By Sean Tuohy
Hundreds and hundreds of movies scripts are written and then sold to studios and then never made. Somewhere in Hollywood there are stacks of unproduced scripts that have been sitting and collecting dust for years. Studios will buy the scripts, work on them for a while, maybe a producer or A-list actor signs on to be involved, and than for whatever reason it falls through. The way of Hollywood.
As you might have noticed, I am fan of action films. I love to watch and write action movies. The first script I found and read was Steven de Souza's copy of "Die Hard" when I was 14 years old. Since then I have spent many sleepless nights trolling message boards and search engines for copies of scripts. I love reading a new script. The joy of seeing "fade in" at the top of the page, followed up the scene heading, is indescribable.
During my years of searching I have come across several unproduced scripts that have never seen the light of day. After reading these five scripts, I felt cheated by Hollywood for not allowing these imaginative and original stories to be made in to movies!
Well, here is my chance to share them with you. Below are the top five unproduced action movies that Hollywood has sadly forgotten, but stay very much alive in my head.
"The Nice Guys" By Shane Black and Anthony Bagarozzi
Well-written screenplays and Shane Black go together like peanut butter and jelly. "The Nice Guy" is one of the funniest screenplays I have read. The script is filled with black humor, snappy dialog, and vile bad guys with happy trigger fingers. The noir story follows two men; a burnt out private detective and a fighter who try to solve a who-done-it in Los Angeles. Nothing is what it seems. While working the case, the pair get caught up in drug induced car chases, neighbor shoot outs, and hotel brawls. The script is written in crisp and to-the-point lines, the dialog flows smoothly, and nothing feels forced.
Will this ever see the light of day? Maybe. Black left the scene for a good 10 years, but came back swinging with indie-hit "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" and the mega-hit "Iron Man 3" so it could get made as a small indie movie.
Note: This script was acted out at the 2012 Austin Film Festival and featured Thomas Jane. It was not recorded, but there are stills available.
"The Quick Killing" By Ken Nolan
Ken Nolan penned the 2001 war-drama "Black Hawk Down" and has done some punch up work in Hollywood, but this script made a name for him. A classic action movie that has deep roots to action films from the 1960s and 1970s, the script told the story of a reformed gangster trying to make some extra cash quickly. Nolan penned a great action script; everything was kept short, but the action scenes are big and over the top populated with tough guys of few words.
Will this ever see the light of day? Doubtful. Hollywood is no longer making shoot'em up action movies like this. They want massive CGI movies that have little character and just look cool. A movie like this does not fit in to the Hollywood mainstream.
"Hell Bent...And Back" by Doug Richardson
All screenwriting nerds know this script. It was known for making a big splash for being one of the biggest spec sales. It was never made, which is tragic because when you read the script you find yourself reading a love letter to the movies. This script was penned by fan boys who grew up loving movies and wanted to write the kind of movie they watched growing up and they pulled it off. The World War II action film is filled with cigar-chewing, wise-cracking good guys who know when to talk and when to shoot. You also have bad guys who drive around in tanks and are looking for trouble. Most of all, you have a great flow of story and character building throughout the whole story.
Will this ever see the light of day? Doubtful. Like so many well penned action scripts there is no place in the market for this kind of movie.
If you want to learn more about the true behind the scenes story of this movie go read "A Million Dollar View" written by screenwriter Doug Richardson. You should also check out Part 1 and Part 2 of our interview with him.
"Exit Zero" By Kurt Wimmer
Kurt Wimmer is one of the few action writers who is able to blend outlandish and good story together. This 1990s action-techno story is "The Net" on blow. A computer nerd and a mentally ill woman are chased across the country by a computer that will bring down mankind. The ending twist is only something Wimmer could pull off without it making sound cheesy.
Will this ever see the light of day? No. The fact that "Eagle Eye" was made and did really well doesn't help the cause. Both "Eagle Eye" and "Exit Zero" have similar story lines and I don't see Hollywood making a squeal to another Shia Labeouf movie any time soon.
"Godzilla" By Terry Rossio and Ted Elliot
When they decided to make an American remake of monster king Godzilla, Rossie and Elliot ("Pirates of the Caribbean") were asked to create a story for the building-destroying lizard. The pair wrote a fantastic monster movie that would have been a great way to introduced Godzilla to American movie goers. Instead, the studio tossed the script and made the heap we all saw in 1998.
Rossio and Elliot's script had a strong cast of characters, an larger than life idea that worked, and plenty of things getting blown up. Also, the sight gags in the script are knee slapping good.
Will this ever see the light of day? Nope. After the previously mentioned 1998 version of "Godzilla" did not do well at all and ruined my weekend, Hollywood held off from making another movie. Now, they are taking another stab at "Godzilla" and it looks like they may pull it off. They have a great team behind the camera and in front of the camera, and it looks like they are actually going to try this time around. Pity, because I would have paid extra to see Rossi and Elliot's version.