Sequels are usually under a lot of pressure from fans to live up to their first installments, and given their reputation, they rarely do so. During movie development, many ideas get thrown against the wall to see which stick. Some are good, some are bad, and some are just downright crazy.
Sometimes these sequels struggle to get made, and others end up going in an entirely new direction. However, it’s interesting to discover the approaches unmade sequels might have taken and find out where the franchises could have gone in some alternate universe. Here are some crazy sequel storylines that might have been better or worse than what hit the big screen.
10 Jurassic Park IV
However, some controversial elements considered were dinosaurs trained by humans to take on drug dealers, and genetically engineered, gun-toting, human-dinosaur hybrid mercenaries. These scripts never happened, but some of their Steven Spielberg-conceived elements did. Ultimately, Jurassic World featured trained velociraptors and a brand new genetically modified dinosaur called the Indominus Rex.
9 Star Wars 2
No one had less faith in the success of Star Wars than George Lucas himself. So, he devised a fallback plan to continue the franchise had the first film flopped: produce a low-budget sequel using props left over from the first film.
The storyline had Luke and Leia crash-land on the planet Mimban where they seek out the Kaiburr crystal while being pursued by Darth Vader. The story didn’t feature Han Solo, since Harrison Ford wasn’t signed for any sequels, and the movie wouldn’t have any space battles due to costs. Fortunately, Star Wars was a huge hit so Lucas proceeded with a big-budget sequel, The Empire Strikes Back, and the low-budget version became the book Splinter of the Mind’s Eye.
8 Alien 3
Following James Cameron’s Aliens, different writers and directors considered many ideas for the series’ third entry. When Renny Harlin was on board to direct, a Ripley-free script set the movie on a prison planet where Weyland-Yutani experimented on Xenomorphs. Director Vincent Ward then took over, and his version had Ripley crash-land on a wooden planet inhabited by monks. Their lives become turned upside down by a woman’s presence and, later, an alien. Producers found the wooden planet concept intriguing from a visual standpoint but deemed the story un-commercial.
Despite Alien 3’s first trailer teasing the Xenomorph on earth, David Fincher’s version ultimately combines elements from these abandoned ideas instead.
7 Rambo V: The Savage Hunt
Rambo fans consider 2019’s Rambo: Last Blood a disappointment, and it currently sits at 26% on Rotten Tomatoes. However, Sylvester Stallone originally considered a different idea for that film. Instead of drug cartels, the ultimate soldier would go up against a monster. The idea came from a book about soldiers on the trail of a mysterious beast in the arctic circle called Hunter. Stallone eventually dropped the idea of the PTSD-afflicted Vietnam veteran versus beast-man, but he still plans to adapt Hunter for the big screen.
6 Ghostbusters III: Hellbent
Throughout the ’90s, Dan Ackroyd tried desperately to get GB3 out of development hell. The story revolved around the Ghostbusters in a hellish alternate version of Manhattan called “Manhellton” where they battle a Hades-inspired devil modeled after Donald Trump, possibly played by Alec Baldwin. However, Bill Murray’s interest in only returning to the franchise as a ghost was one of the main reasons the film never came to fruition.
The movie’s story featured the remaining Ghostbusters acting as mentors to the next generation. Over the years, producers considered Chris Farley, Ben Stiller, Will Smith, and Chris Rock for the new team. However, the passing of Harold Ramis caused Sony to produce the standalone all-female reboot instead. The reboot’s commercial failure prompted the production of the upcoming Ghostbusters: Afterlife which will feature the surviving original cast, including Bill Murray.
5 Batman Unchained
Before Batman & Robin bombed critically and commercially, director Joel Schumacher intended to direct a darker, Tim Burton-esque, fifth Batman movie. Scarecrow was the main villain, with Nicholas Cage considered for the part. Along with the help of Harley Quinn, now written as the Joker’s revenge-seeking daughter, Scarecrow unleashes his fear toxin on Gotham City. Under the effects of the toxin, Joker, Catwoman, Penguin, Two-Face, and The Riddler appeared to Batman in one epic hallucinatory scene. While a treat for fans, the idea was far too expensive to corral the A-list talent.
Ultimately, live-action Batman movies ceased after Batman & Robin flopped until 2005’s Batman Begins, which featured Scarecrow unleashing a fear toxin on Gotham City.
4 Godzilla 2
Roland Emmerich’s 1998 film Godzilla touted the tagline “Size Does Matter.” However, money matters more and the film’s disappointing box-office receipts canceled any sequel plans. Before the film’s release, the planned Godzilla 2 picked up where the first one left off. The surviving “Zillababy” imprints on Matthew Broderick’s Nick Tatoupolis as if Nick was its mother. Several years later, the baby grows Godzilla-sized and protects the human race from giant mutant insects in Australia.
Following the sequel’s cancelation, the baby turned protector idea became the basis for the 1998 Godzilla animated series. However, audiences wouldn’t see the last of this Godzilla iteration. 2004’s Toho-produced Godzilla: Final Wars featured the “real” Godzilla easily defeating the Emmerich-Godzilla in a brief battle culminating in it being thrown into the Sydney Opera House.
3 E.T. 2: Nocturnal Fears
In the late ’70s, Steven Spielberg envisioned a horrific tale of extraterrestrial terror called Night Skies. The plot featured evil aliens terrorizing a Kentucky farm, and killing the livestock before turning their sights on the family that lived there. Spielberg shelved it for a family-friendly version called E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, which became a classic. However, after the Oscar-nominated film’s release, Spielberg revived the Night Skies idea as a sequel to E.T.
In this sequel, Elliot and his family get kidnapped by nasty carnivorous aliens, and it’s up to E.T to rescue them. Spielberg ultimately decided against the sequel, saying “it would do nothing but rob the original of its virginity.” Instead, the E.T. Adventure Ride at Universal Studios acts as an E.T. sequel and so does 2019’s Comcast commercial which features E.T and Elliot’s long-awaited reunion.
2 The Fly 2
David Cronenberg’s 1986 horror classic The Fly is considered a masterpiece, yet its 1989 sequel is nearly forgotten. Despite Cronenberg’s stance that his movies have “definitive beginnings and endings,” he signed off on an idea where scientists enslave the consciousness of Jeff Goldblum’s Seth Brundle, forcing Geena Davis’ Veronica to help reintegrate him into a clone of his original body. Thus, The Fly 2 was initially fly-less.
Another idea considered was Flies, which featured Veronica giving birth to twins who begin to mutate into flies like their father. However, the much-derided, Jeff Goldblum-less, mutant-fly-filled sequel starring Eric Stoltz was produced instead.
1 MIB 23
Following both 21 and 22 Jump Street’s success, the franchise planned to further parody sequels by morphing into the next film in the Men in Black franchise. In MIB 23, Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill become Men In Black, and Hill pitched a story where “Will Smith’s Agent Jay and Tommy Lee Jones’ Agent Kay would be replaced by younger actors.”
Despite Sony’s interest in the idea, each franchise’s producers found it too complicated to make it work. In 2019, Sony released a traditional sequel: the box-office bomb Men in Black: International. Another sequel in the 21 Jump Street franchise has yet to materialize.
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