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The Tao of Nicolas Cage: The Movies that Escaped the Cage

Nicolas Cage has made a career out of interesting film choices. Just as fascinating are the films that never came to be.
Superman Lives
By  · Published on February 2nd, 2018

Back in the 90’s, long before the current superhero boom, few prominent filmmakers were willing to lend their talents to the world of comic book adaptations. Tim Burton proved to be the exception, having success with a pair of Batman flicks. Moving on from the Caped Crusader but wanting to play in that same sandbox, Burton moved his focus onto the Man of Steel and began pre-production on Superman Lives. His choice for Clark Kent and his alter ego of Superman was Nicolas Cage.

Ultimately Superman Lives never came to fruition, and the failed attempt to lift the film off the ground was chronicled in the 2015 documentary The Death of “Superman Lives”: What Happened? The documentary is a must-watch because this is arguably the greatest what-if in the history of Hollywood.  Not only were Cage and Burton involved, but the script was written by Kevin Smith. 

Not surprisingly, Superman Lives isn’t the only Cage movie to never see the light of day. Here’s a look at three others.

Will Smith calmly trying to remove Nic Cage from his time-share.

Time Share

Back in 2005 Variety reported that Cage would co-star in the comedy Time Share, alongside Will Smith. The script, about two fathers that have their family vacations, interrupted when they realize they both booked the same time-share, was to be written by Mark Steilen with both Cage and Smith producing.

As far as I know, the film never made it beyond pre-production, and that has always surprised me. Had this movie been made back in 2006 or so it likely could have been a huge hit. Cage was still a staple at the box office, and Smith was just peaking. Toss in a competent director, and you’ve got a fast track to comedy success. Even if the final product were panned by critics, it would have been enough to appeal to audiences.

There aren’t a lot of details on the film available, so I’m not sure what killed it. The film’s IMDb page used to list both Cage and Smith as actors, but these days that’s not the case. Smith, along with four others, is listed as a producer and Steilen still shows as the writer. Outside of those few details, there’s nothing.

Will Time Share ever make it to the screen? I wouldn’t bet on it, and I can’t picture a scenario in which Cage and Smith star. With that said, stranger things have happened, so who knows?


This one breaks my heart.

In March of 2011 Vulture announced that Cage and John Travolta were circling the same project. That project was Shrapnel, and it was to reunite the two eccentric actors for the first time since Face/Off. As if that wasn’t enough for me lose my mind, Mr. Die Hard himself, John McTiernan, was originally in line to helm the whole thing.

The premise was simple — two opposing soldiers of the Bosnian War would continue their battle years later in the woods. It would be Cage and Travolta beating the shit out of one another in the woods with McTiernan calling the shots. It would have been great.

Because we’re not allowed to have nice things, the movie never happened. Instead, the title was switched from Shrapnel to Killing Season, Robert DeNiro stepped in for Cage, and Mark Steven Johnson took over directing duties. I would have loved Shrapnel. I have not seen Killing Season.

Sea Trial

The same Vulture article that teased Shrapnel also got my hopes about another potential Cage-Travolta reunion with something known as Sea Trial. Information about this would-be film is much more limited because it never got beyond the financing stage but I think we can safely assume it would have been incredible.

Raymond De Felitta was planning to write and direct the movie based on a book of the same name that was written by his father, Frank. Per the Amazon book synopsis, Sea Trial is about a couple who encounter trouble when the owners of the yacht they’re sailing the Caribbean in turn out to be twisted. Uh, yes, please make this a movie starring Cage and Travolta.

Can you imagine how great this would have been? Just bring back the entire Face/Off crew! Travolta and Joan Allen could play the couple in trouble while Cage and Gina Gershon play the crazies that own the yacht. Given that they’re stranded in the middle of the sea the only solution would be for Cage and Travolta to fight to the death! That would be a great movie.

I am convinced there is an alternate timeline somewhere and in it, all three of these movies were a huge success. In this timeline, there is no poverty, no disease, our heroes are not monsters, and there are peace and joy on Earth for everyone. Unfortunately, the sad reality is that we live in a world where Time Share, Shrapnel, and Sea Trial do not exist. There is no peace, there is no joy, and in general, everything sucks.

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Chris Coffel is a contributor at Film School Rejects. He’s a connoisseur of Christmas horror, a Nic Cage fanatic, and bad at Rocket League. He can be found on Twitter here: @Chris_Coffel. (He/Him)