6 of the best films (n)ever made

Getting a film made is difficult. You have to come up with a great idea, find funding and hope that the powers that be won’t shut down your idea at the last minute. Every movie that gets made is a miracle (even the terrible ones).

Unfortunately, the complexities of getting a movie made has led to a lot of brilliant and weird ideas being left by the wayside over the years. Here are 6 of the best films never made!

The Lord of the Rings (starring the Beatles)

The 60s were a wild time: people took a lot of strange things, love was free and the Beatles almost starred in a version of The Lord of the Rings.

We’re not joking. According to various sources (including actual LOTR director Peter Jackson), Paul would have played Frodo, Ringo would have been Sam, George would have played Gandalf, and John Lennon would have been Gollum.

Why would it have been great?

The Fab Four were at the height of their creative powers, and almost enlisted Stanley Kubrick as director. There’s no way this psychedelic Lord of the Rings wouldn’t have been brilliant.

Oh, and did we mention that John Lennon would have played Gollum?

Why didn’t it happen?

J.R.R Tolkien refused the Beatles the rights. No-one knows exactly why, but it’s rumoured a Beatles-inspired band that lived a few doors away annoyed him enough to refuse the Beatles the rights to his greatest work.

Superman Lives

Superman Lives had all the ingredients to be the greatest superhero movies of all time. Tim Burton was directing. Kevin Smith was writing. And, best of all, Nicolas Cage was going to don the famous red cape.

Why would it have been great?

Tim Burton had just finished his Batman films, Kevin Smith (a lifelong comic book fan) was at the height of his creative powers and Nicolas Cage – a man who loves Superman so much that he named one of his children Kal-El – would have put in nothing less than his best performance ever (even better than Vampire’s Kiss).

Why didn’t it happen?

So much that there’s actually a documentary about it. Burton enlisted someone else to rewrite Smith’s script, the budget was slashed and, to top it all off, Batman and Robin was released around the same time and killed off the superhero genre for a few years. Poor Nic Cage 🙁

Justice League: Mortal

With Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice out next year, a Justice League film is almost certain to follow. But we almost got a Justice League film way back in 2008, directed by none other than Mad Max: Fury Road mastermind George Miller.

The film introduced all of the major players in the Justice League universe, including new versions of Batman and Superman, and a cast including Armie Hammer and Jay Baruchel was fully signed up. Sets and costumes were ready too.

Why it would have been great?

While the leaked script has been met with mixed reviews, anyone who’s seen Fury Road knows that George Miller doesn’t need snappy dialogue and a deep story to make a brilliant film. Early concept art suggests it would have been one of the most ambitious superhero films ever.

Why didn’t it happen?

Budget issues. Oh, and The Dark Knight came out around the same time and made a gazillion pounds at the box office, which put the studio off launching another version of Batman.

Star Wars: Return of the Jedi (as directed by David Lynch)

In the early 80s, David Lynch and Star Wars were the hottest names in the movie business. No-one thought the two would ever meet though: Star Wars was the biggest franchise in the world, while Lynch specialised in surreal arthouse pieces (with the exception of his Oscar-winning version of The Elephant Man).

Then, one day, Lynch and George Lucas had a meeting. The weirdest collaboration of all time was on…almost.

Why would it have been great?

Lynch’s surrealist style would have taken the Star Wars universe in a completely different direction, with a darker tone similar to The Empire Strikes Back. Based on the homage made by a Lynch fan above, it would have been a lot weirder too.

Why didn’t it happen?

After meeting Lucas, Lynch declared that Lucas’ new alien designs gave him a headache (presumably he saw Jar-Jar Binks). He politely declined and went on to make the critically panned Dune.

Meanwhile, Return of the Jedi went on to become everyone’s least favourite Star Wars film (until The Phantom Menace).

In short, no-one won.

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Batman Year One

Batman: Year One

Year One is one of the most popular Batman comics of all time, and was at least partially adapted by Christopher Nolan in Batman Begins.

However, Darren Aronofsky of Black Swan fame was once working on a version with Year One’s writer Frank MIller too…

Why would it have been great?

It would have completely changed the Batman origin story. Bruce Wayne’s parents still would have been killed, but instead of being raised by Alfred and learning to fight with Liam Neeson, Bruce would have been taken in by two mechanics and raised in the mean streets of Gotham. One of the mechanics, Little Al, would have taken on the Alfred role.

Also, it would have been extremely violent. Aronofsky described his Batman as being like ”˜Travis Bickle’.

Why didn’t it happen?

Although Frank Miller was fully behind the project, movie execs were a little less keen on the idea of a street-raised psycho Batman. Instead, a young British director called Christopher Nolan got the nod and the rest, as they say, is history.


Gladiator 2

Gladiator won 5 Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Actor, as well as making a truckload of money at the box office. A sequel was almost inevitable…if only [SPOILERS!] the main hero Maximus didn’t die at the end.

Still, Russell Crowe and Ridley Scott weren’t going to let a little thing like death get in the way of a money-spinner. So, they went off to find someone to write a sequel…and came back with Nick Cave (yes, that one).

Why would it have been great?

Cave’s Gladiator 2 would have been the craziest film of all time. Shortly after the events of the first film, Crowe’s Maximus is raised from the dead by a group of Roman Gods who want him to do their bidding. Maximus is sent back to Earth as an immortal warrior, and ends up intervening in conflicts throughout history, including World War 2 and Vietnam. Seriously, it’s mad.

Why didn’t it happen?

It was just too crazy to go ahead, even though Ridley Scott claimed it ”˜worked very well’. Cave’s screenwriting career didn’t end there, though: he went on to write The Proposition, Lawless and the upcoming remake of The Crow.

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