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Scrapped: Movies And TV Series That Never Made It To Screen

Staying on top of animation and movie news means that you find out about films and series a long time- often years- before they happen. Following an upcoming project through development can be exciting. But it doesn't always have a happy ending. Sometimes a project doesn't end up happening, and it can be very disappointing. Whether it's creative differences, production problems or the producers pulling the plug, inevitably some films and series just never make it to the screen. Today we take a look at some of the most promising looking animated productions that were scrapped before they ever made it to cinema or television screens. Oh, what might have been!

PS: If you're reading this in the distant future and any of these films have now come out- then good for you!. Also, look out for killer robots.


Genndy Tartakovsky (of Samurai Jack and Hotel Transylvania fame) was developing a CGI reboot for the spinach-guzzling sailor for Sony Pictures Animation. It sounds like an odd choice of subject matter, but the teaser that leaked got many excited, capturing the spirit of the original perfectly with some wonderfully cartoonish CG. It's a popular theory online that it was cancelled in favour of the derided Emoji Movie, but the two films aren't really related, and Popeye ultimately fell foul of regime change at the troubled studio and Genndy had left the project by 2015. A few years later the director is developing dream projects at the creatively recharged Sony, so there's a happy ending of sorts. Maybe he'll even get another shot at directing this one day? 

Don Bluth's Beauty And The Beast

Yes. You read that right. Back in the 1980's animation legend Don Bluth (The Land Before Time, An American Tale) was developing his own version of the classic fairytale. Back in 1984, Bluth began his own adaptation of the story which would mostly follow the classic story, but introduced an evil queen as the villain. Despite developing the film for more than half a decade, he ultimately dropped it after he realised that he had no chance of finishing his film before Disney's came out.

Deadpool The Series

After the huge box-office success of the Deadpool movies, it was announced that Marvel's Merc With The Mouth would be getting his own animated series. Set to air on FXX, it would be every bit as sweary and violent as the R-rated live-action movies, or even more so. Most promisingly the series had signed on Donald Glover and his brother and collaborator Stephen to create, write and show-run the new series. Unfortunately, it turned out that the Glover Brothers vision for Wade Wilson was a little too edgy for Marvel who pulled the plug. Donald Glover released a (fake) script for the series online and an animation test from Titmouse animation also made its way online leaving us to pine for what might have been.


What Tangled was to Rapunzel, and Frozen was to The Snow Queen, Gigantic was going to be to Jack and The Beanstalk. A lavish fairytale with songs written by Frozen's hit-making team Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez,  it would feature a twist on the tale where Jack befriends a giant- a 60-foot 11-year old girl. Set in Spain during the age of exploration, it was to be directed by Nathan Greno and Meg LeFauve (Inside Out's screenwriter who was set to make her directorial debut). The film even gets referenced in Zootopia. Due to dastardly creative problems, the film was repeatedly pushed back and ultimately cancelled. Which was a shame, as the concept art was absolutely beautiful.  Hopefully one day someone at Disney might dust this one off and try again.


A rare musical film from DreamWorks Animation, Larrikins sprung forth from the mind of the amazing Australian comedian and musician Tim Minchin. Minchin was set to direct (alongside animation vet Chris Miller) as well as write the songs. Set in Australia, it would follow the adventures of a bilby and a kangaroo through the outback. The film was cancelled after DWA was bought by Universal. Work produced on the film was eventually used to create the award-winning short Bilby- somewhat controversially- which only made us want to see the original film more. 


Lupin VIII

Monkey Punch's popular anime and manga Lupin III follows the exploits of a descendant of the fictional gentleman thief Arsene Lupin created by Maurice LeBlanc. In 1982 a Japanese/French co-production was to introduce the descendent of both of them in the far future, in a sci-fi spin on the popular franchise. Lupin VIII carries on in the family business, this time in a Futuristic Paris. Directed by the legendary Rintaro, the first episode was even completed. However, due to legal issues with the LeBlanc estate, the show never went any further, although the episode was eventually released as part of as 2012 Japanese Lupin III boxset.

Me And My Shadow

You'll often hear animation lovers sigh wistfully about Me And My Shadow. Its plot was to focus on Stanley Grub "the world's most boring man" and his shadow Stan who longs for excitement. When Stan discovers an evil shadow is plotting on overthrowing their human masters they must travel together into the shadow kingdom. The film got as far as releasing a poster and some concept art, which got fans excited.  That, along with the promise to use an innovative combination of 2D and 3D animation. After a long time with no news, the film eventually disappeared altogether off the schedule in 2013. In 2015 it was announced that British director Edgar Wright (Shaun Of The Dead, Hot Fuzz) was developing a film called Shadows that was assumed to be a new version of the story. However, we've heard nothing since, so this project is assumed to still be in production hell.

The Dreaming Machine

The fate of this film is easily the saddest story here. The Dreaming Machine was to be the next film of Satoshi Kon (Paprika, Perfect Blue) before his tragic death in 2010. Kon had begun work on the film, which was to be Kon's most family-friendly film, an adventure movie featuring an all robot cast. Originally it was planned that production studio Madhouse would complete the film using materials and notes the master director left behind. Ultimately though, it would prove too difficult. Madhouse did not have the funds to complete the project and the studio's founder Masao Maruyama claims that there are "no Japanese animation directors that could match Kon's level of ability."

 The Shadow King

After parting ways with LAIKA, Henry Selick (director of Coraline) signed up to make new stop-motion projects for Disney and Pixar. Despite being a homecoming of sorts (Selick having directed The Nightmare Before Christmas for Disney) it seems it was not a happy one. After joining in 2010, his first project The Shadow King was finally greenlit in 2011. The production was troubled (not least because it's alleged that someone high up did not like the film) and was cancelled in 2012. The project was shopped around to other studios but has been firmly in limbo ever since. Selick left Disney the next year, after being briefly attached to an adaptation of Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book. He eventually found a home at Netflix to make his next movie- perhaps much like Guillermo Del Toro's Pinnochio, The Shadow King will come back to life when we least expect it?

Buffy: The Animated Series

Sarah Michelle Gellar kicked vampire butt between 1997 and 2003 in the hugely popular TV series, but did you know that Buffy The Vampire Slayer nearly had an official animated spin-off? Greenlit in 2001, the series would aim at a younger audience and wind the clock back to the first season of the show. The series got pretty far along in development (13 scripts were written) but was knocked off course by the closure of Fox Kids, the network the show was due to air on. The series was shopped around and there were some interested parties but it never came together. The pilot was written by original creator Joss Whedon with Jeph Loeb. Almost the entire cast signed on to reprise their roles, with Geller herself the only holdout (Giselle Loren was to take over the titular role). 

With many Buffy fans now parents who might want to introduce their kids to the franchise, perhaps now is the perfect time for this idea to come back from the dead? They could even hire Stephen Byrne, who made this perfect animated update:

Do you have a favourite film or show then got scrapped before it got finished? Let us know in the comments or via one of our social media channels.