8 Promised Movies That Still Haven’t Been Made (and Might Never Be)

By  · Published on November 16th, 2011

Every bit of movie news has to be taken with a fistful of salt. With so many moving parts, even the biggest players in the game sometimes see their work fall into the tall grass of development hell. That’s the bad news.

The good news is that all of those times you shake your fist at a new project (be it remake or reboot) are warranted, but they don’t always get made. Sometimes, the stuff we’re dreading goes down in flames too.

So it’s with that bittersweet spirit that we look back on a few announced projects that still haven’t been made.

And might never be.

8. Gore Verbinski’s BioShock

There was a rumbling that we’d see an adaptation of the video game masterwork “BioShockas early as 2008 but it stalled out seriously. Gore Verbinski was quick to jump on board, claiming that the same green screen technology that brought 300 to life would deliver an underwater utopia, but delays pushed him into the producer’s chair with Juan Carlos Fresnadillo taking over as director. The budget was an issue, but ultimately the film project died on the R-rated vine because Verbinski smartly refused to tone it down to PG-13. Without a studio interested in a higher budget, R-rated action film with Randian overtones, the movie adaptation won’t be seeing Rapture any time soon.

7. Jason Reitman’s Pierre Pierre

The idea behind Pierre Pierre (which ranked high on the 2007 Black List) was that Jim Carrey would play a French arse bringing a stolen “Mona Lisa” to the States. Jason Reitman was attached to the project after his success with Juno and in the middle of his involvement with Jennifer’s Body. It would have been amazing to see, but he dropped out. Then, Fox Atomic went kaput, and everyone involved with the project spread to the winds. As late as 2010, the script that Reitman said was one of the funniest he’d read was in turnaround, and then Borat director Larry Charles attached his name. As we all know, the bearded one is busy with Sacha Baron Cohen and The Dictator, so it remains unclear as to if or when Pierre Pierre will ever get made.

6. Sarah Michelle Gellar in American McGee’s Alice

Another abandoned game adaptation, Wes Craven was originally meant to direct the dark take on Alice and her Wonderland. That was back in 2000, and after being bounced around between studios, it went into turnaround before game fan Sarah Michelle Gellar got on board in 2008. The actress claimed, “It’s a passion project of mine. It’s a story that I’d love to see. I’m fearful at this rate that I’m going to be the Queen of Hearts because I’m going to be too old to be Alice …” She’s currently starring in the television show Ringer, but she’s no longer involved with Alice. Neither is director Marcus Nispel, who was attached briefly. In fact, it’s unclear if anyone notable is attached to head down the rabbit hole and into the insane asylum.

5. Kate Hudson Becoming Margaret Keane for Big Eyes

Artist Margaret Keane had a compelling life story that was headed to the big screen with a script from 1408 writing team Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski and Kate Hudson attached to play the woman famous for painting giant-eyed children. Thomas Hayden Church was on board to play her husband – who she had a troubled divorce with – but even though Keane’s work has infiltrated pop culture, it doesn’t look like a film about her life will.

4. Dane Cook’s Buddy Cop Comedy Dead Already

In 2008, Dane Cook was coming off a year which saw him in Mr. Brooks, Good Luck Chuck, and Dan in Real Life. It was a wide variety of projects that was built to launch his career even further into the stratosphere. In 2008, he said he was gearing up for an action comedy in the “vein of Lethal Weapon,” called Dead Already. It might have been too far outside of his wheelhouse, because it never got made, and after My Best Friend’s Girl, his career looked dead already as well, but it seems to be battling its way back with several indie projects this year.

3. The Coen Brothers’ Yiddish Policeman’s Union

Producer par excellence Scott Rudin bought the rights to Michael Chabon’s “The Yiddish Policeman’s Union” back in 2002, and he announced that he’d worked out a deal with The Coen Brothers to write and direct an adaptation of the bizarre, Jewish, snow-set mystery (and could he have gotten a better directing team?) in 2008. It was supposed to be their next after A Serious Man, but it never came to fruition, which is tragic because the levels of genius pairing up here are astounding.

2. Charlize Theron in the Sympathy for Lady Vengeance Remake

Alongside the Oldboy remake that never got made, Charlize Theron announced in 2008 that she’d be producing and starring in a remake of Chan-wook Park’s capstone film of his trilogy – Sympathy for Lady Vengeance. The original focuses on a woman recently released from prison after serving time for kidnapping and murder who sets a revenge plot in motion for the man she blames. There was no word on whether the US remake would adhere closely, but it doesn’t seem to matter because we never got to see it made. Oddly enough, Theron will be seen next in list-partner Jason Reitman’s next movie Young Adult. And speaking of Mister F…

1. The Arrested Development Movie

While Ghostbusters 3 also deserves this spot, and while we’ll be writing more of these lists where it can earn it, there’s no doubt what the king of promised-yet-undelivered films is. Arrested Development went off the air in 2006, and two years later, the unthinkable was announced.

At this point, after the insulting amount of false starts and empty promises, the prospect of a second life for the beloved show seems like wishful thinking being taken too seriously. At a reunion earlier this year, the entire cast swore that a movie was going to happen, but as of this list being made, I don’t see any cameras rolling. It’s still just a pipe dream. One that hopefully will escape development hell and end up in a theater near you (in the near future).

What movie projects do you wish had actually come to fruition? Which are you glad never got made?

Movie stuff at VanityFair, Thrillist, IndieWire, Film School Rejects, and The Broken Projector Podcast@brokenprojector | Writing short stories at Adventitious.