10 Canned Sequels We Still Wish Would Be Made


There was a time in Hollywood where sequels to successful movies were the exception, not the rule. More often that not, if a picture was a success, like 1940's The Road to Singapore with Bob Hope and Bing Crosby, studios would reunite its cast for other stories or adventures that were not sequels in the true sense of the word. Bogie and Bacall. Martin and Lewis. Lemmon and Matthau. Abbot and Costello.

Sure there were film franchises like the Bowery Boys and Dagwood and Blondie, and later film series like the James Bond and Pink Panther films. But these took familiar characters and sent them on new adventures with each outing. The modern sequel continues the storyline of the original, and there are some fine examples like The Godfather Part II, The Road Warrior, The Empire Strikes Back and Aliens, all of which were worthy sequels and terrific films. Then there are those sequels that are but cheap, low-budget knockoffs of great films, often produced without the participation of the orginal cast or filmmakers. Does anyone remember The Sting II, Jaws 2 or Caddyshack II? Finally there are those sequels which were promised, teased or in development that never happened for one reason or another. Planned sequels are often canned because of lower-than-expected box office returns on the original. Or because key personnel become unavailable. Or because the planets are not in alignment. But whatever the reason, there are a number of mothballed movie sequels we would still love to see. Here are ten of them (and no, Catwoman 2 is not among them).

10. E.T.: Nocturnal Fears

ET and Elliott

While E.T. was still in theaters, one of its young costars, Drew Barrymore, became a media darling. Appearing on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, she revealed that director Steven Spielberg had spoken with her about a sequel to E.T. She coyly let slip that she wasn't supposed to talk about it with anyone.

E.T. was the biggest hit of 1982, and garnered nine Oscar nominations including Best Director and Best Picture. Rumors about a sequel continued to float around, and there was even talk about a possible script in the works by E.T. scribe Melissa Mathison. But despite all the chatter, a sequel was never made. Spielberg wisely chose not to compromise the magic of the original film with a sequel. Expectations from audiences would logically be very high, and a sequel would have to be a masterful piece of cinema to live up to those expectations. But what would an E.T. sequel have looked like? What has seeped its way into popular culture is a 10-page treatment called E.T.: Nocturnal Fears, written by Spielberg and Mathison and dated July, 1982. PDF's of this treatment are now floating around the Internet. While the treatment features the original cast, the tone is significantly darker. The aliens that land in the wooded clearing this time, in response to E.T.€™s "phone home" message, are bad aliens. The kids are kidnapped and Elliott is tortured. In the end, however, the beloved E.T. returns to Earth to save the day. A sequel to E.T., if made today, might not benefit from an appearance by the original cast. These kids are now in their 40s. Would audiences swallow a story with E.T. and a new cast of kids? Probably not. What about a reunion with Elliott, now grown and with children of his own? That holds some possibilities. Exploring the character of E.T. in a deeper way than the original was able to, revealing more about his people and culture, might prove interesting and nearly as magical as the original. Surely there is a story there. But would a sequel to E.T., particularly now, tarnish the magic of the original? We€™ll probably never know. At least, not in Spielberg€™s lifetime.
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Not to be confused with the captain of the Enterprise, James Kirk is a writer and film buff who lives in South Carolina.