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The 25 greatest movies that never made it to the big screen

Spider-Man

The victims: James Cameron (writer-director)

The gist: Peter Parker is bitten by a spider... you know the rest.

The death blow: Of all the proposed Spider-Man movies to have come up short over the years, the proposals for Cameron's version catered specifically to an adult audience. Included in his early treatment are characters who drop f-bombs with alarming regularity, and a quasi-animalistic sex scene between Peter and MJ on top of the Brooklyn Bridge.

Were we denied or saved? For the sheer originality of Cameron's script - which veered far, FAR away from the comic origin - this could have been up there with Watchmen.

The Tourist

The victims: Clair Noto (writer), HR Giger (designer)

The gist: Cut off from their home planet, a secret community of aliens living in Manhattan congregate in a series of dark, moody clubs where different extraterrestrial races join together to rue the Earth. And have steamy alien sex.

The death blow: Noto's unique vision attracted many interested parties, and the script has since been heralded as one of the darkest, most unusual approaches to the subject matter. And while HR Giger's input on the creature designs certainly helped its chances, the unorthodox screenplay was deemed impossible to shoot.

Were we denied or saved? Men In Black came along and denied us the chance to see another of Giger's nightmarish visions on the big screen, for what could have been a truly horrifying sci-fi flick.

At The Mountains Of Madness

The victims: Tom Cruise, James Cameron, Guillermo Del Toro (writer-director)

The gist: Explorers on an Antarctic expedition discover the origins of mankind: ancient astronauts.

The death blow: Del Toro has slugged away at adapting H.P. Lovecraft's novella for over a decade, with Universal and Dreamworks both showing interest at varying points during development. After Tom Cruise and James Cameron boarded as star and producer respectively it seemed like we'd at last be getting the long-awaited realisation of Del Toro's hard work. Alas, Universal refused to greenlight the film with an R-rating, one of the director's stipulations, and its origins were later explored in 2012's Prometheus.

Were we denied or saved? His vision for the movie, glimpsed later in sketchbook pages leaked online, looked downright terrifying. Still, we got Pacific Rim as a worthy consolation.

The Train

The victims: Ridley Scott (director), Jim Uhls (writer) HR Giger (designer)

The gist: Citizens of a futuristic Los Angeles are terrorised by a genetically-engineered beast that runs riot on a train.

The death blow: A protracted struggle between Scott and Carolco, the studio, saw the director exit the project. After that Noto shopped the script to a bunch of studios, and it even gained traction under the name Isobar as recently as 2006 but nothing trumped the early steam it had on Scott and Giger's watch.

Were we denied or saved? Giger's jaw-dropping designs for the train, a biomechanical structure that encased its passengers in terrifying compartments, were recycled and incorporated into Species. A tantalising teaser of what could have been a worthy thematic successor to Alien.

Heart of Darkness

The victims: Orson Welles (writer/director)

The gist: Based on Joseph Conrad's novel, the plot follows Charles Marlowe, as he recants to his friends the tale of how he became the captain of an ivory-trading steamboat ship.

The death blow: Eager to tell the story in an experimental fashion, Welles plan to shoot the movie from Marlowe's perspective didn't sit well with financiers RKO. His ambitious 174-page script unraveled in a first-person style. An untested method of moviemaking, along with the highly political slant, proved to be too out there for studio brass. After the budget skyrocketed to $1 million, Welles' touted debut was put on indefinite hiatus.

Were we denied or saved? Welles' vision for the project had the potential to shake up Hollywood's typical modes of storytelling, but its problems allowed the young helmer a chance to make his next in line: Citizen Kane.

Dune

The victims: Alejandro Jodorowsky (director), HR Giger (designer)

The gist: In the distant future, various sects of advanced humans live scattered across the galaxy under the rule of a tyrant. A son of a duke leads the charge against him.

The death blow: Often heralded as one of the biggest blows to cinema, Jodorowsky's ten-hour long movie was a massive undertaking. He saw it as a challenge, kicking out a "phonebook sized" script according to author Frank Herbert, but financiers saw it as a disaster waiting to happen. Even with a starry cast and an exclusive soundtrack penned by Pink Floyd backers weren't convinced and opted for a less expensive version. You know, the 1984 one from David Lynch.

Were we denied or saved? From the compelling narrative pieced together in the 2014 documentary Jodorowsky's Dune, the world was deprived of a masterpiece.

Gem Seddon
Gem is GR+'s west coast entertainment news reporter. She’s a bit obsessed with all things Aliens and Terminator.