With the infinite number of platforms we have access to: streaming, pay tv,  movies in cinemas, video on demand, it’s hard to comprehend, but not every whim of an idea is turned into a film or television show. (hey, there’s always podcasts and tiktoks)  Some films like the recent Warner Brothers flick Batgirl are finished and edited but aren’t ever released!  There are multiple reasons television shows or movies aren’t produced, actors or directors may decide the project isn’t for them, the studio or distributor may not like the finished product, a pilot might test bad (meaning not a lot of people watch it.) Another common reason for projects falling apart is financiers get cold feet and pull out.  Here are some well known films and television properties that didn’t happen or happened with a different actor or director.

The Last Train from Hiroshima: The Survivors Look Back

On August 12, 2010 it was reported that the Canadian director James Cameron was developing a project close to his heart-a biographical film about Tsutomu Yamaguchi, a Japanese man that survived both the Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. The film’s title was announced as Last Train to Hiroshima. Cameron met Yamaguchi just days before he died. The film would be based on the book of the same title by Charles R. Pellegrino. However, the project entered into development hell after Cameron decided to first focus on the Avatar sequels.


Those who know of Rob Ford’s antics as the Mayor of Toronto probably saw the Youtube video which caught him  on video smoking crack in a hotel room and using racial slurs. Three years later the 46-year-old polarizing politician succumbed to complications from a fast-growing cancerous abdominal tumour known as pleomorphic liposarcoma. 

Rob’s death set up a political sequel for the Ontario voters. It wasn’t too long after Rob was banging on the gates of Heaven for mercy that his brother Doug was voted in as Premier of Ontario. Doug has delivered a terrifyingly conservative edge to Canadian politics and one might categorize him as a Little Trump.  His abundantly clear lack of knowledge regarding budgeting has led to cutting funds for children with autism and hospital emergency units as of November 2022 takes roughly 28 hours for patients to be seen. It’s faster to drive to Buffalo and pay for treatment!

The struggling Canadian news network Sun News offered the brothers Ford a Monday night talk show at the height of the crack scandal. Despite fantastic ratings the Sun decided they didn’t want to be associated with such scandalous politics and pulled the plug after a single episode.


One of the most loved and acclaimed films of all time is ET! It’s been part of the lexicon for over 40 years. Recently Drew Barrymore had Henry Thomas and Dee Wallace on her afternoon talk show to reminisce about the making of the film. Crowds covered in COVID masks watched the taping. One audience member even won a bike from the film.  Drew asked her former cast members and the audience if they’d be interested in a sequel.  Henry and Dee seemed lukewarm to the idea but Drew was all for playing an older Gurdy.  Will there ever be a sequel to the tremendously successful financially and life altering picture? At one point a sequel was in development. After ET. opened and became a huge hit, Steven Spielberg and screenwriter Melissa Mathison came up with a potential follow-up which would have seen carnivorous evil aliens come to earth and kidnap the kids from the first film. They would have then been saved by their little friend. Spielberg ultimately decided not to move forward with this dark take, as it would have sullied the original.

The Naked Gun 4

At the beginning of Canadian iconic actor Leslie Nielsen’s career he was stereotyped as the bad guy, Nielsen acknowledged, “The best part is always the heavy. And the meaner and crueler and the worse you are, the more vicious you are as the heavy, the better the hero looks when he whips you. So the heavy is liable to be a very dramatic, fine acting part. I told my agent at that time, I want to play heavies who are really vicious and cruel and terrible. I want them to know that they’re terrible and I want them to enjoy it.”

Ironically after his death most people only remember Neilson as a comic actor. Perhaps the reason for this is everyone loved his bumbling, stumbling, clueless take on on Police Squad Detective Frank Drebin.

There were some rumours about a Naked Gun 4 where Leslie Nielsen trains a rookie. The script was apparently really funny but, due to financial reasons, it was canned back in 2009. Sadly, since Leslie Nielsen passed, it has no chance of being resurrected either.

Speed 3

The first Speed film starring Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock was an unexpected blockbuster hit. The sequel saw Jason Patrick take over from Canadian hunk Keanu but the film was a box office flop. Both speed films were created by Canadian writer Graham Yost. Speed 2 earned $164 million world wide but compared to the first instalment which earned over $350 million, it was clear a third sequel might be tough to pull off. Before his death, Dennis Hopper stated that he’d be starring in Speed 3, while another rumour had Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock discussing the possibility with Fox. Since then there’s been little talk.

Back To The Future 4

There’s absolutely no doubt Michael J. Fox hit the jackpot with his Back To The Future trilogy even though he was only cast after Eric Stolz had already filmed half the movie playing Marty.  It wasn’t until Director Robert Zemeckis and EP Stephen Spielberg watched the dailies that they realized Stolz wasn’t who they envisioned at Doctor Brown’s wise cracking side kick. Originally Michael J. Fox had turned down the role because of scheduling conflicts with his hit t.v series Family Ties but eventually the BTTF peeps won him over and he managed to play one of the most memorable on screen characters ever! Will there be a fourth instalment?  As people most know by now Fox is fighting Parkinson’s disease and even though he’s putting up a good fight, it seems he’s most likely retired from acting.  Zemickicks isn’t interested in a reboot or sequel but Fox did say if it happens, Marty should be played by a girl. 

Back To The Future co-write Bob Gale explained to Collider magazine why they’ll never be a sequel, ““We told a complete story with the trilogy. If we went back and made another one, we’d have Michael J. Fox, who will be sixty next year, and he has Parkinson’s Disease. Do we want to see Marty McFly at age sixty with Parkinson’s Disease? Did we want to see him at age fifty with Parkinson’s Disease? I would say ‘No, you don’t want to see that.’ And you don’t want to see the film without Michael J. Fox. People say, ‘Well, do it with somebody else.’ Really? Who are you going to get? All you’re gonna do is beg comparisons to the originals, and you’re not going to match up. We didn’t want to be those guys who did a movie that was basically a money grab. Universal says to us, ‘You’d guys would make a whole lot of money,’ but we’re like, ‘Well, we’ve already made a whole lot of money with these movies, and we like them just the way they are. And as proud parents, we’re not going to sell our kids into prostitution.’”

Forrest Gump 2

Who didn’t love Tom Hanks as Forrest Gump?  I still want to buy a box of chocolates and eat my shrimp at one of the many Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. restaurants across the United States.  For years rumours have circulated that Zemeckes might shoot a sequel to this Oscar Winner!  Despite already having done pretty much everything a character can do in the first film, a sequel, based on the follow-up book, was in development back in the 2000’s. A script was written, which would have seen Gump meddle with iconic events throughout the 80s and 90s. The book, Gump & Co, sees Forrest create New Coke, capture Saddam Hussein, and meet a young celebrity filming a movie called ‘Big’.  I’m sure if the film were made today they’d add in scenes with Gump, Putin and Trump, Gump going into space with William Shatner, Gump capturing Ben Ladin or maybe he would’ve somehow stopped the attacks on the Towers. Regardless,  Hanks nixed it by saying it would have just been a repeat. Go Hanks.

Lord Stanley

Priestly had hoped to direct the comedy “Keeper of the Cup”,  but that movie fell apart. It was about three Maple Leaf fans who are tired of waiting for their team to win the Stanley Cup, so they decide to steal it. William Shatner, Dan Aykroyd and Priestley were going to star. “It was a super funny premise, great script,” Priestley said. “unfortunately, we were two days away from going to the floor and our financing fell apart. So I don’t know if that film is ever going to see the light of day again.”

He added: “We prepped for five weeks, and we were on location and ready to start shooting, and ultimately that financing fell apart. I mean, I haven’t had that happen since the 80s. It was a shock to me and to the rest of us. Like we were there ready to start shooting and we all got sent home.”


Even by Kubrick’s famously fastidious standards, Napoleon would require exhaustive preparation. His researchers combed the European continent for every last trace of the French emperor, amassing some 17,000 images. In Kubrick’s private library on Napoleon – he claimed to have read every English-language book on this subject- which totalled some 500 volumes.

The director distilled his learning into a 148-page screenplay that followed “le petit caporal” from his provincial childhood in Corsica to his final days in exile at Saint Helena. Kubrick scouted locations and meticulously mapped out the production. The 30,000 troops required for his epic battle sequences would come from the Romanian army (a bargain at $2 per man); when historical uniforms turned out to be more expensive than the soldiers, Kubrick found a firm in New York that could print costumes on a Dupont-manufactured drip-dry paper. The production was cast, budgeted, and scheduled.

Napoleon may have been visionary cinema; it may have been (as Kubrick anticipated) “the greatest film ever made,” but MGM decided it was a lousy business proposition. 


Creator George Lucas announced in 2005 that he was working on a show set in the time between the franchise’s Episode III: Revenge of the Sith and Episode IV: A New Hope. At the time, Lucas described the series in development: “It’s funny and there’s action, but it’s a lot more talky. It’s more of what I would call a soap opera with a bunch of personal dramas in it.” Though many scripts were written, visual concepts were created, and Battlestar Galactica creator Ronald D Moore spent time developing the show, Lucas ended up scrapping the plans due to budget concerns.


In 1990 the British tried to create a sitcom with Adolf Hilter and Eva Braun and their Jewish neighbours next store called, “Heil Honey.” Apparently the thinking was The Producers was a hit. Hogan’s Hereos had a cult following and MASH was one of the most popular shows of all time. However no one was laughing at the one episode of  “Heil Honey”.  Most criticisms of the sitcom centred around its tasteless premise. None of the jokes land successfully, and the show’s main flaw is glaring: it doesn’t centre around subtle criticism of the genocidal maniac, but instead mocks the standard set up of a 50s sitcom – using I Love Lucy as a template.

There’s really no secret to why or why not some films and shows are made while others aren’t.  Sure, star power make a big difference, the right director helps as well but ultimately the film industry is simply unpredictable.  During the 1970’s a friend of my father had recently returned from Vietnam and found himself a job bartending.  He was a funny guy who used to write jokes on napkins. One night a television Producer read some of his jokes and liked them.  A few months later dad’s friend was the head writer for a new Hollywood sitcom.  Showbiz is like a box of chocolates, “you never know what you are gonna to get”.

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