Great Films that Almost Never Got Made: Part 2

The AbyssHaving covered both The Wizard of Oz and Apocalypse Now, here are two more films that were incredibly difficult to make, verging on the point of collapse throughout the course of production, but at least still went on to be box office and critical successes.

The Abyss

Director James Cameron’s first foray into the world of shooting in water, and anyone would have forgiven him for not wanting to return to water again after the disaster that Steven Spielberg endured with Jaws 13 years previous. But in spite of the difficulty of shooting, Cameron did not learn his lesson and would of course return to huge water tanks and near deaths in 1997 with Titanic. But with The Abyss, the extent of shooting underwater was so important and lengthy, that all cast members were required to become certified scuba divers prior to shooting beginning.

To film the majority of shots underwater, a huge 40ft disused concrete structure was used in North Carolina. Having been an unused nuclear power plant, Cameron turned the giant concrete containment into a huge water tank, filling it with seven million gallons of water, becoming the world’s largest underwater set ever created. But the shoot didn’t get off to the greatest of starts, on the first day of principal photography, the tank sprung a leak that caused over 150,000 gallons of water to spray out a minute. Specialist repairmen were bought in to fix the problem, but that was just the beginning of the arduous six month shoot. The two leads, Ed Harris and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, endured such torrid times that Harris refuses to talk about his experience on the set, a silence that still stands today.

The Abyss in-movie momentEd Harris, who played the scientist Bud, almost drowned on multiple occasions throughout production. During one scene, where Harris had to hold his breath at the bottom of the tank, he signalled to his safety diver that he needed air. But the diver got caught up on a cable and couldn’t get to him, instead a crew member quickly swam over and handed him a regulator, but it was upside down so Harris ended up just taking in water. A cameraman came over just in time to give him one the correct way round and effectively saved him. Harris broke down in tears later that evening, not to be the last time.

The shoot was so long and tedious, and the fact most shots were underwater, cast and crew members regularly spent upwards of five hours underwater at a time. Due to the threat of microbes growing in the tank, the water had to be heavily chlorinated, causing many of the actors hair to turn green or even white. The sheer torturous nature of the shoots sent many into breakdowns and frustrating bursts of anger, mostly directed at Cameron, but luckily for him, everyone took it out on their dressing rooms by trashing the place. But even though the film is still regarded as one of the most gruesome and gruelling shoots of all time, at least the film itself went on to become a smash hit, and still holds up as one of Cameron’s finest films.


The epic historical picture, most famous for the two leads of Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor in becoming one of the most iconic film couple’s of all time. But there was much more drama behind the making of the four hour biopic, which still stands today as one of the most expensive films of all time, costing $44 million, which adjusted to inflation equals to around $297 million in today’s money. Even though it went on to become one of the highest grossing films of the 1960s, Cleopatra is well known to be one of the biggest flops in movie history, as the incredible budget took over five years to just break even. As with all doomed productions, casting became the first hurdle to overcome, as several first choice actresses for the title role fell through.

Cleopatra The movie 1963When Elizabeth Taylor was approached for the role, she jokingly agreed that she would for a million dollars. Taylor then went on to become the first film star to be paid $1million for a single picture. Already running severely into the film’s budget, problems only continued once filming began. Egypt, the primary shooting location, wouldn’t initially let Elizabeth Taylor into the country on the grounds that she was Jewish, but soon changed their minds when they realised how much American dollars would be pumped into the economy just due to the film’s presence. Only several weeks into the duration of the shoot, director Rouben Mamoulian resigned due to the producer’s change of direction of the film, resulting in over seven hours of footage to be completely unusable.

Throughout the course of the film, various actors came and left, Taylor became seriously ill, pushing the filming back even further. Elaborate sets were built in London, costing the studio a large sum of money only not to be used at all, as filming switched to Rome instead. Even after filming had wrapped, the studio were looking at the first cut of the film to be over six hours long, which had to be cut down to just three. The seemingly directionless picture just kept running into trouble, ballooning the initial budget higher than anticipated, at a cost that almost ruined Twentieth Century Fox. It was so bad, that it took many years for Fox to simply recoup the film’s budget.

The Endings That Could Have Been

Blade runner posterThe ending is almost the most important element to a film, potentially making or breaking a film. A really good film could have a poor ending which can entirely change the perception of that film. On the other hand, a really good and fitting ending can really cement a film’s place in Hollywood’s finest. The ending is so important that many writers and directors are even undecided when production actually begins, deciding on how the film should end in post-production after filming has wrapped. So what films would have a had a vastly different ending from the one that the audience sees?

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Cord Cutting Basics: Making the Transition from Cable to Online Streaming Videos 2015

The future is now! Internet-delivered TV is here and there’s no stopping it. Back in the day prognosticating pundits didn’t expect the mega success of internet TV (just ask Netflix after they aired Daredevil Season 1), but now companies like HBO, Nickelodeon, Dish Network and CBS are looking to open up shop in this market. TV channels that showcased great events were once jealously fought over by cable networks; however, with the advent of internet TV, they’ve been set free, so to speak. This time there are no expensive equipment rentals, subscription plans and nightmare-ish customer service. Just pure entertainment and just the way you like it.

Cord cutting - Cutting the cable to the traditional cable companies Just a word of caution first though, don’t rush it. A lot of people who had not thought about their decisions well, end up with disappointments; so do yourself a favor and research about cord-cutting and the internet before you make the transition. There are two ways to do things: the easy way and the hard way, and believe me you will want to do things the easy way.

Here are 5 basic steps to cord-cutting:

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The Best of Surf Cinema

With the impending release of Point Break, the reboot of the classic action film from 1991, has sent shockwaves across the internet. The original, starring Patrick Swayze and Keanu Reeves, went on to become a cult classic.

Point Break - Keanu Reeves and Patrick SwayzeWhen it was announced that Point Break was getting a remake, it didn’t take long for a backlash from fans of the original, saying that a reboot is entirely unnecessary, and it could never compare to the classic original. So we decided to take a look at the best films that have attempted to capture the ‘sport of kings’, the ancient art of wave sliding.

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The Black List – The Best Unmade Films in Hollywood

Every year since 2004, a list is compiled by Franklin Leonard, a studio executive in Hollywood, of 250 of the ‘most liked’ un-produced scripts of the year. These scripts aren’t necessarily the best scripts around, but are voted by over 250 studio and production company executives for the ones that are liked the most by those who read them. At the end of the year, the best unmade scripts are released in the form of a list and sent to all production companies, where the scripts get another chance of being seen and hopefully sent into production.

Hollywood signSince the Black List’s inception back in 2004, more than 987 scripts have made the list, with an incredible 301 scripts being produced. Of these films, highly successful films such as The King’s Speech, Slumdog Millionaire and Argo have all been made on the back of making it to the Black List. Other noticeable screenplays that come through the Black List have been Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds and Django Unchained, The Wrestler, American Sniper and Whiplash. In spite of these scripts going un-produced beforehand, the number of films that went on to critical acclaim, even Oscar winning, is incredible. The total number of produced films have gone on to win 223 Academy Awards and 197 Golden Globe Awards.

2013’s Black List saw several highly successful films in 2014, including Clint Eastwood’s Oscar nominated drama starring Bradley Cooper. Also, Cake, starring Jennifer Aniston and Pan, the reimagining of the classic children’s story, Peter Pan, scheduled for release this year. So for 2015, the 2014 Black List was revealed at the end of last year, with a lot of buzz around the top yet-to-be-produced scripts. Starting with the most popular, we take a look at the top five scripts from the Black List, ones that will be worth keeping an eye out for in the next few year’s Oscar races.

Catherine the Great – 51 Likes

Kristina Lauren Anderson writes an engaging historical piece that explores the life of one of Russia’s most popular monarchs; Catherine the Great. The synopsis of the film focuses on Sophia Augusta as she takes control of her life, her marriage, and her kingdom, in becoming Russia’s most celebrated and beloved monarch. With such a strong response on the Black List, this film is surely set for production within the year, but as of yet, no further details have been revealed aside from being produced by Atlas Entertainment, previously known for all of DC Comics films since Christopher Nolan’s Batman begins, as well as Twelve Monkeys and Three Kings.

Rockingham – 38

OJ Simpson trialAdam Morrison’s script delves into one of America’s most gripping scandals; the OJ Simpson trial. The screenplay focuses on the media frenzy of the trial, through the eyes of Simpson’s sports agent, Mike Gilbert, as well as Mark Fuhrman, a detective for the Los Angeles police department. Morrison, previously known for co-writing the 2011 indie romantic drama The Chateau Meroux, bases the title of the script on the infamous street that Simpson lived when he was accused of the double murder of his wife, Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman. The film has been gaining a lot of traction in Hollywood and will no doubt see a studio jump on board.

The Swimsuit Issue – 35

Randall Green, previously known for writing a big screen adaptation of the classic children’s cartoon, Scooby-Doo for Warner Bros, has made the top three in this year’s Black List with The Swimsuit Issue. The film follows a nerdy high-schooler, who fancies himself as an amateur photographer, attempts to create a ‘Swimsuit Issue’ featuring his high school classmates in the hope of raising enough cash to go to summer camp. The production company attached to this project is Atlas Entertainment, coincidentally the same company as the number one film on this list; Catherine the Great.

The Babysitter – 34

A lonely twelve year old boy in love with his babysitter discovers some hard truths about life, love, and murder. The highest rJane got a gun in-movie pictureanking horror film on the Black List comes from Brian Duffield, a busy screenwriter who has previously written the adaptation of Insurgent, the sequel to Divergent, as well as Jane Got a Gun. Duffield also has a whole host of other projects in the pipeline through Wonderland Sound and Vision, director McG’s production company. His first directorial debut however, will be Vivien Hasn’t Been Herself Lately, a romantic horror drama.

Rothchild – 32

Referencing the powerful international banking family, the Rothschild’s, John Patton Ford’s centres around a young, well-educated loner who kills the members of his mother’s estranged family one-by-one in the hope that he will inherit the family’s vast fortune. Ford’s previous ventures into Hollywood came in the form of writing and directing the short film Patrol in 2010, a film that followed a disillusioned security guard who pretends to be a cop to impress his six year old son when he visits for the weekend. The production company behind Rothchild is Black Box Management, who have been behind plenty of successful films including the Hurt Locker, Dallas Buyer’s Club and Killer Joe.

The Best Film Adaptations of Classic Books

Jurassic Park - T-Rex escapesOne of the fiercest debates that rage frequently in the film industry is how Hollywood tackles source material; the book. Fans of the book are rarely pleased with how their paperback is transformed for the silver screen, but for every The Hobbit there is Lord of the Rings. But the biggest problem in attempting to translate a novel into film format is of course the length, books are designed to to engage the reader much longer than a feature film. So imagine trying to faithfully recreate an entire book into a film, which would equate to roughly 10 hours of film, which is simply not going to work.

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