ByAntonio Ferme, writer at Creators.co
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Antonio Ferme

We have all heard the craziest stories of missed business opportunities from Blockbuster turning down the offer to buy to Decca Records declining to sign The Beatles away after claiming the band had no future in show business. These "what might have been" stories also happen in Hollywood with big-name studios rejecting scripts that later went on to be huge success at the box office with a different studio. Let's take a look at some of the biggest missed opportunities in Hollywood history.

1. 'American Graffiti' (1973)

[Credit: Not United Artists]
[Credit: Not United Artists]
  • Studio that rejected it: United Artists
  • Studio that picked it up: Universal Studios
  • Film Budget: $750,000
  • Box Office Total: $115 million

was one of George Lucas' first films, released four years before the first Star Wars hit theaters. Given that, George Lucas had trouble raising money to finance the film. He pitched the movie to various Hollywood studios but was unsuccessful in doing so until he finally met with the president of United Artists at the time, who expressed interest in both Graffiti and his untitled space opera and granted the aspiring director $10,000.

Things didn't go smoothly for the working relationship of and United Artists as Lucas insisted on using different songs for every scene in the movie. At one point, Lucas had 75 songs in the script, a licensing cost UA was unwilling to pay, especially on something they viewed as a risky "musical montage with no characters." Given that, the deal eventually fell apart. Luckily, Lucas was able to make a deal with Universal Studios where he received $775,000 for American Graffiti, and in the end, they made a huge profit on the film.

2. 'Star Wars' (1977)

[Credit: Not Universal]
[Credit: Not Universal]
  • The Studio That Rejected The Movie: Universal Studios
  • The Studio That Picked Up The Movie: 20th Century Fox
  • Film Budget: $13 million
  • Box Office Total: $775.3 million

is easily the most successful franchise of all time, however, while it was smart enough to greenlight Lucas' American Graffiti, Universal Studios missed the boat on Star Wars. Universal met with Lucas but ultimately rejected his script for because they couldn't see an action-adventure space opera movie with flying spaceships and swords of light being a hit at a time that arthouse films and gritty crime dramas were the thing. Nor did it help that Lucas asked for far more money than the studio was willing to give, so the director looked elsewhere.

Lucas eventually found a home for Star Wars at 20th Century Fox after getting rejected by United Artists, Universal, and even Disney themselves. The boss at Fox signed the deal more to retain the talent of George Lucas than for the actual Star Wars script itself. Over the next few years, the executives over at Fox helped Lucas forge the Star Wars concept into something more reasonable. The rest was history.

3. 'E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial' (1982)

[Credit: Not Columbia]
[Credit: Not Columbia]
  • The Studio That Rejected The Movie: Columbia Pictures
  • The Studio That Picked Up The Movie: Universal Studios
  • Film Budget: $10.5 million
  • Box Office Total: $792.9 million

is a defining movie of the 1980s. When Steven Spielberg originally pitched an early draft of the screenplay to Columbia Pictures, however, the studio passed as its marketing department determined that the movie would only appeal to a limited audience. In fact, the president of Columbia Pictures even said at the time that E.T. was nothing more than "a wimpy Walt Disney movie."

Eventually, Universal Pictures picked up E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial and the movie went on to become universally beloved. It made a whopping $792.9 million dollars at the box office in 1982 (the equivalent of more than $2 billion today). The ironic twist? Columbia made more money off the 5% revenue share it had on E.T. than any other of its movies released that year.

4. 'Back To The Future' (1985)

[Credit: Not Columbia]
[Credit: Not Columbia]
  • The Studio That Rejected The Movie: Columbia Pictures
  • The Studio That Picked Up The Movie: Universal Studios
  • Film Budget: $19 million
  • Box Office Total: $210.6 million

Columbia made a string of bad decisions in the '80s. Not only did it lose out to Universal with E.T., it did the same exact thing a few years later with when writer Bob Gale and producer Robert Zemeckis presented the script to Columbia. The studio passed, feeling it wasn't mature and sexual enough for the teen demographic as popular teen comedies at the time were more adult-themed and irreverent.

The two aspiring filmmakers were told to bring their film to , which they actually did after being rejected multiple times by various studios. Alas, even Disney didn't want to pick up Back to the Future because "a mother falling in love with her son was not appropriate for a family film under the Disney banner." Which—okay, fair. So the duo turned to Universal Pictures, who quickly picked it up, and history was made: The movie turned $210.6 million at the box office on its way to becoming one of the greatest films of all time.

See Also:

5. 'Home Alone' (1990)

[Credit: Not Warner Bros]
[Credit: Not Warner Bros]
  • The Studio That Rejected The Movie: Warner Bros
  • The Studio That Picked Up The Movie: 20th Century Fox
  • Film Budget: $17 million
  • Box Office Total: $476.6 million

With , the story here is as different as it is humorous. Home Alone originally was a Warner Bros. film and both the studio and director Chris Columbus were on good terms. However, Columbus was smart enough to know that Home Alone would be a big success, but he needed to make the film the way he wanted to. Given that, he proposed a budget increase from $14 million to $17 million—but Warner Bros. wasn't having it.

So Columbus contacted 20th Century Fox and asked, "Would you like the picture?" They said yes in less than 20 minutes. Home Alone went on to make $476.6 million at the box office and is still quoted to this day.

6. 'Pulp Fiction' (1994)

[Credit: Not Columbia TriStar]
[Credit: Not Columbia TriStar]
  • The Studio That Rejected The Movie: Columbia TriStar
  • The Studio That Picked Up The Movie: Miramax
  • Film Budget: $8.5 million
  • Box Office Total: $213.9 million

Back in the early '90s when Quentin Tarantino pitched to Columbia TriStar, the film apparently didn't any sense on paper to the studio. According to co-writer Roger Avary, this was what Columbia TriStar thought of the script for the movie:

“‘This is the worst thing ever written. It makes no sense. Someone’s dead and then they're alive. It’s too long, violent, and unfilmable.’"

The concept was simply too risky for the studio imagine greenlighting and the film was put in turnaround and the director had to find a new home for his project. In the end, Miramax fell in love with script, especially the unexpected and edgy violence, gore and drug use.

Pulp Fiction grossed $213.9 million at the box office while Columbia TriStar struggled with the fact that "the worst thing ever written" became the movie that launched Tarantino's envious career and inspired an entire generation of filmmakers thereafter.

7. 'Twilight' (2008)

[Credit: Not Paramount Pictures]
[Credit: Not Paramount Pictures]
  • The Studio That Rejected The Movie: Paramount Pictures
  • The Studio That Picked Up The Movie: Summit Entertainment
  • Film Budget: $37 million
  • Box Office Total: $393.6 million

Paramount was originally supposed to adapt the popular novel for the big screen all the way back in 2004. However, the studio wasn't very happy with the product, and, at the time, their reasoning was sound: Their problem with the screenplay for Twilight was that it was substantially different from the source material and the studio believed fans of the novel would not appreciate such a "punch in the face." The movie was left in limbo until Summit Entertainment, which was making a comeback, saw the potential and snapped it up.

Summit viewed the film as a great opportunity to launch a franchise and launch itself back into relevancy. The first movie went on to make $393.6 million at the domestic box office and the five movies eventually made a total of $3.3 billion worldwide.

8. 'The Blind Side' (2009)

[Credit: Not 20th Century Fox]
[Credit: Not 20th Century Fox]
  • The Studio That Rejected The Movie: 20th Century Fox
  • The Studio That Picked Up The Movie: Warner Bros
  • Film Budget: $29 million
  • Box Office Total: $309.2 million

Originally, 20th Century Fox was set to produce . Fox had a script and everything, but they were stuck on the idea of casting Julia Roberts in the lead role. But they failed to convince the actress to come on board, and Fox was left stuck in a deep hole.

After this, they spit out various crazy ideas such as rewriting the script to make the real-life character Leigh Anne Tuohy into a male character rather than a female. When Fox continued to flounder, Warner Bros. stepped in and snatched up the rights. They cast Sandra Bullock in the lead role and from there, The Blind Side went on to be commercially successful while becoming a darling of the awards season.

9. 'Ted' (2012)

[Credit: Not 20th Century Fox]
[Credit: Not 20th Century Fox]
  • The Studio That Rejected The Movie: 20th Century Fox
  • The Studio That Picked Up The Movie: Universal Studios
  • Film Budget: $65 million
  • Box Office Total: $549.3 million

Seth MacFarlane is one of the hottest names when it comes to raunchy television comedies such as Family Guy and American Dad. Given that, he certainly didn't have a problem getting picked up by a studio; 20th Century Fox was willing to give him money to make it.

However, Fox studio chief Tom Rothman underbid for it in spring 2010, falling short by a few million dollars of the $50 million-plus budget that MacFarlane needed to make the movie. Unfortunately for Fox, the movie was passed on to Universal Studios and the correct budget was set.

Obviously, Fox didn't reject the movie, but it is still mind-blowing to realize that the studio missed out on such an easy opportunity. Ted actually went on to make $549.3 million dollars at the box office and was so successful it spawned a sequel in 2015. You snooze, you loose!

Poll

Which missed opportunity do you think is the largest/most intriguing?

As you can see, there has been many missed opportunities in Hollywood, but which one do YOU guys think is the largest loss or which one was the most intriguing to you? Tell me below!

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