5 Fantasy Movies in Production Limbo

The Power of the Dark Crystal

The Power of the Dark CrystalIf you were a kid raised on The Muppet Show in the 1970s and early 80s, it was inevitable that you saw The Dark Crystal, Jim Henson and Brian Froud’s epic 1982 fantasy movie. Although many kids were admittedly terrified by it, there were some, like me, who loved The Dark Crystal and to this day have a special place in our hearts for movies starring puppets. So when it was announced back in 2005 that there would be a sequel, Froudian fans everywhere rejoiced, reliving our fondest Gelfling memories.

But going on four years later with very few official updates, we’re starting to get pretty apprehensive. The latest official word from The Jim Henson Company came in January 2008, assuring us the movie was “deep in development” and that they’re “committed to it as ever.” However, there has since been major plot changes, a constant turnover of directors, and little to no official promotion. I and every other fan will be shocked if this movie makes it out by 2009.

Ender’s Game

Ender's GameSomewhat of a joke amongst book nerds and science fiction fans, the Ender’s Game movie has become pretty much analogous to hell freezing over. Plagued by complications from the start, the film adaptation of Orson Scott Card’s awe-inspiring 1977 novel Ender’s Game has undergone several major screenplay rewrites, director changes, and financing issues. Indeed, screenplay rights have been abandoned by Warner Bros. and withheld from Fox as well as several major directors, whose visions Card did not agree with. Apart from the pre-production setbacks, the film must also contend with the inevitable (and expensive) problems of featuring a huge amount of special effects, sophisticated child actors, and of course, living up to all the fans’ extremely high expectations.

At the time of this writing, no studios have yet picked up the rights. But Card remains optimistic the film will find the right studio and director, and refuses to compromise his vision. That’s both good and bad news for us fans of the Enderverse, who will ultimately be rewarded with a much better quality film, but must wait a long, long time for it.

Alice

American McGee's AliceA movie based on a computer game based on Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland? Sounds convoluted, but there are plenty of fans and gamers anxiously awaiting this film adaptation of popular PC game Alice, the dark and somewhat twisted re-invention of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland from creative game designer American McGee.

Unfortunately for us fans, production on this movie has come to a grinding halt. After changes at Universal, Marcus Nispel no longer directing, and Sarah Michelle Gellar no longer playing Alice, producer Scott Faye is back to square one, and a new script is in the works. Gellar has chalked it up to being “the victim of regime change in the studio.”  But one has to wonder if this film project isn’t already overshadowed by the announcement that Tim Burton will make an eerily similar grown-up vision of Alice in Wonderland himself (naturally starring Johnny Depp is the Mad Hatter)? As a huge fan of Lewis Carroll’s original book, I’m of course excited by the prospect of either movie, but it doesn’t look as though American McGee’s version will happen anytime soon.

Artemis Fowl

Artemis FowlPoor Artemis Fowl fans.  They’ve been awaiting this movie for years now, after it was originally announced way back in 2001.  Numerous reasons are speculated to have caused the serious delay, particularly  a series of conflicts between Disney and Miramax over rights ownership.  How serious has the delay been?  Serious enough for IMDB to completely remove Artemis Fowl from its listings (go ahead, try to find it).

But supposedly the dispute has since been resolved, and author Eoin Colfer is said to have finished the movie’s script, which will be a combination of the first two books in the series.  Yet official updates on the film’s status have been few and far between at best.  Will fans have to wait until 2010 (or beyond) to see Artemis Fowl on the big screen?

The Subtle Knife

This one absolutely breaks my heart, but I’m afraid The Subtle Knife, the second book of Philip Pullman’s amazing His Dark Materials trilogy, won’t be hitting theaters anytime soon, if ever.

The Subtle Knife

When the movie adaptation of Pullman’s first book, The Golden Compass, failed to meet U.S. box office expectations despite its generally positive critical reception, studio execs effectively pulled the plug on its sequel.  Perhaps The Golden Compass’ $180 million price tag (the most expensive New Line Cinema film ever) had more to do with its failure than actual box office returns–worldwide, The Golden Compass took in over $380 million.  But New Line had already washed its hands of the U.S. commercial flop by the time its success was realized.

So where does that leave the fate of The Subtle Knife?  Despite producer Deborah Forte’s desire to continue making these films, so much time has already passed, it is difficult to imagine a sequel involving the same cast (especially child actress Dakota Blue Richards, who did an amazing job as Lyra Belaqua).  Not to mention how hard it would be to keep the production visually consistent if taken on by another studio.  That’s too bad for us fans of the books, as well as everyone who never read the book and were left feeling confused as hell by the first film’s ending.

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