Whenever a sci-fi movie makes it to the big screen, there’s always a niggling voice in the back of canny viewer’s heads which can’t help but wonder, “was this one another Jodorowsky’s Dune?”
For anyone not familiar with the El Topo director’s trippy back catalogue, Alejandro Jodorowsky is the visionary helmer of Fando y Lis and The Holy Mountain who was approached in the seventies to create an adaptation of Frank Herbert’s iconic sci-fi epic Dune. So began years of development, staggering concept art, and the announcement of a slew of incredible collaborations—only for funding to fall through, the ambitious project to be scrapped, and the film eventually arriving onscreen as David Lynch’s unrecognizable 1984 effort.
Particularly in the genre of sci fi, where fans want innovation and originality and studios want reliable returns on their investment, almost every film released contains within its development the shadow of a stranger, more daring concept. In some cases, it’s just as well these quirky pitches were lost to time, as they would have been laughable onscreen.
But just as often, there are masterpieces out there which we never got to see.
So it’s with a heavy heart that we’re running down a dozen cases of sci fi movies where, thanks to studio intervention, we never got to see the creator’s initial vision.
12. Heath Ledger As Mad Max In Fury Road
George Miller spent decades trying to get a fourth instalment of his most beloved creation, the Mad Max franchise, off the ground. Given how much the auteur struggled to find funding, there were inevitably a couple of necessary rewrites by the time shooting began.
Despite star Mel Gibson’s, er, uneven relationship with fame in the intervening years, Miller had harboured hopes that the Lethal Weapon star would return to the role which made him famous. However, advancing age and a busy career as a director put the kibosh on this notion.
Miller drafted Heath Ledger as his replacement in the central role of the eponymous outlaw, but the actor’s untimely passing prompted the casting of fellow Batman baddie Tom Hardy.
The film was also intended to be an interquel set between the original trilogy’s first and second instalments, but the idea was scrapped presumably because it wouldn’t make much sense to shoot a mid-story instalment with a whole new cast.