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New research makes you glad the Monkey Island movie got cancelled 22 Feb, 2021 / 9 comments

So, we all know about the Monkey Island movie that ILM was puttering around with twenty years ago from its concept art and bizarre plot synopsis, all of which was eventually collected as bonus features in the Special Edition compilation LucasArts put out in 2011.

But what about the real behind-the-scenes dirt on this legendary project’s origin and demise? What about that rumor that Steven Spielberg threw a spanner into everything by suggesting that the main character be replaced by a monkey because he has lousy story instincts?

Wait, that was never a rumor. But it is nevertheless one of the several new tidbits unveiled by Polygon’s sordid tell-all about the Monkey Island movie, which offers hitherto unavailable insight into the abandoned project with the aid of its director, visual effects supervisor David Carson. Read all about the various permutations of the story - each pass of which took it further and further from its initial form as a loose adaption of the first game - and feel elTee's shame when the stubborn rumor that the screenwriters of Pirates of the Caribbean had any meaningful involvement is forcefully refuted. Then there’s this:

Beyond the problems of adaptation, there were also more troubling concerns. This included a second meeting with Spielberg. Jim Morris, Patty Blau, Rosen, and Tom Bertino (who was going to act as animation supervisor) were all present at this meeting.

“The first meeting was just this little table, but now Steven wanted to make the project the table … [imagine] this cartoonishly long conference room where Steven is sitting at one end, Tom Bertino is sitting at the other,” Rosen recalls. “The funny thing about Hollywood meetings and creative projects when you come up with ideas is, you’re like, ‘Oh, I have this great idea,’ and then the committee assembles. All of a sudden, this story that everyone was shaking hands on becomes, ‘What if we change the main character to a monkey?’”

“We gathered in Steven’s office, and the first thing he said was that we shouldn’t have the main characters be human,” Carson says. “Instead, he suggested we should make the movie be about the monkeys on Monkey Island. Everyone just nodded, but my heart stopped. What the heck? We had worked for several weeks on a story that was based on the charm and humor of the games, and Steven wanted to throw all that out and make some new story about monkeys? I was completely confused.

Share in the confusion and add to your knowledge by reading the full article.

Comments: 9 / Source: Polygon

9 Comments

  • Avatar
    LechuckMarley on 23 Feb, 2021, 01:49…
    Just some speculation around Spielberg's note. I've read that the thinking in Hollywood around that time was that pirate movies were box office poison, thanks to the failure of Cutthroat Island. I also remember that Spielberg was circling the first Harry Potter movie, but wanted to set it in America and cast Haley Joel Osment as Harry, so he clearly was not operating in "respect the source material" mode during that era.
  • Avatar
    LechuckMarley on 23 Feb, 2021, 01:44…

    Scummbuddy

    It may have worked, if we're discussing a movie of Guybrush and Elaine running amuck. As referenced in the article, Romancing The Stone is an excellent movie and could have been a mold to try and fit Monkey Island. Not that that makes it a good Monkey Island movie, but it may have been an entertaining one.



    For sure, odd couple movies can certainly work. I guess it's all academic now - I don't see Disney doing anything with this as it would tread on their Pirates franchise too much (unless they pulled an "On Stranger Tides" and mashed it in).
  • Avatar
    Scummbuddy on 23 Feb, 2021, 01:02…
    It may have worked, if we're discussing a movie of Guybrush and Elaine running amuck. As referenced in the article, Romancing The Stone is an excellent movie and could have been a mold to try and fit Monkey Island. Not that that makes it a good Monkey Island movie, but it may have been an entertaining one.
  • Avatar
    LechuckMarley on 22 Feb, 2021, 23:36…
    Well, Spielberg's note was bizarre, and disappointing, considering he was supposedly a fan of graphic adventures (and of course even helped make one). But more interesting to me is reading the history of the more faithful versions, because they don't sound all that great to me either. As Thunderpeel said, the first POTC film sort of fit the game quite well, but it had a key addition - the Jack Sparrow character. Who of course stole the film. Would a Monkey Island movie work with just Guybrush, Elaine and LeChuck, or would it need another character to be added or upgraded to fill that missing rouge role? Think of it this way - would Star Wars have worked with just Luke and Leia?
  • Avatar
    tiagosoares on 22 Feb, 2021, 17:26…
    Wow! What a mess! A project like this needs to be directed by someone who understands what made the series so special. If not, leave it in the mouse's vault.
  • Avatar
    ThunderPeel2001 on 22 Feb, 2021, 11:19…
    I always like the idea that the creative team moved on to create Pirates of the Caribbean. The first film was great fun, and seemed to fit. Despite what these guys say, however, it’s worth remembering that Ron Gilbert is the one who ripped off Tim Powers and brought voodoo into the pirate myth.

    So either the screenwriters took this element from the game or the book, because it wasn’t an element in the ride.

    Although, maybe that’s something that happened more in the sequels. And I guess “cursed treasure” isn’t exactly an original idea. And there is that one skeleton captain steering the boat in the ride.

    So maybe they did just come up with it all by themselves. Or maybe Purcell pitched things that they took onboard. Who knows.
  • Avatar
    Scummbuddy on 22 Feb, 2021, 03:53…

    Jason

    ...that Steven Spielberg threw a spanner into everything...

    Surely you meant to say 'hypnotized JoJo' aka 'Monkey Wrench'?

    Or would 'spanner' have been another ridiculous change in this script? ;)
  • Avatar
    OzzieMonkey on 22 Feb, 2021, 01:32…
    I'm so glad this never happened. It would've tanked so hard that Monkey Island would fall into more obscurity than it already is. I still really want a faithful animated series on Disney Plus though.
  • Avatar
    OzzieMonkey on 22 Feb, 2021, 01:32…
    I'm so glad this never happened. It would've tanked so hard that Monkey Island would fall into more obscurity than it already is. I still really want a faithful animated series on Disney Plus though.

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