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The Greatest Sci-Fi Movies Never Made

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3.79  ·  Rating details ·  449 ratings  ·  53 reviews
What if I Am Legend had been directed by Ridley Scott, and had starred Arnold Schwarzenegger? What if James Cameron had directed Spider-Man?

This groundbreaking book, now fully updated and revised, tells the story of legendary unmade films. What would Terry Gilliam’s Watchmen have been like, and how did Darren Aronofsky almost end up directing the movie? Why was Nicolas C
...more
Paperback, Revised, Updated, 350 pages
Published July 15th 2008 by Titan Books (first published 2002)
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Simon
Jan 05, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
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Bryce Wilson
Jul 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: film
Read it and weep literally.

Don't expect to stop imagining what could have been.
...more
David Hall
Dec 31, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Beorn
Sep 05, 2013 rated it it was ok
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.
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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
Mark
May 29, 2012 rated it liked it
As a longtime film fan, one of the things that has always intrigued me is the uncompleted film project, the idea that for some reason stalls out and never makes it to fruition. This fascination is what made David Hughes’s book such an interesting read for me. Using a mixture of firsthand interviews and exploitation of fan and film literature he chronicles numerous projects, drafts, and proposals for science fiction movies. While many of the projects he chronicles never saw the silver screen, he ...more
Sean O'Hara
Jun 04, 2010 rated it did not like it
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
Tom
Apr 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
Dull in a couple of chapters, but the majority was interesting. I now have like 5 or 6 new sci-fi books I want to read, based on the descriptions of the movies that could have been.
Annabelle
Jan 04, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: i-own-it
Science fiction has always been my genre of choice. Retro SF, to be precise--stories set before the moon landing, and anything seemed possible (instead we got moon rocks and a barren moon, devoid of atmosphere). SF fan though I am, I have yet to get to know and watch a single episode of Star Trek. And I never liked Star Wars, never watched any of the movies in its entirety. Finally, not being a snob about it (ok, maybe just a little), but David Hughes has probably never read Asimov's essay, wher ...more
Lee Penney
Jun 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a look behind the Hollywood curtain to see how a movie makes it to the screen, or doesn’t. Most, in part because of the large amounts of money involved, go through long and arduous development processes where stars, directors and other talent come and go. This book focuses on sci-fi movies that didn’t see the light of day.

I don’t wish to be picky, but the title is inaccurate. Most of the films covered, which include Dune, Alien 3, Star Trek, Thunderbirds and John Carter of Mars, did actu
...more
Michael
Nov 16, 2018 rated it liked it
I had wanted to read a movie book again since I had not in a while. It's one of my favorite things to read about and something I feel closely connected to. Furthermore, Sci-Fi movies are the movies I really grew up with and even though I tend to find more interest in Thrillers as I grow older, I always come back to a good fantasy.

So after staring at my bookshelves, I came upon this title and realized I had never read it...so, hence here we are. The title alone of this book is a misnomer from th
...more
Andrew Fish
Jul 31, 2017 rated it liked it
Since the first filmmakers decided they liked the reliable daylight of America's west coast, Hollywood has always been more about politics than art. Satirised in the 1930s by Wodehouse, it seems hardly to have changed. And, as modern blockbusters are made with ever increasing budgets, trying to get a film made has become increasingly difficult. With Sci-fi being perhaps the most expensive genre in the modern age, it has perhaps more projects stalled on the launchpad than any other. Hughes docume ...more
Aki Umemoto
First off, this book should be titled "Sci-Fi Movies in Development Hell", since most of these first attempts of making blockbuster movies died in pre-production and half of these movies were eventually made into films: "Avatar", "I Am Legend", "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy", "Thunderbirds", and others. Then in the last two chapters, the author follows two films: "Super Nova" and "The Island of Doctor Moreau" which started out with promise and then through changes (including the quitting or ...more
Serdar
Jul 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
(Forgot to add this earlier) Oh, what could have been! This is a splendidly researched and quite detailed rundown of a number of SF/fantasy movies that either never made it to theaters ("The Stars My Destination" [WHY, GOD, WHY], "The Tourist") or arrived in a ver-r-ry different form than their original conception ("The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy"). Some of these come off not so much as injustices against man as they do mercy killings; e.g., one possible version of "Stars My Destination" s ...more
Satdeep Grewal
Mar 22, 2020 rated it liked it
Some really fascinating stuff in here, especially loved the chapters on Dune and Star Trek. I found the style of writing a tad repetitive which made me put down the book a few times but realised some chapters you might as well skip if they involve films you're not that interested in. I feel like I learnt a lot of fun facts overall. ...more
Luke Cavanagh
Jun 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A fascinating read, if you where ever interested about the film version of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy that almost happened in the 80s. Why did the Ridley Scott directed I Am Legend adaption not happen as well as many other unmade sci-fi films that would have been classics. ...more
CJ
Mar 04, 2018 rated it liked it
Interesting enough. Best thing I learned was how little originality there is in Hollywoodland. Even less that I thought, with all these ideas being recycled.
Perry
Kinda a surface-level look at some troubled productions, although there is some good info in there.

Terminator 3 being in here makes me very sad, I yearn for that magical time.
Willy Boy
Dec 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Very readable and interesting.
Mark Thompson
Apr 25, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Not for everyone but fascinating insight into the movie business.
Jeff Mikules
Jan 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Dimitris
Aug 15, 2014 rated it it was ok
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
Craig
Jun 10, 2016 rated it it was ok
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
William Johnson
Jan 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
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 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Gareth
Feb 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Nathan Worthington
Apr 02, 2013 rated it liked it
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 rated it really liked it
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
Joshua
Aug 28, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
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David Hughes has written about film for numerous newspapers and magazines, including The Guardian, Empire, GQ, SFX, Fangoria and Cinefantastique. He is the author of Virgin's The Complete Kubrick and The Complete Lynch, and wrote Titan Books' acclaimed The Greatest Sci-Fi Movies Never Made. ...more

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