Don Bluth's unrealized projects
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The following is a list of unproduced Don Bluth projects in roughly chronological order. During a career that has spanned over 40 years, Don Bluth has worked on projects which never progressed beyond the pre-production stage under his direction.
- An animated short film based on the famous Pied Piper of Hamelin story was in development, entering pre-production in the early 1970s. Art designs and works were created for the film, but ended up being abandoned for unknown reasons. Some of the art work can be found online.
East of the Sun and West of the Moon
- In the early 1980s, Bluth Productions started production work on an animated feature film entitled East of the Sun and West of the Moon. Ultimately, the film was never made due to a loss of financial backing, even though the film was heavily into post-production at the time of its cancellation. They decided to make An American Tail as its 2nd animated film, starting production in December 1984 and released in November 1986.
The Velveteen Rabbit
- One of the animated films that Bluth started pre-production with Steven Spielberg on, where it is an animation adaptation of the story The Velveteen Rabbit, which is about a toy rabbit trying to become a real rabbit after his beloved human child owner is forced to abandon him.
Laserdisc arcade games
Don Bluth had created plans for other arcade games similar to Dragon's Lair that would be his intellectual property such as:
- The Sea Beast, where a 1940s sailor named Barnacle Bill tries to rescue a mermaid princess from a nasty sea beast.
- Jason and the Golden Fleece, based on the famous Greek legend Jason.
- Devil's Island, where a shipwreck passenger tries to find treasure, rescue a jungle princess and take down a corrupt civilization.
- Haywire, where a Charlie Chaplin-like character tries to survive and escape a huge factory run by an evil business man.
- Drac, where Van Helsing has to save his girlfriend from Dracula and his monster minions of evil before she becomes one of his brides.
- Cro Magnon, where a Cro Magnon caveman battles vicious dinosaurs, scary creatures and an evil warlord.
- Sorceress, where a sorceress protects her island from temple-robbers and poachers.
Due to the budgeting issues and the 1983 video game crash, leading to the bankruptcy of Don Bluth Productions (dispute the first game being massively successful), these projects were abandoned, with the only laserdisc games released by Bluth were Space Ace in 1984 and Dragon's Lair II: Time Warp in 1991.
- An animated film that Don Bluth started pre-production work with Steven Spielberg. The film would have been an outer space adventure movie.
Strawberry Fields Forever
- After acquiring the rights to The Beatles' songs in the mid-1980's, Michael Jackson approached Bluth with a movie idea called Strawberry Fields Forever. The film would have had animated Fantasia-style vignettes featuring Beatles songs, similar to Yellow Submarine. Not only did Don Bluth agree to it, he also planned on making it entirely in CGI. Had the movie been made, it would have predated the ground-breaking Toy Story by about eight years. From deep within production of the project, the premise became revamped so that characters from Beatles songs (like Mr. Mustard and the Walrus) would act as New York City gangsters. Among other reasons, the main reason why the project fell through was because the surviving Beatles members denied permission to use their images in the animated film. The only surviving part of the film was test footage of the "Beatles gangsters."
- One of the animated films that Don Bluth was going to work with Steven Spielberg on, where it involved a shaggy German Shepherd as a private eye resolving a kidnapping case. The German Shepherd would later be recreated into Charlie B. Barkin, the main character from All Dogs Go to Heaven.
- An animated film that Don Bluth was in pre-production with Steven Spielberg and George Lucas. The project is based on a story by Steven Bauer where a young boy in a fantasy world goes on a quest to get the moon back and save the sun from evil forces. Some of the film's concepts latter went into the 2014 French animated film Mune: Guardian of the Moon.
The Little Blue Whale
- Bluth was in production of an animated film about a little girl and her animal friends try to protect a little whale from evil whalers. The project was abandoned by its co-production studio Carolco Pictures after the commercial and critically failure of its first animated film Pound Puppies and the Legend of Big Paw.
Beauty and the Beast
- Bluth was deep in production on an animated feature film adaptation of the classic fairy tale directed. While a few scenes were made in 1984, the film's production was canceled when Don Bluth and the film's distributor Columbia heard the news of Disney making an animated film with the same name.
Kandu: Song of the Ice Whale
- Bluth was in production for an animated feature film that involves whales but more of a discovery experience through a whale's eye with a beautiful score and narration. While scenes where made in 1991, the film's production was canceled due to problems with studios, resulting in Don Bluth working on other productions.
- Production commenced on a TV mini-series of a boy finds a magical tooth, while a video showed a clip of what the show is. The mini-series' production was shut down when Don Bluth started Fox Animation Studios.
The Magic Pencils
- An animated short film was in production that centered around a magical talking pencil starring Dom DeLuise, until Don Bluth started Fox Animation Studios, abandoning work on it.
- After Don Bluth and Fox Animation Studios would release Anastasia one of their next films was going to be an animated film based on the book Deep Wizardry by Diane Duane. However development stalled and the project was canceled.
- One of Don Bluth and Fox Animation Studios' next films after Anastasia was going to be a animated film based on the Quintaglio Ascension trilogy by Robert J. Sawyer. But production was put on ice, eventually shutting down.
- The film was developed to be a comedy-less drama similar to The Land Before Time, but due to the closure of Fox Animation Studios and the box office disaster of Titan A.E. the film was lent over to Blue Sky Studios who turned it into a dramedy.
- Another animated film that was in production by Don Bluth and Fox Animation Studios was a animated film based on The Belgariad series by David Eddings. Production for the film was canceled, for unknown reasons.
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
- When 20th Century Fox got the rights to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series by Douglas Adams, they hired Don Bluth and Fox Animation Studios to make an animated film of it. But production was canceled when problems happened at Fox Animation Studios and Touchstone Pictures got the rights to make movie from Fox which became the live-action film of the same name.
Titan A.E. video game
- Blitz Games planned a video game adaptation of Bluth's Titan A.E. to be released for the PlayStation and PC in Fall 2000 in North America, following the film's summer release. Development on both platforms had begun in March 1999 under the film's original title Planet Ice, and an early playable version was showcased at the 2000 Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles. In July 2000, a spokesman from the game's publisher Fox Interactive, announced that development on the title had been halted largely due to the film's poor box office performance which was "only one of many different factors" that led to its cancellation.
- A sequel to the 2003 game I-Ninja was planned, which had input from Bluth. Work on the sequel started soon after the first game's release, but its studio Argonaut Games had some economic problems and eventually closed down in October 2004. The few aspects remaining from I-Ninja 2's development are some concept drawings.
- Originally planned to have worked on in partnership with Namco around 2003. The project was scrapped due to financial problems on Namco's part leading to their merger with Bandai in 2007 and whatever development assets were left over was made into Pac Man World 3 with no involvement from Bluth.
The Secret of NIMH remake
- On March 4, 2015, Deadline Hollywood reported that MGM had re-acquired the film rights to produce a new film based on the original novel Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH. The film would have been produced by Bluth and the team of Daniel Bobker and Ehren Kruger, with screenplay by Ice Age series writer Michael Berg. It was planned as a CGI/live action hybrid "à la The Smurfs and Alvin and the Chipmunks", and would have been "an origin story in which an imperiled mouse protagonist befriends a comical crew of lab rats as they turn hyper-intelligent. They escape a secret laboratory and become the great minds of vermin civilization, forced to outwit the humans hot on their tails." The studio planned to turn the novel into a family franchise. Since then, there have been no further announcements.
Dragon's Lair film
- In the 1980s a film version of Dragon's Lair was planned, with Alan Dean Foster involved in shaping the story. The project fell apart due to low interest from other studios. On October 26, 2015, Bluth and Goldman started a Kickstarter campaign to create a teaser for an animated feature-length Dragon's Lair prequel film, their first feature film since Titan A.E. The Kickstarter funding was canceled when not enough funds were made close to the deadline, but an Indiegogo page for the project was created in its place. On December 14, 2015, the Indiegogo campaign reached its goal of $250,000 to produce a teaser, 14 days after the campaign launched, and got more than twice the budget on January 16, 2016. Bluth and Goldman have announced that the film will provide more backstory for Dirk and Daphne and that Daphne will show that she is not a "blonde airhead". Since then, there have been no further production news.
- "Sections of Piper Short". YouTube.
- John Grant, p 35, Masters of Animation, Special Effects Are Revolutionizing Film"
- John Culhane, "Special Effects Are Revolutionizing Film"
- "Newswatch: Bluth animation film goes bankrupt," The Comics Journal #98 (May 1985), p. 19.
- Jerry Beck, "Don Bluth Goes Independent"
- “Jawbreaker” Story
- Douglas C., Perry (June 22, 2000). "Titan A.E." IGN. Retrieved December 9, 2015.
- Gestalt (November 8, 2000). "Philip Oliver of Blitz Games". Eurogamer. Retrieved December 9, 2015.
- "Titan A.E. Canned". IGN. July 26, 2000. Retrieved December 9, 2015.
- "I-Ninja 2 Cancelled". Unseen64. Retrieved November 6, 2018.
- Fleming Jr., Michael (March 4, 2015). "MGM Options 'Mrs. Frisby & The Rats Of Nimh', Sets 'Ice Age's Michael Berg To Hatch Family Franchise". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved October 19, 2015.
- Nicholson, Max (March 4, 2015). "Live-Action/CG Rats of NIMH Movie in the Works". IGN. Retrieved October 19, 2015.
- Cawley, John. Games on TV and The Big Screen
- "Dragon's Lair: The Movie (Canceled) by Don Bluth & Gary Goldman". Kickstarter. October 26, 2015. Retrieved September 13, 2016.
- "Dragons Lair Returns". Indiegogo. Retrieved September 13, 2016.
- "Dragon's Lair creators turn to Kickstarter to raise money for Dragon's Lair: The Movie". Polygon. Retrieved September 13, 2016.
- "Dragon's Lair Movie Won't Depict "Sexualized" Version of Princess Daphne". GameSpot. Retrieved September 13, 2016.
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