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Why Forrest Gump 2 never got made

Forrest Gump was no mere blockbuster. When this Tom Hanks film hit theaters, it became a pop culture phenomenon. It was the highest-grossing film of 1994, beating out the likes of The Lion King and True Lies. When it came time for awards season, Gump cleaned house. The film picked up six Academy Awards, including Oscars for its incredible visual effects, Tom Hanks' iconic performance, and Robert Zemeckis' directing. Most notably, the film beat out Pulp Fiction and The Shawshank Redemption to win Best Picture.

Sure, these days, Tarantino's Fiction is generally considered the superior film, but back in the early '90s, Forrest Gump was just unstoppable. And while the film certainly has its haters, its impact can still be felt to this day. After all, it gave us iconic lines such as "Stupid is as stupid does," and "Life is like a box of chocolates." All these years later, the movie holds spots on both the American Film Institute's and IMDb's lists of the greatest movies ever made. This film even inspired a real-life restaurant chain, for crying out loud.

So if the movie was so successful, why wasn't there a sequel? Other Oscar winners like The Godfather, Rocky, and The Silence of the Lambs got follow-ups. And Robert Zemeckis certainly isn't averse to doing sequels. Plus, Forrest makes it to the end of the movie in one piece, and he could totally go on new adventures. On top of all that, this wasn't just an award-winning film. It was a big-time crowd-pleaser, and part two would've definitely earned stacks of cash at the box office. So what kept a potential part two from ever hitting theaters? Well, stop eating those shrimp and grab your running shoes as we find out why Forrest Gump 2 never got made.

Tom Hanks was initially reluctant

Once upon a time, Tom Hanks was best known as a comedian, starring in light-hearted fare like A League of Their Own and Sleepless in Seattle. But it was the Oscar-winning double whammy of Philadelphia and Forrest Gump that turned him into an esteemed actor and gave him serious Hollywood clout. Following those back-to-back wins, Hanks could've totally made a Gump sequel, but instead, he opted for Apollo 13. Why didn't Hanks revisit his iconic character?

Well, in 1995, Hanks said he didn't think Forrest Gump 2 was a good idea. For one, he was tired of all those Forrest catchphrases. "'Stupid is' makes me kind of sick," he told Entertainment Weekly. "It's neck and neck with, 'Life is like a box of chocolates.' I hate that one too. Everyone is sick of them!" The man was burned out by his own quotes, and he didn't want to share any more of Mama's wisdom.

But more importantly, Hanks was worried Forrest Gump 2 would hurt the legacy of the original film. As the actor explained, "I have to confess I don't see this a franchise. A sequel would ruin what we had done. It would be like Jaws 2." It wasn't that Hanks opposed sequels — the dude has been in quite a few — he was just opposed to putting on a pair of Nikes and hitting the open road for a second time. Or as the man himself put it, "I'll be saying 'box of chocolates' again about the same time that Sean Connery says, 'I'm Bond. James Bond.'"

Eric Roth writes the screenplay

While Forrest Gump might seem like a distinctly cinematic experience, the movie was actually based on a novel by Winston Groom (a book that's rather different from the film). So when it came time to adapt the story for the big screen, Paramount tapped Eric Roth to write the screenplay.

While you might not be familiar with his name, Roth is an incredibly respected writer who actually won an Oscar for his Forrest Gump script. And that's not the only highlight of his career, either. The man has nabbed Oscar nominations for writing a whole bunch of famous films: The Insider, Munich, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and A Star Is Born. Recently, he teamed up with Denis Villeneuve and Jon Spaihts to write the upcoming star-studded Dune.

And as it turns out, in between writing all these acclaimed screenplays, Roth was busy hammering out a script for a Forrest Gump sequel. For a brief moment, it looked like we might return to the world of Lt. Dan and the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company, but while Roth is a fantastic writer who's produced some spectacular stories, we're really glad Forrest Gump 2 never got off the ground... because it would've been completely insane.

Forrest Gump and the AIDS crisis

Forrest Gump is a movie that wants you to cry. Sometimes it wants happy tears, like when Lt. Dan shows up on his "magic legs." Other times, it's trying to break your heart in two, like when Mrs. Gump is on her deathbed. But the saddest scene in the entire film — the one that makes us ugly cry for days after the credits are done rolling — is when Jenny dies, leaving Forrest absolutely wrecked.

Played by Robin Wright, Jenny has lived a pretty rough life, full of sexual and physical abuse, and she eventually contracts a mysterious virus that doctors can't cure. Obviously, Jenny is one of the very first AIDS victims, and that was going to play a big role in the aborted sequel. According to Eric Roth, Jenny's son contracted AIDS from his mom, and everybody in Forrest's Florida community was going to freak out when they learned his kid was sick. As Roth explained to Consequence of Sound, people didn't want to go to class with Gump Jr. because of his disease. The screenwriter then added, "We had a funny sequence where they were [desegregating] busing in Florida at the same time, so people were angry about either the busing, or [their] kids having to go to school with the kid who had AIDS. So there was a big conflict."

So just to be clear, Forrest Gump 2 was going to take racism and the AIDS crisis and turn all that into a comedy bit. Sure, humor is subjective, but we're pretty sure this wasn't going to get any laughs. Crazier still, this was supposed to be the start of the movie. After all, nothing hooks an audience like bigotry and HIV.

Princess Diana and competitive dancing

Forrest Gump isn't a smart man, but the dude has mad skills. He's a marathon runner, a football star, a ping pong expert, and he can put away some Dr Peppers. And in Eric Roth's sequel screenplay, Forrest was going to become king of the dance floor. The Alabama boy would become a champion ballroom dancer, and after waltzing his way across America, Forrest and his dance partner would tango their way to Europe. Once they crossed the Atlantic, Forrest would meet one of the most iconic figures in English history: Princess Diana. 

Naturally, the two would then dance at a charity event in a scene that Roth describes as "quite beautiful." Of course, every famous figure that Forrest comes across meets an untimely end. According to Film School Rejects, after Diana's fatal car crash, the film would sum up her death in classic Forrest fashion, with our hero saying something like, "Some years later, that nice young Princess [died.]" Honestly, celebrities just need to stay away from this guy.

O.J. Simpson and the bloody glove

In addition to the phenomenal acting and nostalgic soundtrack, one of the big highlights of the first Forrest Gump is the visual effects. The folks at Industrial Light & Magic actually won an Oscar for their incredible work, from the floating feather to Lt. Dan's missing legs to crowds at the National Mall. But perhaps their most impressive work was putting Tom Hanks into archival footage alongside famous historical figures. During his adventures, Forrest encounters pop icons like Elvis Presley and U.S. presidents like John F. Kennedy. And screenwriter Eric Roth planned on having Forrest encounter even more famous figures across the '80s and '90s, including an iconic cameo that doesn't really fit.

Evidently, Forrest Gump was going to be very involved in the saga of O.J. Simpson. Somehow, he would be the one responsible for tossing the bloody glove found at Simpson's home in Brentwood. Stranger still, Forrest would somehow wind up in the back of Simpson's white Bronco as the football star leads the police on the slowest car chase in history. However, Simpson wouldn't know that Forrest was hiding back there, and every so often, we'd see Forrest's head pop up in the rear view mirror and look around before ducking back down. Obviously, the O.J. Simpson murder case was a huge event in the early 1990s, but does a vicious double homicide really need to be in a Tom Hanks comedy? Probably not, so it's a good thing Forrest and the Juice never got loose.

The Oklahoma City Bombing

For all its happy moments, the first Forrest Gump is ultimately a tragedy. After all, the film ends just moments after Forrest gives a tearful goodbye at Jenny's grave. Nobody was laughing while leaving the theater, and that wasn't going to change in the sequel either, as Eric Roth had no intention of letting our chocolate-loving hero have a happy ending. 

Speaking with Yahoo Entertainment, Roth explained that Forrest would actually have a new love interest in the sequel, a Native American woman he meets while riding a bus. After their meet cute, the two would fall in love, and Forrest would go on to work on a Native American reservation as a bingo caller. As for Forrest's girlfriend, she was going to be a nursery school teacher, and every day, Forrest would sit on a park bench and share a lunch break with his lady love.

Yeah, that all sounds super sweet, so you know it's about to end with some major heartbreak. See, Forrest's girlfriend wasn't teaching at any old nursery school. She was teaching at the nursery school inside the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. And in 1995, Timothy McVeigh would demolish that building with a truck full of explosives. So believe it or not, in the sequel script, Forrest's girlfriend would die in the blast. Worse still, it would happen while Forrest was sitting on that bench, waiting to have lunch with his beloved... as the building explodes right behind him. Yeah, that actually happens. We're not exactly sure what Roth was thinking, but turning a deadly terrorist attack into a third act plot twist is more than a little tasteless.

9/11 killed the screenplay

So if Eric Roth — the Oscar-winning writer of the original film — had a script ready to go, how come Forrest Gump 2 never got made? Well, after spending so much time working on his screenplay, Roth finally turned in his final draft... on September 10, 2001. The very next day, the world was turned upside down. The Twin Towers collapsed, almost 3,000 people died, and America started gearing up for war. The 9/11 terror attacks impacted the production of quite a few films — from Spider-Man to Lilo & Stitch — but it stopped the Forrest Gump sequel from even getting past the screenplay phase.

After all, the movie was supposed to end with Forrest's girlfriend dying in one of the most devastating terrorist attacks in American history. And that just wasn't going to fly in the aftermath of 9/11. Speaking with Yahoo Entertainment, Roth explained how on the day of the attacks, he met up with Robert Zemeckis and Tom Hanks — who'd evidently changed his mind about never doing a sequel — to "commiserate about how life was in America and how tragic it was." And with two major American cities still smoking, the trio decided that Forrest Gump 2 simply had "no meaning anymore." And really, that's probably for the best. Sure, life is like a box of chocolates, and you never know what you're going to get, but if this movie had ever made it to theaters, we probably would've gotten something pretty awful.

What would Forrest be like today?

Unless something changes dramatically in the next few years, it looks like Forrest fans will never see the further adventures of the soda-guzzling Gump. But let's play fantasy filmmaking for just a second. What if the original team who made Forrest Gump managed to get the band back together and make part two? And what if they set it during the modern day? What would that movie look like? Well, during the film's 20th anniversary, USA Today interviewed Tom Hanks, Robert Zemeckis, Gary Sinise, and author Winston Groom and asked them what everybody's favorite Alabamian would be doing in the 21st century.

If Hanks had his way, Gump would've been a key figure in the founding of social media. As he explained, "Forrest would have chatted up both Mark Zuckerberg and the Winklevoss twins about how it would be nice if you had a book that would show a person's face and make a friend." The actor also thinks Forrest would've been in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina blew into town, but thanks to his boating abilities (and with a little help from Lt. Dan), Forrest would weather the storm just fine.

And while 9/11 killed Eric Roth's screenplay, director Robert Zemeckis wanted Forrest Gump to get some revenge for that fateful day. As Zemeckis explained to USA Today, he thinks Forrest would move to Pakistan and open "a children's orphanage in Jenny's name." But the orphanage would be in a rather unusual neighborhood — right across the street from Osama bin Laden's compound. "Forrest and this tall guy pace around this compound together," Zemeckis explains, "and Forrest calls him in to the CIA."

Winston Groom, on the other hand, would want Forrest to meet one of the key leaders of 21st century, Vladimir Putin, as the Russian president "seems to be the only one doing anything exciting these days." And as for Gary Sinise, if the man playing Lt. Dan could make his perfect sequel, he'd have Forrest Gump meet up with Tom Hanks. And hey, if Julia Roberts can meet her cinematic doppelganger in Ocean's Twelve, we can totally see Hanks and Gump teaming up for some crazy adventure. Maybe they could even join forces to put Forrest's story on the big screen, which would be the meta moment to end all meta moments and might tear a hole in the space-time continuum.

The real Forrest Gump sequel

In 2007, Cinema Blend reported that the suits at Paramount had pulled out Eric Roth's screenplay from the great big bin where they keep all their unused scripts, dusted off the title page, and were giving the script a look-over. But alas, the studio once again decided that Forrest Gump 2 just wasn't going to happen. However, even though we never got see Forrest run across the silver screen a second time, the man's legend continued on in the world of literature. After the success of the film — and subsequent renewed success of his novel — author Winston Groom decided to write a sequel to his first book. And wouldn't you know it? It might be even crazier than the Eric Roth screenplay.

Titled Gump & Co., the book finds Forrest — who, by the way, stands 6'6" and weighs 240 pounds in the novels — completely out of cash. His shrimping business has gone bankrupt, but that just lets the sweet and simple hero set forth across the world, getting involved in one fiasco after another. While he captures Saddam Hussein during Desert Storm and accidentally brings down the Berlin Wall, Forrest isn't so successful in the rest of his endeavors. He accidentally crashes the Exxon-Valdez and screws up the formula for New Coke. He also gets involved in both Iran-Contra and the Wall Street insider trading scandals of the '80s. And that's not even the end of the insanity. 

At one point in the book, Forrest winds up working at a religious theme park run by infamous evangelist Jim Bakker. While he's there, he meets a not-so-pleasant co-worker by the name of John Hinckley Jr., the guy who'd later go on to shoot Ronald Reagan. Besides working alongside a future assassin, Forrest starts his very own power plant that's powered by pig poo, but the operation suffers a very smelly meltdown. In other words, while the film finds Forrest succeeding at practically everything, the second novel turns him into a massive failure. 

Sure, Paramount owns the rights to the novel, but Tom Hanks is too old to play a Forrest Gump traipsing through the '80s. Plus, Groom's sequel doesn't exactly sound like a winning formula for a crowd-pleasing movie. And that's all we have to say about that.