It’s been rough days at the recently assimilated 20th Century Fox movie studio of late, as new corporate overlord Bob Iger—apparently accustomed to box office receipts that are a bit more Avengers, and a bit less X-Men—blasted Disney’s newly schlorped-up subordinate for massively undershooting its earnings expectations. (As to how much of that failure can be attributed to the company’s wide-scale firing of Fox’s long-time marketers and support staff, in favor of Disney operatives who already had their own workloads and films to deal with, well: Who can say?) We reported earlier this week on Iger’s attempt to put a positive spin on its latest Fox-related chainsawing—including that Disney+ revival of Home Alone that the universe had apparently been clamoring for—but we’re a lot more interested today in Iger’s declaration that Disney would be, per Variety, “tossing the majority of projects in development” at the studio. As with any major studio, “all projects in development” at Fox was a pretty massive number—somewhere in the neighborhood of 270 prospective films, most of which hadn’t gotten much further than a basic idea and one or two attached names—and so there’s been a lot of scrambling this week to try to figure out which movies are actually getting the cut.
For instance: Iger specifically noted that James Cameron’s various Avatar sequels are safe, while stuff that was already shooting, like Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story and the Brad Pitt space vehicle Ad Astra, will absolutely be fine. But what about, say, Figments, the imaginary-fears-come-to-life movie It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia’s Rob McElhenney was attached to years ago? Or Taika Waititi’s Flash Gordon reboot? (Although, given his current schedule, we were probably a long way from seeing that one, anyway.) Or Maggie director Henry Hobson’s adaptation of Isaac Asimov’s The Caves Of Steel? Or The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen reboot? Or any number of other projects that, sure, probably would have been terrible—but were also presumably someone’s cinematic dream?
Among the hardest (potentially) hit: The much (and mostly rightly) maligned world of the video game adaptation. Here’s a short list of hypothetical game movies that were reportedly in some level of ill-advised development at Fox (compiled by helpful/obsessive Redditors), any one of which might have brought an unsuspecting movie-goer to their knees had they been unfortunate enough to encounter it in theaters: Assassin’s Creed 2. Another Hitman movie. Mega Man. The Sims. (The Sims doesn’t even have a fucking plot! You’re just watching people do shit, like Big Brother, but without all the racists.)
To be clear, some (and probably a lot) of these movies were never going to made, and had presumably just never been officially cleared off the Fox slate with a press release. And obviously, we’re not saying that it’s good that Disney is casually killing off huge numbers of hypothetical films, because some potential stone classics are going to get caught up in the harvest. (Also, it’s worth remembering that none of these films have been formally canceled even now; they’re just part of a development slate that Disney is performing a widescale dump of/on.) But if it saves us from having to watch a classic video game hero like Mega Man shudder his away across the screen like poor, benighted Sonic, well, hey: That’s a silver lining we can take.