10 Movie Projects That Are Stuck In Development Hell

Culture September 18, 2017 By Hugo

Stones frontman Mick Jagger has long told us you can't always get what you want and it appears Hollywood players are no exception to the rocker's wise words because there are hundreds of great movie projects that have gone to die in a place Tinseltown likes to call: Development Hell.

Shutterstock/ Sandra Matic

For whatever reason, whether it be funding constraints, disputes between studio executives or even just issues with the cast, some of these projects have languished in the underbelly of Hollywood's bright lights for years on end and unless something radically changes it doesn't appear their fate will change anytime soon.

Here, we take a look at 10 awesome projects that remain in Development Hell. 

1. Halo

Halo was one of the first video games exclusive to Microsoft's Xbox, and after the first in the series sold millions, the sci-fi epic spawned a huge fan base, and many long hoped for a cinematic adaptation.

In 2005, that looked more than likely when Fox and Universal Studios found a strong script ripe for adaptation. It was so well-received, in fact, that Peter Jackson signed on to produce while Neil Blomkamp agreed to direct.

By 2007, however, the project continued going down the pecking order despite common sense dictating that it would be better to release the movie when the video games were still incredibly popular.

2. 28 Months Later

Danny Boyle's zombie apocalypse thrillers 28 Days Later, and 28 Weeks later were unexpected box office hits, despite being made on relatively small budgets, so you'd think studio heads would welcome the third installment, 28 Months Later, with open arms. 

However, (a word you'll probably be reading a lot in this article), though Boyle entertained the idea of a third movie back in 2007, things never looked certain, and despite writer Alex Garland confirming he had written a storyline for the film in 2015, that much-anticipated green light still seems a long way off.

3. Blood Meridian

Though many claim Cormac McCarthy’s epic novelBlood Meridian, would be impossible to film, there is no such thing as an 'impossible' film should the right cast and crew be found.

As for the book itself (we strongly recommend you read it if you haven't already) it is widely considered a classic Western novel, with McCarthy's depiction of nihilistic violence against Native Americans in 1840s Texas a tour de force in Western literature.

Despite this, little progress has been made regarding a possible movie adaptation, and even after James Franco, an ardent fan of the author's work, attempted to buy the film rights, his efforts ultimately proved futile.

4. Arrested Development

The popular Netflix series has been crying out for a movie ever since the third season ended in 2006, and though Netflix did their best to revive the show by giving it a fourth season, fans have still been annoyed by a lack of development concerning the movie.

With that said, Netflix suggested there could be a film before the fifth season, but it appears that a fifth season isn't likely either which isn't surprising as for all its brilliance, Arrested Development has struggled with production for most of its life, so we're sure a movie will eventually. come Just don't expect it to happen anytime soon. 

5. The Kurt Cobain Biopic

Nirvana's grunge-style of rock caught on with fans across the world with songs like 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' being the soundtrack to the lives of many 90's kids. 

Of course, we all know the tragic story of his untimely suicide at just 27, and Cobain's entry into the 27 Club immediately made him an icon, so you'd think Hollywood would have pounced on the opportunity to develop a biopic chronicling his rollercoaster lifestyle. 

The subject of countless books, including the esteemed Heavier than Heaven,  Universal Pictures, viewed the book as a solid basis for a biographical film as James McAvoy and Ryan Gosling vied for the lead role, but Universal pulled the plug upon being dissatisfied with the script.  

Moreover, the 2015 documentary chronicling Cobain's louche rockstar life, Montage of Heck, may also have scuppered any chances of a movie thanks to the participation of Cobain’s family, bandmates, and widow Courtney Love, all of whom view the documentary as a definitive representation of the icon's life.

6. The Man Who Killed Don Quixote

Anyone who plans to direct Miguel de Cervantes's epic novel, Don Quixote, has got some balls, but Terry Gilliam is one of the most visionary directors of his generation, so if anyone can pull it off it's him. 

Though not entirely based on the novel, Gilliam has long dreamed of directing his own spin on the Spanish literary classic. Titled, The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, the film intends to be a comedic time travel based on the unpredictable behavior of the literary knight.

While the ambition is certainly there, Gilliam's indie production, which would have starred Johnny Depp, failed almost immediately after producers realized that an indie flick which included fighter jets, floods, and a herniated disc might not be possible.

Legal dealings also cast a shadow on the film, and it was assigned to Development Hell until 2009. It was then that the British director asked Depp to return, though personal matters in his life and delays in other projects caused him to withdraw. 

Six years later, the production seemed possible again thanks to a deal with Amazon Studios in 2015 before John Hurt, who was cast as Don Quixote, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Gilliam revived the project once more in early 2016 after Adam Driver agreed to star, only for the proposed funding to fall through, leaving the project consigned to Hollywood legend, as well as hell, for all its production problems.

7. The Alchemist 

Paulo Coelho has said that books "Have a life of their own inside the reader's mind." However, with time, the Brazillian writer warmed to a possible adaptation of his iconic book and sold the film rights to Warner Brothers but ever since, the work has found itself in Development Hell due to creative differences within the filming process.

Such 'differences' led to a five-year freeze until Harvey Weinstein bought the rights in 2008. And seven years later, (another freeze) it was reported that Lawrence Fishburn had signed on to direct, with Idris Elba playing the protagonist, Santiago. But nothing has been confirmed, and if the previous struggles are anything to go by, it is unlikely one of the best-selling books of al time will come to the screen anytime soon.

8. Looking for Alaska

John Green's Edgar Award-winning novel has become somewhat of a cult classic among his millions of devoted teenage readers and though The Fault In our Stars catapulted Green to literary superstardom, it's his first novel that is often considered his finest work.

Though unlike Paper Towns and The Fault In Our Stars, LFA hasn't had the same cinematic luck, which Green believes is down to selling the rights to Paramount Pictures back in 2005. Unlike Fox, who financed his last two adaptations, (TFIOS & Paper Towns), Paramount hasn't shown the same enthusiasm, and due to having the rights forever, even after many unsuccessful attempts from Green to get them back, it appears the author's patience finally wore thin. "I've been keeping my cool for 10.5 years, but I am kinda close to going off. But I know I should be professional and whatever," the author recently tweeted.

9. One Hundred Years of Solitude

Gabriel Garcia Marquez's powerful novel about love and loss through the eyes of seven generations of family members is an Oscar movie waiting to happen. But like many senior authors, it seems movie adaptations don't have the same appeal as they hold for the younger generation of writers.

Still, the late Columbian writer finally caved into the demands of Hollywood heavyweight producer Harvey Weinstein and gave him the seal approval to adapt his work. But, and there was a massive BUT, it could only be done under one condition, as Weinstein himself explained. “We must film the entire book, but only release one chapter—two minutes long—each year, for 100 years.”

10. A Confederacy Of Dunces

Morbidly obese and living with his mother, Ignatius J. Reily became the unlikeliest of fictional heroes thanks to the brilliant mind of the late John Kennedy Toole. 

Unfortunately, the film has yet to see much success in Hollywood, and what with the deaths of John Candy, John Belushi, and Chris Farley- all coming shortly after being linked to playing Reily- the casting of the film has gained an infamous reputation. 


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