It can be very daunting to hear that a huge majority (99.9%) of screenplays are never sold or optioned, and even worse, the majority of that remaining .1% that do find a home still never actually get made. You could sell your script, have the pre-production all sorted, a great cast and a wonderful director, and then the plug gets pulled at the last minute because the star refuses to work with that director, or the quixotic director is knocked out by the overly pragmatic producer, or the studio simply pulls the plug with no explanation at all. The reality is that you should be amazed that any film is completed because there are a million and one ways for a film project to die.
Understanding that the proportion of screenplays that actually survive to become films as the tiniest tip of a massive iceberg might be a scary thought for an aspiring screenwriter, but that’s life and that’s the business. But then I’m always one to never get my hopes up. Ignore me if you will. I still think that this fact helps to sort the men from the boys and the women from the girls; those that are looking for overnight success and fast money, and those that know that, at the end of the day, being a screenwriter is an amazing career to have, but you don’t get it handed to you. You do it because it’s in you. And you work at it hard, because there’s nothing else you’d rather do. It takes ten years to have overnight success. You just have to keep at it. Dedication, talent, perseverance, and luck (a heavy emphasis on the luck) are all part of the equation.
So here are 10 films that were lucky enough to survive, each one literally being moments away from being completely snuffed. Getting it down to 10 was actually quite a job; there are so many more great films that were close to never reaching the silver screen that I didn’t put on the list, including E.T., The Godfather, and Citizen Kane. So I suppose it’s a rare film that is put into production with full confidence.
I’ve ranked each film in order of the movies that have the most interesting production histories, so here we go: Top 10 Films That Nearly Never Got Made.