Some of the worst films ever made are, in fact, sequels to some of the best films ever made. While some have gotten it right (Godfather II, anyone?), many more have left people longing for the originals. Luckily, some studio executives had the wherewithal to put the kibosh on these prospective sequels.
Just a few short weeks after the release of the smash hit E.T., director Steven Spielberg and screenwriter Melissa Mathison reunited to write a treatment for a proposed sequel. It sounded like a good idea, until you read the treatment. Seems the duo planned to turn the heartwarming family classic into a total fear fest. The proposed story called for a new breed of evil aliens to come crashing down to earth and abduct the film’s main child protagonists, and charged poor little E.T. with their rescue. Yikes.
According to the film, if you say the name “Beetlejuice” three times, he will appear. But judging by the script for the proposed sequel, America would have been begging for him to disappear had the film ever come to fruition. Beetlejuice Goes Hawaiian – yes, you read that right, Beetlejuice Goes Hawaiian – was the working title of the Warner Brothers follow-up that was in pre-production for some 10 years before someone finally realized what a bad idea it was. Calling for Beetlejuice to help the Deets family as they opened a tropical resort, that just so happened to be built on an old burial ground, and also win some sort of surfing competition, was all a bit convoluted. Let’s just say the film was ready for the discount bin before it was even fully written.
Although many people have likely repressed the memory of George Clooney as Batman, before the epic box-office failure that was Batman & Robin
, Joel Schumacher had planned the third film in the trilogy to be titled Batman Triumphant.
Although it was Irish actor Cillian Murphy who took on the role of Scarecrow in the first two films, Schumacher’s choice for the role in the proposed third was none other than Jeff Goldblum. There were also some regrettable plans for the return of Jack Nicholson’s Joker in hallucination sequences and a vengeance subplot featuring the Joker’s daughter Harley-Quinn. All in all, the ideas were anything but triumphant and the film was nixed by studio bosses.
Gladiator was arguably the best film of 2000, winning the Best Picture Oscar and introducing America to the mega-talent and mega-temper of Russell Crowe, so it comes as no surprise that a sequel was in the works. However (SPOILER ALERT), when the lead character dies in the first movie, how does that character get featured in a sequel? Answer: Set it in the afterlife, naturally. The plan was to have the ghost of Maximus fight Roman Gods. Luckily, a very smart studio exec realized that some things – and characters – are better left dead.
Following both the critical and commercial success of Forrest Gump, the studio optioned a script based on the follow-up book. Seeing everyone’s favorite bow-legged Southerner trek through notable events of the 1980s and 90s, Forrest Gump 2: Gump & Co. was scrapped by none other than Tom Hanks himself. Hanks felt the film would be nothing but an unnecessary repeat of the original, and that just might be why Tom Hanks is America’s favorite actor.
Perhaps it was Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds in Paradise,or Dumb & Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd, but it seems studios have finally learned that filmmaking might not be rocket science, but great films are like lightning – rarely do they strike twice.