List of unproduced films based on DC Comics imprints

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This is a List of unproduced projects based on DC Comics imprints. Some of these productions were, or still are, in development hell. Films that have not provided significant production announcements within at least a year, would be considered in development limbo until further announcements are released. All of the unproduced films are based on DC Comics imprints (Vertigo, WildStorm, Mad)

List[edit]

Fables[edit]

Fables TV series[edit]

A television series based on Fables was put into development by NBC in 2005 for the 2006–2007 Television Season. The show received a script order and was developed by Craig Silverstein and Warner Bros. Television[1] but was not developed any further than the scripting stage. NBC would later go on to produce Grimm, a police procedural set in a world where fairytales are real.[2][3]

On December 8, 2008 it was announced that ABC had picked up the rights to develop a pilot of Fables for the 2009–2010 television season. Six Degrees creators and executive producers Stu Zicherman and Raven Metzner was writing the script for the hour-long drama, again set up at Warner Brothers Television, while David Semel came on board to direct.[4][5] However, in December 2010, Willingham said, in an interview with Io9, that the ABC show is "probably dead", though he also admits to being "out of the loop".[6]

Fables film[edit]

In 2015, it was announced that Warner Bros. was developing a live action Fables film with David Heyman and Jeffrey Clifford producing, Jeremy Slater and Jane Goldman writing and Nikolaj Arcel directing.[7][8][9] Since then, there has been no further announcements.

Fables Video game[edit]

On February 17, 2011, Telltale Games announced The Wolf Among Us,[10] an episodic graphic adventure game based upon Fables. With the first of its five episodes released on October 11, 2013 (and the final episode released on July 8, 2014), the game is canon with the comic book universe and is set as a prequel to the comic book.[11] In July 2017 Telltale Games announced that a second season of The Wolf Among Us was in production, and was planned to be released sometime in 2018.[12] However, it was announced in May 2018 that the game was delayed and was rescheduled for release in 2019[13] before ultimately being cancelled in September 2018 following the studio's closure.[14]

The Books of Magic film[edit]

A film version of The Books of Magic has been in development hell for many years. It was originally optioned by Warner Bros. for some years before the first Harry Potter book was published,[15] with Neil Gaiman signing on as executive producer in 1998.[16] After several years of drafting and redrafting, the script moved so far from the original concept that Gaiman and Paul Levitz advised the filmmakers that any audience seeing it expecting a film based on the comic would be disappointed, and decided to develop the movie themselves. They worked with screenwriter Matt Greenberg, who had written early drafts of the original script, to come up with some closer to the original story, but nothing came from this.[17]

Astro City[edit]

Astro City film[edit]

In 2003, Ben Barenholtz, Jonathan Alpers and Kurt Busiek hoped to develop an Astro City film, with Barenholtz as producer and Alpers as lead scripter, but the plans did not take off,[18] whereupon Barenholtz subsequently took the project to Working Title Films.[19] In July 2010, it was announced that Working Title had acquired the rights to make a live-action feature film adaptation of Astro City.[19][20] Busiek was to write a script treatment, and also to executive-produce, along with Barenholtz and Alpers.[20] On May 10, 2013 Kurt Busiek reported that Working Title's option had lapsed but he was in negotiation with another party.[21]

Astro City TV series[edit]

In March 2018, FremantleMedia North America announced a live-action Astro City TV series with a pilot episode written by Busiek and Rick Alexander.[22][23] There have been no developments since.

The American Way film[edit]

In 2018, John Ridley is working with Blumhouse Productions to adapt his comic into a film and direct.[24] There has been no further development since.

Codename: Knockout film[edit]

In 2001, Codename: Knockout artist Louis Small, Jr. reported that Warner Bros. had picked up the option to adapt the comic series into a film, and commissioned a script, but nothing coming out of this.[25]

Y: The Last Man film[edit]

The film rights to the Y: The Last Man series were acquired by New Line Cinema (a sister company to Vertigo), and in July 2007 screenwriter Carl Ellsworth and director D. J. Caruso were attached to the project with David S. Goyer as a producer.[26] Caruso intended on finishing the script in the summer and filming during the fall of 2008. The script would be a rewrite of the original draft written by Jeff Vintar. Although Vintar's draft was faithful to the original comic book and considered by many to be a success, the higher-ups at New Line Cinema seemed unable to fully embrace the material. A subsequent draft by Vaughan himself, which departed from his own comic considerably, was even less successful in convincing the studio to proceed.[27]

Caruso maintained that the source material was too much to be told in one film and his team decided to concentrate on the best first film they could, which would end somewhere around issue 14 of the comic series. The entire comic series as a whole would be plotted into three films.[28] Actor Shia LaBeouf, who has worked with these writers for the films Disturbia and Eagle Eye, has previously stated that he is unwilling to play the role of Yorick. According to LaBeouf, the role is far too similar to the character Sam Witwicky, which he portrays in the Transformers series.[29] In an interview conducted by collider.com, LaBeouf stated that there is still a chance that he would be starring.[30] Caruso planned to use a real monkey, and not a CGI construct, to play Ampersand.[27] Caruso also said he would like to have Alicia Keys for the part of Agent 355.[31] Zachary Levi, who plays the lead in the TV series Chuck, has expressed interest in playing Yorick as he is a fan of the comic book series, even going as far as having his character Chuck Bartowski read the Y: The Last Man graphic novel in the episode "Chuck Versus the Nacho Sampler".

Caruso remained "loosely attached" to the project, but New Line refused to acquiesce on its development as a stand-alone film as opposed to the trilogy Caruso (who has since moved on to direct the science fiction film I Am Number Four) preferred.[32] Caruso, maintaining "I didn't think that you could take Yorick's story and put it in to a two-hour movie and do it justice... I just feel like it's too much for one screenplay," ultimately walked away from the project.[33]

In March 2012, former Jericho writers Matthew Federman and Stephen Scaia entered final negotiations to write New Line's adaptation of the series, following in the footsteps of Vintar, Vaughan, and Ellsworth. J.C. Spink, Chris Bender and David Goyer were attached to produce; Mason Novick and Jake Weiner are executive producers.[34] Reports in September 2012 suggested New Line was enthusiastic about the draft screenplay produced by Federman and Scaia, and had begun the process of meeting potential directors to hire for the project.[35]

In January 2013, it was announced that Dan Trachtenberg will direct the film.[36] In June 2013, producer David Goyer announced having "a script that’s as close as it’s ever been," and suggested the film could go into production in 2014.[37] However, in January 2014, Brian K. Vaughan stated "It's my understanding that the rights to Y: The Last Man will revert to co-creator Pia Guerra and me for the first time in a decade if the planned New Line adaptation doesn't start shooting in the next few months."[38] On September 24, Trachtenberg tweeted that the film was "Not happening. But it's in trusted hands (the creators)."[39] In a subsequent interview he noted that in fact, "The rights reverted back to Brian quite a few months ago."[40]

We3 film[edit]

New Line Cinema announced in June 2005 that it had optioned We3, with that comic's writer, Grant Morrison, then in negotiations to write the screenplay.[41][42] On December 9, 2008, it was reported that John Stevenson, director of Kung Fu Panda was attached to the project as a director, and that New Line Cinema was no longer involved.[43] As of November 2010, the status of the film is that Morrison has written the script, but the project appears to have stalled, partially due to concerns over the level of violence. Morrison said in an interview that "Relativity Pictures keeps saying they're doing it, and they still haven't done it", and that he cannot say anything more as it stands.[44]

FBP: Federal Bureau of Physics film[edit]

In April 2014, Deadline announced the production of a movie adaptation of Vertigo's FBP: Federal Bureau of Physics. Justin Marks and David Goyer will be reuniting for the production of the film, with Nellie Reed producing.[45] Since then, there has been no more announcements.

Early attempt of DMZ TV series[edit]

In February 2014 it was announced that Syfy is planning on making a TV series adaptation of the DMZ comics with former Mad Men writers and executive producers Andre and Maria Jacquemetton.[46] Executive producer for the pilot is David Heyman, who previously worked on Harry Potter, Gravity and is working on the film adaptation of the Vertigo comic series Fables.[47] In October 2019, Ava DuVernay was announced as a producer of the HBO Max iteration of the series, with DuVernay directing the pilot and Roberto Patino as writer and showrunner.[48]

Amped/Jacked TV series[edit]

In April 2015, it was announced that Supernatural creator Eric Kripke is writing the comic book series called Amped (later retitled Jacked) for DC and Vertigo to be released in fall 2015. In the same time it was announced that USA Network are developing a TV adaptation of the comic book series.[49] Kripke will serve as both writer and executive producer of the show. The series will be co-produced by Kripke Enterprises and Warner Horizon Television.[50] No production news has followed since.

The Exterminators TV series[edit]

In July 2008, Showtime announced that it would develop the Vertigo series The Exterminators as a one-hour drama. The comic was created by writer Simon Oliver and artist Tony Moore. Executive producer Sara Colleton's credits include the Showtime hit drama Dexter.[51] However, in February 2011, Oliver revealed in an interview that the project is currently in limbo.[52]

Scalped TV series[edit]

In 2014 it was reported that WGN America was developing a live action TV show based on the Vertigo comic book series Scalped.[53] The pilot order was given on March 7, 2016.[54] In February 2017, Bilall Fallah and Adil El Arbi began directing the pilot,[55] but in November, after WGN saw the pilot episode, they decided to abandon the series.[56]

100 Bullets[edit]

100 Bullets TV series[edit]

In June 23, 2011, IGN reported that David S. Goyer, co-writer of Dark City and The Dark Knight, was attached to executive produce and write a TV series based on 100 Bullets for Showtime.[57] However, in a June 2013 interview with Ain't It Cool News, Goyer stated that the project got "incredibly close" at Showtime before being turned down due to a multitude of mass shootings across the United States. He called the sudden turn of events "frustrating", further stating, "At one point, I thought it was going to happen at Showtime. It got to the three-yard line."[58]

100 Bullets film[edit]

On April 28, 2014, SciFiNow reported The Wall Street Journal's release of information regarding upcoming Warner Brothers films based on DC Comics properties. The films that were revealed to be in development included the much anticipated Justice League film; Shazam!, Fables, and 100 Bullets were among the other films listed, and are currently in varying stages of production.[59][60] In August 2015, it was announced that a film adaptation is being produced by Tom Hardy with the option for him to star in the film. It was to be written by Chris Borrelli and distributed by New Line Cinema.[61][62]

The Sandman film[edit]

Throughout the late 1990s, a film adaptation of The Sandman was periodically planned by Warner Bros., parent company of DC Comics. Roger Avary was originally attached to direct after the success of Pulp Fiction, collaborating with Pirates of the Caribbean screenwriters Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio in 1996 on a revision of their first script draft, which merged the "Preludes and Nocturnes" storyline with that of "The Doll's House." Avary intended the film to be in part visually inspired by animator Jan Švankmajer's work. Avary was fired after disagreements over the creative direction with executive producer Jon Peters, best known for Batman and Superman Lives. It was due to their meeting on the Sandman film project that Avary and Gaiman collaborated one year later on the script for Beowulf. The project carried on through several more writers and scripts. A later draft by William Farmer, reviewed at Ain't It Cool News,[63] was met with scorn from fans. Gaiman called the last screenplay that Warner Bros. would send him "not only the worst Sandman script I've ever seen, but quite easily the worst script I've ever read."[64] Gaiman has said that his dissatisfaction with how his characters were being treated had dissuaded him from writing any more stories involving the Endless, although he has since written Endless Nights.

By 2001, the project had become stranded in development hell. In a Q&A panel at Comic-Con 2007, Gaiman remarked, "I'd rather see no Sandman movie made than a bad Sandman movie. But I feel like the time for a Sandman movie is coming soon. We need someone who has the same obsession with the source material as Peter Jackson had with Lord of the Rings or Sam Raimi had with Spider-Man."[65] That same year, he stated that he could imagine Terry Gilliam as a director for the adaptation: "I would always give anything to Terry Gilliam, forever, so if Terry Gilliam ever wants to do Sandman then as far as I'm concerned Terry Gilliam should do Sandman."[66] In 2013, DC President Diane Nelson said that a Sandman film would be as rich as the Harry Potter universe.[67] David S. Goyer announced in an interview in early December that he would be producing an adaptation of the graphic novel, alongside Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Neil Gaiman. Jack Thorne was hired to write the script.[68] On October 16, 2014, Gaiman clarified that while the film was not announced with the DC slate by Warner Bros., it would instead be distributed by Vertigo and announced with those slate of films.[69] Goyer told Deadline Hollywood in an interview that the studio was very happy with the film's script.[70] According to Deadline.com, the film was to be distributed by New Line Cinema.[71] In October 2015, Goyer revealed that a new screenwriter was being brought on board to revise the script by Jack Thorne and stated that he believed the film would go into production the following year.[72] In March 2016, The Hollywood Reporter revealed that Eric Heisserer was hired to rewrite the film's script.[73] The next day, Gordon-Levitt announced that he had dropped out due to disagreements with the studio over the creative direction of the film.[74][75] On November 9, 2016, i09 reported that Heisserer had turned in his draft of the script but left the film, stating that the film should be an HBO series instead.[76]

HBO's Preacher TV series[edit]

HBO announced in November 2006 it was adapting Preacher as a one-hour television series, with a pilot episode written by Mark Steven Johnson and directed by Howard Deutch.[77] However, in August 2008, series executive producer Mark Steven Johnson announced that the Preacher project was "dead at HBO."[78] Later it was announced that AMC bought the rights for a TV adaptation developed by Sam Catlin, Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogen and Neal H. Moritz.

Transmetropolitan film[edit]

Co-creators Warren Ellis and Darick Robertson were approached about making a Transmetropolitan film adaptation, with Patrick Stewart's production company Flying Freehold Productions offering to option the rights in February 2003. Later, the burgeoning Internet boom led to an offer to create an online animated film series, with Stewart providing the voice of Spider Jerusalem, but the project never fully developed. Ellis and Robertson have been rumored to have indicated that they would like to see Tim Roth play Jerusalem; however, during a panel at London's Kapow! comic convention Ellis said that there is no chance of seeing Spider Jerusalem on the big screen and Tim Roth was not discussed to play him, and explained that production costs would be too high to bring Transmetropolitan to the big screen.[79][80] In 2010, Ellis noted in his Twitter account that production discussions have ceased.[81]

Death: The High Cost of Living film[edit]

Since the late 1990s, a film based on Death: The High Cost of Living, to be called Death and Me, was under production at New Line Cinema. Neil Gaiman wrote the screenplay, and would also direct, with Guillermo del Toro as executive producer. Gaiman spent several days on the set of del Toro's film Hellboy II: The Golden Army to get pointers on how to direct.[82] Other than two additional scenes at the beginning (set in a Tibetan monastery and Alaska), and a move from New York City to London for the main setting, the screenplay was relatively unchanged from the comic script. After being in development hell for several years, work on it was renewed in 2007, but quickly derailed again due to the WGA strikes.[83] According to Gaiman, the studio "may still be New Line, but Warner Independent is keen on it too." Shia LaBeouf may have had a role in the film, possibly as the lead character Sexton, due to his help in trying to get the movie developed.[84] On October 14, 2010 it was reported in an interview with Gaiman that as of June or July, DC and Warner Bros. had closed down work on the film and it was unclear if they would start it up again.[85]

V for Vendetta TV series[edit]

In October 2017, it was announced that Channel 4 was developing a television series based on V for Vendetta.[86] Since then, there has been no further announcements, falling in development hell.

Unfollow TV series[edit]

In November 2015, it was announced that ABC was developing a television project based on the Unfollow comic series from The Originals showrunner Michael Narducci.[87] Since then, there has been no further announcements.

Survivors Club TV series[edit]

In November 2018, it was announced that The CW was developing a television project based on the Survivors Club comic series from Sweet/Vicious writer Jared Frieder and Hart of Dixie producer Len Goldstein.[88] Since then, there has been no further announcements.

Ex Machina film[edit]

On July 14, 2005, New Line Cinema announced that they picked up the rights to make a film based on the Ex Machina comic book series.[89] On August 17, 2012, Tony Harris stated that he and Brian K. Vaughan had reacquired the rights to the film adaptation.[90] Since then, they have since yet to do anything with the film.

League of Extraordinary Gentlemen[edit]

League of Extraordinary Gentlemen reboot[edit]

The Tracking Board reported on May 26, 2015, that 20th Century Fox and Davis Entertainment had agreed to develop a reboot with hopes of launching a franchise. The report stated that a search was underway for a director who could help "continue to develop the reboot".[91] John Davis told Collider in an interview that the reboot will be a female-centric film.[92]

League of Extraordinary Gentlemen TV series[edit]

In 2013, it was reported that Fox was ordering a pilot for the television version of LoEG with Michael Green serving as writer and executive producer. Should the project go to series, showrunner Erwin Stoff would also executive produce. Neither Moore nor O'Neill would be producers on the series.[93] It had also been reported that the pilot episode would still be broadcast, even if Fox opted not to green-light the series.[94]

RED[edit]

RED 3[edit]

In May 2013, Lionsgate re-signed Jon and Erich Hoeber to write a third film to the RED series.[95] Since then, there has been no further announcements.

RED TV series[edit]

NBC was developing a RED TV series with the Hoeber brothers, Lorenzo di Bonaventura and Mark Vahradian.[96] There have been no new production announcements since.

Global Frequency TV series[edit]

Mark Burnett prepared a Global Frequency television series for 2005 with Michelle Forbes as Miranda Zero, Josh Hopkins as Sean Flynn, Jenni Baird as Dr. Katrina Finch and Aimee Garcia as Aleph. The characters of Sean Flynn, an ex-policeman who accidentally stumbled on a Global Frequency mission, and Katrina Finch, a brilliant scientist with expertise in multiple fields, were created especially for the series. Unlike the comic book, which had an ever-changing cast of field agents, Flynn and Finch were to be regulars along with Zero and Aleph, with other Frequency members coming in as and when necessary in supporting roles. This would allow for the character continuity expected of a television series and yet allow other characters to be killed off as in the comic book. A pilot episode, based heavily on the first issue of the comic book, was produced, but The WB (the original intended network) did not commission the series. John Rogers was the principal creative force behind the television incarnation, writing the pilot episode, with Ellis credited as producer and creator. Other writers waiting to come on board included David Slack, Ben Edlund and Diego Gutierrez. The pilot was directed by Nelson McCormick. The unaired pilot was leaked onto the Internet in June 2005 and continues to be downloaded and shared, primarily via BitTorrent and other P2P networks.[97] Although it was popular and critically acclaimed, according to Ellis himself the leaking of the pilot annoyed Warner Brothers to the extent that they killed the project.[98] In November 2009, Production Weekly's Twitter feed revealed that a new television adaptation of Global Frequency was being worked on by The CW Television Network and writer Scott Nimerfro.[99] In November 2014, it was announced that Fox was producing a new Global Frequency pilot, produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and written by Rockne S. O'Bannon.[100] In February 2015, bleedingcool.com revealed that Fox will not order the pilot for Global Frequency due to problems with the script.[101]

Battle Chasers film[edit]

In March 2003, Twentieth Century Fox has optioned feature rights to Battle Chasers with Gil Netter attached as a producer.[102] There has been no further news since.

The Boys film[edit]

Variety reported in February 2008 that Columbia Pictures had optioned the comic for a film adaptation, to be produced by Neal H. Moritz,[103] and Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi writing the screenplay.[104] In August 2010, Adam McKay said that he had been signed on to direct the film. McKay added, "They already have a script and we're doing a rewrite on it so hopefully getting the whole thing into shape in the Fall with maybe a shoot happening in January."[105] Columbia Pictures reported in February 2012 that it had dropped its option regarding a film adaptation of The Boys.[106] However, Adam McKay said in a Twitter response that Paramount Pictures had picked it up, and that it was still in the works.[107] On April 30, 2013, Manfredi and Hay were hired by Paramount to write the film,[108] though the project never came to fruition. Later it was announced that Amazon Prime bought the rights for a TV adaptation developed by Eric Kripke, Evan Goldberg, and Seth Rogen.

Darkchylde film[edit]

In August 2007, Randy Queen, creator of the comic book character Darkchylde, revealed to Newsarama that a movie is in the works. In an interview with Nicholas Yanes from scifipulse.net, Queen was asked and responded to a question about a film/television adaptation of Darkchylde: "Yanes: For years now there have been rumors of Darkchylde being turned into an animated series, miniseries for a cable network and movie. Are you able to comment on Darkchylde’s potential future on in television and film? Any actresses you’d love to play Ariel? Queen: A movie makes so much sense it’s ridiculous, and all I can say is that we are working on it. I know that’s a frustrating answer for fans, but it’s a frustrating process. It’s probably best for me not to comment on actresses, so we’ll just all have to wait and see."[109] Test footage from the set of Darkchylde emerged in July 2010[110] and on October 31, 2010, it was announced John Carpenter was to direct.[111] Since then, there has not been any further announcements, falling into development hell.

Sleeper film[edit]

In August 2008, Tom Cruise and Sam Raimi were in the process of creating a movie adaptation of Sleeper with Warner Bros., in which Cruise may have starred[112] and Brad Inglesby writing the screenplay, but this rumor went cold. In November 2013, the magazine Variety reported that Matt Damon, Ben Affleck and Jennifer Todd would produce the film and Shawn Ryan and David Wiener to pen the film.[113] Since then, there has not been any further announcements, falling into development hell.

Ocean film[edit]

In 2007, the comic had been optioned by Gianni Nunnari and Nick Wechsler, who have history with films based on comics, the former produced 300 and the duo were slated to produce the film based on Ronin.[114] Ryan Condal, writer of the spec script Galahad, had been approached by Warner Brothers to produce a screenplay for them.[115] Since then, there has been no further announcements.

Mad animated series attempts[edit]

A 1974 Mad animated television pilot using selected material from the magazine was commissioned by ABC but the network decided to not broadcast it. Dick DeBartolo noted, "Nobody wanted to sponsor a show that made fun of products that were advertised on TV, like car manufacturers." The program was instead created into a TV special, and is available for online viewing.[116]

In the mid-1980s, Hanna-Barbera developed another potential Mad animated television series that was never broadcast.[117]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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