Developmental Hell is when a film is in the development stage and is not moving onto the production phase. Most films that are stuck in this state are never officially canceled but work on them slows down. Some movies are stuck in developmental hell for years but manage to pull themselves out. Notable examples include E.T and Dallas Buyers Club. Both films were eventually made and released to critical and commercial success. However, other times films will be trapped in the eternal developmental hell with no chance of getting out. There are many reasons for a film to be in stuck in developmental hell, such as, a change in executives at a studio or a differing perspective of the material. Often, a novel or comic book will do exceptionally well, so a studio will go out and purchase it. However, often the interpretations are different and cause a delay in pre-production moving forward. Sometimes rumors will circulate and fan speculation will create buzz for an upcoming film, but then years pass by with no progression. Other times, studios will announce a new project but it quietly fizzles away. Ever wonder what happened to those movies? Well, they’re stuck and dammed to an eternal developmental hell.
15 Beverly Hills Cop IV
The Beverly Hills Cop series revolved around Axel Foley (Eddie Murphy), a street-smart cop from Detroit who goes to Beverly Hills to investigate crimes. The first film was a massive success and helped turn Eddie Murphy into a major Hollywood star. The third film was disappointing and Eddie Murphy has wanted to make up for it ever since. Since the mid 90s, there has been talk of doing a fourth film but nothing ever came of it. In 2006, Jerry Bruckheimer agreed to produce and in 2008, Brett Ratner agreed to direct. However, in 2010 Ratner announced that there would not be a fourth film anytime soon. At that point, Eddie Murphy and CBS attempted to do a Beverly Hills Cop TV series with Shawn Ryan attached. A one-hour pilot was shot but passed on by CBS. Paramount then decided to move forward with a fourth film that will see Axel return to Detroit. At this point, Beverly Hills Cop IV will be getting out of developmental hell in March 2016.
Halo is one of the most successful and popular first shooter video games. Microsoft publishes the video game. The story revolves around a war between humans and an alliance of aliens, The Covenant. In 2005, work on an adaptation began with a script written. However, no studio wanted to get involved because of the lack of risk Microsoft was making compared to the profits they would make. Universal and 20th Century decided to partner up and work together. Peter Jackson was set to produce and Neil Blomkamp was set to direct. Production stopped and resumed several times before it was officially stopped. Neil Blomkamp said the film was “dead’. Two web series were released and a TV series is currently in the works. It may get out of developmental hell.
13 I.D Forever
Independence Day revolved around an alien invasion on July 4th and group of humans that fight back. The film starred Will Smith, Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman and Vivica A. Fox. It was released on July 2, 1996. The film was a critical and commercial success. Since the film's release rumors have swirled about a potential sequel. The writers of the original, Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin, have been working on a sequel for years. At this point, Will Smith will not be appearing in the sequel because of his steep asking price. Although this delayed production on the film, producers decided to move on without him. The sequel was going to be split into two parts and released a year apart. However in November 2014, Fox green lit the sequel as a stand-alone film. However, it's possible the film will still be released in two parts. Currently, the projected release date for the sequel is June 24, 2016.
12 Rendezvous With Rama
Rendezvous with Rama is a critically acclaimed science fiction novel written by Arthur C. Clarke. It was published in 1973. The plot revolves around a cylinder like alien spacecraft that enters earth’s solar system. A group of humans investigate and inspect the spacecraft they call “Rama”. The novel won the Hugo Award and the Nebula award. Morgan Freeman has been trying to get the film made since the early 2000s. The film went immediately into developmental hell because of problems with funding. David Fincher revealed he was going to direct and the film was about to go into production. Although in 2008, the possibility of the film seemed unlikely after David Fincher said in an interview, “it looks like it’s not going to happen”. In 2010, Morgan Freeman expressed his interest in still wanting to do the film but admitted to having difficulty finding the right script. As of 2012, the film is deep in developmental hell.
11 Bill and Ted 3
Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure revolved around two slacker best friends, Ted Logan (Keanu Reeves) and Bill S. Preston (Alex Winter), who travel through time. The second film, Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey, followed the two friends through heaven, hell and beyond. Both films have gained a cult following. Fans have been waiting for a third film for a long time. Since 2010, rumors have intensified that a third film was on its way. Both Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves have agreed to return as the two lovable but dimwitted best friends. Several scripts have been written and rumors suggest it will deal with the two best friends 20 years later. Also, sources indicate that the role played by the late George Carlin will not be recast. According to interviews given by both Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves, a script is completed but production has not begun. The film is trying to quietly escape developmental hell.
10 The Brazilian Job
The Italian Job was released in 2003 and directed by F. Gary Gray. It revolved around a group of thieves committing a heist and double cross a former associate. The film starred Mark Walberg, Charlize Theron, Jason Statham, Mos Def, Seth Green and Edward Norton. The film very did well at the box office and received mostly positive reviews from critics. A sequel, The Brazilian Job, has been rotting away in developmental hell since the summer of 2004. It was intended for a 2005 release date but no script was finished. It was pushed back to 2006 and then to 2007. The studio no longer seems interested in making a sequel. At this point in time, the sequel is deep in developmental hell.
9 Hellboy 3
Hellboy was a superhero film directed by Guillermo del Toro and starred Ron Pearlman, which was released in 2004. It’s based on the comic book of the same name. The plot followed Hellboy, a demonic beast, who secretly protects the world. The film did very well at the box office and was well received by critics. A sequel, Hellboy 2: The Golden Army, was released a few years later. Although one might assume that Hellboy would enjoy it in hell, developmental hell seems much more horrifying. Hellboy 3 has been in developmental hell for years. Del Toro has discussed the possibility of doing a third film and would like to bring the series to an end. However, the studios do not want to take the risk on a third film. According to del Toro, the first two films made a lot on DVD sales and without that guarantee, the studios don’t want to get involved. It looks like Hellboy will remain in hell.
8 Roger Rabbit 2
Who Framed Roger Rabbit? was a tremendously successful live action/animated film. It was directed by Robert Zemeckis and executive produced by Steven Spielberg. The film was a critical and commercial success. Since the first film, there have been several failed attempts at making a sequel. Steven Spielberg has left the project. Several scripts have been written and most have been prequels. One had Roger leading a platoon during World War II. However, Disney has been reluctant to green light a sequel. The idea of a sequel seemed buried and destined to remain in developmental hell. Then in 2010, Zemeckis stated he was interested in returning. A possibility of a sequel seemed good until the death of Bob Hoskins, who played Eddie Valiant. However, a script has been written that is also a prequel and will be a buddy film about Roger Rabbit and Mickey Mouse. It's in the early stages and is sill in hell.
7 Last Friday
Friday was a stoner comedy that revolved around two unemployed friends Greg (Ice Cube) and Smokey (Chris Tucker). They must pay a drug dealer by the end of Friday night. The film spawned two sequels revolving around Greg and his cousin Day-Day (Mike Epps), but Chris Tucker declined to participate in any further sequels. The first film is a cult classic but the third film was disappointing to many fans. There have long been rumors and talk of doing a fourth and final installment in the series, Last Friday. There had been rumors that Ice Cube only wanted to do a final film if Chris Tucker would agree to return. Reports have surfaced that Tucker, Mike Epps and several others from the original cast are on board to do a fourth film. However, according to Ice Cube the film is in deep in developmental hell at New Line Cinema and he’s asking for our prayers to get it out.
6 At The Mountain of Madness
At the Mountain of Madness is a novella by iconic horror writer, H.P Lovercraft. It was written in 1931 and released in 1936. The story revolves around an expedition to the Antarctica gone horribly wrong in the 1930s. The narrator of the story is trying to prevent others from making the same expedition. Filmmaker Guillermo del Toro has tried to get the story adapted into film for years. In 2006, he had a script ready but Warner Bros wouldn’t provide finance. The story was considered unfilmable and no studio wanted to get involved. In 2010, James Cameron was announced as producer with Tom Cruise starring. Production on the film then stopped because del Toro wanted to release it as an R rated film, while the studio wanted a PG-13 rating. Eventually, the film was considered dead. Del Toro said in an interview that he was going to try one more time to get the film made.
5 The Sandman
The Sandman is a comic book series and is considered one of the greatest graphic novels of all time. It’s written by Neil Gaiman and is a part of DC Comics. It follows the story of Dream, or Morpheus, who is Lord of the Dreams. The graphic novel is critically acclaimed and highly successful. During the 90s, rumors circulated that Warner Bros was planning a live action Sandman film. Roger Avary was intended to direct but left the project over creative differences with producers. Several scripts were written with one being torn apart by fans online. Neil Gaiman noted that every script he was sent by Warner’s was worse than the last. The film remained in developmental hell. Neil Gaiman said at the 2007 San Diego Comic-Con that he’d “rather see no Sandman movie made than a bad one”. In 2013, it was announced that David S. Goyer and Joseph Gordon-Levitt would be producing a Sandman film. It’s currently in the script writing stage. So it’s not completely out of developmental hell yet.
4 Indiana Jones 5
The Indiana Jones series follows the adventures of archeologist Dr. Henry “Indiana” Jones Jr. The series includes 4 films, with the first one released in 1981 and the most recent in 2008. The series is widely popular and has expanded into TV and other merchandise. The fourth film was trapped in developmental hell for nearly 20 years but was eventually released. Talk of a 5th film started almost immediately. Many speculated that Shia LeBeouf’s character, Mutt Williams, who was introduced as Indiana’s son in the 4th film, was going to take over the series but many people involved have denied that. There was talk of several ideas but no concrete script. The Walt Disney Company purchased Lucasfilm Ltd In 2010 and they now own the rights of Star Wars and Indiana Jones. Disney has discussed the possibility of a fifth film but is currently focusing on the Star Wars series. A fifth film will not be considered until after the Star Wars series.
Akira is a groundbreaking, cult classic Japanese anime science fiction thriller released in 1988. It’s based on the Japanese magna of the same name, which was released between 1982 and 1990. Katsuhiro Otomo wrote the magna, co-wrote the screenplay and directed the anime. The story takes place in a dystopian Tokyo in 2019, and revolves around the leader of a biker gang, Shotara Kaneda, and his childhood best friend, Tetsuo Shima, who has psychic abilities. Tetsuo attempts to release the imprisoned psychic Akira. The anime is critically acclaimed and is considered a landmark in anime. In 2003, rumors began to circulate about a live action film. Various directors were attached before Jaume Collet-Serra was announced as director. Actors rumored for the role of Kaneda have included, Leonardo DiCaprio, James Franco and Michael Fassbender, among others. Actors rumored for the role of Tetsuo have included, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Andrew Garfield and James McAvoy. Rumors suggest that Mila Kunis, Keira Knightley and Gary Oldman were offered roles as well. The film shut down production four times by 2012 and according to the director, there is currently no progress on the film.
2 Ghostbusters 3
Ghostbusters 3 has been trapped in developmental hell for years and is trying to fight its way out. Ghostbusters revolved around a group of scientists that investigated paranormal cases and captured ghosts. The first film released in 1984 and was a massive critical and commercial success. It became a cultural phenomenon. Fans and critics demanded a sequel, which they got but were a bit disappointed by. The films starred Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Ernie Hudson, Sigourney Weaver and Rick Moranis. Since the 90s, Dan Aykroyd has talked about doing a third film. However, the film has remained in developmental hell in part because Bill Murray refuses to be involved with a sequel. Dan Aykroyd has noted that several scripts have been written and rewritten. Aykroyd decided to move one without Bill Murray’s involvement. However, with Harold Ramis' death, it would be difficult to have all of the original return. In 2014, rumors circulated about a potential reboot of the series. An all female cast was announced for a new Ghostbusters, starring, Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon. The projected release date is 2016. In 2015, it was announced that an all male Ghostbusters would also be filmed, starring Channing Tatum.
1 The Dark Tower
The Dark Tower is an epic written by Stephen King. The series is considered one of his finest works. The series includes eight novels released between 1982 and 2012. It follows the story of a gunslinger named Roland Deschain, his search for the Dark Tower and his battles with The Man In Black. In 2010, it was announced that the series would be adapted into a trilogy of films and two seasons of a TV series, which would air on HBO. Javier Bardem was rumored to star in the series before it went to Russell Crowe. In 2011, the project was canceled but then Warner Bros expressed interest in making the first film and the series still. However, they eventually passed on the project as well. Both Stephen King and Ron Howard are confident the series will still be made.