Category Archives: movies that were supposed to…
This week marks thirty years since Carl Weathers made his bid for leading man status with the blaxploitation flick, Action Jackson. Up until this point in his career, Weathers had played second banana to Sylvester Stallone (the Rocky movies) and Arnold Schwarzenegger (Predator). Action Jackson was Weathers’ one real shot at being the hero rather than the side-kick. Unlike a lot of other movies we talk about in this series, Action Jackson was successful enough to warrant a sequel. But because of studio politics, that never happened. Let’s take a look at how Apollo Creed almost launched a movie franchise, but didn’t.
It’s not unusual for movies to inspire toys. But up until recently, it was pretty rare for a movie to be based on a toyline. The 1987 sci-fi saga, Masters of the Universe, was one of the first attempts to launch a movie franchise based on plastic action figures. But due to bad timing, budgetary constraints and a host of other factors, He-Man did not have the power to conquer the box office. Instead, the planned sequel was scrapped and the sets were re-purposed for a Jean-Claude Van Damme movie. It’s another tale of epic failure from Cannon Films.
This weekend, Netflix will debut their latest Marvel-based series. This one is a solo effort featuring Jon Bernthal as the Punisher. Prior to landing on television, Frank Castle has starred in three movies. None of them were successful which makes pinning down the exact start and end of the Punisher series a bit tricky. Since each of the three theatrical films was essentially its own separate entity, I am going to treat them as three failed attempts to launch a franchise. Which one are we looking at today? All three of them!
It’s superhero movie season. But then again, what time of year isn’t these days? As we brace ourselves for the release of Zach Snyder’s Justice League next week, we’re looking back at the movie which was supposed to kick of Warner Brothers’ slate of DC Comics-based movies. Marvel makes it look easy with the success of their Cinematic Universe. But Green Lantern reminds us of everything that can (and did) go wrong.
As movie stars go, they don’t come much bigger than Dracula. The king of vampires has been featured in more movies than James Bond. He’s been played memorably by Bela Lugosi and Christopher Lee and lampooned by the likes of Leslie Nielsen. In the pantheon of movie monsters, Drac reigns supreme which is why every time Universal decides it’s time to reinvent their monster movies, Dracula is among the first to be dusted off. Most recently, Universal looked to its monster properties as a way to duplicate the success of the Marvel Cinematic universe. Their first effort towards that end was 2014’s Dracula Untold.
It’s happening again. That show I like is coming back in style. I am of course referring to the cult sensation, Twin Peaks, which after twenty-five years has been revived for a third season on Showtime. But this isn’t the first time Twin Peaks was given a second chance. In 1992, just one year after the show’s cancellation, director David Lynch brought his creation to the big screen.
Showtime’s revival has been met with joyous celebration, but Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me opened to booing at the Cannes Film Festival, jeers from critics and ambivalence from audiences. Even the show’s few remaining fans didn’t seem to know what to make of the big screen version of Twin Peaks. A quarter century later, the movie, like the show, has enjoyed a critical reappraisal with many now viewing Fire Walk With Me as an under-appreciated gem. That may be true, but as an attempt to extend the life of Twin Peaks mania, it was a critical and commercial failure.
When Unbreakable was released in 2000, writer-director M. Night Shyamalan was riding high. His previous movie, the supernatural thriller The Sixth Sense, had been a surprise smash. On a modest $40 million dollar budget, The Sixth Sense became the second-highest grossing movie of 1999 right behind The Phantom Menace. But unlike the Star Wars prequel, The Sixth Sense also enjoyed critical success as well. It was also nominated for six Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Original Screenplay.
After his second movie as a director, Shyamalan was a Hollywood power player. Disney, which had released The Sixth Sense, couldn’t wait to make more movies with their new superstar. He was paid a record-breaking $5 million dollars for a spec script for Unbreakable in addition to another $5 million in directing fees. That is a quarter of what it cost to make The Sixth Sense. But if Shyamalan’s follow-up was even half as successful as that movie, it would be money well spent.
Tonight on CBS, Supergirl comes to TV in the form of a brand new series. I couldn’t be more excited about it. While they aren’t perfect, the Flash and Green Arrow shows from the same producers are a lot of fun. I’m hoping the new Supergirl show will be just as entertaining. The fact that the show will have a female protagonist is just icing on the cake. I have two daughters and I am really excited about the possibility that we could watch this show together.
With Supergirl coming to TV tonight, I thought it would be a great time to look back at the Supergirl movie which tried (and failed) to make the Girl of Steel into a movie star.
Ten years ago today, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson starred in the video game adaptation, Doom. Video game movies are always a risky proposition. Even Doom‘s executive producer, John Wells, admitted that most of them sucked. But there was reason to think Doom might be different. The game the movie was based on was credited with popularizing the first-person-shooter style of gaming. If a video game can be considered historically significant, Doom was. Additionally, Johnson seemed poised to break out as a movie star. All he needed was the right vehicle. If Doom was it, you could practically smell the sequels.
But it turns out, Doom sucked.
With 2004’s Van Helsing, Universal was certain it was sitting on top of a goldmine. For years, they had been looking for a way to capitalize on their classic monster movie library. Then along came writer/director Stephen Sommers. Sommers put a fresh comedic spin on Universal’s troubled mummy movie. In 1999, The Mummy turned into a surprise hit for the studio. A sequel followed in 2002 which lead to a spin-off movie, The Scorpion King, in 2002. Sommers seemed to have a magic touch. So it seemed like a no-brainer to pair him with Wolverine and give him control of the complete Universal monsters collection. But often times, what looks like a no-brainer on paper turns out to be a misfire in execution. Van Helsing was one such case.
Today marks the 30th anniversary of the release of the action movie, Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins. When you subtitle a movie with something like “The Adventure Begins” you are sending a clear message to audiences of your intention to make sequels. The idea was that Remo Williams would be the American equivalent of James Bond with a long-running film series to rival 007. But if Remo Williams was comparable to any Bond, it was George Lazenby. Because after only one movie, he was done. The adventure ended as soon as it began
Today marks the 10th anniversary of the release of Joss Whedon’s big-screen Firefly adventure, Serenity. Stop me if you have heard this one before. A beloved science fiction show is prematurely cancelled by the network. Fans demand more and eventually, their favorite characters are reunited on the big screen. It worked for Star Trek. But instead of launching a series of movies about the crew of the Serenity, the Firefly movie turned out to be a one-and-done.
In 1989, Tim Burton’s Batman was a phenomenon. So it seemed like a given that the summer of 1990 would belong to Warren Beatty’s comic-strip adventure, Dick Tracy. The movie boasted big stars like Al Pacino, Dustin Hoffman, Madonna and of course Beatty himself. Also like Batman, Dick Tracy had an eye-popping visual style. Throw in original songs written by Stephen Sondheim and a promotional tour by the Material Girl and Dick Tracy seemed like a can’t miss blockbuster. Disney revved up the merchandise machine and prepared to count the money as it rolled in. But despite a massive marketing push, Dick Tracy didn’t become the phenomenon it seemed destined to be.