It is often said that so many things need to go right on a movie set that it’s amazing that any films survive long enough to make it to the theater. Also, many scripts and plans take years to develop with various directors and actors becoming attached to productions before dropping out of them and pursuing other avenues of work.
Here is a short list of just some my favorite what ifs in the film industry:
- What if Will Smith had not turned down the lead roles in The Matrix and Django Unchained?
- What if Marvel Studios had not let Jon Favreau cast Robert Downey Jr. as the lead in Iron Man?
- What if Quentin Tarantino had gotten his dream cast for Pulp Fiction?
- What would The Dark Knight Rises had been if Heath Ledger had lived?
- What if Jim Carrey and Steven Spielberg had made Meet the Parents (Carrey is the one that came up with the last name of “Focker”)?
- What if Jack Nicholson had not turned down the role of Michael Corleone in The Godfather?
- What if Marlon Brandon had reprised his role as Vito Corleone in The Godfather Part II?
- What if Francis Ford Coppola had not waited so long to make The Godfather Part III?
- What if Robert Duvall’s salary demand not have prevented him from starring in Godfather III?
- What if Paramount had made Godfather III starring John Travolta and directed by Sylvester Stallone?
- What if Robert De Niro hadn’t dropped out of the role of Frank Costello in The Departed?
- What if Tim Burton had made Superman Lives (with Nicholas Cage as Superman and possibly Jim Carrey as Brainiac)?
- What if the ending of I Am Legend not been changed?
- What if Molly Ringwald had not turned down the lead role in Ghost?
- What if Leonardo DiCaprio had not turned down the role of Dirk Diggler in Boogie Nights?
- What if Forrest Gump had been made with any of the studio’s first three choices as the titular character – John Travolta, Bill Murray or Chevy Chase?
- What if Eric Stoltz had not been replaced by Michael J. Fox in Back to the Future?
- What if Brad Pitt had played the lead in Memento?
- What if David Lynch had directed Return of the Jedi?
- What if George Lucas had not changed the ending of Return of the Jedi (originally titled Revenge of the Jedi)?
- What if Lucas had let others direct (and write) the prequels?
- What if Brandon Lee and River Phoenix had lived?
- What if Thomas Edison’s Motion Picture Patents Company had not forced filmmakers to flee to Hollywood, California?
Christopher Pierznik is the author of eight books, all of which can be purchased in paperback and Kindle. His work has appeared on XXL, Cuepoint, Business Insider, The Cauldron, and many more. Subscribe to his monthly reading review newsletter or follow him on Facebook or Twitter.