Top War Films That Hollywood Shelved

Big Audacious War Movies That Hollywood Never Ended Up Making

The pathway from film concept to finished film playing at the local cinema is a perilous one.  Most films die on the way.  Which is to say that for every completed film that is released, there are probably a half dozen that never made it past the screenplay, or that started production but never finished.  And reviewing this graveyard of "almost were" films can be as interesting as looking at real-life films. 

Toon Platoon


In 1988, Disney released Who Framed Roger Rabbit.  At a cost of $70 million, it went on to gross over three hundred million worldwide.  In studio speak, a sequel should have been assumed.  Robert Zemeckis, the director of the original has wanted to produce a sequel for going on two decades now.  Yet for reasons unknown, no sequel has ever been made.  (An even more strange curiosity given the popularity of Pixar and animated films in the last decade.)

That's not to say though that a sequel has never been planned.  Intensive work went into planning for the production of Toon Platoon, a prequel to the 1988 film, which was to follow Roger Rabbit and a platoon of cartoons deep behind enemy lines in World War II Nazi controlled Europe.

The original Roger Rabbit was so entertaining because Roger didn't live in an all cartoon world.  Like the Muppets, he lived in "the real world" interacting with live-action actors.  And the idea of Roger interacting with real-life soldiers in World War II seems one of genius.  Here's hoping that someday Toon Platoon gets made.

Should the Film Have Been Made?

Absolutely.  Roger Rabbit fighting Nazis?!  Brilliant!



In an alternate reality, Crusade was going to be one of those Hollywood films that, like The Terminator, would have a been a massive Summer tentpole film.  Arnold Scwarzenegger was attached to the project, which was to be a massively budgeted cinematic filming of the Crusades where the Christian Knights of Europe clashed with Islam in the Middle East during the Dark Ages.  The project had some big name directors attached to it, including James Cameron (Avatar) and Paul Verhoven (Total Recall).  But the size of the budget scared studios and after a decade of the film bouncing back and forth between approval and being scrapped, the decision was finally made to permanently scrap it.  

Should the Film Have Been Made?

No.  The world has seen enough Arnold in sword and sandal epics, most notably from the Conan series.  There have also been enough ancient war epics these day - from Gladiator to King Arthur.

Battle for Fallujah


One of the first films about the Iraq War to get the green light was The Battle for Fallujah.  Set to star Harrison Ford as the general in charge of the massive weeks long assault that, in real life, saw the death of many soldiers, the film was delayed due to budget reasons.  Then as other films about the Iraq war were released and started tanking at the box office, studio officials decided the film wouldn't be a wise investment.

Should the Film Have Been Made?

Possibly.  While the film likely wouldn't have been successful at the box office (there has yet to be a financially successful film about the Iraq war), it would have been interesting to have seen a Blackhawk Down type take on the Battle of Fallujah.

Age of Aquarius


Another Harrison Ford starring picture, this one followed Ford as he traveled the world from war zone to war zone, delivering relief supplies into combat zones.  Kristen Scott Thomas was to play an aid worker and romantic interest, but the film fell apart due to the normal budgetary reasons.

Should the Film Have Been Made?

Unknown.  Harrison Ford has done his share of bad films (anyone remember Sabrina?)  Whether the film would have been worthwhile would have entirely depended on the execution.

Untitled Napoleon Film


In the early 1970s, Stanley Kubrick was set to direct a three hour biopic of Napoleon, a film which was to cover Napoleon's life from birth to death.  But with three other Napoleon films released in a two year period (all three of which failed at the box office), MGM pulled the plug on Kubrick's epic biopic.

Should the Film Have Been Made?

Yes!  An unmade Kubrick saga is a sad cinematic travesty that should never have been shelved.  (Which is not to say the film would have made any money or been a box office success, only that cinephiles such as myself would have enjoyed it.)

Ghost Soldiers


Set to star Tom Cruise, Spielberg was going to direct yet another World War II film, this one involving a platoon of Army Rangers that underook a daring raid to free American POWs who had survived the Bataan Death March.  The reason the film was never made is unknown, but likely had to do with Spielberg getting distracted by one of his other World War II films.

Should the Film Have Been Made?

A resounding yes!  Despite his strange Scientology leanings, Cruise has repeatedly shown himself to be one of the best actors of his generation and Spielberg has been known to deliver a pretty good war film every now and again.



Sergio Leone (The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly) was set to direct this film about the siege of Leningrad, as it followed an American war photographer (Robert DeNiro) caught between the Russians and the Germans.  Unlike the other films on this list, this film received a green light for production and had $100 million set for the budget.  Unfortunately, Leone died two days before he was to sign the contract.

Should the Film Have Been Made?

Yes.  The Battle of Lenningrad is one of history's most intense conflicts and another film depicting it would have been great for war film fans.


What Do You Think?

Which of these films would you have liked to have seen? Write me to let me know!