Midwest with Richie Davenport, his human best friend, to try to find his real parents. Once in L.A., Roger meets Jessica Krupnick, who would later become his wife. Roger and Richie enlist in the U.S. Army when Jessica gets kidnapped by a Nazi spy. Roger and Richie then go to Nazi-occupied Europe during World War II to save Jessica. After the pair saves the day, they all return to Hollywood where they get a hero’s greeting with a parade. Roger is then reunited with his parents and discovers that his real father is Bugs Bunny.

In the 1990s, the title was changed to Who Discovered Roger Rabbit, but executive producer Steven Spielberg had no interest in returning for the sequel. He felt that it would be in poor taste to satirize and lampoon the Nazis after making Schindler's List. Once the development budget ballooned, then-Disney CEO Michael Eisner canceled the sequel entirely and shifted the studio’s attention to CGI animation after the success of Toy Story and A Bug’s Life. Test footage was commissioned in 1998, but the result was an awkward mix of CGI and live action.

"It was never in the cards, we could never get the planets back into alignment," co-producer Don Hahn said of the would-be sequel. "There was something very special about that time when animation was not as much in the forefront as it is now."

2. JURASSIC PARK IV

Before Jurassic World hit theaters last year, Universal Pictures spent much of the 2000s trying to get Jurassic Park IV off the ground. Screenwriter William Monahan was hired to write a script, while John Sayles was hired for rewrites. Jurassic Park IV would’ve featured dinosaurs escaping Site A for the mainland, while a team of deinonychuses was being trained for a rescue mission and genetically modified dinosaur-human hybrids were being used as mercenaries. Sam Neill and Richard Attenborough were set to reprise their roles as Dr. Alan Grant and John Hammond, respectively. Keira Knightley was also reportedly in talks to take a supporting role.

The sequel was in development for years, but the 2007-2008 Writers Guild of America strike delayed the project further, as producers weren’t happy with draft after draft of screenplays from Mark Protosevich and writing team Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver.

"He felt neither of [the drafts] balanced the science and adventure elements effectively,” special effects wizard Stan Winston told IGN.com of producer Steven Spielberg’s thoughts on the original sequel’s development. “It's a tough compromise to reach, as too much science will make the movie too talky, but too much adventure will make it seem hollow."

In 2013, writer/director Colin Trevorrow was brought on to the project with a new and improved version of the Jurassic Park IV screenplay, which was now titled Jurassic World, set for release during the summer of 2015, and went on to become one of the highest-grossing films of all-time.

3. BATMAN UNCHAINED

Sometimes called Batman Triumphant, Batman Unchained would’ve been the fifth movie in the Batman franchise, and was set for release during the summer of 1999. However, after the very disappointing box office and critical response to Batman & Robin, the sequel was scrapped, and the franchise laid dormant until Christopher Nolan rebooted it with Batman Begins in 2005.

Screenwriter Mark Protosevich (yep, same guy from Jurassic Park IV) was hired to write Batman Unchained, which would have followed The Scarecrow terrorizing Gotham with his fear toxin, while The Joker returned to the franchise, as a fear-induced hallucination. Harley Quinn was written as The Joker’s daughter instead of his lover, as she was set to avenge his death. George Clooney, Chris O'Donnell, and Alicia Silverstone were all ready to return to their roles as Batman, Robin, and Batgirl, respectively, while Nicolas Cage was considered for The Scarecrow. Madonna and Courtney Love were rumored for the role of Harley Quinn.

“I'm getting a call from Joel [Schumacher], whose main comment was that I had written maybe the most expensive movie ever made. Then I remember I never heard from the executive at Warner Bros. I called many times, never got any kind of response," Protosevich told The Hollywood Reporter. "This got into a period of weeks and then a month, and my agent pestering Warners. And the next thing I knew, they were pulling the plug on the whole project. They were going to wait and see what they were going to do with Batman. The Joel Schumacher-driven Batman train was taken off the rails."  

4. INDIANA JONES AND THE MONKEY KING

In 1984, George Lucas wrote an eight-page treatment titled Indiana Jones and the Monkey King. It would’ve been the third installment in the series before Steven Spielberg and Lucas developed Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. The film would have opened in Scotland in 1937, with Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) fighting the ghost of Baron Seamus Seagrove III before heading to Africa to search for the Fountain of Youth, which was later changed to the Garden of Immortal Peaches. Indy’s old friend Scraggy Brier, Dr. Clare Clarke (a Katharine Hepburn-type), and a 200-year old pygmy would join him on an adventure in Africa trying to get away from the Nazis. Indiana Jones dies in the story, only to be resurrected by the Monkey King.

Chris Columbus was brought on to write a script, but after four drafts, Spielberg and Lucas ultimately passed on the story because they felt it would be too difficult to film.

"It was upbeat and full of the same nostalgia that we tapped into in Raiders of the Lost Ark, so in that sense Chris was right on the money,” Spielberg recalled. “But I don't think any of us wanted to go to Africa for four months and try to get Indy to ride a rhinoceros in a multi-vehicular chase, which was one of the sequences Chris had written. Once I got into the script, I began to feel very old, too old to direct it.”

5. BEETLEJUICE GOES HAWAIIAN

In 1990, Warner Bros. wanted Tim Burton to direct a Beetlejuice sequel—and to do so as soon as possible. However, Burton wasn’t interested in making sequels at the time, so he pitched an idea that he figured the studio would reject: Beetlejuice Goes Hawaiian saw the Deetz family moving to Hawaii, only to discover the tropical resort they’re developing sits on top of an ancient burial ground of a Hawaiian Kahuna. Once again, they call upon the services of Beetlejuice (Michael Keaton) to scare the spirits and ghosts away, while he also gets a suntan, wins a surfing contest, and tries to marry Lydia Deetz (Winona Ryder) again.

Surprisingly, Warner Bros. loved the idea and Keaton and Ryder were interested, too—as long as Burton was directing. But the filmmaker was busy making Batman Returns. According to screenwriter Jonathan Gems, “Tim thought it would be funny to match the surfing backdrop of a beach movie with some sort of German Expressionism, because they’re totally wrong together.”

6. ALIEN 3

In 1986, after the release of Aliens, Twentieth Century Fox was anxious to turn Alien into a franchise, but quickly ran into story problems while developing the third film over the next six years. A number of writers were brought on to write a screenplay that involved the survivors of the Sulaco either going to the Xenomorph’s home planet or the killer aliens coming to Earth. The movie studio even made a trailer that strongly suggested and teased the latter—even though it never happened in Alien 3.

In 1987, one promising action-heavy idea came from cyberpunk author William Gibson, who wrote a version of Alien 3 where Hicks (Michael Biehn) discovers the Weyland-Yutani Corporation is making an Alien army, while the people of a floating space station fight back against an invasion. The idea was scrapped when Fox wanted more screen time for Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley, who was in a coma throughout a majority of the film. "Sigourney Weaver is the centerpiece of the series," Fox president Joe Roth said. Ripley was "really the only female warrior we have in our movie mythology."

In 1990, New Zealand filmmaker Vincent Ward was hired to direct Alien 3, based on a pitch he came up with on the flight to Los Angeles. He thought of Ripley crash landing on a planet made completely out of wood and discovering a monastery full of all-male monks who see the Alien as a punishment from God. The sequel would’ve been an examination of Ripley’s soul and psyche throughout the series—and a fitting end for the character.

Fox quickly fired Ward and brought on a young David Fincher to make an action-heavy thriller about Ripley crash landing on a prison planet, as a new Xenomorph picks off the prisoners one by one, which made it more similar to the original Alien movie. Alien 3 opened in May 1992 to lukewarm reviews and moderate box office numbers.

7. SUPERMAN LIVES

Before the release of Superman Returns in 2006, there were a number of sequel and reboot ideas surrounding the Man of Steel that were abandoned or canceled—most notably 1996's Superman Lives. Filmmaker Kevin Smith (who was also offered the writing job on Beetlejuice Goes Hawaiian) was commissioned to write a screenplay for producer Jon Peters that featured Superman dressed in all black, fighting a polar bear at the Fortress of Solitude, then fighting a giant spider in the film’s climax. Nicolas Cage was cast as Superman, while Tim Burton was hired to direct. Superman Lives also featured two villains, Brainiac and Lex Luthor, who teamed up to destroy the Man of Steel.

Superman Lives was slated for release during the summer of 1998 for the 60th anniversary of the character’s comic book debut. However, after various rewrites, delays, and dropouts, the superhero movie was canceled (even after Warner Bros. spent more than $30 million over four years of pre-production and planning). The film The Death of "Superman Lives": What Happened? documents almost every aspect of what went wrong and why the film wasn’t made

“The only thing I’ll say about that—because that is such a lightning rod hot topic and if I say anything at all it just seems to snowball—but I will say that I had great belief in that movie and in what Tim Burton’s vision was going to be for that movie,” Cage told Yahoo! Movies. “I would’ve loved to have seen it, but I feel that in many ways, it was sort of a win/win because of the power of the imagination. I think people can actually see the movie in their minds now and imagine it and in many ways that might resonate more deeply than the finished project.”

8. CHRONICLE 2: MARTYR

In 2012, Twentieth Century Fox hired Max Landis to write a follow-up to his surprise hit, Chronicle. He wrote a darker sequel called Chronicle 2: Martyr, which featured a female villain named Miranda, who had the same superpowers as the protagonists from the first film—and was also schizophrenic.

“There’s this really interesting moment where she’s turned into this supervillain, she has a mechanized suit—like a real thing they can build now that would cost $20 million, but if you’re a genius you can do it—and she’s totally insane, living in this house with garbage everywhere, filming herself and talking to the camera on drones like it’s her boyfriend,” Landis told The Daily Beast. “It’s one of my better scripts. It’s very dark. It’s not Chronicle. It has a much happier ending than Chronicle!”

Landis also had another pitch that would bring the original trio from Chronicle back to the sequel via time travel. Andrew (Dane DeHaan), Matt (Alex Russell), and Steve (Michael B. Jordan) discover that they can now manipulate and control time after they go on the run from the government. Andrew and Matt then die in a shootout, as Steve looks into the camera and rewinds time back to the middle of the movie.

“Steve looks at the camera and goes, ‘This didn’t happen this way.’ And just like that, it rewinds to the beginning of the second act of Chronicle 2 and you see them being filmed by these French girls that they were hanging out with, and you see Steve go, ‘We’ve gotta go,’” Landis explained.

However, Fox didn’t like either pitch and removed Landis from the project. The sequel is still in development, with screenwriter Jack Stanley currently writing an all-new script.

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Every New Movie, TV Series, and Special Coming to Netflix in May
Netflix
Netflix

Netflix is making way for loads of laughs in its library in May, with a handful of original comedy specials (Steve Martin, Martin Short, Carol Burnett, Tig Notaro, and John Mulvaney will all be there), plus the long-awaited return of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Here’s every new movie, TV series, and special making its way to Netflix in May.

MAY 1

27: Gone Too Soon

A Life of Its Own: The Truth About Medical Marijuana

Amelie

Barbie Dreamhouse Adventures: Season 1

Beautiful Girls

Darc

God's Own Country

Hachi: A Dog's Tale

Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay

Hellboy II: The Golden Army

High School Musical 3: Senior Year

John Mulaney: Kid Gorgeous Live at Radio City

Mr. Woodcock

My Perfect Romance

Pocoyo & Cars

Pocoyo & The Space Circus

Queens of Comedy: Season 1

Reasonable Doubt

Red Dragon

Scream 2

Shrek

Simon: Season 1

Sliding Doors

Sometimes

The Bourne Ultimatum

The Carter Effect

The Clapper

The Reaping

The Strange Name Movie

Yu-Gi-Oh! Arc-V: Season 2

MAY 2

Jailbreak

MAY 4

A Little Help with Carol Burnett

Anon

Busted!: Season 1

Dear White People: Volume 2

End Game

Forgive Us Our Debts

Kong: King of the Apes: Season 2

Manhunt

My Next Guest Needs No Introduction With David Letterman: Tina Fey

No Estoy Loca

The Rain: Season 1

MAY 5

Faces Places

MAY 6

The Joel McHale Show with Joel McHale

MAY 8

Desolation

Hari Kondabolu: Warn Your Relatives

MAY 9

Dirty Girl

MAY 11

Bill Nye Saves the World: Season 3

Evil Genius: the True Story of America's Most Diabolical Bank Heist

Spirit Riding Free: Season 5

The Kissing Booth

The Who Was? Show: Season 1

MAY 13

Ali Wong: Hard Knock Wife

MAY 14

The Phantom of the Opera

MAY 15

Girlfriends' Guide to Divorce: Season 4

Grand Designs: Seasons 13 - 14

Only God Forgives

The Game 365: Seasons 15 - 16

MAY 16

89

Mamma Mia!

The 40-Year-Old Virgin

The Kingdom

Wanted

MAY 18

Cargo

Catching Feelings

Inspector Gadget: Season 4

MAY 19

Bridge to Terabithia

Disney’s Scandal: Season 7

Small Town Crime

MAY 20

Some Kind of Beautiful

MAY 21

Señora Acero: Season 4

MAY 22

Mob Psycho 100: Season 1

Shooter: Season 2

Terrace House: Opening New Doors: Part 2

Tig Notaro Happy To Be Here

MAY 23

Explained

MAY 24

Fauda: Season 2

Survivors Guide to Prison

MAY 25

Ibiza

Steve Martin and Martin Short: An Evening You Will Forget for the Rest of Your Life

The Toys That Made Us: Season 2

Trollhunters: Part 3

MAY 26

Sara's Notebook

MAY 27

The Break with Michelle Wolf

MAY 29

Disney·Pixar's Coco

MAY 30

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Season 4

MAY 31

Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story

My Next Guest Needs No Introduction With David Letterman: Howard Stern

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20 Best Docuseries You Can Stream Right Now
A scene from Wild Wild Country (2018)
A scene from Wild Wild Country (2018)
Netflix

If your main interests are true crime and cooking, you’re in the middle of a Renaissance Age. The Michelangelos of nonfiction are consistently bringing stellar storytelling to twisty tales of murder and mayhem as well as luxurious shots of food prepared by the most creative culinary minds.

But these aren’t the only genres that documentary series are tackling. There’s a host of history, arts, travel, and more at your streaming fingertips. When you want to take a break from puzzling out who’s been wrongfully imprisoned, that is.

Here are the 20 best docuseries to watch right now, so start streaming.

1. WILD WILD COUNTRY (2018)

What happens when an Indian guru with thousands of American followers sets up shop near a small town in Oregon with the intent to create a commune? Incredibly sourced, this documentary that touches on every major civic issue—from religious liberty to voting rights—should be your new obsession. When you choose a side, be prepared to switch. Multiple times.

Where to watch it: Netflix

2. FLINT TOWN (2018)

If your heart is broken by what’s going on in Flint, Michigan, be prepared to have that pain magnified and complicated. The filmmakers behind this provocative series were embedded with police in Flint to offer us a glimpse at the area’s local struggles and national attention from November 2015 through early 2017.

Where to watch it: Netflix

3. MAKERS: WOMEN WHO MAKE AMERICA (2013)

Narrated by Meryl Streep, this three-part series covers a half-century of American experience from the earliest days of second-wave feminism through Clarence Thomas’s Supreme Court nomination in the 1990s. Ellen DeGeneres, Condoleezza Rice, Sally Ride, Hillary Clinton, Oprah Winfrey, and more are featured, and the series got six more episodes in a second season.

Where to watch it: Makers.com

4. THE JINX (2015)

After the massive success of Serial in 2014, a one-two punch of true crime docuseries landed the following year. One was the immensely captivating study of power, The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst, which chronicled the bizarre, tangled web of the real estate mogul who was suspected of several murders. The show, which could be measured in jaw-drops per hour, both registered real life and uniquely affected it.

Where to watch it: HBO

5. MAKING A MURDERER (2015)

The second major true crime phenom of 2015 was 10 years in the making. Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos uncovered the unthinkable story of Steven Avery, a man wrongfully convicted of sexual assault who was later convicted of murdering a different woman, Teresa Halbach. Not just a magnifying glass on the justice system and a potential small town conspiracy, it’s also a display of how stories can successfully get our blood boiling.

Where to watch it: Netflix

6. WORMWOOD (2017)

Speaking of good conspiracies: documentary titan Errol Morris turns his keen eye to a CIA project that’s as famous as it is unknown—MKUltra. A Cold War-era mind control experiment. LSD and hypnosis. The mysterious death of a scientist. His son’s 60-year search for answers. Morris brings his incisive eye to the hunt.

Where to watch it: Netflix

7. FIVE CAME BACK (2017)

Based on Mark Harris’s superlative book, this historical doc features filmmakers like Steven Spielberg and Guillermo del Toro discussing the WWII-era work of predecessors John Ford, William Wyler, John Huston, Frank Capra, and George Stevens. Also narrated by Meryl Streep, it looks at how the war shaped the directors and how they shaped the war. As a bonus, Netflix has the war-time documentaries featured in the film available to stream.

Where to watch it: Netflix

8. THE STORY OF FILM: AN ODYSSEY (2011)

If you can’t afford film school, and your local college won’t let you audit any more courses, Mark Cousins’s 915-minute history is the next best thing. Unrivaled in its scope, watching it is like having a charming encyclopedia discuss its favorite movies. Yes, at 15-episodes it’s sprawling, so, yes, you should watch it all in one go. Carve out a weekend and be ready to take notes on all the movies you want to watch afterward.

Where to watch it: Sundance Now

9. UGLY DELICIOUS (2018)

David Chang, the host of the first season of The Mind of a Chef, has returned with a cultural mash-up disguised as a foodie show. What does it mean for pizza to be “authentic”? What do Korea and the American South have in common? With his casual charm in tow, Chang and a variety of special guests explore people through the food we love to eat as an artifact that brings us all together.

Where to watch it: Netflix

10. JAZZ (2000)

A legend of nonfiction, Ken Burns has more than a few docuseries available to stream, including long-form explorations of the Civil War and baseball. His 10-episode series on jazz exhaustively tracks nearly a century of the formation and evolution of the musical style across the United States. You’ll wanna mark off a big section of the calendar and crank up the volume.

Where to watch it: Amazon

11. THE STAIRCASE (2004)

In 2001, author Michael Peterson reported to police that his wife had died after falling down a set of stairs, but police didn’t buy the story and charged him with her murder. Before the current true crime boom, before Serial and all the rest, there was Jean-Xavier de Lestrade’s Peabody Award-winning docuseries following Peterson’s winding court case. The mystery at the heart of the trial and the unparalleled access Lestrade had to Peterson’s defense make this a must-see. (Netflix just announced that it will be releasing three new episodes of the series this summer.)

Where to watch it: Sundance Now

12. PLANET EARTH II (2016)

The sequel to the 2006 original is a real stunner. Narrated (naturally) by Sir David Attenborough, featuring music from Hans Zimmer, and boasting gorgeous photography of our immeasurably fascinating planet, this follow-up takes us through different terrains to see the life contained within. There are snow leopards in the mountains, a swimming sloth in the islands, and even langurs in our own urban jungle. Open your eyes wide to learn a lot or put it on in the background to zen out.

Where to watch it: Netflix

13. THE NATIONAL PARKS: AMERICA’S BEST IDEA (2009)

The cheapest way to visit Yosemite, Yellowstone, Muir Woods, and more. This Emmy-winning, six-part series is both a travelogue and a history lesson in conservation that takes up the argument of why these beautiful places should be preserved: to quote President Roosevelt, “for the benefit and enjoyment of the people.”

Where to watch it: Amazon

14. CONFLICT (2015)

Experience the too-often-untold stories of conflict zones through the lenses of world class photographers like Nicole Tung, Donna Ferraro, and João Silva. This heart-testing, bias-obliterating series is unique in its views into dark places and eye toward hope.

Where to watch it: Netflix

15. LAST CHANCE U (2016)

Far more than a sports documentary, the story of the players at East Mississippi Community College will have you rooting for personal victories as much as the points on the scoreboard. Many of the outstanding players on the squad lost spots at Division I schools because of disciplinary infractions or failing academics, so they’re seeking redemption in a program that wants them to return to the big-name schools. There are two full seasons to binge and a third on the way.

Where to watch it: Netflix

16. VICE (2013)

Currently in its sixth season, the series is known for asking tough questions that need immediate answers and giving viewers a street-level view of everything from killing cancer to juvenile justice reform. Its confrontational style of gonzo provocation won’t be everyone’s cup of spiked tea, but it’s filling an important gap that used to be filled by major network investigative journalists. When they let their subjects—from child soldiers suffering PTSD after fighting for ISIS to coal miners in Appalachia—tell their stories, nonfiction magic happens.

Where to watch it: HBO

17. CHEF’S TABLE (2015)

From David Gelb, the documentarian behind Jiro Dreams of Sushi, this doc series is a backstage pass to the kitchens of the world’s most elite chefs. The teams at Osteria Francescana, Blue Hill, Alinea, Pujol, and more open their doors to share their process, culinary creativity, and, of course, dozens of delicious courses. No shame in licking your screen.

Where to watch it: Netflix

18. NOBU’S JAPAN (2014)

For those looking to learn more about culture while chowing down, world-renowned chef Nobu Matsuhisa guides guest chefs to different regions of Japan to ingest the sights, sounds, and spirits of the area before crafting a dish inspired by the journey. History is the main course, with a healthy dash of culinary invention that honors tradition.

Where to watch it: Sundance Now

19. THE SYSTEM (2014)

Should a jury decide if a child is sentenced to life in jail without parole? How can you go to jail for 20 years for shooting your gun inside your own home to deter thieves? These are just two of the questions examined by this knockout series about the conflicts, outdated methods, and biases lurking in America’s criminal justice system. Insightful and infuriating, it makes a strong companion to Ava DuVernay’s 13th.

Where to watch it: Al Jazeera and Sundance Now

20. BOBBY KENNEDY FOR PRESIDENT (2018)

It won’t be available until April 27 (so close!), but it’s well worth adding to your queue. This four-part series utilizes a wealth of footage, including unseen personal videos, to share the tragic story of Robert F. Kennedy’s run for president in the context of an era riven by racial strife. Watching this socio-political memorial told by many who were there (including Marian Wright and Congressman John Lewis), it will be impossible not to draw connections to the current day and wonder: What if?

Where to watch it: Netflix

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