Many iconic movies had completely different directors attached in their early stages.
David Lynch’s Return of the Jedi
The director of such dark and surreal thrillers as Blue Velvet and Mulholland Drive might seem like the last person you would want at the helm of a family sci-fi adventure, but that’s exactly who George Lucas requested to take the reigns of the closing chapter of his original blockbusting trilogy. Lynch turned down the offer, however, opting instead for another big budget sci-fi project, the disastrous Dune.
Stanley Kubrick’s A.I
A notorious perfectionist, Kubrick had always wanted to adapt writer Brian Aldiss’s short story Super-Toys Last All Summer Long, but felt the special effects industry wasn’t capable of pulling off his vision until late in his life. Falling into ill health, Kubrick passed the project onto Steven Spielberg, who filmed it after Kubrick’s death. It’s widely thought that Kubrick’s version would have been a lot darker than the fairytale Spielberg ultimately gave us.
Martin Scorsese’s Schindler’s List
When Steven Spielberg purchased the rights to Thomas Kenealy’s book in the mid-80s, he felt he wasn’t quite mature enough to bring it to the screen himself. After Sydney Pollack and Roman Polanski turned down Spielberg’s offer to direct, Martin Scorsese reluctantly agreed to take on the project, feeling it more befitting of a Jewish director like Spielberg. Eventually Spielberg came around and took it back off the Italian-American auteur.
Federico Fellini’s Flash Gordon
Italian producer Dino De Laurentiis tried his best to convince his fellow countryman Fellini to helm the sci-fi epic, but the latter declined. Fellini had previous experience with the material, having written a series of Italian Flash Gordon comics before becoming an acclaimed film-maker, and is referenced in the final film, with a character named after the director.
Steven Spielberg’s Rain Man
Spielberg spent five months working on the initial script of the Oscar winning drama but left to direct Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade instead. His replacement, Barry Levinson, was awarded Best Director at the 1989 Academy Awards, an accolade Spielberg would have to wait another five years to acquire with Schindler’s List.
Alejandro Jodorowsky’s Dune
As detailed in a recent acclaimed documentary, the Chilean art house director spent several years in the 70s attempting to bring Frank Herbert’s space opera to the screen. Jodorowsky envisioned a cast featuring the likes of Orson Welles and Salvador Dali, and even talked Pink Floyd into recording the film’s soundtrack. Ultimately, Hollywood decided against funding what would have been a costly project, but a director with a similar art house reputation, David Lynch, would give us his version of the tale in 1984.
Edgar Wright’s Ant-Man
Having amassed a cult following with his ‘Cornetto’ trilogy (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, The World’s End), British film-maker Wright set to work on adapting the Marvel comic. Earlier this year, however, Wright left the project under mysterious circumstances, eventually replaced by Bring It On director Peyton Reed. How much of Wright’s vision will make it to the screen remains to be seen when the movie hits theaters next year.
James Cameron’s Spiderman
The Titanic director kicked around the idea of bringing the web-slinger to screens back in the early 90s. Leaked materials suggest a much more adult version than the Sam Raimi trilogy or the recent Mark Webb reboots, with a planned sex scene between Peter Parker and Mary Jane on the Brooklyn Bridge!
Tim Burton’s Superman
Before Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns and Zach Snyder’s Man of Steel, Tim Burton had attempted to give us his version, starring Nicolas Cage in the title role and with a script by Clerks’ director Kevin Smith. The movie was to be titled Superman Lives, but if you’ve seen the embarrassing images of Cage as a Man of Steel with a receding hairline, you’ll be glad it died.
Half of Hollywood’s John Carter
Now known as one of cinema’s great flops, John Carter had seen a host of notable names attached to direct, including John McTiernan, Robert Rodriguez and Jon Favreau. Ultimately, Andrew Stanton was the one left to take the hit when the movie tanked at the box office.
By Eric Hillis