By Gabe Toro | The Playlist December 10, 2010 at 8:00AM
With John Hillcoat's 'The Promised Land' Back From The Dead, We Look At Other Films Currently In The Studio Graves
Last year, pre-production was halted immediately on “The Wettest Country” -- aka John Hillcoat's "The Promised Land" starring Amy Adams, Shia LaBeouf, Ryan Gosling, Paul Dano, possibly Scarlett Johansson, Michael Shannon, etc. -- potentially killing a film we were all very excited to see. But, stunningly, the film has found a new lease on life with the involvement of Tom Hardy (Hillcoat and LaBeouf are the only other principal talent that's back so far), warming our hearts considering since we were ready to cast it onto the pile of would-be movies dead and buried.
Studio belt-tightening has resulted in fewer production green lights with our favorite-sounding projects falling by the wayside because of cost or circumstance. Here are 10 -- from a list of hundreds -- we would be thrilled about if they were to make a zombified rise from the dead. Hopefully, you'll see this as a recurring feature from time to time. There's no shortage of great and sometimes legendary projects that unfortunately never came to pass. In fact, here's five lost films of David Fincher's and five good ones from Joe Carnahan that never got off the ground either. Dare to dream? Here's 10 that will hold you for now.
What Killed It? Long considered a possibility, Will Ferrell and Adam McKay recently got together to brainstorm what would be the latest chapter in the series. Getting Ferrell, Paul Rudd, Steve Carell and David Koechner together seemed difficult considering their current salaries (well, not so much Koechner) but all were willing to take reduced fees. But, after a series of pitches (one involving “Anchorman 2” as a boffo Broadway attraction for months before shooting was to begin), it became a numbers game: Paramount wouldn’t foot the bill on an expensive comedy that, like all of Ferrell’s pictures, had no overseas appeal.
How Can It Be Resurrected? It looks like McKay and Ferrell exercised all the mojo they could to get this project going, so it looks 100% dead as of now. But we’d really like to think that, while the list of good comedy sequels is startlingly short, Paramount would come to their senses and jump at the chance to employ Ferrell, Rudd, Carell and McKay at reduced prices, because “Anchorman 2” was never going to get any cheaper.
“A Confederacy of Dunces"
What Killed It? The power duo of David Gordon Green and Steven Soderbergh were championing a cinematic take on the world of 'Dunces,' and live script readings were staged, featuring Will Ferrell (don’t worry, he won’t be all over this list) as the rudely misanthropic Ignatius and an all-star cast including Paul Rudd, Mos Def, Alan Cumming and a young Jesse Eisenberg. Unfortunately, even with Drew Barrymore co-producing and attached to co-star, financing fell through at the eleventh hour, as they couldn’t find anyone willing to put up the big bucks for such an idiosyncratic project.
How Can It Be Resurrected? Interest in projects centered around New Orleans has definitely increased since the terrible tragedies of Hurricane Katrina, so cynical execs with fat pockets have to be aware of a higher Q-rating for the project’s location. Ferrell and especially Barrymore appear to have aged out of their roles, but Green, with three big studio comedies in a row (“Your Highness“ and “The Sitter“ arrive next spring and summer, respectively), has never been hotter. This was never going to be an affordable production, but it’s possible a fresh look at the numbers might convince indie financiers to come onto the project. Then again, Steven Soderbergh and Scott Rudin did get in an ugly lawsuit over this film once too so perhaps it'll never see the light of day. As David Gordon Green -- the director who took over for Soderbergh who moved over as a producer once he had written a draft with Scott Kramer -- said back in the day, "There were too many cooks involved, too many producers, the egos of a lot of people."
What Killed It? Hard to say. Along with “The Rivals” and “The Trial Of The Chicago Seven,” this is one of the many orphaned Steven Spielberg projects over the years that no one else had tackled. Interest in “Interstellar” apparently peaked in 2007, when Jonathan Nolan rewrote an acclaimed screenplay by Kip Thorne that centered on the hard science-fiction premise of adventurers using wormholes to travel to different dimensions. In March, interest reignited when Nolan switched to Spielberg’s agency, suggesting the collaboration was in the offing. Since then, Spielberg has pushed forward with two 2011 releases, “The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn” and “War Horse,” before moving into the long-gestating “Lincoln” and “Robopocalypse,” with chatter about an unneeded fifth installment in the “Indiana Jones” series continuing to threaten.
How Can It Be Resurrected? Spielberg’s shooting commitment to “Robopocalypse” seems tenuous, and it’s a ways off anyway, so why not pawn off that secondhand project and go for gold? “Interstellar” sounds like the kind of adventurous cinema we used to expect from Spielberg, and we can’t imagine he’d be so afraid of a challenge that he’d ignore a script by the beloved Nolan brother.