5. HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER’S STONE
WHAT THEY HAD IN MIND: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.
WHAT IT WAS: The first film in J. K. Rowling’s mammoth Harry Potter franchise as she originally envisioned it on film: Directed by Terry Gilliam.
Yes, the same dude who directed this.
WHY IT WOULD HAVE RULED: You need look no further than any of the crazy cartoons from Monty Python’s Flying Circus that know that Terry Gilliam is a fucking madman, and thus perfect for the franchise. He’s like if David Lynch and Salvador Dali conceived a child atop a bed of heroin. Having him direct the Harry Potter movies would have been as much a gift to fans as having J.J. Abrams direct the Star Wars prequels.
Which he already kinda did.
Not only was such awesomeness Ms. J. K. Rowling’s intention all along, but as Gilliam was enthusiastic about the idea. Considering the affect Alfonso Cuarón had on the franchise–likely for the better, according to critics and fans–Gilliam was probably right all along. If there is one thing every filmmaker since Chris Columbus tried to do with the Potter franchise, it was make it as unlike the original two films as possible.
Gilliam co-directed Monty Python and the Holy Grail, directed Time Bandits, Brazil, 12 Monkeys, and let us not forget… Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas. Had he been made Keeper of the keys and grounds at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, it would have been like giving Jerry Bruckheimer the nuclear codes if only for the alumni actors Gilliam would have most certainly brought into the franchise.
WHY YOU’LL NEVER SEE IT: Gilliam’s unique artistic style and “fuck you” approaching to Hollywood prompted Warner Bros. to not even consider attaching him to the product. While reflecting on the subject, Gilliam recently commented, “I would have gone crazy,” due to the constant meddling he would have likely encountered with Warner Bros. In short, Gilliam would have never been able to give the world the Harry Potter films Ms. Rowling wanted. The world is unfortunately not that awesome.
How Ron and Harry nearly started off Year Two.
WHAT THEY HAD IN MIND: Sam Hamm’s Batman.
WHAT IT WAS: Sam Hamm’s initial script and pitch for Tim Burton’s Batman, which was an even darker, more ambitious and more terrifying Batman film than The Dark Knight.
WHY IT WOULD HAVE RULED: If you can think of anything that worked in the entire Batman film franchise, chances are it was taken out of Sam Hamm’s original treatment of Batman: Jim Gordon comforting Bruce when it parents were murdered, throwbacks to Bruce’s ninja-training in Japan, that swarm of bats from Batman Begins, the super-realistic Batsuit, the introduction of Robin, and even that fancy Statue of Liberty from Batman Forever… Oh, and let’s not forget the original incarnation of Heath Ledger’s Joker. Nothing comes close to how terrifying the Joker was in Sam Hamm’s original script.
WHY YOU’LL NEVER SEE IT For starters, there is no way, no way this film could have avoided an R-rating. Joker appeared on TV implicitly killing babies with Smilex during the “Love that Joker!” segment. Also, because Burton wanted to avoid any Adam West references as much as humanly possible, he nixed the idea to include Robin in the story. Interestingly, not only was much of Robin’s development and dialogue reused for Batman Forever, but one scene was actually story-boarded and can be viewed on the Batman DVDs complete with voice-overs by Kevin Conroy and yes… Mark Hamil.
3. THE MATRIX
WHAT THEY HAD IN MIND: Enter the Dragon-Matrix.
WHAT IT WAS: The Matrix that the Wachowski Brothers envisioned, wrote, and storyboarded all along: a true cyberpunk martial-arts epic, only this time starring one of the greatest martial artists alive at the time.
WHY IT WOULD HAVE BEEN AMAZING: Film critic Roger Ebert once mused that a certain up-and-coming actor “clearly demonstrated that he might have become an action star, had he lived.” Who was he talking about? Brandon Lee, the only son of martial arts legend Bruce Lee and the Wachowski Brothers’ first choice for playing Neo.
Haven’t you wondered why Neo was storyboarded with long hair?
WHY YOU’LL NEVER SEE IT: Depending on who you ask, either a freak accident while filming The Crow, or the same demon that claimed his father. Either way, Neo went from this…
2. JURASSIC PARK
WHAT THEY HAD IN MIND: Indiana Jones and the Jurassic Park.
WHAT IT WAS How Steven Spielberg originally pictured Jurassic Park: starring Harrison Ford as Dr. Grant.
WHY IT WOULD HAVE RULED: Don’t get us wrong; Sam Neill was a pretty good Dr. Grant. However, the equation Spielberg had in mind walking into this picture is hard to ignore: Indiana Jones/Han Solo + Jeff Goldblum + Dinosaurs = GREATEST MOVIE EVER!!!
What we damn-nearly got.
WHY YOU’LL NEVER SEE IT: Harrison turned down the role and Sam Neill took his place. Who knows what would have happened if Ford said yes. Maybe the lawyer?
1. THE SIMPSONS MOVIE
WHAT THEY HAD IN MIND: One of the most beloved Simpsons episodes of all time: “Kamp Krusty,” the premiere episode of The Simpsons’ fourth season.
WHAT IT WAS: No joke, this was the original idea for a Simpsons movie, and it would have been written and released when the show was at its prime: When you could have expected names like Conan O’Brien and John Swartzwelder in its credits.
The movie we missed out on.
WHY IT WOULD HAVE RULED: In addition to “Kamp Krusty” being one of the funniest Simpsons episodes of all time, this episode had everything that a kid from the 90’s could ask for: a summer-movie theme, a hilarious plot styled after Lord of the Flies and Apocalypse Now, and a new villain named Mr. Black. Furthermore, when you consider how much the writers were able to cram into one 18-minute episode, “Kamp Kustry” was a storyline already at critical mass and just waiting to explode onto the big screen.
Hell, scenes like this had already won an Oscar.
WHY YOU’LL NEVER SEE IT: Alas, despite being brainstormed during the strongest season yet for the series, the brains behind The Simpsons came up short on this one. Although James L. Brooks was enthusiastic about adapting the episode into a full-length film, the show’s writers were not able to fit enough material into the script for it to work. As a result, the show went on to make another +400 episodes, including a major motion picture that would have likely failed to earn a Krusty Brand Seal of Approval by Season 4 standards, if you get our drift.