Yesterday director Joe Carnahan broke the news that his recently revealed version of a Daredevil movie at Fox had vanished almost as quickly as it had appeared. The problem wasn't that the studio didn't like his pitch, it was simply that they ran out of time. And that's an all-too-common occurrence in the film industry, and usually once that happens the film quietly fades away. However, Carnahan was so excited about his vision of a Daredevil movie that he decided to share the "sizzle reel" he'd created with fans so they could see the same thing he showed to Fox.
Releasing these proof-of-concept pitches for failed films isn't unheard of, of course. There are plenty out there, and we've gathered a wide sampling of them below. Some of these are decades old, some are for films that did eventually come to pass, and some are for movies we may yet still see. So scroll the videos below for a look at the kind of video presentations prospective directors have to put together in order to get that coveted green light.
The War of the Worlds, Ray Harryhausen Martian Test
Over a decade before George Pal's adaptation of H.G. Wells' The War of the Worlds hit theaters, effects legend Ray Harryhausen had begun outlining his own adaptation that he planned to make using stop-motion animation. Though by most accounts his 16mm test reel of a Martian emerging from his ship impressed everyone he brought it to, Harryhausen spent years pitching it to producers and studios to no avail.
John Carter of Mars, 1940s Animation Test
Bugs Bunny director Bob Clampett created the above animation test to entice studios to produce a series of theatrical short films based on Edgar Rice Burroughs' fantasy series, but failed to get them off the ground since studios feared the material too strange.
John Carter of Mars, Kerry Conran's Demo Reel
Many have tried to make a John Carter of Mars movie, but before Disney's box office disaster was made, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow director Kerry Conran came close. Here's his concept art-ladden pitch to Paramount Pictures.
Mortal Kombat: Rebirth, Kevin Tancharoen Fan Film
Fame director Kevin Tancharoen was convinced that people would take Mortal Kombat seriously as a movie so long as the movie took the material seriously. So he made a sort of fan film/proof of concept video with all professional actors and stuntmen for his gritty reboot of the franchise. The hope was that Warner Bros. would snap up the pitch for the big screen, but they ended up turning it into a Web series instead, Mortal Kombat: Legacy, which is currently filming its second season.
The Goon, David Fincher's Test Trailer
David Fincher has been wanting to make an animated film based on the Dark Horse Comic series The Goon created by Eric Powell since before Dragon Tattoo was even a glimmer in his eye, and this trailer was their main selling point. He hired Clancy Brown and Paul Giamatti to voice the main characters, which went over huge with fans but has yet to secure financing. The film isn't dead, and is still actively looking for funding. Or in Fincher's own words, "I am undeterred--this atom can be split."
Tron: Legacy, VFX Demo
Back in 2007 Disney began seriously toying around with the idea of a sequel to Tron, and so they agreed to let first-time filmmaker Joseph Kosinski create a prototype for how a modern Tron would look. Disney debuted the footage at Comic-Con in 2008 to a rave response from fans, which was the confirmation the studio needed to move forward with the project.
Saw, the Jaw Trap Scene
James Wan and Leigh Whannell spent years unsuccessfully trying to sell their script for Saw, so they decided to film a scene from the movie and use that as their trump card to lure in investors. It worked, eventually netting them a $1 million budget to get the film made.
Starship Troopers, the Bug Test
Producers Jon Davison and Ed Neumeier were having a hard time raising the money for Paul Verhoeven's vision of Starship Troopers, so they hired Phil Tippett to produce a visual-effects test to prove that a humans vs. alien bugs movie could be done. This is the test that convinced Sony to give the project the green light. Though, funnily enough, Tippett did tell us the suits at Sony still had some very strange questions about the bugs.
The Prototype, Proof of Concept Trailer
On the newer side of things, the producers behind Act of Valor created this trailer for a sci-fi film about a science experiment on the run and released it online to build buzz ahead of their auctioning the $40-million project off to studios.
Chronicle, Diner Test Scene
Director Josh Trank had been developing his found-footage superhero movie at Fox for a few months, but before getting the green light he had to direct this visual effects test to show how the film's visual approach would mix with its effects. And it's this simple scene of the guys messing around with psychic powers at a diner that got them the final go ahead.
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