10 films stuck in “development hell” that a geek like me would love to see on the big screen

You know that scene in the fim Amélie, where Amélie is pondering over how many people in Paris are having an orgasm at that exact moment in time? Well, every so often I wonder just how many geeky films are stuck in development hell at any one time. Some are sequels or even prequels, some are adaptations or remakes. And you know what, I think it’s a lot more than the ten I’m going to list here. So, which films do I want to see on the big screen that have studios nervously jumping around them or can’t seem to get past the initial scriptwriting stages or are having problems keeping directors on board? Read on and you’ll find out…

.10

Ghostbusters III

I know they're getting on a bit, but I'm sure they could still kick some spectral ass

Since the release of the videogame in 2009 – that was set after the first two films – fans of the original Ghostbusters films have been biding their time. The game is reported to have used parts of a script that Aykroyd wrote in the 1990s for the third film. As for the script for the third film – it has at least got past a first draft, and Sony are interested, but this film has been twenty-two years in the making and we could be waiting a fair bit longer.

.09

Neuromancer

I read the novel for a Cybercultures unit on my degree.

Before Ghost in the Shell, before The Matrix, there was William Gibson’s Neuromancer. The 1984 novel pretty much launched the popular notion of cyberpunk into the mainstream and you’d think that by now Hollywood would have got round to adapting it… but they haven’t. With  various directors rumoured to be working on the film at various points over the intervening years, it has only been in the last year that a “firmish” sign of the film going into pre-production has broken out. Vincenzo Natali is meant to be working on the film, with shooting set to take place from 2012 and until things are more definite, it’s staying on the list.

.08

The Subtle Knife

The first film filled me with the overwhelming feeling of disappointment.

The Golden Compass (a.k.a. Northern Lights) was an adaptation of the first part of one of the most amazing trilogies I have ever read. And whilst it did more than break even at the box office… it wasn’t received very well by fans or critics. I was sorely disappointed by the title. As such, it’s no surprise that the sequel, The Subtle Knife, isn’t running straight to the production line. My advice: wait another ten years, reboot the franchise with some Brits (I’m sorry, but American “sensibilities” led to the story being mutilated) in charge and film the trilogy back-to-back.

.07

The Man Who Killed Don Quixote

Cervantes's spirit doesn't want this film made...

Now, not necessarily a geeky film, but as a fan of Terry Gilliam – I really want him to finally get this project through from start to finish. The Man Who Killed Don Quixote has been in some of the worst levels of development hell – the kind where you start filming and then end up with bad things happening to your main actors and set. Currently the main thing holding it back is funding woes.

.06

The Crow (remake)

I think I may need to explain this one...

 The original film is perhaps one of my most favourite films of all time… so why would I want to see a remake? Well, it’s because the subsequent sequels were so bad and the original was so long ago (1994) that if you wanted to make some half-decent sequels you would need to remake the original. The Crow remake is currently undergoing a legal battle of sorts and could be stuck in development hell for so long that enough time will have probably past for most to accept a remake being made.

.05

The Justice League of America

I think I might be waiting a while...

With Marvel’s The Avengers set to be gracing our screens in 2012, DC’s offering of a super hero medley has never seemed to far away from the big screen. With the only DC films making true big bucks in the last ten years being Nolan’s offerings on Batman, The Justice League of America seems very far off unless the momentum of before 2008 can be returned to the halls of Warner Bros (the writers’ strike may have dampened their spirits a little). But with Green Lantern’s release and the upcoming Superman reboot in the form of The Man of Steel, maybe it could be back on the table after 2013 when The Man of Steel is set to be released.

.04

Ender’s Game

So long as it doesn't end up like the last two Starship Troopers movies. we'll be fine.

In terms of SF novels you should read before you die, Ender’s Game is right up there in the top ten. Yet despite its popularity, the film adaptation has been held back for quite a long time. With the original novel being published in 1985, it’s taken until this past year for any real commitment to come through. Rumour has it that the adaptation has been mainly held back by the novel’s author being very picky about his script rewrites.

.03

Terminator 5

I didn't like the last two films that much, but a person can hope that they get it right the next time...

Terminator 3’s stint in development hell became a long running joke, yet once it was out Salvation quickly followed. Now while you’d think that I’d give up hope for a fifth film being any good, I personally hope that any writers that may end up on board will have learned from the mistakes of the last two films. The main thing holding back Terminator 5? Legal issues and someone getting a decent script written up.

.02

Good Omens

Gilliam again...

Another project with Terry Gilliam’s name frequently linked to it, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman’s Good Omens has seen a protracted stint in development hell. There’s a real chance that this could be made, but with Gaiman’s Sandman almost ending up on this list (I’d like to see it and it qualifies, but it doesn’t make my personal top 10) – despite the success of other Gaiman titles in Hollywood (Stardust, Coraline and Beowulf) the industry just isn’t biting like it could be. Personally – I think that maybe a UK production company with some BBC or Film 4 distribution involvement would be the better way to go.

.01

Akira (live action remake)

It's almost there, almost...

The live action version of the one of the most important anime and mangas of all time has been lurking in development hell for a while. Warner Bros. are behind the current attempt to bring it to the big screen, but Akira has been stirring controversy with the hint that the cast may be mainly Caucasian rather than Japanese. Compared to the Hollywood remakes of Japanese horror films like The Ring and The Grudge, the thought of non-Japanese actors in the main roles of this live action remake has got a lot of people angry. Whether or not those in charge of casting for the film will listen, the film has other issues – like making sure the second director to come to the project stays on board.

And there you have it. So, are there any films stuck in some circle of development hell that you’d like to see made?

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3 Comments on “10 films stuck in “development hell” that a geek like me would love to see on the big screen”

  1. […] series of the same name) is the kind of IP that you need to tread carefully with. Yesterday on Habitual Films I listed the live action remake as my top development hell languishing IP that I wanted to see […]

  2. […] 10 films stuck in “development hell” that a geek like me would love to see on the big&nb… […]

  3. […] people will remember. Oh, and you can read Emily’s top 10 films in development hell here: GEEK! Avatar may look nice, but it's pretty much Pocahontas in […]


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