or “I Have Fully Accepted The Fact That List-Based Journalism Is More Popular Than God.”
You know how the old saying goes—once you stumble upon a good idea, beat it to death as thoroughly as you can so people will want to forget you ever had it in the first place. That’s more or less the logic Hollywood uses when it comes to sequels. Even the craziest mutation of an original idea with fly so long as it has the chance to make money (see Son Of The Mask, Alien vs. Predator, Psychos II through IV, and the unspeakable horror that was 3 Ninjas: High Noon At Mega Mountain—what a terrible note for Victor Wong to go out on).
Every once in a while, though, something goes wrong within the unsightly bowels of the machine and we don’t get the pure cinematic insanity originally planned. Here now, seven examples of wild and dubious sequels that, for one reason or another, never saw the light of day.
Prepare yourself, my friends, for the utterly bizarre, the painfully mind-boggling, and powerful mental images of Black Beetlejuice and He-Man throwing Hail Mary passes to Jerry Rice.
Jaws 3, People 0
The producers of the first two Jaws movies, realizing there were only so many ways you could do Man vs. Shark before it went stale, decided film number three should be a wacky Airplane!-style parody. Thus, National Lampoon writers Matty Simmons, John Hughes (pictured left), and Todd Carroll were tapped to help produce and write a comedy centered around the struggles involved in making a killer fish movie (namely, the shark attacking the director repeatedly). Richard Dreyfuss agreed to do the send-up, as did a then relatively unknown Bo Derek. They didn’t bother asking Roy Scheider to come back—at the time, he had said something like, “Mephistopheles himself couldn’t get me to do another Jaws movie.” What a spoil sport, huh?
After spending a couple million in pre-production on Jaws 3, People 0, Universal Pictures was stopped in their tracks by original Jaws director Stephen Spielberg. Steve was highly offended by the shark-constantly-attacks-incapable-director angle of this new installment and threatened to never work for Universal again if they went through with it. Being the smart cookies they were, Universal scrapped the spoof idea and moved Jaws 3 to Sea World, making it 3-D as well. Despite the best efforts of Dennis Quaid, Lou Gosset, and Lea Thompson, Jaws 3-D turned out to be one of the biggest turds of 1983 and a far cry from the terrifying first chapter.
Fun fact: A role was written for Mickey Rooney in Jaws 3-D, but he turned out to not be available. Just think about that for a minute: Mickey Rooney in a Jaws movie. Obviously he’d just corner the shark and talk to it about the tragedy of his poor friend Judy Garland. That probably would have been scarier than the final product.
Masters of the Universe 2
“Dude, where’s Orko? This is such bullshit.”
In the proposed sequel to 1987’s most expensive Dolph Lundgren-based toy commercial, ripped alien warrior He-Man would have returned to Earth from his home planet of Eternia and found fame as a pro quarterback. I guess that means Skeletor would have been secretly coaching an opposing team stocked with mutant players? Never mind that plot line is just Flash Gordon in reverse—who wouldn’t have wanted to see Beast Man take down a few offensive linemen? And think of the cameos they could have had! William Perry, Jim Brown…all those big ass-kicker pigskin legends.
We’ll never know how He-Man’s Sexy Football Adventure would have went, because Masters Of The Universe didn’t become the smash hit Cannon Films needed to bankroll a second chapter. Personally, I blame the lack of staple characters such as Orko and Battlecat. How could they leave those essential fuckers out? What kind of paint was director Gary Goddard huffing? Look, I love Billy Barty as much as the next guy, but that Gwildor thing he played was painful. And that nitwit zombie with the pompadour chasing He-Man around on behalf of Skeletor—what was that thing? Was that a Little Richard homage?
Now, the bigger kick in the pants for Cannon Films was the fact that the failure of Masters Of The Universe sealed the coffin on the big budget Spider-Man film they had in the works. Their brilliant plan for ’87 was A) make He-Man movie; B) make Superman IV: The Quest For Peace; C) use avalanche of profits from He-Man movie and Superman IV to make second He-Man movie and Spider-Man. Inexplicably, Superman IV made even less money than Dolph Lundgren’s Interstellar Sword Fight Party Machine, leaving Cannon Films lookin’ like a buncha bitch-ass marks and sending Spider-Man right down the drain.
A new He-Man movie is apparently in development, which saddens me as I never thought the original Masters Of The Universe was that bad. Once you accept the fact that you’ve got no Orko or Battlecat or Mer-Man or Man-E-Faces, it’s easy to get caught up in Frank Langella’s vengeful destruction of Whittier, California. That guy gave a tits performance. Worth the price of admission.
Back To The Future 4: Back To The Beginning
Marty recognizes his mother as the actress from Jaws 3-D.
Throughout the mid to late ’90s, rumors were constantly circulating that Universal was trying to cobble together some kind of coherent idea for a fourth run-through of everyone’s favorite time traveling car franchise. This was confirmed when an anonymous writer for Dreamworks contacted BTTF.com in September of 1997 and recounted his discovery of a script in Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment vault entitled Back To The Beginning, which turned out to be a prequel to the original Future. Sorry, all you Mary Steenburgen fans—Clara Clayton just didn’t prove popular enough to carry over to a new film.
Allegedly this Back To The Beginning script started out with an eleven year old Marty McFly befriending a homeless lady he meets on his way to school. In true ’80s sitcom fashion, the homeless lady unexpectedly dies, leading a grief-stricken Marty to talk things over with his newfound pal Doc Brown and express a heartfelt desire to change things that have already happened in his life (I guess he forgot to give this starving vagrant a steak one night or something). This, in turn, inspires Doc to finish work on his old Flux Capacitor idea he’s had kickin’ around his head since 1955.
Considering the fact Doc doesn’t actually finish his time machine until Marty’s in high school (see movie #1), I guess this means there wouldn’t have been a whole lot of actual time travel in Back To The Beginning. Sounds pretty dubious. Of course, it should be noted this fourth Future flick was in serious talks around 1993, back when Universal was absolutely desperate for a hit. Lucky for them, Jurassic Park came out later that year and made them boatloads of moolah. Lucky for us, that put Back To The Beginning back in the darkest reaches of the file cabinet.
Interesting side note: in this anonymous scribe’s 1997 note to BTTF.com, he mentioned another unbelievable script he came across in Amblin’s vault—Indiana Jones & The Space Men From Mars. “We never got a chance to look at that one,” he wrote. Ominous words now, huh?
Beetlejuice Goes Hawaiian/Beetlejuice In The Hood
Beetlejuice discusses his proposed sequel ideas with a clearly distressed Marlon Wayans.
1990 saw Beetlejuice director Tim Burton quite taken with the idea of tossing his titular character into a tropical setting. The basic story was as follows: The ghost-plagued Deetz family moves to Hawaii and hi-jinks ensue. Beetlejuice Goes Hawaiian was of high interest to Burton; he even got Michael Keaton and Winona Ryder to sign on for this fish-out-of-water-and-presumably-in-wacky-swim-trunks follow-up. Unfortunately, Little Timmy B got distracted by Batman Returns and B-juice’s pineapple-laced adventure was shelved (a few years later, Kevin Smith was offered the chance to rewrite Beetlejuice Goes Hawaiian; he politely declined).
BUT THAT’S NOT THE ONLY totally insane Beetlejuice sequel we nearly had to endure. In 2003, the suits were considering a script wherein the Ghost With The Most meets an “urban” version of himself and the two spend ninety minutes comically terrorizing a major metropolitan area. It goes without saying that Black Beetlejuice (my title, not theirs) would have been the event of the new millennium. Why this particular project did not get past early development stages is a mystery to me, although I’m willing to guess liberal white guilt had something to do with it.
I swear to God, I also once heard Warner Brothers wanted to turn Beetlejuice into a Bob Hope-type character, putting him in a string of movies like Beetlejuice Joins The Foreign Legion and Beetlejuice Goes To Russia. I readily admit, however, that this snippet of info could entirely be a figment of my imagination.
Jurassic Park IV
“Dude, we’re gettin’ too old for this shit.”
As of 2009, Jurassic Park IV has been openly tagged as “a long shot” by producer/Spielberg buddy Frank Marshall, but at the start of this decade it was pretty close to happening. The same team that made Jurassic Park III signed on for a Spielberg-produced #4 circa 2002, and nearly everyone from the original cast—Sam Neil, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, even Sir Richard Attenborough—was rumored to be coming back one last time. Alas, the expected script problems ground everything to a halt.
At least one draft followed a Rambo-esque mercenary who infiltrates the original Jurassic Park to recover the shaving cream can full of DNA Dennis Nedry had in the first film; this eventually leads our hero to the Swiss Alps, where rogue scientists are cross-breeding human soldiers and dinosaurs to create intelligent reptilian man-beasts for the sole purpose of killing drug dealers and rescuing kidnapped children. Just for the sake of posterity, the individual names of the half-man/half-dino drug-busting squad were Achilles, Hector, Perseus, Orestes, and Spartacus. Kinda like the Ninja Turtles, only dumber!
Jurassic Park IV could still theoretically happen, although it doesn’t seem any visual could live up to what I’ve just imagined these Greek-named dino mutants looking like. I’m thinking like Gremlins, only larger and without ears and all ripped. Spooky!
I know what you’re thinking, and I’m thinking the same exact thing: Spielberg nixed Jaws 3, People 0, but was willing to make a flick with mutant dinosaur people shooting drug dealers? That’s a weird place to draw the line, buddy. Then again, this is the same director who subjected us to Hook.
Oh, the humanity.
Before 1997’s Batman & Robin proved to be almost as big a flop as Waterworld, nefarious director Joel Schumacher and his evil cronies were hatching plans for a fifth Caped Crusader flick tentatively titled Batman Triumphant. George Clooney and Chris O’Donnell would have returned as the Painfully Non-Dynamic Duo. The main villain was set to be Scarecrow, but in a move that screamed stunt casting/”hey, remember how good these movies used to be?”, Dr. Jonathan Crane would have used his famous fear toxins to bring Jack Nicholson’s Joker back from the dead (yes, Nicholson was down with this silliness).
If you think that’s nutty, they were also going to introduce Harley Quinn as the Joker’s daughter. Doesn’t make much sense considering all the comic books and TV shows that set Quinn up as a potential Joker love interest. Once again, Schumacher would have helmed this Bat-mess; thankfully, B&R died a violent death at the box office, simultaneously killing the careers of Alicia Silverstone and Chris O’Donnell while throwing Uma Thurman’s on life support until Kill Bill. Warner Brothers quickly wrestled control of Bruce Wayne away from Joel Schumacher’s meaty paws and the world was once again safe from Bat-nipples.
This guy was seriously going to cast JASON LEE as Brainiac.
The infamous Kevin Smith/Tim Burton debacle everyone was recently reminded of thanks to this probably phony picture. Smith covered the whole story pretty well on one of his DVDs (see footage here), but what isn’t as well-publicized is the plot/casting of Superman Reborn. The story Kevin put together for his Supes movie found Brainiac sending intergalactic baddie Doomsday to kill Superman while simultaneously blocking out the Earth’s sun a la Mr. Burns (because, you know, Superman gets his powers from our yellow ball of incandescent gas). There was also some kind of Kryptonian robot in there called the Eradicator, which no “Kids In The Hall” fan could ever take seriously.
As far as casting, Smith wanted to keep it in the family: Ben Affleck as Clark Kent/S-Man (okay), Linda Fiorentino as Lois Lane (sure), Jason Lee as Brainiac (what?), and Jason “Snootchie Bootchie” Mewes as Jimmy Olsen (okay, I just threw up in my mouth). Kev also thought it would be cool to get Jack Nicholson to play Lex Luthor and “Frasier” star David Hyde Pierce as the Eradicator. Sounds a little wonky. Tim Burton signed on to direct and that all changed, but not really for the better. Nic Cage notoriously replaced Affleck as Superman while Burton’s folk went after Tim Allen for Brainiac (“Hey Wilson, I’m a robot!”) and Courteney Cox for Lois. Chris Rock was apparently set to play Jimmy Olsen.
The big rumor about Superman Lives was the alleged Batman cameo Michael Keaton was approached to film. That seemed like the only real high note of this entire project. Filming was supposed to start in early 1998 with glorious Pittsburg substituting for Metropolis; sadly, script disagreements reared their ugly head, escalating the budget and eventually killing things. When Superman Lives was put on hold by the WB, Tim Burton said, “Fuck this, I’m out!” and left to make Sleepy Hollow. Mankind is left to wonder just how surly a Nic Cage Superman performance would have been (and how many times Chris Rock’s Jimmy Olsen would have brought up J-Lo’s ass).