A couple of years.
That’s how long Bob Iger, according to his investors call earlier this week, thinks it will take for Disney to inject its cinematic pixie dust into 20th Century Fox and turn the studio into a hit-making machine, streaming service content farm or, more likely, both. It’s going to take years for that to happen because film development is a notoriously slow process and Disney reportedly inherited 246 Fox projects in some stage of development. That robust development slate is being pared down into only a half dozen or so projects which are sure to see the finish line:
Before Iger can get the studio working on genuine, from beginning to end Disney/Fox productions his underlings have to first work through all of the inherited projects and give their thumbs up or thumbs down assessments. According to ComicBook.com, there are some big name productions which have been sorted into the thumbs down pile.
- Assassin’s Creed 2
- Chronicle 2
- A Die Hard prequel
- Flash Gordon
- Hitman 3
- League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
- Magic: The Gathering
- Play Doh
Plus, two notable horror projects have been scrapped – an adaptation of Stephen King’s short story “The Boogeyman” and a Killer Klowns from Outer Space sequel, Return of the Killer Klowns from Outer Space in 3D. The former was to be handled by A Quiet Place’s Scott Beck and Bryan Woods; the latter has apparently already landed at the NBCUniversal-owned SyFy network and hadn’t officially been cleared from Fox’s docket yet.
In truth, there’s a fair bit of housecleaning going on here, clearing out projects which had stalled at the script stage, like Play Doh, if they ever even got that far. Like Return of the Killer Klowns from Outer Space in 3D, Assassins Creed 2, Chronicle 2, Hitman 3, and League of Extraordinary Gentlemen – three sequels of dubious merit and one questionable reboot disowned by Alan Moore – were all but dead at Fox anyway.
The Die Hard prequel, which was to star Bruce Willis as a 60-year-old John McClaine investigating a case which somehow links back to his younger days thus allowing a younger actor to play him in extensive flashbacks, hadn’t been heard from since last September. Flash Gordon was being explored as an animated project for Taika Waiti, but he’s ever so busy now with other Disney projects. Magic: The Gathering was going to be a live-action production but now that Disney/Fox cut it loose it has morphed into an anime project for Netflix. The Russo Brothers are attached.
Megaman, set to be a live-action take on the longtime franchise, was just announced last October. It exits Fox right as Detective Pikachu set a new domestic high for a direct video game adaptations. Add to that Jumanji’s ongoing success with poking at video game tropes and you’d imagine there might be another rush of video game movies on the way, thus making Megaman the right project at the right moment. Not so much, apparently. I guess the same also goes for Assassin’s Creed 2 and Hitman 3, but those are video game projects set to follow movies which had underperformed. Megaman didn’t even get that far. After Prince of Persia, Disney just might have decided internally that video game movies are always a bad bet.
What’s notable about this list of canceled or at least “put in turnaround” projects is there isn’t a single original concept in the entire bunch. Fitting with the trends of the day, it’s just one IP after another along with an attempt to capitalize on the renewed interest in the Stephen King brand. IP, you’d think, is exactly what Disney wants more than anything, but it has to be the right IP.
I can hardly fault the studio for bailing on most of these projects. Assassin’s Creed, for example, grossed less than $60m domestic and didn’t exactly set the international market on fire. After that, a sequel always seemed like a pipe dream. Chronicle 2 probably missed its window and certainly doesn’t feel like the type of project to support considering the sexual assault allegations leveled against the film’s screenwriter, Max Landis.
But I am a bit surprised to see McLane dead and Megaman abandoned. Has Disney decided the Die Hard franchise has been devalued by too many cash grab sequels and Bruce Willis’ ongoing run of phoned-in direct to video efforts? Or does it just envision a different Die Hard continuation than McLane?
What about you? What about this list stands out the most to you? Which canceled project, if any, are you most bummed about? And which ones could you not give two flips about? Let me know in the comments.