Mother Brain’s Top 10 Unproduced Movie Sequels: THE SEQUEL
By Mother Brain
It was two years ago when I posted a blog about 10 movie sequels that never saw the light of day. Two years later, 5 out of those 10 movies are now either in production or back in active development with the latest Star Wars installments leading the way. So it got Cos and I thinking of more unproduced sequels that the public seldom hears about or are considered legend to many cinefiles. As of this writing, here’s the next 10 along with their background and how close they came into production:
10. Streets of Fire Trilogy
For those of you 90s babies and younger, Streets of Fire was an 80s “rock and roll fable” set in the future where a mysterious soldier of fortune named Tom Cody (Michael Pare) gets hired to rescue a big time pop star (Diane Lane) from a biker gang lead by Williem Dafoe. For director Walter Hill of The Warriors and producer Joel Silver, Streets of Fire was an ambitious attempt at reviving westerns and 50s exploitation films in a postmodern context mixed with MTV-style musical numbers and hard R-rated action. It also featured early roles by Bill Paxton, Robert Townsend, and Rick Moranis! Anticipating that the 1984 film would be a smash summer hit, Hill and Silver outlined two sequels called The Far City and Cody’s Return. Unfortunately, the film tanked while the soundtrack scored big on the Billboard charts. On top of that, a changeover of executives at Universal Pictures prevented any chance of a sequel even if home video sales were positive. In 2008, director Albert Pyun produced an unofficial sequel called Road to Hell with Pare and costar Deborah Van Valkenburgh as they reprised their roles despite changes to their character names and a Sin City-style of filming.
9. Still Running
A year before Lethal Weapon was released, Billy Crystal and Gregory Hines teamed up in the French Connection-like buddy comedy, Running Scared. They played a pair of Chicago detectives looking to make their big bust of a Hispanic drug lord (Jimmy Smits) before they retire to Key West. While it didn’t do Lethal Weapon business at the time, the film proved popular with audiences on home video and MGM set up plans for a sequel which would have put Hines and Crystal in England to stop a crime ring. The studio intended to get production rolling by summer 1987 for a summer 1988 release, but director Peter Hyams had no interest in redressing the same movie for a new setting while Crystal rejected the terrible script and was more interested in producing his own screenplay, Memories of Me. After four years stuck in development hell, MGM canceled plans all together.
8. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off 2
The massively popular John Hughes teen flick about a popular high school student cutting class for the perfect day resonated with young audiences and still to this day. Paramount Pictures would have been more than willing to bankroll on a sequel for this iconic character made famous by Matthew Broderick. Although no screenplay was written on record, Hughes and Broderick had constantly kept in touch about other projects including this one. Among the ideas tossed around included Ferris in college or taking a sick leave at a new job. Neither idea appealed to Hughes or Broderick because there was something far more innocent about cutting high school for a day before reality settles in as a young adult. The studio eventually watered down their sequel plans when they produced a short-lived TV series in 1990 which featured an unknown Jennifer Aniston as Ferris’ sister. Broderick himself later reprised the role in a Super Bowl ad for Honda just a few years after Hughes’ passing.
7. Dick Tracy 2
The 1990 film adaptation of Chester Gould’s comic strip was a heavily hyped affair at the time with Warren Beatty, Al Pacino, and Madonna headlining. As with Batman a year earlier, Dick Tracy was set up to be a major franchise for Disney: Action figures, video games, a hot soundtrack, a stage show at Disneyland, etc. As director, Beatty approached the film with the thought of throwing everything including the kitchen sink to avoid a sequel. The majority of the strip’s villains were used with popular character actors of the day filling their shoes. Disney still saw possibilities for an Indiana Jones-like franchise until they halted plans due to box office not meeting their expectations. On top of this, a lawsuit between Beatty, the producers, and Tribune Media kept the rights in limbo for over a decade until Beatty retained them. Even at age 74, Beatty still intends on making another Dick Tracy movie. Until then, one can find the sequel novels by Max Allan Collins on ebay.
6. Superman V
The Richard Pryor headlined Superman III killed the movie franchise. The Cannon Films’ financially strapped Superman IV: The Quest for Peace, was the funeral. While Cannon still had the Superman rights, they still believed there was money in reviving the franchise in 1988. No writers were attached; however, Cannon sought after a cost-saving measure to get Superman V to theaters by using 45 minutes of deleted footage from Quest for Peace, including the infamous Nuclear Man 1 battle. Once Christopher Reeve rejected another pass at the role, Cannon sold the rights back for original producers, the Salkinds, who planned on producing a new movie based on their Superboy television series. They too failed to get it off the ground before giving the rights to Warner Bros.
5. Under Siege 3
Take it for a grain of salt when Steven Seagal says he wants to make a third entry to his one and only popular franchise as bad ass Navy cook, Casey Ryback. During the 90s, rumors floated around about putting Ryback against terrorists hijacking a chemical plant. More recently, Seagal stated in interviews that he would like to see Ryback in Russia where Russian special forces team with the Americans for combat terrorism. Seagal followed this up by saying his people don’t have the funds to make it yet. I guess he’ll be taking some investors to the bank…to the blood bank.
4. Gump & Co.
Like Forrest Gump or not, it’s an Oscar-winning classic that cemented Tom Hanks as America’s favorite actor and transitioned director Robert Zemeckis away from the fun days of Back to the Future and Roger Rabbit. The writer of the novel, Winston Groom, wrote a sequel novel called Gump & Co. a year after the film’s release. Ironically, the first line in the book is Gump telling the readers “Don’t never let nobody make a movie of your life’s story,” though “Whether they get it right or wrong, it don’t matter.” Its story follows the relationship between Gump and his son from the early 80s to 2000 while meeting the likes of Ronald Reagan, Saddam Hussein, Bill Clinton, and even Tom Hanks himself. Paramount got serious about adapting the book until 9/11 caused a shift in mood for all parties involved.
3. Lethal Weapon 5
After the mixed reception of Lethal Weapon 4, Richard Donner and screenwriter Channing Gibson crafted a classified storyline that would have involved Riggs and Murtaugh out in the country in a motorhome when they stumble on a troubled village; however, a fallout between Donner and producer Joel Silver caused the latter to form his own 5th movie with Lethal 1 screenwriter, Shane Black, returning not only for the script but also to direct. Black developed a script in which Riggs falls into hard times while Murtaugh retires and the Shadow Company from Lethal 1 comes back to life with more hidden bad guys out for revenge for the death of the General from the first film. Warner Bros. would only agree to make Lethal 5 if Mel Gibson agreed to reprising Riggs. Once he learned that Donner would not be involved, Gibson passed all together. As of this writing, Warner Bros. is looking to reboot the series all together.
2. Beetlejuice Goes Hawaiian
Although there is a sequel in the works as of this writing, the first true attempt at bringing the ghost with the most back to the silver screen was in 1990. Tim Burton worked with future Mars Attacks! screenwriter, Jonathan Gems, on a Beetlejuice follow-up about the Deetz family developing a resort in Hawaii over an ancient burial ground with sprits coming after them. Despite his hero status in the popular cartoon series of that time, Beetlejuice was still depicted as a tweener, fending off the ghosts while also still interested in marrying Lydia. Michael Keaton, Winona Ryder, and the rest of the cast sans Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis were all set to return but Warner Bros. was more interested in getting another Batman movie made with the Burton and Keaton team. It eventually lost steam as both director and star moved on to other projects.
1. Double V Vega
The massive success of Pulp Fiction in 1994 not only brought new awareness to independent cinema but it also saved the floundering career of John Travolta thanks to the sharp writing and direction of Quentin Tarantino. Talks of a prequel about Vinny Vega and his brother Vic (Michael Madsen in Reservoir Dogs) went on as early as 1994 as Tarantino set up the Vega Brothers in Amsterdam when Vinny ran a club for Marcellus Wallace. Age would always be an issue in bringing Travolta and Madsen together. Tarantino even thought of a direct sequel after Fiction where they had older brothers who looked alike seeking revenge for their younger brothers’ deaths. As absurd as it sounded, Tarantino chose to leave a good thing alone and went on to greater critical acclaim with Jackie Brown, Kill Bill, Inglorious Basterds, and Django Unchained.
Sound off on your thoughts of these unproduced sequels and the countless others we didn’t mention below!