Amazing movie remakes that were teased but never actually happened
Some of these movie reboots are best left in the past...
It seems every other film being released these days is a remake of something, usually causing great consternation in fans of the original. Nothing is untouchable any more.
For every Wonka, a film reboot that managed to combine box office success with actual film-making promise and creativity, there's a White Men Can't Jump. That 2023 remake of a 1992 cult classic already seems to have been forgotten.
And then there's the recent news of Prime Video's remake of Road House. The new trailer looks fantastic, but it's been revealed that it won't have a theatrical release, but stay straight to streaming. Annoying, yes, but at least the thing got made.
Just because the powers that be announce a remake it doesn't mean it's definitely going to happen. Here are ten remakes that never made it off the ground, and we're just fine with that.
1. The Warriors
The 1979 cult hit was based on a novel by Sol Yurrick about battling gangs in a heightened-reality New York. Tony Scott was working on a new adaptation that would move the action to Los Angeles and take a more realistic view of the warring gangs, disposing of the fancy dress looks in favour of something more like actual LA gangs like The Crips and The Bloods. Scott sadly took his own life in 2012. More recently, in 2016, we heard of Joe and Anthony Russo taking on a TV adaptation, but there have been no updates on the project in years.
2. Escape From New York
In John Carpenter’s 1981 original, New York had been turned into a maximum security prison, into which the President of the United States had crashed, giving ex-soldier Snake Plissken (Kurt Russell) the job of rescuing him. New Line began working on a remake in 2007, eyeing Gerard Butler for the one-eyed hero and Len Wiseman (Total Recall) for the director’s chair. Both eventually left and Warner Bros, who had since taken over New Line, dropped the option to make the film. StudioCanal now owns the rights to make the movie but since their last attempt at 80s nostalgia, Robocop, wasn’t the huge hit they’d hoped, although it was a sizeable success internationally, they might not be rushing to use those rights.
It’s hard to establish whether this project is completely off or still being worked on somewhere by someone, but nothing’s currently visibly moving. The animated version of Katsuhiro Otomo’s manga about a dystopian future and destructive psychic powers is regarded as one of the great Japanese animations. Warner Bros wanted to remake it in live-action, with Jaune Collet-Serra (Non-Stop) directing and Garatt Hedlund in the lead role and Kristen Stewart rumoured for the female lead. Development was shut down in 2012 due to the budget getting out of control. A new project headed up by Taika Waititi was talked about in 2017, and we hear it's still in the works.
Robert Rodriguez has been involved with a number of remakes that never quite happened. Chief among them was Barbarella, a new version of the kitschy Jane Fonda sci-fi about a space-travelling, sexually-liberated woman tasked with stopping a dangerous inventor. Rodriquez insisted on casting Rose McGowan in the lead role, even though the Grindhouse actress had no history of opening movies with significant budget (it was cost up at $70 million). Rodriguez eventually walked away from the film when he was told he’d have to shoot it in Germany. The latest news is a new project starring Sydney Sweeeney is in development, but who knows if that will actually pan out.
5. The Dambusters
One of the great war films, about British RAF soldiers and the ‘bouncing bomb’, The Dambusters was a prime candidate for remake, having first appeared in 1955, a vastly different movie-making landscape with few of the tools filmmakers have at their disposal now. Peter Jackson spent several years developing a new version, with a script by Stephen Fry, then found himself a little bit tied up with The Hobbit.
6. Revenge of the Nerds
Unlike all the other films on this list, this one actually started shooting. In America, the original was one of the most beloved college movies of the 1980s, and in 2006 an attempt was made to recapture that success. McG produced it (this was the time when McG seemed to have a hand in producing anything that featured teenagers) and it was directed by Kyle Newman, who has gone on to direct Fanboys. The cast included Adam Brody, Jenna Dewan and Kristin Cavallari. Two weeks of shooting took place but the head of 20th Century Fox was very disappointed with the dailies and pulled the plug. There have been no movements to resurrect it since.
7. Romancing The Stone
This is from the days when Katherine Heigl was still one of the biggest box office draws on the planet. 20th Century Fox was working on retooling the 1984 comedy, in which a romance novelist winds up on an adventure with a mercenary, as a vehicle for Heigl, giving her the Kathleen Turner role and Gerard Butler the Michael Douglas role. Robert Luketic, who directed The Ugly Truth, was asked to direct. As Heigl's star has faded so has all talk of the movie, and Luketic has moved on to directing the female Expendables movie, The Expendabelles. The closest we've got to a remake since is 2022's The Lost City starring Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum, a passable action adventure.
8. Battle Royale
A remake of year 2000 Japanese classic Battle Royale was in the works in 2006, in the thick of American versions of successful Japanese genre movies. It wasn’t necessary and, as the creators of the original showed with their rubbish Battle Royale sequel, the original was already a one-off. The film was cancelled in the wake of the Virginia Tech school shooting in the US, after which a film about kids killing each other seemed distasteful.
9. Buffy The Vampire Slayer
The remake that nobody wanted. Fans of the Buffy TV show had no interest in a new version that would have no involvement from Joss Whedon or the original cast, while people who weren’t fans of the original series just had no interest. In 2009, Fran Rubel Kuzui, who directed the poorly received film that preceded the Buffy show, and her husband Kaz Kuzui began talking up a new darker Buffy, since they still owned a share in the character’s rights, and hired Whit Anderson, an unknown actress, to write a script. The Kuzuis were evidently not happy with the resulting screenplay and put the project on hold. And the fans they did rejoice.
10. Yellow Submarine
When Robert Zemeckis was deep in his period of enthusiasm for motion capture – a period that produced Beowulf and A Christmas Carol – he began work on a remake of the surrealist Beatles cartoon Yellow Submarine, using motion capture rather than traditional animation. He even got as far as casting it, with Peter Serafinowicz on board as Paul McCartney, Dean Lennox Kelly as John Lennon, Cary Elwes as George Harrison and Adam Campbell as Ringo Starr. However, the poor performance of A Christmas Carol and general souring toward motion capture projects saw the plug pulled in 2011.
- If you fancy a decent reboot, then these are the best remakes of all time.