You may have heard of development hell: It’s a special limbo that movies sometimes disappear into, normally never be seen again. If you’ve followed promising news of the cinematic adaptation of a favorite novel or comic book, only to see it suddenly disappear off the radar, then you know the pains of development hell.
Film rights to books, comic books and video games are bought and sold by studios. Sometimes they’ll do something with those rights, and sometimes they’ll sell them again to another studio. Often, they’ll let those rights expire and return to the original owner, who may sell them to another studio and the cycle begins again. Sometimes production starts on a project, but then is halted due to creative disagreements, loss of funding or accidents on the set. All of these things can extend a project’s time in development hell.
In the medieval era, the church sold indulgences to people who wanted to shorten the amount of time a deceased loved one might pay for their sins in purgatory. Sadly, there’s no indulgence for films in development hell, and fans have their hopes lifted only to be dashed against the rocks of the entertainment industry again and again.
Here are several movies currently in development hell. Will they ever see the light of day?
“Blade Runner 2″: This film has been in development hell for over 20 years. One proposed script sets the film in one of the offworld colonies that the original gang of synthetics escaped from. Once in a blue moon Ridley Scott will pop up and say he’s working on the film. The fans get excited, the media gets excited, and then nothing more is heard of it until the next time Scott mentions it. At this point I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for Blade Runner 2.
“Ghostbusters III”: In development since 1989. Bill Murray is in. Bill Murray is out. It’s going to be live action. It’s going to be animated. It’ll star the old cast. It’ll star a new cast. It’s a remake. It’s an original story. It’s in development hell.
“Dragon’s Lair”: A film based on a 30 year-old video game that, while groundbreaking at the time, might as well be a primitive fish with legs compared to today’s games. Most of the people my age (40) don’t remember it. I doubt the teenagers with disposable income will care one way or the other.
“At the Mountains of Madness”: Guillermo del Toro has been trying to get this film off the ground for years and years. It’s gotten close enough to happening that he was comfortable enough to announce it, only to have it collapse at the last moment. H.P. Lovecraft, the author of the novella on which the film would be based, has been terribly influential in modern horror cinema, but most of the films based on his work have just been horrible. This could be our one big chance for a properly done Lovecraft adaptation, but at this point, who would blame del Toro for washing his hands of the entire affair?
“Rendezvous with Rama”: Morgan Freeman owns the rights to Arthur C. Clarke’s classic novel of first contact, and he really wants to see the film made. Further, he’d like David Fincher to direct it. Sadly, he’s not been able to make it happen for myriad reasons. If a heavyweight like Freeman can’t get this one off the ground, then I’m not sure who can.