10 Great Films That Were Never Made

You might not believe in heaven, but you should believe in development hell. This is a place where entertainment-industry ideas go to die. Since most people are already familiar with the greatest films in movie history, we decided to look at the greatest films that, for various reasons, unfortunately didn’t survive the production phase.

Just recently, Slate published a post on the Worst Movies Never Made. While this might be a good thing, our list is a bit more of a downer if you’re a cinephile. So grab a bucket of popcorn, put your feet up, and witness what you could have been watching this weekend if it was a perfect world.

1. Stanley Kubrick’s Napoleon

What the film was about:

Stanley Kubrick believed Napoleon Bonaparte was the greatest human being ever to have lived, calling his life “an epic poem of action.” To honor the French Emperor, in 1968 Kubrick set out to make a three-hour biopic of Napoleon’s entire life, from birth to death. Kubrick become engrossed with the project, reading a reported 500 books on the subject, hiring Oxford historian Dr. Felix Markham as mentor, and watching every film on Napoleon ever made. The ambitious project was meant to include full-scale battle scenes involving around 50,000 extras, and shot on location in France, Romania, and the UK.

Why the film didn’t get made:

In 1971, three other Napoleonic films were released, and all three failed to charm audiences. Despite this bad omen, the cost of producing Kubrick’s larger-than-life film was simply too great for MGM studios to manage. Kubrick put his beloved project aside and went on to make the more financially feasible A Clockwork Orange, always hoping to one day return to his Napoleon biopic until his death in 1999.

Below is a silent video of a fan flipping through 10 books found within a giant, hollow book released by Taschen documenting Kubrick’s vast research for the film.