For every movie that gets made in Hollywood, there are hundreds behind them that get announced in Variety and then promptly disappear into the ether, they were just as likely to get made as anything and they just fell by the wayside for whatever reason. Sometimes those movies could make an appreciable difference if they were actually made; remember the story of Tick Tock, the Jennifer Lopez terrorist thriller abandoned after 9/11, leaving Lopez open to replace Halle Berry in Gigli. And sometimes they’d just be the usual drops in a bucket, product exactly as disposable as what went in front of cameras. When we look at the projects in the Revolutions Studios backlog that never got made, we see a lot of disposability and worse, because even their released product was often sub-disposable trash. But we also see plenty of interesting alternate paths here, roads not taken that still would’ve likely ended with Revolution caving in on itself. Before the final article of Pictures of a Revolution posts (sorry for the delay, I promise it will be soon), let’s consider what could have been, what movies might have risen to the level of Blockbuster shelf-filler.
The Julia Roberts Movies
Don’t let Roberts not completing her three-picture deal with Revolution fool you, she was bringing a lot of projects to Revolution that just never made it beyond the starting line. Several of these projects sound like bog-standard Roberts rom-coms.
Her, based on a then-unpublished novel by Laura Zigman (hot off her previous book Animal Husbandry being adapted into the instantly forgotten Ashley Judd-Hugh Jackman rom-com Someone Like You), concerns a woman (to be played by Roberts) who falls in love with a big-shot Washington D.C. lawyer, but soon becomes jealous of the lawyer’s close relationship with his ex. This is such a blatant attempt to just do My Best Friend’s Wedding again with a few minor details changed that even the Variety story points out the similarities.
Shrinking Violet, which Roberts was just set to produce and not star in, comes from a spec script by Sex and the City writers Elisa Zuritsky and Julie Rottenberg. It’s about a twentysomething woman who lies to her family and pretends that she’s in a relationship with the man who’s actually just her shrink (*Shrink*ing Violet, get it?). The problem with this ruse comes when she realizes “she can’t decide what would be worse news for her straitlaced family: to learn she’s in therapy or that her relationship is a fraud.”
The Monk Downstairs, adapted by Philadelphia writer Ron Nyswaner from the book of the same name, is indeed about a monk who lives downstairs. I can find no information on whether Roberts was going to star in this or just produce it, but the main character, a “single mother tired of the dating world” who rents her downstairs apartment to a former monk, seems like an easy fit for her. I’m curious who would’ve played the monk.
Roberts didn’t just bring rom-coms to Revolution, though.
The single most intriguing project of any covered here is Project 3, which would’ve reunited Roberts with Gore Verbinski and The Mexican‘s screenwriter J.H. Wyman. Information on it is scarce, not helped by it having a very SEO-unfriendly working title, but what I could find about it said that it was a psychological thriller in the vein of Gaslight. Verbinski signed onto it after he couldn’t direct Catch Me If You Can due to Leonardo DiCaprio’s commitment to Gangs of New York, and it apparently got far enough along that it was fully storyboarded and set to start shooting in spring 2001. But a Variety article from February 2001 (before The Mexican was even released) says the spring start date was cancelled because production would’ve overlapped with a potential SAG strike that summer. The article was optimistic that Verbinski and Roberts would return to the project after the strike was avoided or settled, but just a month later, Verbinski had already moved onto making The Ring instead. And the rest is history.
At the very opposite end, maybe the most wretched-sounding project of any covered here (and you’ll see some pretty bad ones) is Strange Son, a “true” story of two mothers of autistic children who “make breakthrough discoveries that outpace the latest medical reseach and challenge the prevailing theories about autism.” Roberts presumably would have played the source material’s author, Portia Iversen, whose nonprofit “Cure Autism Now” was later merged into Autism Speaks. The project was in development from 2003 to at least 2005, when it was announced to be written by Ghost and Jacob’s Ladder writer Bruce Joel Rubin and directed by Calendar Girls director Nigel Cole. Roberts, Rubin, Cole, and everyone else involved should be very very thankful this didn’t get off the ground, otherwise they’d (justifiably) never live it down.
On a lighter note, the pairing of Roberts and fellow Revolution deal-holder Adam Sandler is natural enough that it’s surprising it hasn’t happened yet. There’s only been one serious attempt to get them together on-screen, an adaptation of the Nerve.com article “Genie in a Bottle: The Sex Drink That’s Rocking Little Rock” announced in 2001 as a coproduction between Revolution, Happy Madison, and Roberts’ Shoelace Productions. The article concerns a “female version of Viagra” called Niagara, a drink sold in Little Rock, AR with the supposed power to make women “feel relaxed and tingly in the right places.” There were no initial details of how the movie would adapt this article, or what parts either Roberts or Sandler would play, but I found a report that it was being worked on in 2002 as a comedy called Tonic, where Roberts would play a con artist claiming to sell female Viagra. Life or Something Like It writer John Scott Shepherd was attached to write it.
The Happy Madison Movies
Adam Sandler fulfilled his three-movie contract with Revolution as an actor, but he went above and beyond as a producer, giving them three more Happy Madison movies and a lot more than that at the development stage. I’m generally sympathetic to the Happy Madison goofball spirit, but few of these cry out like they needed to be made.
The first two things Sandler and Happy Madison set up at Revolution were vehicles for Sandler’s SNL buddies Kevin Nealon and Norm Macdonald. Nealon’s movie, known only as Untitled Cupid Script, was one he co-wrote with Talk Soup/Wipeout personality John Henson. The premise printed by Variety is bafflingly coy about the Cupid connection, saying only that it’s about a “deceased chap” played by Nealon who tries to “make things right in his pal’s life as retribution for his own sins” (the pal to be played by Henson, who’d also play a separate(?) character serving as Nealon’s nemesis). I assume the process of making things right is helping Henson to fall in love, because of the Cupid thing, but why mention that when you can instead sell it as What Dreams May Come?
Less is known about Macdonald’s movie, only that it was called Turk and would be a baseball comedy of some kind. Perhaps it could’ve been a redemption for Macdonald after Dirty Work‘s failure, but now for sure we’ll never know.
Before making Joe Dirt, David Spade wrote another potential star vehicle for himself, called Puka Pete. The premise as it was originally announced was that Spade would play “a hippie burnout ’60s peacenik” who gets swallowed by a whale in the process of recording whale sounds and then is stranded on a deserted island, realizing in the process that he wants to find a romantic partner and build a family. Spade then revisited the movie a year later with his cowriter Fred Wolf announced as director, though some of the details seem like they changed in the time between the announcements; there’s no mention of the whale or the main character’s hippie background, and the plot now follows him after he returns home and no longer has an immune system due to his 30-year stay on the island.
In May 2003, six months after Eight Crazy Nights bombed hard enough to make people think twice about greenlighting another Happy Madison holiday movie, Revolution decided to tempt fate by setting up a Happy Madison Christmas movie. That movie was an adaptation of legendary cartoon/comic-book writer Paul Dini’s graphic novel series Jingle Belle, about Santa Claus’s mischievous daughter. Revolution and Happy Madison were still deciding on a screenwriter at initial announcement, and in September of the same year, it was announced that Princess Diaries scribe Gina Wendkos would write it. There have been no further plans of any kind to adapt Jingle Belle.
The era of “Dax Shepard, leading man” was a very short one indeed, but it lasted just long enough that Revolution and Happy Madison set up his self-written starring vehicle Guerrilla Photographer in 2004. Shepard was to play an aspiring National Geographic photographer who takes a job as a paparazzo, where he “must act like a chameleon to assume different identities in order to get his shots.” I can’t tell if the implication of the use of “chameleon” is that his National Geographic fixation will help him use animal instincts to do his job or if I’m just reading too much into this.
Something was in the air in the early 2000s that led to multiple studio-comedy projects involving people romancing the president’s daughter (even though the Disney Channel had already gotten the last word on that subject). I’d assume it was just post-9/11 patriotism, but Revolution and Happy Madison announced their own take on that premise in August 2000, an untitled comedy pitch from Ron Senkowski about a group of male college students competing for the affections of the president’s daughter. Nothing else is known about the project, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that Variety calls the daughter character a “comely lass.”
The High-Concept Comedies
The bread and butter of Revolution’s development slate seems to have been awful-sounding comedies, there’s more of them here than any other kind of movie and I’m still leaving many out.
Most of the movies here never went past “sentence written on a cocktail napkin”, but Revolution tried very hard to get In the Pink off the ground. In the Pink would star Tim Allen as a “Texas playboy” who’s laid off from his lucrative corporate job and takes a job as a Mary Kay cosmetics salesman, in the process “uncovering the secret to understanding women” and becoming “the top cosmetics seller in the nation.” The pitch, from SNL producer Ryan Shiraki, was purchased by Revolution in 2001 and announced as an Allen vehicle in 2003, with Variety believing that it would begin production later that year. But there were script troubles that kept it from going in front of cameras, with Revolution hiring Sandler director Steven Brill, Full Monty writer Simon Beaufoy, and journeyman screenwriter Barry Fanaro (writer of Kingpin and 25 episodes of The Golden Girls, creator of The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer) to do a series of unsatisfactory drafts.
During the final period of rewrites on In the Pink before it was abandoned, new producers were brought on both it and Ice Breakers, a comedy about a washed-up hockey player who joins the Ice Capades. This was the second hockey comedy to enter development at Revolution, the first being an untitled Cuba Gooding Jr. vehicle from the writer of Big Momma’s House, starring Gooding as a football star whose “propensity for dirty play” somehow gets him sent to the National Hockey League. I could find nothing else about either, so I’d like to share the similarly nonexistent future projects the Variety article lists Big Momma’s House writer Darryl Quarles as having in development: a Chris Tucker vehicle called Guess Who’s President? (I bet it’s Chris Tucker), an Ice Cube vehicle called Stray Dawgz (where Cube plays a parolee who discovers he’s part of his family’s long line of werewolf hunters), and a Martin Lawrence-starring remake of Blake Edwards’ 10 called The Bomb.
There’s no movie here whose (almost-)existence I find funnier than Gay Secret Agent (even the laziness of the title is funny, why not do the bare minimum of extra work and call it Secret Gaygent Man?). It’s exactly what it sounds like: a “flamboyantly gay” secret agent uses his gayness to be a great spy, because, to quote producer Jennifer Todd, “he is charming and well-mannered, a great dancer and an impeccable dresser.” He would be played by Brendan Fraser, who Todd says left every producer “very impressed” after he “did the character in the room”. I can’t say this for certain, but I do think Fraser’s career would have ended earlier and much more definitively if he actually made this. Mummy nostalgia is strong but I don’t think a late-in-life comeback is in the cards after you star as Gay Secret Agent.
Speaking of lazy titles: The Lazy Private Detective was set to star Matthew Perry, hot off The Whole Nine Yards, as “the world’s laziest private detective” who’s hired to track a woman he discovers is his ex-girlfriend. If this is the extent of the premise, it doesn’t seem enough to sustain a good comedy, but it could be promising if his laziness is also forced to go against a massive criminal conspiracy. I realize that I am just describing Under the Silver Lake: would you not also be a little curious to see Matthew Perry in Under the Silver Lake?
Jessica Bendinger’s career is bookending by two much-better-than-you’d-expect teen sports comedies, Bring It On at the start of her Hollywood career and Stick It at the end. In between, she rewrote two movies about politicians’ daughters, What a Girl Wants and the aforementioned First Daughter, and got a screenplay credit on Jonathan Demme’s mad-genius The Truth About Charlie, possibly being the replacement for Demme’s original choice for writer Paul Thomas Anderson. A brief, bright career, not including Bendinger’s proposed Revolution project, Single-Gal Heaven. The problem with Single-Gal Heaven is immediately obvious from its premise, taken from a Elle magazine article: a female reporter beds five dot-com millionaires in five days. This movie was announced in June 2000, when the dot-com bubble was already showing signs of bursting; its shelf life may need to be measured in days, let alone months. Perhaps it could’ve been retooled as a reaction to the bubble burst, watching these five “self-absorbed, lonely” guys in the few prosperous moments before their lives are completely destroyed. I realize that I am just describing The Girlfriend Experience: would you not also be a little curious to see the Bring It On writer making The Girlfriend Experience?
Luke Greenfield was almost an in-house director at Revolution, making The Animal for them and soon after signing on to direct both Anger Management (Peter Segal directed it instead) and Plain White Rapper, a comedy about “a white gangsta rapper who needs the help of a conservative black Secret Service Agent to keep him alive.” The script was to be written by early Family Guy writer Ricky Blitt, who later wrote The Ringer, a movie I mostly hear in terms of being a surprisingly decent execution of a heinous premise. Maybe he could have worked similar magic here, but I don’t think I need a better-executed version of Malibu’s Most Wanted.
“Revolution Studios has dinner reservations with Roth/Arnold Prods,” writes Variety, “picking up the spec script Dinner for Two from first-time scribes Christine Scowley and Adam Kleid” (some of the Variety ledes for these announcements are really something, like Gay Secret Agent‘s being “Revolution Studios is coming out of the closet”). Dinner for Two is an adaptation of a British novel, concerning a man who becomes an advice columnist for a teen magazine and discovers that one of the teens asking for advice is his illegitimate daughter. He tries to keep this a secret from his wife, but his wife instead suspects that the two are having an affair. Neither Kleid nor Scowley went onto do much of anything after this didn’t get made, so I’ll end this capsule by saying that the “Roth” in Roth/Arnold Prods is Donna Roth, Joe Roth’s then-wife who filed for divorce the year after Revolution bought Dinner (and the year before the release of 13 Going on 30, Donna Roth’s second and final production for Revolution).
The Taxonomy of Barnacles. The Taxonomy of Barnacles was adapted from the novel of the same name, about the six daughters of an eccentric inventor named Barry Barnacle (Barry Barnacle). The Barnacle family lives in “a fabulous Fifth Avenue apartment filled with his scientific curiosities,” and Barry proposes a contest to see which of the daughters inherits his fortune (while the other five get nothing), where each daughter will try to “most spectacularly carry on his name”. A friend said that this premise “sounds like someone trying to be an asshole to Wes Anderson when they try and guess what his next movie is,” and I can’t put it better myself. I can only say The Taxonomy of Barnacles again.
Alien Baby Project. Alien Baby Project was an idea borne from the production company of legendary effects artist Stan Winston, who would presumably design the titular alien baby. The premise of Alien Baby Project was that a family adopts an alien baby, then discover when it hits puberty that it wants to enter the world of professional wrestling. Sure.
I would not include this next one if not for one of its writers. It’s called Exorcism for Dummies, and it’s about a slacker posing as an exorcist who discovers that he actually is a real exorcist, and thus “must recapture the nasty spirits he has accidentally unleashed on the world.” That could be a passable Comedy Central watch. The script is written by Brian Stampnitsky, Charley Stickney, and Susanna Hoffs. Susanna Hoffs has, to the best of my knowledge, never again attempted a screenplay, even though she’s close to the film business being married to Jay Roach. The Variety article announcing Exorcism for Dummies weirdly lists her as “Susanna Hoffs Roach”, a name she doesn’t appear to have taken at any point during their three decades of marriage.
There are some pitches that now only exist as fragments of Variety articles, their incompleteness matched only by their worthlessness. One is Meet Mr. Id, from the team of Mike Bernier and Chris Pappas (together they created the extremely short-lived, Farrelly brothers-produced Fox sitcom Unhitched, but Bernier stopped writing and Pappas now writes on The Righteous Gemstones). The only thing I can tell you about Meet Mr. Id is that it’s a story of a man and “his invisible, 3-foot-tall libido”, hellbent on keeping the man single.
The second such fragment is even more cursed than Meet Mr. Id. It’s called Switcheroo, and according to a script sale notice in Screenwriters Utopia it’s based on an original idea from Revolution production head Todd Garner. That idea? As printed in the Variety fragment, “a white research assistant and a black janitor who switch bodies to discover what it means…” I’ve never been more menaced by the possibilities left open by an ellipsis.
What I couldn’t find through the (extremely difficult-to-search) Variety archives, I often found through weekly reports of script sales by someone who called themselves “Elston Gunn” (Elston Gunn is a pseudonym for Bob Dylan but I imagine this person is just a fan and Bob Dylan wasn’t a regular Ain’t It Cool News contributor in the early 2000s). These reports are treasure troves of interesting- or awful-sounding projects that never got off the ground and if you ever want to kill time by going down an internet rabbit hole, I can’t recommend them enough (there are a good number of them here at the aforementioned Screenwriters Utopia). Anyway, Elston Gunn is how I learned about Daddy Boot Camp, which despite its name and Revolution backing has no connection of any kind to Daddy Day Care or Daddy Day Camp (Daddy Day Camp‘s existence makes it impossible to search for any additional information on Daddy Boot Camp). Daddy Boot Camp is a pitch by Deborah Dean Davis (a TV writer whose only film credit is the Olsen twins vehicle It Takes Two), supposedly based on a real boot camp preparing men for fatherhood when their wives are pregnant. The story would center on one man going to the camp and discovering that one of his few rookies, an “older burned-out guy,” is his own father. The cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon and so on.
As they neared the end, Revolution shut down all of their projects that weren’t yet in production in 2006. One of the casualties of that shutdown was Slammer, a dark comedy about a female publicist who goes to prison and arranges a musical to be performed by the inmates. Slammer was announced in 2003 with veteran Broadway director Jack O’Brien at the helm, then in 2005 with Adam Shankman directing and Sarah Jessica Parker starring, and then once more in 2006, with Parker still attached and Camp director Todd Graff signed on. By that point it was far enough long that Revolution had hired Marc Shaiman to write the songs for the prison musical.
I will not say more about this one other than the announcement text itself: “Revolution acquired an untitled pitch by Steven Rogers about a cross-country road trip taken by an IRS auditor, his surly 13-year old son, a 75-year old woman and her guardian angel.”
The Sports Movies
The wave of John Grisham movies was mostly done when Revolution came to fruition, but that didn’t stop them from trying to bring back Grisham fever. They adapted his book Skipping Christmas to make Christmas with the Kranks, and they bought the rights to his sports novel Bleachers the year after Kranks. Bleachers is about a high school football legend returning to his small Southern hometown to pay tribute to his dying former coach. The adaptation was to be written by J. Mills Goodloe, the future writer of The Age of Adaline and one of the To All the Boys movies, but most interestingly it was going to be the directorial debut of Don Burgess, the cinematographer of several Revolution projects plus Spider-Man and most 90s-and-on Robert Zemeckis movies.
To Wally Ward came from an original pitch by Bruce Nash, a minor reality-show mogul making a movie about one of his own pieces of sports memorabilia: a baseball signed by the 1957 Brooklyn Dodgers and addressed “to Wally Ward”. “I held that ball in my hand and wondered how could Wally Ward let something that precious get away from him,” Nash said, and decided to write a story (to be finessed into a full script by Hoosiers and Rudy screenwriter Angelo Pizzo) answering his questions. He couldn’t figure out who Wally Ward was or how to contact him, but said he hoped to find Ward and “give him the ball at the premiere.” It’s not often that one’s most pathetic, poignant fantasies get printed in Variety, so this was clearly a big day for Nash.
Not even a week after Steve Bartman caught a foul ball at a Cubs game and was unfairly blamed for their subsequent loss and missing of the playoffs, Revolution had already worked up a pitch inspired by the story called Fan Interference. Kevin James was to star as the Bartman analogue. Given how much Bartman’s life was ruined by the press attention around the incident, it’s a small act of mercy this never got made.
The Directors You’ve Heard Of
I wanted to call this section The Auteur Projects, but I’m not sure I can really justify to myself calling Lawrence Kasdan an auteur. Either way, there’s not many of these (though one more will show up later), especially once Gigli makes it Revolution policy to never work with anyone with a point of view.
Speaking of Kasdan. He and Joe Roth had a relationship spanning multiple studios, with Roth greenlighting Kasdan’s race-relations dramedy Grand Canyon as chairman of 20th Century Fox and later doing the same with Kasdan’s psychology comedy Mumford as chairman of Disney. So it makes sense that Kasdan was one of the first directors to plant his flag at Revolution Studios, setting up an untitled large-scale police drama there in 2000. The film was to be about “an elite special response team of big-city cops trained to deal with the most vicious criminals and most volatile situations.” It was set to start shooting in early 2001, but it presumably fell apart sometime before then. Kasdan moved onto the greener pastures of toilet aliens instead.
Lorene Scafaria only started directing movies within the last decade (and only started getting serious attention for that with The Meddler six years ago), but she’s been working for a long time, writing plays and scripts from the start of the 2000s on. Her first produced script was Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist in 2008, but all the way back in 2002 she sold a script (cowritten by her then-roommate Bryan Sipe) called Legend Has It to Revolution. Legend Has It was to be a children’s adventure story in the vein of The Neverending Story and The Goonies, about “a group of kids who must band together to save imagination from sinister forces.” Maybe it’s just the broad-strokes description that makes it sound like Stranger Things horseshit and the actual script was more specific, but I’m not hopeful. Unlike almost all these other projects, we actually have an account of what went down with Legend Has It thanks to a 2005 interview with Scafaria. Scafaria struggled to get any attention for her scripts in her early days and admits that she and Sipe wrote Legend Has It as a way to “sell-out as quickly as possible,” making a kids movie because Spy Kids and the first Harry Potter were making lots of money at the time. It sounds like she and Sipe had a fun time writing the script initially, but they weren’t happy when Revolution suggested changes that narrowed the main characters from five “rag-tag kids” down to three and replaced the two missing kids with CGI monsters. They did a page-one rewrite that incorporated the notes but it still ended up on a shelf until Revolution’s eighteen-month option on their script expired.
Before Michael Bay officially became the Michael Bay we all know and some love, he went through a bit of an identity crisis in the period between Armageddon and Transformers. He conceded to prestige filmmaking with Pearl Harbor (the movie that got Joe Roth fired and led to Revolution’s existence in the first place) and circled a few other similarly awardsy projects, first Africa, a biopic about conservationist Richard Leakey for Universal (later almost made with Angelina Jolie directing Brad Pitt), and then Do Not Go Gentle for Revolution as a potential Bad Boys II follow-up. This script, about an old man who decides to fulfill a lifelong dream of going to space, had been circling Hollywood since 1995, when it was set up at Warner Bros. with Sean Connery in the lead and enemy of the human race Rob Cohen directing. The chatter at the time was that this would also be a trial run for nascent digital de-aging technology, allowing Connery to play the character in flashbacks to him in his 30s. I cannot find any information on if Connery was sticking around for Bay’s version, or if Bay would also use de-aging tech for his lead. Ultimately he made The Island instead and almost torpedoed his career in the process.
James Cameron said he was going to develop a lot of projects in the window between Titanic and Avatar that he did not end up developing. One of those projects was a odd thing called The Hanging Tale, about a man telling the story of his quest for Spanish treasures to the audience awaiting his execution. A rare project for Cameron’s Lightstorm Entertainment to not be produced at Fox, it came to Revolution seemingly at the behest of Todd Garner, who even contributes a summarizing quote in the Variety article: “I would describe it as ‘Princess Bride’ meets the tales told by Scheherazade.”
The True Stories
In 2000, while the world was concerned with a much bigger election, sixth-grade Reno school teacher Tierney Cahill ran for Nevada’s 2nd Congressional District seat, a challenge set by her students to prove that you don’t need to be a millionaire to run for office. She ultimately lost to the Republican incumbent, but she won the Democratic primary and got 35% of the popular vote in the final election, all while her students were the ones running her campaign. This seems more like the premise of a treacly feel-good dramedy than actual events, so it’s no wonder Revolution, in the lead-up to the 2004 election, bought the pitch for a movie on it, called Class Act. It was to be written by Eric Elfman and Neal Shusterman, two children’s book authors who at the time were rewriting an aborted Walden Media adaptation of Shakespeare’s As You Like It.
Here’s an alternate reality to think about for a bit: what if, as was announced, Bruce Willis and Revolution made a movie about the Robert Durst murders in 2002? Does The Millionaire Fugitive, starring Willis as Durst and centering around the efforts of the friend of one of his victims to bring him to justice, move the needle on public opinion of Durst more than All Good Things, the eventual Ryan Gosling version of this story? Maybe, but I can’t imagine it has anywhere near the legal effect on Durst’s case that The Jinx ultimately did.
The Salvaged Projects
Not many promised Revolution projects ended up getting made but a lucky few made it to other studios, both before and after Revolution’s collapse:
The only rejected Revolution movie to actually be made by them and dumped after it was completed (at least as reported), Lil’ Pimp was to be Revolution’s first animated project and the first movie to be animated entirely in Flash. It concerned a 9-year-old boy who becomes friends with a pimp named “Fruit Juice” (voiced by Bernie Mac), his only other friend being his foul-mouthed gerbil. Its voice cast included Ludacris, Lil’ Kim, Jennifer Tilly, Willian Shatner, and Carmen Electra, a cast befitting its eventual direct-to-DVD release. But this was originally intended to go to theaters, before Sony held test screenings that were apparently bad enough to get them to drop it entirely. It was then picked up by Lionsgate and released on DVD in 2005.
The same year as Lil’ Pimp, another Revolution reject hit theaters: the Bruce Willis vehicle Hostage, where Willis is a hostage negotiator forced to choose between saving his own family and saving a family he does not know. It was set up at Revolution (after already being in turnaround at MGM) to be directed by Gangster No. 1 director Paul McGuigan, but the rights were sold to Miramax, who made it with unknown French director Florent Emilio Siri. Willis still apparently wanted to work with McGuigan, though, and they made Lucky Number Slevin together the year after Hostage.
I’ve yet to find a good account of what exactly happened with Wind Chill, the psychological thriller from Soderbergh’s right-hand man (not to be confused with his Right-Hand Man) Gregory Jacobs. It was not only announced as a Revolution project (a coproduction with Soderbergh and George Clooney’s Section Eight), it was seemingly shot that way until it was (barely) released in 2007, credited to TriStar and with all mentions of Revolution scrubbed. My guess is that Revolution sold it off as part of their post-shutdown belt-tightening, though I don’t know if that was during/shortly before production or after it was completed and they could see that it would probably be an F Cinemascore in the making. Wind Chill is not awful but it is so turgid and unsatisfying as a genre piece that I imagine it would piss a lot of the audience off, especially when the main things that are good about it are also completely divorced from the spooky-ghost-story angle of it. It’s half a bad horror movie preceded by half a really good slow-burn thriller about being stuck in a car with an asshole guy. Though that still makes it a much more interesting flavor of not-good than most of what Revolution had to offer.
I’ve talked before about the great unmade Joe Roth project: Willie, an inspirational sports movie with Ice Cube as a junior high school janitor who became the school’s basketball coach. But I did not know at the time that there’s been a recent attempt to make Willie, this time by Sony’s Christian-film wing Affirm Films (I can’t find any information on who wrote the original draft of Willie, but this version is cowritten by Remember the Titans scribe Gregory Allen Howard). It’s been retitled Rise and was announced to star Sterling K. Brown in the Ice Cube part, but I don’t think anything’s come of it. Wikipedia claims it shot in May 2019 and has just been delayed because of COVID, but cites no sources beyond the initial announcements of its existence. IMDb, meanwhile, claims it’s being released this June, but also says it’s only in pre-production and doesn’t even list Brown as its star.
In 2009, having not made a movie of any kind in the previous five years, Nia Vardalos returned to screens with two star vehicles. My Life in Ruins was an ordinary flop but I Hate Valentine’s Day, Vardalos’ directorial debut, was a disaster, grossing $11,000 total in the U.S. I Hate Valentine’s Day was first announced before My Big Fat Greek Wedding even came out, with Revolution buying the original script from Stephen Falick and Ben Zook in 2001. The project was still at Revolution as of 2006, when it was announced that Vardalos would star in and rewrite it (it was announced at the same time as Vardalos writing the script to become Larry Crowne, then titled Talk of the Town). Vardalos was clearly passionate about this script but no one else was, the project ultimately getting made for Greek Wedding distributor IFC for an even smaller budget than they afforded Greek Wedding. The beyond-perfunctory three-theater opening weekend (followed by a two-theater second weekend) is telling of how much IFC cared about this beyond as a favor to their former cash cow. Revolution probably also wouldn’t have cared very much, but at least they probably would’ve gotten it above the million-dollar mark.
Life as We Know It was a spec script by Ian Deichman and Kristin Rusk Robinson, concerning two single adults forced to take on parental responsibilities after they’re named the caregivers of their deceased best friends’ daughter. It was bought by Revolution in 2001, who let it go to Fox in 2002, and nothing happened with it until 2009, when it landed at Warner Bros. They made it as a Katherine Heigl and Josh Duhamel comedy, directed by future CW powerhouse Greg Berlanti. Deichman and Robinson still retained sole writing credits on it, though revisions were definitely made for the final version, whether by them or by uncredited writers; my main memory of this movie (which wasn’t well-liked but crossed $100 million) is its big trailer line, where Heigl and Duhamel are changing their new child’s dirty diaper and Duhamel says “It’s like Slumdog Millionaire in there!”.
And now we end what would have been maybe Revolution’s best-ever project (certainly its best in the non-Punch-Drunk Love division) if it had stayed there: Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mr. Fox. Anderson going to Revolution with this makes sense when you consider that Joe Roth was one of his earliest champions, getting Rushmore made at Touchstone. But as has (hopefully) been established by this series so far, Joe Roth at Disney is very different than Joe Roth at Revolution, and I’d worry about this turning into a clustercuss of executive interference like Revolution’s experience with Julie Taymor (more on that TK in the 2007 article). Adding to the likelihood of a final-cut battle was the involvement of Henry Selick, originally announced to be Anderson’s animation director, who was only three years off from the too-many-cooks-in-the-kitchen nightmare of making Monkeybone when Fox was first announced. But we needn’t worry about hypotheticals when this story has multiple happy endings. When Revolution cratered, Fox Animation picked up the rights and made Fox as the wonderful, wholly Wes Anderson movie that it is. And when Selick left the project, he did so to make Coraline instead. This is the good luck afforded to filmmakers who don’t make movies for Revolution.