×
Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Canceled Fox movies we'll never get to see

In March 20, 2019, one of the biggest ever entertainment industry mergers was finalized. For only $71.3 billion, the Walt Disney Co. acquired rival studio Twentieth Century Fox. The Disney corporate umbrella, which already held major brands such as Star Wars, Marvel, Pixar, and ABC, will now also cover the X-Men, Deadpool, the Fantastic Four, FX Networks, and a huge chunk of Hulu (among other assets). The deal also means that any film projects Fox had in the works are now Disney projects… and the new bosses can proceed however they see fit. In August 2019, Disney announced its plans for those yet-to-be-made films by cancelling nearly all of them.

Plenty of Fox movies will still see the inside of movie theaters, primarily the ones that are already in the can and scheduled for release in late 2019 and 2020. That group includes Brad Pitt's space adventure Ad Astra, Terminator: Dark Fate, Steven Spielberg's West Side Story remake, X-Men spinoff The New Mutants, and the Judy Garland biopic Judy. The overwhelming majority of other Fox movies weren't so lucky, however. Here are some of the movies that were once Fox projects — but under Disney, they won't be anything at all.

So long, sequels

Sequels are usually easily marketable movies — studios don't have to spend much time or money to raise awareness of a property that already exists and millions have already paid to see. Nevertheless, Disney canceled several sequels in various states of development at Fox. Audiences will now likely never get to see Chronicle 2, a follow-up to the inventive "found footage"-style superhero movie in which Black Panther and Creed star Michael B. Jordan cut his franchise teeth. Nor will there be another installment in the film series based on the Assassin's Creed video games — Disney ended development on film number two. In other video game-to-movie news, Hitman 2 is done, too. Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy of The Heat will not reunite for another buddy-cop-action-comedy, as The Heat 2 is canceled. Even a follow-up to a relatively obscure movie couldn't make the cut — The Return of the Killer Klowns from Outer Space in 3-D shall not delight midnight movie fans anytime soon.

Reboots that got the boot

The House of Mouse is leading the reboot and remake charge currently in fashion in Hollywood. With live-action versions of animated classics Aladdin, The Lion King, and Dumbo doing boffo box office, Disney will continue to churn out remakes of its familiar films. That idea will not extend to properties that Fox was in the midst of rehashing, however. Flash Gordon, the decades-old comic strip about an athlete who heads into space to fight bad guys like Ming the Merciless, was made into a camp classic in 1980, and that will likely be the last Flash film for a while, as Disney canceled a new version set to be written by Taika Waititi of Thor: Ragnarok and What We Do in the Shadows. A new version of the ultra-violent '80s Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicle Commando has been struck down, as has Toymageddon, a remake of the 1998 toys-come-to-life action comedy Small Soldiers. Fans of Alan Moore's seminal graphic novel The League of Gentlemen will have to make do with the poorly received 2003 adaptation, because a remake isn't going to happen. A full-length animated The Pink Panther isn't moving forward either, and neither is a modern-day update of detective series Charlie Chan.

Prequels with no future

In recent years, Hollywood has been taking its franchises in two directions: into the future with sequels, and into the past with "prequels" — the story of the characters before the events of their famous films. Some recent examples include Solo: A Star Wars Story, Batman Begins, and Prometheus. Not joining this unique film canon of backstories that head into familiar directions are a number of in-the-works projects Disney inherited from Fox that it has elected to cancel entirely. Between 1988 and 2013, Bruce Willis starred in five crowd-pleasing Die Hard movies as regular-cop-turned-hero John McClane. Fox was at work on a movie about young McClane, set before the events of Die Hard, titled Die Hard: Year One or alternately McClane, about the famous fictional cop's early days on the police force. Not even the powerful pull of nostalgia could save a planned prequel to the beloved The Sandlot, a kids' baseball movie from 1993 set in 1962. And not even a solid Disney connection was good enough for The Three Misfortunes of Geppetto. It's about the guy from Pinocchio, who would eventually become the elderly, lonely toymaker who wishes for his wooden puppet to become a real boy — except in this movie, he would have been young and desperate to be with his one true love.

Disney won't be toying around or playing games with these

Movie studios love sequels, reboots, and prequels because audiences already have a familiarity with the subject matter. Name recognition matters — and makes marketing a lot easier — which is why there are recent movies based on things like smartphone games (two Angry Birds features), stuffed animals (UglyDolls), and amusement park rides (five Pirates of the Caribbean films). Fox was certainly thinking outside the box when developing its slate of releases for the next few years, pulling from console gaming, PC gaming, playground card games, toys, and even a familiar classroom activity. The enduringly popular life simulation series The Sims was set to make a jump to the movies, although Disney killed that. Classic Nintendo Entertainment System-era game Mega Man could've bounced and shot lasers around a much bigger screen, but that won't be happening, nor will an adaptation of the arcade standard Missile Command, in the works since 2013, or a full-length film version of the fully-animated '80s game Dragon's Lair. A movie based on the dark and weird fantasy world of the Magic: The Gathering card game was moving forward, and now it isn't. Disney also won't produce Play-Doh, a movie that was somehow going to be about that soft, colorful clay that smells really good. The studio additionally bailed on a a "Flat Stanley" movie, based on the children's books and school activity in which a paper cutout gets mailed around the world.

Oscar bait that Disney didn't take

It's not all box-office blockbusters for big movie studios. Hollywood big dogs like Disney and Fox balance their mega-budgeted extravaganzas with smaller "prestige" films that have more artistic goals — and bring a studio a reputation as a home for visionary filmmakers when those movies bring in Academy Awards, Golden Globes, and other highly covered industry plaudits. Fox had many examples of this type of movie in the pipeline, but Disney will opt to not position them for future awards consideration… because they're just not going to produce them. 

Ben Affleck isn't just a movie star, but the director of the Oscar-winning Argo, and his next behind-the-camera project was a still-untitled movie about Jerome Jacobson, the head of security for McDonald's who engineered a massive scam around the fast food chain's Monopoly game. That's off, as is The Case Against 8, a movie about the repeal of California's "Prop 8" written by Can You Ever Forgive Me? director Marielle Heller. Audiences won't get the chance to see Boston Strong, a docudrama about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, or Echo, a George Clooney project about a CIA agent battling mental illness.

Sky-high sci-fi? Disney says bye!

Disney and Fox (before it became a part of Disney) are responsible for some of the biggest science-fiction hits of the last few decades — Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Avengers: Endgame, and Guardians of the Galaxy for the former, and Avatar and Independence Day for the latter. While those are all popular entries in major franchises, both studios remain interested in developing fresh and original films with futuristic films, although Disney will not be releasing the vast majority of sci-fi movies that were in development at Fox. 

Exit West, set to be directed by Morten Tyldum (an Academy Award nominee for The Imitation Game) concerned a couple in a war zone who discover transportation portals. Fox had contracted Drew Goddard, who wrote and directed the inventive Bad Times at the El Royale and The Cabin in the Woods, for his next project, Departures, about a group of mysteriously connected plane crash survivors. Suicide Squad writer-director David Ayer was all set to work on Last Man, which concerned a platoon of American soldiers stationed on faraway planet and fighting off aliens. Deadpool director Tim Miller was supposed to make Influx, the story of a secret prison that's home to the world's greatest minds. Eric Heisserer, who adapted Ted Chaing's short story "Story of Your Life" into Arrival, recently adapted Chiang's smart-drug story Understand into a script of the same name, but that won't become a Disney movie now. 

The new Disney won't be where this action is

What do the Deadpool movies, the Star Wars prequels, the X-Men movies, and The Day After Tomorrow have in common? They're all extremely successful action movies full of thrills, chills, and spills, and they were all released by Fox. Up until the studio was acquired by Walt Disney in 2019, Fox had plenty of similar would-be action blockbusters in the pipeline. Like the rest of the Fox slate it acquired, Disney canceled nearly every single one of them. Fede Alvarez, the brain behind Don't Breathe and the 2013 remake of Evil Dead, had set up Incognito at Fox, which follows a whistleblower who tries to disappear via witness protection. Pied Piper, while not an adaptation of the folk tale, was a riff on The Fugitive from American Ultra writer Max Landis, about a toymaker fleeing a vicious bounty hunter. The Amazing Spider-Man director Marc Webb was attached to direct Black Swan screenwriter Mark Heyman's FBI spy drama Cold Comfort. A Night at the Museum director Shawn Levy planned to direct a forest-set heist drama called 40 Thieves. All those projects are now off the table at Disney.

Disney threw the book at these movies based on books

Following the success of Murder on the Orient Express, Fox greenlighted a sequel, Death on the Nile, featuring master detective Hercule Poirot, and an adaptation of a third, non-Poirot mystery by Agatha Christie, And Then There Were None. The former is still on, while the latter is not. Disney is just not into old books right now; Tender is the Night will also no longer join Amazon's The Last Tycoon and Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby on the list of 2010s projects based on F. Scott Fitzgerald novels. Not even a movie based on a Stephen King title could survive a Disney death: His 1973 short story The Boogeyman shall not frighten moviegoers. Two Isaac Asimov novels won't make it to the theaters, either: the robot-centric The Caves of Steel and the time-travel adventure The End of Eternity. A couple of tales from the public domain won't be going forward at Disney, despite involvement from some heavy hitters. Steelskin, a Rumpelstiltskin movie directed by and starring Andy Serkis, is out of play, as is the Greek myth-based The Argonauts, to be directed by The Avengers, X-Men, and Ready Player One screenwriter Zak Penn.

Sorry, kids

Disney knows something about kid stuff — so much so that they don't want some other studio's slate coming in and getting in the way of their carefully curated collection of animated features, live-action family films, and remakes of their own animated features. In other words, lots of kid-friendly Fox projects just won't find a home in Disney land. Already canceled: a film based on Children of Blood and Bone, the bestselling first entry in a planned young adult fantasy trilogy by Tomi Adeyemi. How to Talk to Girls sounds like a mixture of Good Boys and Hitch, centered on a 10-year-old boy who offers men advice on how to approach women; even with Disney/Marvel golden boy Robert Downey, Jr. attached as a producer, this movie couldn't get a reprieve. The City That Sailed, in development at Fox for more than five years, is finally dead. It's about a New York girl who misses her Europe-bound father so much that she makes Manhattan break free and travel across the ocean. Audiences will nevermore see Nevermore, a film about a girl who avoids her fated death on her ninth birthday thanks to the intervention of a mysterious figure. It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia creator and star Rob McElhenney won't get to make his big move into future filmmaking any time soon — he wrote (and was supposed to direct) the dark fantasy Figment.

Disney laughed off these comedies

The breadth and volume of promising comedies developed by Fox that Disney quickly and completely dropped is no laughing matter; not even the biggest names in comedy got a pass. Jonah Hill and newly minted Oscar winner Peter Farrelly (Green Book) lost projects, while writer-director Paul Feig (Bridesmaids) saw five slip through his fingers. Among them were the fantasy-comedy The Sweetest Fig (about a mean guy given a wish-fulfilling piece of fruit), and Groom (set around a same-sex wedding). Jason Segel, who got his big break on Feig's Freaks & Geeks and established himself as a comic filmmaker with The Muppets, was going to make The Other F Word, a comeback vehicle he wrote and would star in, about a punk-turned-dad who reunited with his old band. Similarly dead at Disney: Me Time. Written by Key and Peele veterans Ian Roberts and Jay Martel, it would've starred Carrey as a man who realizes his life has turned into that of a frontier woman. Perhaps most tragically, audiences will never get to experience Cochran & LaFarge, which was supposed to feature Sacha Baron Cohen (Borat) as one of the world's best mimes.

So what's left?

When all's said and done, Disney inherited about 280 projects from Fox and axed all but a handful. The studio saved a a precious few of projects for whatever reason — they're marketable and familiar titles, or they're just so far along in production that to cancel them would be a huge waste. For example, Disney will allow James Cameron to complete his Avatar saga. The second and third installments in the blockbuster series are already well into production and scheduled for release, and Disney will also give Avatar 4 and Avatar 5 the go-ahead. The studio will also proceed with a planned trilogy based on Fear Street. The first film in the series, based on the books by Goosebumps author R.L. Stine, has started filming, and numbers two and three will go before the cameras, too. Disney's other Fox projects that will see the light of day include Z, a reboot of the Zorro story; Death on the Nile (a sequel to 2017's Murder on the Orient Express); a new Garfield film; and a movie version of the Fox TV series Bob's Burgers.