Looking at unmade science fiction, fantasy, horror and superhero films, television shows and episodes.
Tim Burton and Nicholas Cage were paid not to make a Superman film.
- In the years after the failure of Superman VI: The Quest for Peace, many attempts were made to make a new Superman film, including Superman Lives a script by Kevin Smith.
- Smith suggested Batman (1989) director Tim Burton be hired. Burton didn’t like Smith’s script…
- Burton hired Wesley Strick to rewrite Smith’s script. Being replaced upset Smith (who’d rewritten Poirier’s script that the studio had been happy with) saying: “The studio was happy with what I was doing. Then Tim Burton got involved…”
- Strick didn’t understand Smith’s script (but later said it made more sense after reading the comics).
- Tim Burton signed on with a $5 million pay-or-play contract, with Nicolas Cage signing on to play Superman with a $20 million pay-or-play contract.
- Art designer Sylvain Despretz said that Jon Peters brought children in to evaluate the toy potential of designs.
- Entered pre-production in June 1997 with production to begin in early 1998.
- Strick’s script had Superman as an existentialist and an outsider on Earth, who fights Lex Luthor and Brainiac – who end up amalgamated as “Lexiac.”
- After Superman is killed he is resurrected by “the power of K” a natural force representing the spirit of Krypton.
- Warner Bros rejected Strick’s script as too expensive, with an estimate for sets at $190 million.
- Dan Gilroy was brought in the rewrite the script, reducing the cost to $100 million but Warner again rejected to the script for financial reasons.
- Burton and Cage received their contracted $25 million for not making the film, with other preproduction costs, Superman Lives cost $30 million with nothing to show for it. (These cost, along with other abandoned Superman film costs would end up being counted towards the production costs of Superman Returns.)
- Burton took his $5 million and moved on to make Sleepy Hollow.
- Gilroy’s script was offered to directors Ralph Zondag, Michael Bay, Shekhar Kapur, Martin Campbell and Brett Ratner who turned it down.
- In June 1999 (with Cage still attached) William Wisher Jr was hired to write a new script. After Cage dropped out in June 2000, Oliver Stone was offered Wisher’s script to direct and Paul Attanasio was paid $1.7 million to write a new script.
- During this period Alex Ford submitted a new script titled Superman: The Man of Steel, the first film in a 7 film series and Keith Griffen pitched a 17 page treated for a Lobo vs Superman film. Griffen’s treatment was rejected, but until creative differences caused them to part ways, Alex Ford’s script was seriously considered by Warner and Peters.
- Giving up on Attanasio’s script, Warner hired JJ Abrams who wrote a new script called Superman: Flyby.