Entertainment Movies Five really weird movies that almost got made

Five really weird movies that almost got made

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By now you’ve probably heard the news and seen the photos: Nicolas Cage nearly played Superman in a 1990s movie directed by the king of kook himself, Tim Burton.

While Cage looks surprisingly comfortable in the blue suit, he and Burton weren’t exactly a natural fit for the DC Comics franchise.

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Who knows, it could have been a hit but unfortunately, as is the volatile nature of Hollywood, Superman Lives fell in a heap and never saw the light of day.

This is not the first, nor is it the last, time a movie idea won’t make it all the way to production. Sometimes it’s a travesty, other times it’s a blessing.

We should probably thank our lucky stars the following bizarre concepts didn’t survive the brutal pre-production hurdles.

Gangs of New York, starring The Clash

That’s right – the star-studded blockbuster that hit screens in 2002 was a far cry from Martin Scorsese’s original plan for the historical crime drama.

While the final version starred Cameron Diaz, Daniel Day Lewis and Leonardo DiCaprio, Scorsese originally wanted it to be a punk rock affair.

The director became preoccupied with British band The Clash after seeing their 1980 documentary Rude Boy.

He decided to approach the band about scoring and starring in a film adaptation of Herbert Asbury’s history of the New York crime scene.

Unfortunately, he decided to ditch that idea and opt for something a little safer nearly 20 years later.

In the same year the final version was released, Clash frontman Joe Strummer passed away.

The Clash, from left to right: Paul Simonon, Mick Jones, Pete Howard, and Joe Strummer. Photo: Getty
The Clash, from left to right: Paul Simonon, Mick Jones, Pete Howard, and Joe Strummer. Photo: Getty

The Silver Surfer

Back in 1980, Paul McCartney was approached to score a superhero film centred on the Marvel comic book character known as the Silver Surfer.

The film’s producer, Lee Kramer, allegedly wanted it to be a sort of rock opera and McCartney’s people said the former Beatle was definitely interested in being involved.

Even more bizarre, Kramer wanted to cast his then-girlfriend Olivia Newton-John in the lead role.

The Silver Surfer later surfaced in the 2007 Fantastic Four movie, with no Olivia or Paul in sight. Shame.

Olivia Newton-John as a Marvel superhero? So crazy it could have worked. Photo: Getty
Olivia Newton-John as a Marvel superhero? So crazy it could have worked. Photo: Getty

Stanley Kubrick’s Napoleon

The man who brought us A Clockwork Orange very nearly gave us what could have been the biggest, weirdest biopic in Hollywood history.

Stanley Kubrick was obsessed with French military leader Napoleon Bonaparte and embarked on two years of research in preparation for writing an original screenplay.

Unfortunately, two studios (MGM, then United Artists) baulked at the idea of making a historical epic as they weren’t in fashion at the time.

It may have also had something to do with the fact Kubrick planned to hire tens of thousands of extras to recreate battle scenes in the days before special effects.

Kubrick’s elaborate source material is now the subject of a collector’s edition book titled Stanley Kubrick’s Napoleon, The Greatest Movie Never Made.

It features 15,000 location scouting photographs and 17,000 slides of Napoleonic imagery.

A limited edition copy of Stanley Kubrick’s Napoleon, The Greatest Movie Never Made.

Lord of the Rings, starring The Beatles

Yes, you read that correctly.

According to The Hobbit director Peter Jackson, The Beatles were seriously keen on making and starring in an adaptation of the popular book series back in the 60s.

“It was something John [Lennon] was driving and J.R.R. Tolkien still had the film rights at that stage but he didn’t like the idea of the Beatles doing it. So he killed it,” Jackson told Wellington’s Evening Post in 2002.

Even weirder, Jackson claimed Lennon wanted to play the role of Gollum, while George Harrison wanted to play Gandalf, Paul McCartney wanted to play Frodo and Ringo Starr was set to play Frodo’s sidekick, Sam.

We’re not quite sure whether this was a serious pursuit or a really, really elaborate April Fool’s prank.

John Lennon wanted to play ring-obsessed creature Gollum. Photo: Getty
John Lennon wanted to play ring-obsessed creature Gollum. Photo: Getty

Ronnie Rocket

“Weird” is David Lynch’s middle name. No surprises then that “the one that got away” from him was a passion project about a three-foot tall man “with red hair and physical problems”.

According to the UK’s Telegraph, the film is set in an bleak industrial city where no one is allowed in or out and evil “donut men” try to kill innocent people.

To evade their wrath, one must maintain a state of pain. This is done by stabbing oneself with knitting needles.

Meanwhile, “Ronnie Rocket” is a deformed man who two scientists are attempting to transform with electricity. He has to plug himself into a charger every 15 minutes.

While Ronnie Rocket failed to secure financing (wonder why?) Lynch told Salon.com he still looks at the script and holds out hope of making it one day.

“There’s always something I haven’t figured out yet. I want to make it. I love that world,” he said.

A version of Ronnie featured in Lynch’s iconic series Twin Peaks, played by Michael J Anderson.

Michael J Anderson in 'Twin Peaks'.
Michael J Anderson in Twin Peaks.

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