Why let a good screenplay go to waste? Sometimes sequel movies get repurposed and recycled into something else that’s new and exciting. Here are nine movies that were supposed to be sequels to other movies.
1. THE HATEFUL EIGHT (2015)
Quentin Tarantino originally conceived of The Hateful Eight as a sequel to his Django Unchained (2012). But as he began writing, the filmmaker realized that something didn’t feel right about having Django in the middle of the new story. Tarantino felt that Django was too much of a good guy to be part of the deadly situation at the center of The Hateful Eight. "There should be no moral center. I thought it should be a room of bad guys, and you can't trust a word anybody says," Tarantino said during a Q&A at the Alamo Drafthouse in 2015.
“At the time it was called ‘Django in White Hell,’” Tarantino told David Poland. “And it was basically just, you know—so I started writing—and it was basically just the stagecoach stuff, you know, all the stuff that we have in the story of the stagecoach, instead of Major Warren it was Django. And I was working on that and I hadn’t got to Minnie’s Haberdashery yet, hadn’t figured out who the other people would be there, just kind of, just setting this mystery into place.”
2. DIE HARD (1988)
Die Hard is based on Roderick Thorp’s 1979 novel, Nothing Lasts Forever. Which is a sequel to his 1966 novel, The Detective, which was adapted into a film starring Frank Sinatra in 1968. When Die Hard was being developed, 20th Century Fox offered the lead role to Sinatra, who wasn’t interested in reprising the part.
“A good bar bet if you want to make some cash is to ask someone: ‘Who was the first actor to play John McClane and in what movie?’ They will say: ‘Bruce Willis in Die Hard' and you say: ‘No! Frank Sinatra in The Detective!’ and then run out before you get beat up,” Die Hard screenwriter Steven E. de Souza told the Bristol Bad Film Club in 2015. “Interestingly, 20th Century Fox had to contractually offer Bruce Willis’s part in Die Hard to Frank Sinatra because it was a sequel to the original book! Fortunately for Bruce, he said: ‘I’m too old and too rich to act any more.’”
3. PREDATOR (1987)
After Rocky Balboa defeated Ivan Drago and brought together the United States and Russia at the end of Rocky IV, there was a joke in Hollywood that Rocky was running out of people to box and would have to fight a space alien if there was ever a Rocky V. Screenwriters Jim and John Thomas took the joke seriously and started to write the script for Predator, which was originally titled Hunter. Producer Joel Silver really liked the story and picked it up for 20th Century Fox in 1985. Instead of casting Sylvester Stallone in the leading role, Silver cast Arnold Schwarzenegger as Major Alan "Dutch" Schaefer after working with him on Commando a few years earlier.
4. COLOMBIANA (2011)
With the success of 1994’s Léon: The Professional, director Luc Besson and his protégé Olivier Megaton tried to make a sequel called Mathilda. After years of running into roadblocks—including Natalie Portman’s rise to stardom and Besson’s rocky relationship with Gaumont Film Company, which owns the rights to The Professional—Besson and Megaton turned their script for Mathilda into Colombiana instead.
"Ten years ago we decided to make Mathilda, which was the Professional sequel, but we couldn’t do it because of the evolution of a lot of things," said Megaton. “Luc tried to do this movie again and again—he proposed it to me 12 years ago. But when we decided to change the script and to make another movie with a revenge story like Mathilda, he had to give up everything about Mathilda."
5. NIGHTHAWKS (1981)
During the late 1970s, screenwriter David Shaber wrote The French Connection III after the success of the first two feature films for 20th Century Fox. However, Gene Hackman refused to reprise the role of Popeye Doyle, so the project moved to Universal Pictures and Shaber rewrote the script into Nighthawks, with Sylvester Stallone and Billy Dee Williams in the main roles.
Fun Fact: The character Popeye Doyle would eventually reappear in a movie, but this time on the small screen. Ed O’Neill played the character in Popeye Doyle, a made-for-TV movie that aired on NBC in 1986.
6. SOLACE (2015)
After the success of Se7en in 1995, New Line Cinema wanted to make a sequel and acquired a script called Solace from Ocean’s Eleven writer Ted Griffin in 2002. With the hope of making a sequel called Ei8ht, the story featured a psychic who helps the FBI find a known serial killer. New Line wanted to change the psychic character to Detective William Somerset (Morgan Freeman’s character from Se7en), but Se7en director David Fincher was less than enthusiastic about the idea of a sequel.
“I would be less interested in that than I would in having cigarettes put out in my eyes,” the director said during an advanced screening of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button at Lincoln Center in New York City in 2008. “I keep trying to get out from under my own shadow.” He later added, “I don’t want to do the same sh*t over and over.”
In 2013, New Line Cinema continued with the project without Fincher, but made Solace under its original title and characters instead.
7. SPEED 2: CRUISE CONTROL (1997)
Before Die Hard with a Vengeance hit theaters during the summer of 1995, 20th Century Fox was interested in turning a spec script called Troubleshooter from writer James Haggin into Die Hard 3. If made, the film would’ve followed John McClane aboard a Caribbean cruise ship with terrorists taking over the luxury ocean liner. Fox scrapped the idea when they learned that Steven Seagal’s Under Siege, which had a very similar story, was in production at Warner Bros. for release in 1992. However, in 1997, Fox reworked Troubleshooter into Speed 2: Cruise Control with Annie Porter (Sandra Bullock) and new love interest Alex Shaw (Jason Patric) on board the cruise ship instead. Keanu Reeves was offered $12 million to reprise his role, but said no.
8. MINORITY REPORT (2002)
Originally, Minority Report was developed as a sequel to Total Recall, both of which were based on short stories by Philip K. Dick. When Total Recall became a box office hit in 1990, TriStar Pictures wanted a sequel, so they looked to combine Total Recall with Minority Report and tasked novelist Jon Cohen with adapting the screenplay in 1997. The would-be sequel would’ve seen the precogs from Minority Report changed into the mutants from Total Recall, as they helped Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Douglas Quaid stop crime before it happened on the Red Planet.
However, production company Carolco Pictures, which owned the rights to Total Recall and Minority Report, went out of business, so the sequel project fell to 20th Century Fox where Steven Spielberg and Tom Cruise later picked it up for release in 2002.
9. CYBORG (1989)
During the late 1980s, Cannon Films planned to make a sequel for Masters of the Universe and a live-action Spider-Man movie at the same time. However, the movie studio ran into financial problems because Masters of the Universe was a box office bomb and had to cancel its deals with Mattel and Marvel, who owned He-Man and Spider-Man, respectively. Unfortunately, Cannon had already spent $2 million in pre-production, so the movie studio decided to rework the projects into a new film called Cyborg to make up for the loss. A script was written in one weekend and Jean-Claude Van Damme was cast in the lead role of Gibson Rickenbacker.
“That's part of the Cannon experience—we couldn't shoot these because the check bounced for the rights,” Cyborg director Albert Pyun told io9. “First it was Spider-Man, and then they couldn't bring themselves to tell us they'd also bounced the same check for Mattel [for He-Man]. It was kind of good, though. I was relieved—both Marvel and Mattel were very difficult to deal with, and they just did not want to cooperate.”