By Oliver Lyttelton | The Playlist February 16, 2012 at 1:00PM
"The Yiddish Policemen's Union"
What Killed It? Having only ever made original projects for the first twenty years of their career, it's a little odd that the Coen Brothers had their greatest successes with adaptations: the Oscar-winning "No Country For Old Men" from Cormac McCarthy's book, and "True Grit," from Charles Portis'. But they've also had more trouble getting adaptations made. They planned a wordless take on James Dickey's brutal WW2 survival tale "To The White Sea" with Brad Pitt, but couldn't get financing, while they could never crack Elmore Leonard's "Cuba Libre" (which was, to be fair, only a screenwriting gig). But the most recent is the one for which perhaps they were the best fit: "The Yiddish Policeman's Union," an alternative universe noir set in a world where Alaska became a Jewish state after the Second World War. Scott Rudin had picked up the rights before it was even written, and brought the Coens, who Chabon calls his "favorite living filmmakers," on board straight after "No Country For Old Men." And no wonder as their sensibilities were perfect for the twisty plot and quirky characters of the source material. They were meant to tackle it after "A Serious Man," but "True Grit," and then this year's "Inside Llewyn Davis," took precedence, and there's been nothing heard from it for a long, long time.
How Could It Be Resurrected? Technically, it's never been killed, and the Coens have a habit of working on projects for years -- "Fargo" famously was sitting in a drawer since the "Barton Fink" days -- so maybe it'll be next after 'Llewyn Davis' But we wouldn't be surprised to see Rudin get it going again with someone else.
"House Of Re-Animator"
What Killed It? While the “Re-Animator” series isn’t exactly the strongest franchise out there, the first film is still a brilliant horror-comedy classic, and when series creator Stuart Gordon announced he was proposing a fourth film for theatrical release, we showed some interest. It wasn’t until we learned the premise that we became truly excited. Gordon intended to bring Dr. Herbert West to the White House, where his responsibilities included restarting the heart of Vice President Dick Cheney, while William H. Macy was set to play George W. Bush. We’re surprised the film got as much traction as it did, as they couldn’t shore up nearly enough funds to make the film happen until, sadly, it was no longer relevant. Gordon said in 2010 that he saw no reason to make the film anymore.
How Can It Be Resurrected? In this form, it's extremely unlikely, and Gordon's not made a theatrical film since 2007's "Stuck," focusing instead on theater work. But it's possible that a "Re-Animator" sequel of some kind could get going down the line, although a remake is more likely, ultimately.
What Killed It? Though talk of a “Silver Surfer” film has been around forever, the character has usually proved fairly hard to translate. Fox probably made the right move by placing him in “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer” as a supporting character hinting at a rich history. Before the film’s release, they hired respectable scribe J Michael Straczynski ("Changeling") to spin off the character previously known as Norrin Radd into his own galaxy-spanning universe, with the film following directly on from his introduction in 'Rise of the Silver Surfer,' returning him to his home world and battling Galactus. Unfortunately, the film performed below expectations, and for the most part botched the characterization of the Surfer, an intergalactic do-gooder with near-infinite powers, and Straczynski said in 2009 that with Fox disappointed at how the "Fantastic Four" sequel performed, there was little likelihood of his project getting made, and nothing's been heard since.
How Can It Be Resurrected? Fox are moving ahead with a reboot of "Fantastic Four," with "Chronicle" director Josh Trank said to be the main contender to direct (though he says he hasn't been contacted about it), which means that Straczynski's version with Doug Jones/Laurence Fishburne as the surfer is dead and gone. The studio may try to launch a 'Surfer' movie off the franchise again, but it's likely years away at this point.
-- Oliver Lyttelton & Gabe Toro