Doug Richardson

Not Coming Soon: The Top Unproduced Action Scripts Part 3

By Sean Tuohy

We're happy to see that you've all returned to Part 3 of our ongoing series "The Top Unproduced Action Scripts." If you're just joining us, you might want to catch up with Parts 1 and 2.

Let's not waste any time here, folks. Below are five more scripts that were written by some talented souls, but for one reason or another Hollywood decided not to make them into a movie. What a shame.

Let the show begin!

"Apogee" by Andrew W. Marlowe

There have been a lot of "Die Hard"-like movies over the years, but Marlowe's script set in space is one of the most original. Who wouldn't want to see "Die Hard In Space?" As over-the-top as that plot line sounds, Marlowe keeps the story grounded and keeps you turning the page in this well-paced script. The bad guys have ice water pumping through their veins and they are armed with microwave guns. Yeah, that's a thing. The good guy is a damaged soul trying to set things right in his life while saving the world at the same time. Throw in some zero gravity fight scenes above the Earth and you've got a great action movie.

Will this ever see the light of day?  I hope, but a movie like this cannot be done as a straight to DVD movie. It has to be a summer blockbuster. A movie like this is meant to be watched for thrills and chills while wolfing down popcorn and sipping ice cold cola. In a world where one-off movies are dying(or already dead) I don't know if a movie like this would be considered by Hollywood executives. However, put in the right hands of the right filmmaker, this movie would be stellar. Oh, and since it is set in space Ed Harris has to be in it as the head of  NASA mission control.

"True Believers" by Doug Richardson


This is Mr. Richardson's second appearance on our list. Hats off to him.

As you all know here at Writer's Bone, we are big fans of Doug Richardson as both a screenwriter and novelist. The story behind True Believers is almost as interesting as the story itself. It started life as a thriller novel—one that kept me up at night and made me miss my bus stop more than once—before Richardson turned it into a screenplay. The screenplay is tight, fast-paced, and filled with strong, well developed, and sinister female characters that leap from the page. You are pulled into a dark world filled with evil souls from the opening paragraph of the screenplay. I highly recommend reading the book before you pick up the script because it provides you a chance to see a writer approach his craft in two different ways.

True Believers the novel is filled with multiple characters' point of views, settings from coast to coast, and intriguing subplots. Most of those elements are removed from the screenplay, but the core of the story stays intact.

Will this ever see the light of day?  Well, they already tried once and you can read what happen at Richardson's blog about the mess that it became. I hope that a director picks this up and does it right if given the chance. The lead role of Will Sullivan would be a great part for a young, up-and-coming male actor and the  mischievous character of Izzy has to be filled by a drop dead looker with an evil twinkle in her eye.

"Gunslinger" by John Hlavin

Westerns are dead for the most part in Hollywood, but every once in a while a gifted writer comes along with a new spin on the genre. That's the case with "Gunslinger." This action script tells the tale of a Texas Ranger pulled into a bloody war with drug cartels. The main character is a man of few words who goes through hell during the end of the second act to beat the bad guys. The script is not long, but carries one hell of a punch. This fast read is one of the best westerns I have read in a long time.

Will this ever see the light of day?  I hope, but I have a feeling that Hollywood may take this and turn it in to a low budget straight to DVD kind of movie. They may put in a second tier action actor and take out a lot of the character building moments and replace them with bland action scenes.

"Killing Pablo" by Joe Carnahan

I love Joe Carnahan! "Narc" is on my top five favorite films of all time and top ten scripts of all time. Carnahan is an incredible writer and, when given the chance, writes fantastic dialog. I was thrilled to hear he was going to tackle the international best selling story about drug kingpin Pablo Escobar.  Carnahan did a great job of taking tons of facts and many characters, most of them Spanish speakers, and fitting them into a great script.

Will this ever see the light of day?  Carnahan left this project so I am not sure if it'll ever get made. If Carnahan had stayed involved we would have seen an epic crime drama. Carnahan has a talent for putting real characters in very violent worlds and making you root for them. This is a story we all know—well a powerful crime lord hunted down by law enforcement—but the story of Pablo Escober is legend status and needs to be captured on film.

"Uprising" By David Twohy

David Twohy knows how to write fast-paced sci-fi thrillers with a great human element and "Uprising" is no different. Starting with a bang that you can only find in sci-fi, "Uprising" combines  "The Great Escape" with "Independence Day." The story follows a group of soldiers held in a POW after an alien race invades Earth and the captured troops must find a way to break out of the alien prison.

Will this ever see the light of day? It looks like it may get made, but I am not sure by which studio. Twohy goes into the history of the alien race, giving them a little more backstory than your normal alien invasion movie. This could be a summer blockbuster with big cast of well-known older actors mixed with young newcomers and some great special effects thrown in. That's a recipe for a great movie.

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Not Coming Soon: The Top Unproduced Action Scripts Part 1

A big pile of scripts.

A big pile of scripts.

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

Doug Richardson

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.

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