With the Disney/Fox merger now completed and a rough week for Disney at the stock market, there is perhaps no better time for the House of Mouse to cancel a truly impressive number of film projects that had long been in development at Fox before the studios came together.
Of the 246 movies listed as being in development at Fox — a lot of which were, of course, movies that most audience members would never have heard of since Fox deals with foreign, independent, and documentary films, among others — only a half-dozen or so will remain in development, most of which are movies that are either already through the production process or based on massive intellectual property that Disney has faith in.
That leaves a lot of movies to pore over and consider what might have been — or where they might go. The list for genre projects that our audience would likely have connected with in a big way is a bit smaller, so you can see us break some of those down below. A lot of this legwork was compiled on Reddit, which you can see here, with a link to the larger (complete?) list.
Fox was still planning (or at least had not yet removed from their development slate) a sequel to the 2016 Michael Fassbender adaptation of the popular Ubisoft game franchise Assassin’s Creed. In the film, which hit theaters in December of 2016, Cal Lynch travels back in time to 15th-century Spain through a revolutionary technology that unlocks the genetic memories contained in his DNA. There, he lives out the experiences of Aguilar de Nerha, a distant relative who’s also a member of the Assassins, a secret society that fights to protect free will from the power-hungry Templar Order. Transformed by the past, Cal begins to gain the knowledge and physical skills necessary to battle the oppressive organization in the present.
In March 2016, Daphne Yang, CEO of the film’s Taiwanese co-financier CatchPlay, claimed that New Regency was looking to turn the film into a franchise. At the time, she said that two additional films were planned, with the first sequel having entered development during the production of the initial film, and a potential setting in the Cold War.
“The Boogeyman” is a short story by Stephen King, first published in the March 1973 issue of the magazine Cavalier, and later collected in King’s 1978 collection Night Shift. The story centered on the deaths of three children who cried out about the boogeyman before being murdered, and whose closet doors were left open. A movie version was made in 1982, and a short film in 2010. Between the two, the story was adapted into a stage play in the U.K.
The latest adaptation was announced in 2018, bringing together Scott Beck and Bryan Woods from A Quiet Place and capitalizing on the renewed love Hollywood has found for all things King.
A genre-bending film that combined found footage horror with superhero action, Chronicle helped make Michael B. Jordan and Dane DeHaan a couple of the hottest young commodities in Hollywood and gave them both the opportunity to star in bigger-budget superhero movies (although the movies in question were Fantastic 4 and The Amazing Spider-Man 2, so you can decide whether or not that counts as opportunity). It was also a big career boost for its writer, Max Landis, and its director, Josh Trank.
Sequel rumors started almost immediately after the film’s release in 2012, but with almost everyone involved doing other, bigger projects, the conversations never seemed to move forward too much. Landis reportedly wrote a script that Fox did not like for what he later said could have been a trilogy. Any interest Fox had in pursuing the sequel likely deteriorated after Fantastic 4, directed by Trank, became a colossal failure and Landis faced numerous allegations of sexual misconduct from former coworkers.
While there have been rumors of a Flash Gordon reinvention for years now, it seemed like it might become a reality back in June, when the merged Fox/Disney alliance reportedly tapped Taika Waitti to oversee the film. It would have been an animated feature film, although the extent of Waitti’s involvement is hard to say, given that he is a pretty in-demand filmmaker at the moment.
Regardless, it seems as though he did not have time to crack the project before Thor: Love and Thunder became a reality and he will now be occupied trying to come up with a sequel to the beloved Thor: Ragnarok.
Skip Woods of X-Men Origins: Wolverine and A Good Day to Die Hard fame wrote both the disappointing 2007 video game adaptaiton Hitman (starring Timothy Olyphant as Agent 47) and its equally-disappointing 2015 reboot Hitman: Agent 47 (starring Rupert Friend in the title role). In spite of both movies being critical and commercial disappointments, Fox was keeping the franchise, which was a big hit in the video game industry, in its back pocket for another potential return.
Hitman: Agent 47 centers on an elite assassin who was genetically engineered from conception to be the perfect killing machine, and is known only by the last two digits on the barcode tattooed on the back of his neck. He is the culmination of decades of research – and forty-six earlier Agent clones — endowing him with unprecedented strength, speed, stamina and intelligence. His latest target is a mega-corporation that plans to unlock the secret of Agent 47’s past to create an army of killers whose powers surpass even his own. Teaming up with a young woman who may hold the secret to overcoming their powerful and clandestine enemies, 47 confronts stunning revelations about his own origins and squares off in an epic battle with his deadliest foe.
If there’s anybody who might be happy about all of this news, it’s Alan Moore, whose League of Extraordinary Gentlemen comics were adapted into a shockingly dull 2003 film. Like basically any live-action version of his comics work, Moore objected to its existence, although rumor has it he was actually not against it from the get-go. Instead, he served as an adviser and got ignored, then was named in a lawsuit by a screenwriter who claimed it was too similar to an idea he had tried and failed to sell to Fox. The case was dismissed, but Moore had apparently been soured on the idea of working in Hollywood.
In the film, renowned adventurer Alan Quatermain must lead a group of legendary literary heroes in a fierce battle to save the world. It starred Sean Connery as Quatermain alongside Shane West, Peta Wilson, Stuwart Townshend, and Jason Flemyng.
Before Avengers: Endgame directors Joe and Anthony Russo were involved with an anime version for Netflix, Magic: The Gathering was being developed as a live-action movie from Fox. Based on the popular collectible card game, Magic would have been a big-budget, high-fantasy film.
A prequel similar to, but distinct from, the Die Hard: Year One story told in the comics, McClane would reintroduced fans to a younger (and recast) John McClane. The film would have supposedly brought back Bruce Willis as present day John McClane (60 years old), who would be working a case that somehow connects to his days as a 20-something rookie cop. As executive producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura has previously explained it:
“I don’t know how you do Die Hard without Bruce. The idea that he’s not very significant in this movie is not accurate at all. We are gonna explore John McClane in his twenties. But just as prominent is the 60-year-old version.”
After years in development, Capcom announced a Mega Man film in 2018.
“Based on the influential and globally beloved Mega Man franchise, Capcom aims to appeal to a diverse audience, including not only game players but action movie fans as well, with an adaptation that maintains the world of the Mega Man games, while incorporating the grand production and entertainment value that Hollywood movies are known for,” the company said in a press release.
Capcom also touted the success of the Mega Man brand, talking about its debut back in 1987 and explaining how it has attained cumulative sales of 32 million units worldwide (not counting releases like Mega Man X Legacy Collection and Mega Man 11). “In the 30 years following its launch, the series has spawned numerous spin-offs, which altogether still enjoy the support of a deeply passionate fan base, consisting of everyone from younger players to hardcore gamers alike. Further, the Mega Man brand has been utilized in a wide variety of mediums around the globe, such as in character merchandise, comic books, animated television shows and movies,” the company said.
In the spirit of The LEGO Movie, studios have looked into finding big toy franchises they can exploit, which also have the benefit of huge brand recognition, a lot of licensed tie-ins, and flexibility of concept. In some ways, Play Doh seemed like an obvious choice using those standards. In other ways, without the genius of the people behind The LEGO Movie, what the heck is a Play Doh movie going to be about?
From writer Jason Micallef and director Paul Feig, the film would have added to Hasbro’s diverse portfolio of movies based on its toys, including the GI Joe, Transformers, and My Little Pony franchises.
It has been almost a decade since the planned follow-up to Killer Klowns From Outer Space was announced, and recently there was another announcement made that placed the project with the NBC Universal-owned SYFY, so it seems likely this is a project that was already functionally dead and simply had not yet been officially axed.
Fun fact: During my time as manager of Emerald City Video, a Syracuse, NY-based video rental store and now podcast, we actually owned a complete Killer Klown puppet that was apparently used for some of the stunts and/or combat that did not require a live actor. It was kind of terrifying, just sitting there on top of our new release wall.
Like Play Doh or LEGO, it seems like The Sims is a concept that, in and of itself, lacks a lot of…well…plot.
On May 25, 2007 it was announced that The Sims film rights had been purchased by 20th Century Fox. At that time, not much was known about the film, besides that it was to be written by Brian Lynch, the man responsible for writing movies such as Scary Movie 3 and writing/directing the 1999 film Big Helium Dog. The film was to be produced by John Davis, responsible for films such as Norbit and Eragon.
Lynch, a friend of Kevin Smith’s who appeared in Chasing Amy and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, also wrote the Secret Life of Pets films. It’s almost too bad this one didn’t go forward, because it isn’t difficult to see how somebody as creative as Lynch could have turned that lack of plot (and the idea of characters who are not always in control of their actions) into a pretty fun concept.
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