If you think the premise director Afonso Poyart’s Solace – the story of a psychic doctor who works with an FBI special agent to find a serial killer who is committing religious-themed murders – sounds like it could be a sequel for the 1995 neo-noir thriller Se7ven, that’s because it originally was.
Cooler heads eventually prevailed and the script was reworked into the upcoming movie that’s scheduled to land in U.S. theaters on December 16.
However, this isn’t an uncommon occurrence in Hollywood. Many times scripts that are intended to be the next adventure of a familiar character are rewritten and ultimately become new standalone films. The opposite also regularly occurs. Original scripts are often reworked to become the latest installment of a fan-favorite franchise.
With the former Se7en sequel set to make its U.S. debut soon, let’s take a look back at seven other films that started off as something old and became something new.
1. Die Hard
- Director: John McTiernan
- Year Of Release: 1988
- Box Office: $140,767,956
- Sequel To: The Detective and Commando
Based on the book Nothing Lasts Forever, Die Hard was first pitched to music legend Frank Sinatra before he declined the opportunity to reprise his detective role from The Detective - which is the predecessor to Nothing Lasts Forever. The script was then retooled into a Commando sequel meant for Arnold Schwarzenegger, which he too declined.
Finally, Fox reluctantly offered then sitcom star Bruce Willis the chance to play John McClane in a solo action movie that was not connected to any of the script's previous versions.
The gamble paid off, resulting in one of the most influential action movies ever made.
2. Ghosts Of Mars
- Director: John Carpenter
- Year Of Release: 2001
- Box Office: $14,010,832
- Sequel To: Escape From L.A.
After Escape From L.A. failed to blow up the box office, director John Carpenter still felt Snake Plissken (Kurt Russel) could make a splash in cinemas. Hence the space-bound sequel titled Escape From Mars, where Snake had to fight his way out of a prison located on the red planet, was planned.
However, the financial flop that was Escape From L.A. caused studio studio execs to run for cover and they didn't want Carpenter's next film to be connected to Snake in any way.
Carpenter then changed the main character in his proposed sequel into Desolation Williams (Ice Cube) and reworked much of Escape From Mars into a space-themed horror movie instead.
Ghosts Of Mars may have gained a cult following, but it sadly tanked at the box office as well and subsequently burned out Carpenter. It would be nearly a decade before he made another film, specifically, 2010's The Ward.
3. Minority Report
- Director: Steven Spielberg
- Year Of Release: 2002
- Box Office: $358,372,926
- Sequel To: Total Recall
Minority Report is based on a novel by Philip K. Dick, the same author of Total Recall's source material. Because of this, it seemed only natural for producers to connect the two stories - even if they starred different protagonists. Arnold Schwarzenegger's Total Recall character Quaid was set to return for Minority Report with crime-predicting precognitive mutants in tow, but this vision died after the movie's host studio Carolco Pictures went bankrupt.
20th Century Fox later secured the rights to Minority Report, and Steven Spielberg scrapped the plans to have it connected to Total Recall as sequel, and instead crafted the sci-fi standalone film starring Tom Cruise that audiences know today.
4. The Collector
- Director: Marcus Dunstan
- Year Of Release: 2009
- Box Office: $9,444,018
- Prequel To: Saw
The Saw franchise has become infamous for its numerous sequels -- and some cynical critics are surprised that a Saw prequel never happened. But the truth is, there was a Saw prequel. However, it ended up becoming a different movie altogether.
The Collector was originally pitched as an origin story for the Jigsaw Killer in a prequel titled The Midnight Man. Saw's studio, Twisted Pictures, rejected the prequel to focus on making Saw sequels, but The Weinstein Company saw potential in The Midnight Man. After a few rewrites, The Midnight Man turned into The Collector: a trap-based horror movie that bears similarities and nods to Saw.
Even if Twisted Pictures passed on The Midnight Man, the studio still liked the pitch enough to get The Collector's writers to pen Saw numbers four, five and six.
5. Fast Five
- Director: Justin Lin
- Year Of Release: 2011
- Box Office: $626,137,675
- Sequel To: The Italian Job remake
Fast Five surprised long time The Fast And The Furious fans by ditching the drag racing formula in favor of a brand new heist plot. If you were new to the franchise, Fast Five is a great place to start that can stand on its own as the new face of The Fast And The Furious saga.
Because of the eccentric con-men, hot cars and a kinetic bank heist (check out the scene in the above video), some viewers jokingly suggested that Fast Five was the spiritual successor of The Italian Job -- otherwise known as the long delayed sequel, The Brazilian Job. Apparently, that's not far off from the truth.
For different reasons, The Brazilian Job never left the drawing board and remained stuck in development hell for years. Nevertheless, while it has yet to be officially confirmed, rumors have persisted that Paramount Pictures saw the pitch for The Brazilian Job and rewrote it to fit into the world of The Fast And The Furious.
- Director: Luc Besson
- Year Of Release: 2011
- Box Office: $60,965,854
- Sequel To: Leon: The Professional
One of the best parts of Leon: The Professional was Mathilda (Natalie Portman): the young girl who grows attached to the reclusive assassin Leon (Jean Reno). Fans of the movie wanted to know what became of Leon's young friend, and apparently, Colombiana was based on the story Luc Besson wanted to share.
Due to a series of unfortunate circumstances and Natalie Portman's lack of interest, the proposed script about an older Mathilda turned professional assassin was never picked up. Besson then morphed Mathilda into the action movie Colombiana, with Zoey Saldana now in the lead. Colombiana failed to capture the success of Leon, and instead sunk into obscurity.
However, for those curious about how Mathilda would've fared as an assassin, either watch Colombiana or check out Besson's superior female assassin movie, La Femme Nikita.
7. The Hateful Eight
- Director: Quentin Tarantino
- Year Of Release: 2015
- Box Office: $155,760,117
- Sequel To: Django Unchained
Not wanting to leave the violent frontier just yet, Tarantino planned a Django Unchained sequel titled Django In White Hell, where Django (Jamie Foxx) finds himself stuck in a snowbound cabin with seven suspicious persons and a murder mystery to keep him company.
The point of The Hateful Eight was that none of its characters were morally good and that anyone could die, which Tarantino felt would not be a good fit for the noble Django. Tarantino rewrote Django's role into the amoral war veteran Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson). Warren retained strains of Django's backstory including: slavery, combat experience and bounty hunting. Outside of a new third act that was added due to a script leak, Django In White Hell's core plot and themes stayed the same in The Hateful Eight.
Django himself would later get his own sequel, albeit in comics, where he joins the masked vigilante Zorro in their mutual fight for justice.
What do you think of these movies? Should they have stayed with their respective franchises or was it better for them to be independent stories of their own?
What other movies that were meant to be sequels do you know of?