Oscar History

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Contest: Development Hell

If this blog were a movie, you'd have never read it. I'd have typed up innumerable drafts and discussed them with producers. They'd have missed the point entirely -- 'Have you thought about adding more unmade superhero movie rumors (the internet loves those) and ditching the actresses (booooorrring!)? -- then they'd hand over the reins to another writer entirely and another. No one would hit publish.

But this blog is not a movie and I hit publish all the time. The only "Tales From Development Hell" that effect me here involve plans for series that have trouble getting going or lose their way during production

If this blog post were a movie it would never be published and the books I have to give away to you would gather dust, cobwebs, and cat hair... so so so much cat hair (curse you, summer!). 

Anyway... THE BOOK! 

It has crazy stories about various aborted versions of The Planet of the Apes which led to Tim Burton's trainwreck. It charts the difficult journey of Total Recall  to the screen just in time for the remake.


Ahnuld demonstrates the face worn by all people working on movies in development hell.

'First of all, I really wanted to cast William Hurt,' he says, 'and the difference between Bill Hurt and Arnold Schwarzenegger probably tells you everything. I was doing something that I thought was faithful to Phil Dick and also to my own sense of the complex understanding of what memory is and what identity is. Obviously it would have been sci-fi and you would have gone to Mars, but it would have been like "Spider" goes to Mars,' he adds referring to his 2002 film starring Ralph Fiennes as a man struggling to piece his memories together, 'as opposed to "Raiders of the Lost Ark" Goes to Mars.' "
-David Cronenberg on his version of "Total Recall" 

It has a depressing story of Darren Aronofsky's Batman:Year One proposal (depressing because "gimme")... and much more. The movie choices lean a little fanboy -- I'd love to read a book like this on Jodie Foster's Flora Plum -- but the stories are interesting and it'll totally make you respect movies that get made... at all. What a rough business showbizness is.

If you wanna read it send me an e-mail by Saturday July 14th with "Development Hell" in the subject line with the following three pieces of info:


  1. Your Name
  2. Your Shipping Address
  3. (Briefly for possible publication here): Name a recent movie you wish had stayed in development hell longer. What two things would you have changed about it before it hit screens.


I'll announce the winners on Sunday! So start e-mailing and rewriting recent movies.

P.S. While we're on the subject of development hell, a version of the 2002 documentary The Sweatbox (supposedly Disney prevented the release from ever happening?) about the difficult production history of The Emperor's New Groove is showing in its entirety on YouTube. Have any of you seen it?

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    Contest: Development Hell - Blog - The Film Experience

Reader Comments (7)

I bought this book a few months ago and it is awesome. Highly recommend to anyone interested in "what if" and closed-door Hollywood hoopla.

July 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterZach

I watched The Sweatbox on YouTube recently and loved it. It has a lumpy structure since it sort of came together accidentally, but it's so cool to see all these animation geniuses torn between the creative, financial, political, etc. sides of their industry. A one-of-a-kind inside look at how Disney (and animation, and filmmaking) operates; everybody should definitely check it out... while they can.

July 11, 2012 | Registered CommenterAndreas

Emperor's New Groove is one of my favorites (so underrated) (EARTHA KITT!!!) so seeing The Sweatbox was incredibly interesting. While I love the final product, I can't help but wonder how great the original ambitious idea would have turned out.

July 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMovieman92

I also LOVE The Emperor's New Groove. It's the funniest dang Disney movie I've ever seen. If Chuck Jones made a Disney film, this would probably be it. Gonna give that Sweatbox a watch.

And Darren Aronofsky seems to major in building up nerd fanboy dreams with movie projects and then leaving them a minute later(Robocop, Wolverine, now Batman: Year One).

July 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJeremy

Total Recall (1990) — As is responsible for Sharon Stone, Rachel Ticotin, and theoretically Basic Instinct and Showgirls. I know you wouldn't give up those things for a single Cronenberg movie now would you?

July 11, 2012 | Unregistered Commenter4rtful

I love the film concept and the story writing also,It is a heart touched with trill included.Nice post

The Sweatbox was fascinating. It makes me wonder if Pixar uses the same production strategy-- beginning a production without having a solid script isn't exactly a recipe for success! It makes me wonder about nominations that go to animated films... how many of the best original screenplay nominees were third or fourth attempts at making a coherent storyline out of someone's tiny, undeveloped idea?

July 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEvan
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