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7 Films That Must Be Saved From Development Hell

Some films linger for years in the dusty vaults of studio development.

With Ghostbusters 3 - a notorious Development Hell-dweller - finally getting hosed down and shoved blinking into production, we've had a think about other projects that have been stuck in limbo for too long.

So as a helpful service to Hollywood, here's a few of the movies that clearly need to be transferred out of cold storage and into the fast-track microwave…

The Brazilian Job

The Pitch: Mark Wahlberg, Charlize Theron, Jason Statham, Seth Green and Mos Def get their crime team back together for a heist in Rio de Janeiro.

The original was a surprisingly fun, purist-annoying diversion. We want more. It's been six years now…

The Status: After a series of stops and starts, with various scripts written and junked, the movie seems no nearer to actually reaching the screen.

Plus the various actors are busy with their own projects, so scheduling must be a nightmare. “We're trying right now. They all want to do the sequel," blabbed producer Donald De Line as recently as this month. "We have a version at Paramount that we're talking very seriously about, so hopefully, if we're lucky in the next year we can pull it together."

Our Fix: Enough with the arsing about. Get all the actors’ representatives together in a room and hash out a schedule - even if it means they shoot some scenes at different times.

Also, get the Bourne stunt team together and throw enough money at Crank co-directors Brian Taylor and Mark Neveldine to let them go crazy.[page-break]

Fahrenheit 451

The Pitch: Ray Bradbury’s famous sci-fi tale of a world where books are seen as the source of rebellion and readers are hunted down.

The Status: Poor Frank Darabont has suffered some terrible luck trying to get this bad boy off the ground.

It’s been in the works since at least 2003, crawling close to a greenlight many times before being shut down. The director even went to Hungary to scout locations at one point, while his Green Mile star Tom Hanks was briefly attached for a while.

Our Fix: Let Darabont be Darabont. While he probably won’t get exactly the budget he needs to make his perfect vision of the film, someone needs to step up and realise he could be on to something amazing here. Give Frank a few pennies and artistic freedom and he comes up with the likes of The Mist...

Oh, and prod Hanks into going back - that’ll help ease the studio money worries. [page-break]

Rendezvous With Rama

The Pitch: A sprawling, futuristic tale of a massive, mysterious space vessel arriving in the solar system sparks an exploration and several revelations about man’s destiny.

The Status: David Fincher and Morgan Freeman have been trying to wrangle Arthur C Clarke’s epic tome onto the big screen for more than six years now.

The sheer size, scale and scope of the thing seems to have finally defeated them – at least for now. "It looks like it's not going to happen," said Fincher recently. "There's no script and as you know, Morgan Freeman's not in the best of health right now. We've been trying to do it but it's probably not going to happen." Even worse, the IMDB page for the movie has been removed…

Our Fix: We’re not sure this one can actually work as a movie. But perhaps a canny channel like HBO could step up and do something truly different - a story so big could be much more easily told over several hours of well-funded TV.

And never mind Fincher - get Darren Aronofsky involved. He worked wonders with The Fountain. Oh yes he did.[page-break]

A Confederacy Of Dunces

The Pitch: John Kennedy Toole’s comedy novel finds the lazy yet intelligent Ignatius J Reilly content to live with his mother. But then he suddenly has to go and get a job to survive...

The Status: This is one of those 'legacy' films that defeats everyone who attempts it: Harold Ramis, Stephen Fry, Steven Soderbergh...

Soderbergh’s version was even lined up with Pineapple Express’s David Gordon Green helming. “I’ve been obsessed with the book since I was sixteen,” Green has said. “It’s a character piece that could go the wrong way and become a cartoon of New Orleans and it’s important to me to bring an authenticity to the characters."

Our Fix: Hurricane Katrina and development issues at Paramount have both contributed to Dunces' most recent problems, but New Orleans has recently worked wonders in reviving its filmmaking community and resources.

It just needs Paramount to realise that a post-Pineapple Green can still get this thing made - and a more mature, de-zanyfied Will Ferrell is the man to play Reilly.[page-break]

The Sandman

The Pitch: Coraline author Neil Gaiman's spellbinding story weaves and warps around Morpheus, the Lord Of Dreams and his various siblings, The Endless.

The Status: Hollywood has had its claws in this one for a long time. Like Watchmen, it’s not easy to see how Gaiman's swirling ideas could be sewn up into a movie, but that hasn’t stopped Warners from trying several times.

Pirates writers Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio are just two of the scribblers who've taken a crack at the script and Roger Avary was lined up to direct at one point.

But subsequent treatments haven't gone down well. Gaiman himself called the last example he saw “not only the worst Sandman script I've ever seen, but quite easily the worst script I've ever read.”

Our Fix: We’d love to get Guillermo del Toro to make it, but he’s so very busy with 10,000 other projects, including a little thing about Hobbits...

Still, Gaiman’s work deserves to be respected if it’s made at all, so Warners need to hire a decent writer (Gaiman himself?) and possibly Alfonso Cuaron to tackle directing duties. Oh, and don’t try to cover the whole sprawling story in one film. [page-break]

Fantastic Voyage

The Pitch: When a world leader’s brain is injured, a crack team of scientists are miniaturised and injected into his body to solve the problem. Originally made in 1966.

The Status: On again. Off again. On again… You get the idea. On the slowburn since 1997, James Cameron flirted with the idea back in 2000, then ditched it to concentrate on Avatar (which has itself taken about nine years to make it to the screen).

The latest version saw Roland Emmerich planning a new take with – shudder – writers Marianne and Cormac Wibberley (National Treasure) hard at work on a script. Fortunately for everyone, the writer's strike put the kibosh on it and Emmerich went back to destroying the world on film.

Our Fix: This needs to be wrestled away from Emmerich quickly and handed over to someone who can do it justice. What’s JJ doing after Star Trek?[page-break]


The Pitch: A soon-to-be-retired F-15 pilot decides his life will be too empty without combat missions and makes off with one of the jets. A friend on the ground has to talk him down before he runs out of fuel.

The Status: Hands up how many people have heard of this one? Writer Bob Stitzel pitched it during the early ‘80s and the movie was set to go before military types got cold feet about using the jets.

Then, in 1995, producer Patrick Duncan attached Bruce Willis to star for Paramount but studio politics shot the project down again.

Our Fix: You know who can get anything from the military, don’t you? Michael Bay! No, we’re not suggesting he directs it (despite its high concept, high-flying plot, the film seems to suggest a need for subtle, talky drama), but he could be a helpful producer...

And Willis still has some clout – he could probably get it going again. But who to direct? Clint Eastwood, of course!

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