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The Greatest Sci-Fi Movies Never Made

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3.79  ·  Rating Details ·  331 Ratings  ·  41 Reviews
Steven Spielberg's sci-fi horror movie Night Skies. David Lynch's Ronnie Rocket. Terry Gilliam's Watchmen. Philip Kaufman's Star Trek: Planet of the Titans. Ridley Scott's I Am Legend. Tim Burton's Superman Lives. These are just some of the legendary unmade films covered by this groundbreaking book. Drawing on dozens of exclusive new interviews with the writers, designers, ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published April 28th 2002 by Chicago Review Press (first published 2002)
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Community Reviews

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Bryce Wilson
Jul 29, 2008 Bryce Wilson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: film
Read it and weep literally.

Don't expect to stop imagining what could have been.
Simon
Jan 05, 2012 Simon rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I have three problems with this book, and two of them are in the title.
One: of the 21 films described here, 15 have, in some form or another, been made. Admittedly, some of them were made between the first and second editions of this book, but it still rather gives the lie to the book's main selling point.
Two: I dispute the "greatest" in the title. In most cases they're simply high profile projects, the vast majority being remakes or adaptations of books or comics. The chapters on David Lynch's
...more
Þorrbjórn
Sep 05, 2013 Þorrbjórn rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned
Probably a fascinating read for anyone that's really interested in their films but for a curious outsider such as me it started out interesting and soon got a bit too much like repetitive cycles of hearsay and 'He said' 'She saids' about a lot of projects or films I never realised I cared so little about.

Overall, this would probably amaze and enthral those who are really heavily into their films but for me it was fairly flat.
Greg Pettit
A compilation of quotes and anecdotes about famous properties that have had long journeys to make it (or not) to the big screen.

The main problem I had with this book was that it just wasn't as interesting as you would think. I suppose that's somewhat inevitable when you're dealing with "what if" scenarios. Here, every chapter seemed exactly the same: someone had a screenplay, maybe the studio was interested, it was rewritten by someone else, management changed at the studio, now it's on, now it'
...more
Sean O'Hara
Jun 04, 2010 Sean O'Hara rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction, film
This was a horribly disappointing book. While there are a few chapters devoted to interesting sci-fi ideas that never got off the ground, or books that were optioned for films and never made, mostly it tells the tales of good ideas that became bad movies. Except not even that. For example, there was never a good idea attached to Alien 3 -- the studio just wanted a sequel by a certain time, story be damned.

Almost all the information in this book can be gleaned from other sources. Want to know wha
...more
David Hall
Dec 31, 2009 David Hall rated it really liked it
Shelves: film
This is a very entertaining read if you are obsessed or even just mildly interested in the behind the scenes details of movie making. Hughes is a fluid and occasionally witty writer, and he squeezes enough interesting facts from his many sources.

There are so many interesting insights into the many failures and cock ups, that it can be hard to put down. Not all the examples are fully engaging, but the Star Trek, Island of Dr. Moreau and Hitchhikers chapters make up for these dips. Equally, it ca
...more
Bruce
Aug 19, 2009 Bruce rated it it was amazing
This work provides an insight into the movie industry and the development of movies. While the original idea comes from a short story or novel, the movie script can be dramatically different. As executives in the industry change jobs the movie companies change priorities and views. New script writers and graphic artists are brought in as new ideas are pushed by the new executives. Thus the proposed movie will have many different drafts, many differing dramatically from each other. As the scripts ...more
Bkunkle
A tad depressing since it is mostly about movies that were never made and wound up in "development hell." It makes you think studio executives are brainless (if you didn't already). The case of characters for each chapter soon gets overwhelming.

The bright spots are the movies that actually got made since the first edition of this book. Some of them are quite interesting, especially ET.
Jeff Mikules
Jan 22, 2014 Jeff Mikules rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Greatest Sci-Fi Movies Never Made reminds me so much of just about every place I've ever worked: inflated egos, incomprehensibly ridiculous decisions made by the big bosses, a great amount of infighting, incredible stubbornness, new bosses coming in and "shaking things up", the stifling of creativity, the crushing of dreams, and every major decision boiling down to the almighty dollar and simple, but not always unwarranted, fear.
Since the book was published in 2001, many of the movies disc
...more
Craig
Jun 10, 2016 Craig rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
As I've said in other reviews, I'm more interested in what could have been rather than what we have. I love the mythos surrounding shelved projects, and there's an air of intrigue. This book not only takes this baton but runs all the way to the end with some of the most in-depth research I've ever seen in such a casual book, even if it does feel like several blog posts stitched together. That being said, the more you read the more you realise much of this could be taken from anywhere online whic ...more
Dimitris
Aug 15, 2014 Dimitris rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Well, this is awkward. Finished the book in three days and long readings they were, no doubt about it. The book is interesting, but despite that I wouldn't call it a book you just have to read. It's a bit sad to feel that all this research does not make a good book. Too much executive angst and long story short, "we got this guy/gal who can write (remember this and that amazing script?)but his/her particular draft was horrible or they destroyed an almost excellent draft we had/we chose another f ...more
William Johnson
Jan 24, 2012 William Johnson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: movie lovers, science fiction fans
I really had a blast reading this book because it seems to have an inside beat into the making of movies as the author has been involved, on varying levels, with some of the films that were never made (and/or were made much later but in totally different ways).

Some chapters were absolute page turners. For me, reading what each of the Star Trek movies COULD have been compared to what they BECAME was always fascinating as some of the bad Trek movies had originally great ideas while some of the gre
...more
Zack
Aug 12, 2007 Zack rated it really liked it
This book suffers from a small problem -- since it first came out, about half the movies in it have actually been made! In fact, they just put out a new edition. A more accurate take on this book is "The Greatest VERSIONS of Sci-Fi Movies Never Made." From Kevin Smith's Superman to James Cameron's Spider-Man to Ridley Scott's I AM LEGEND, this details the long and arduous process that leads to a big-budget SF film getting made. In some cases, you'll wish we could have gotten the different versio ...more
Nathan Worthington
A fascinating look behind the scenes of Hollywood at how movies are made (or not made in the cases mentioned in the book). The book examines at least 21 movies that have been stuck in 'development hell' for years. Among those featured are the following science fiction movies (with the directors who were attached to each of the projects): Night Skies by Steven Spielberg, Childhood's End by Stanley Kubrick, Star Trek: Planet of the Titans by Philip Kaufman, Six Million Dollar Man by Kevin Smith, S ...more
Bart Sycamore
Aug 17, 2016 Bart Sycamore rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Can't say I liked the content of this book. Well researched, well written, incredibly engaging but ultimately heartbreaking, it tells the story of some of Hollywood's most infamous could-have-beens. Whilst some of the films - and by this I mainly mean Star Trek - were truly bullets dodged, there were a lot of brilliant ideas lost in development hell. You can't argue that some were legitimate examples of being ahead of their time and technology, but ultimately what we are shown is that Hollywood ...more
Gareth
Feb 24, 2012 Gareth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf, non-fiction
Very entertaining investigation into Hollywood and some fascinating glimpses of movies that will never be. "The Tourist" is the strongest contender for a lost classic, whilst I'm delighted that "The Silver Surfer" never made it to the cameras. A shame that Peter Howitt's version of "Thunderbirds" never got off the ground, whilst its fascinating to think that "John Carter of Mars" might have gone down in history as the world's first animated feature film.

There plenty of great stories about dim-wi
...more
Joshua
Aug 28, 2008 Joshua rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Any fan of film
Some of what's printed in here is common knowledge for any film buff, but there is always something new to be found within its pages. For every crappy film that is made ( Dave , Mummy 3 , Babylon AD ) and for every crappy remake that is envisioned, ( Deathrace 2008 , Bankok Dangerous ), there are 10 brilliant screenplays left to collect dust and never be realized because some studio head with no knowledge of cinema wants another Will Smith movie and will put him into every film if he could. R ...more
Joshua
Nov 26, 2008 Joshua rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2008
This collection of essays on science fiction films that were "almost" made has some great chapters in it--David Lynch's never filmed "Ronnie Rocket," the story behind all the "Alien" films and the "Star Trek" chapter were my favorites. Some I didn't care for at all simply because I'm not into the source--"The Watchmen" or "Dune" for example.

Still, the interesting thing was to read about the failed attempts to make a few of these films and how different screenplays or a different director would
...more
Jaye
Jun 06, 2016 Jaye rated it liked it
The gentleman who wrote this book should have waited a few years, because this book would've been a lot less substantial. Several of the projects listed here have since made it onto film. Avatar, I Am Legend, and three Terminator films have been made since this was published. I'd still like to see Childhood's End and The Stars My Destination get to film.
Christopher
Aug 10, 2008 Christopher rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: film/trivia fanatics
An interesting read regarding various science fiction film projects that either never got off the ground or were butchered in the Hollywood machine. Some of the more interesting chapters involved "The Island of Doctor Moreau", "Supernova" and "The Watchmen". It's a fast read, but some of the info about some of the projects aren't all that interesting or entertaining (I'm a "Star Trek" fan, but the chapter about the motion picture that almost was is a snoozefest).
Cath Murphy
Apr 07, 2012 Cath Murphy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Wonderful, fascinating canter through some of the beached hulks which litter that bay of lost dreams called Development Hell. Sci-fi movies are especially prone to crashing and burning before they reach the screen, partly because the ideas age so quickly and partly because they are almost never cheap to make. This is a collection of some of the highest concept films which almost made it, but not quite.
Steve Mitchell
Jul 25, 2011 Steve Mitchell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a really good read even if it is now out of date: some of the films have been made, with even more scheduled for release later this year. As a fan of the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, the chapter about Douglas Adams’s attempt to make a big screen version was what drew my interest to this book; and I was not disappointed. I would recommend it to any sci-fi film fan; but for the chapters that describe attempts to turn a novel into a film, go out and read the novel first!
Ben De Bono
There's some ok information in this book, but the writing is so pedestrian it isn't worth the effort. To make a book like this work, the author needs to be a good storyteller. David Hughes simply is not. If any of the failed projects in question interest you, you're better off doing a Google search on them rather than trudging through this very dull read.
Chris
Nov 27, 2010 Chris rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: movies, 2010
A collection of some of the major "coulda/woulda/shoulda" movies of the last thirty or so years, any enterprising nerd has likely heard tell of half these projects somewhere along the line. While some of the stories herein were familiar to me, many others were comfortably out of my wheelhouse and I enjoyed learning about a lot of these proposed sci-fi flicks.
Richard
Old news but still a good read, if you're a movie fan (and I am) then this is a diverting read in the same way that "Blockbuster - How Hollywood Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Summer" was.

It's not Easy Riders Raging Bulls but it's also head and shoulders above a lot of movie write up dross
Jack Gattanella
Aug 08, 2012 Jack Gattanella rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Catnip for movie buffs. The story behind what could've been Ridley Scott's I Am Legend is especially absorbing. I did skip a couple of chapters (I won't lie) since I didn't really know much or care for the movies, like Logan's Run (didn't know much). If nothing else though.... Dune.... man oh man, I would give my right and left testicle to see that flick.
Jeremiah Goodman
Apr 19, 2013 Jeremiah Goodman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A really fascinating look at the inner workings of Hollywood filmmaking. The graveyard of unproduced scripts and projects killed by business bureaucracy is rife with good ideas that would have made very enjoyable films. It was interesting to get the story of several lackluster films and how what was intended never made it to the screen.
Jobby
Mar 30, 2013 Jobby rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating look at all the work that can go into getting a film made only to have the studio execs say "Nah, we're not going to give you the money to make that. we want to make X instead", or to have all the good stuff changed so the resulting film is awful.
Makes you wonder what could have been. :(
Nicole
Dec 12, 2010 Nicole rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a fascinating look at the world of moviemaking in general and genre moviemaking in particular. I was especially interested in some of the stories of films that did get made, such as Supernova and The Island of Doctor Moreau. Both films seemed to be even more painful to make than they were to watch.
Tvermar
good book, well written, especially liked the chapter on The hitchhiker's Guide To the Galaxy. Suffers, due to no fault of Mr Hughes, that the story of one film's develvelopment hell is not that much different from anothers.

more an extended magazine article than a book - but I really enjoyed it, and I'm not that much of a film buff.
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