Cary Fukunaga Exits 'It' Remake As Director, But What Would These 9 Films Have Been Like With Their Original Directors?

As worn out as I am by the "remake" trend, I was still relatively excited to see Jane Eyre True Detective director Cary Fukunaga take on Stephen King's It for the new adaptation. The visually adroit, charmingly haunting filmmaker would have been a wonderful courier of the classically scary pop culture fixture, but it was not to be. is alas Fukunaga has stepped down as direct of It, parting was with the production due to creative differences.

Of course, this kind of thing has happened many times before: a great director takes on a new project, only to be ousted for one reason or another. While most of these movies turn out all right in the end, we still can't help but wonder what might have been in a few particularly interesting cases...

If Steven Spielberg had made 'Rain Man'...

…we’d have seen a lot more whimsy. Tom Cruise’s realization that his estranged brother was, in fact, his childhood imaginary friend (“the Rain Man”) would have been accompanied by a long, steady, mouth-agape stare and a sweeping John Williams crescendo.

Before Diner and Good Morning, Vietnam director Barry Levinson lent his special brand of sincere realism to the picture, Spielberg was an unsurprising option to direct. Of course, Spielberg had only just begun tampering in heavy material, with Empire of the Sun and The Color Purple showcasing a departure from his string of fantastical adventure stories. He wouldn’t entertain anything quite as hefty as Levinson’s Rain Man proved to be until the next chapter of his career, however.

Andrew Burton/Getty Images News/Getty Images

If Robert Altman had made 'Heat'...

…we’d have seen a lot more scenes of people just standing around and talking over each other. While Robert Altman’s biggest movies at the time of the 1986 Burt Reynolds picture included a war movie (MASH) and a neo-noir crime drama (The Long Goodbye), the thoughtful filmmaker always favored patience and world building over superficial thrills. Ultimately, the movie went to a filmmaker more accustom to gun battles: Western veteran Dick Richards, in his final bow.


If Brenda Chapman had (really) made 'Brave'...

…yes, Chapman is credited as one of two directors on the Pixar fairy tale. But, in truth, the studio grabbed the wheel from its original director midway through production, handing it to her de facto replacement Mark Andrews. You can actually pinpoint the shift in vision to the moment in the movie where it stops being a coming-of-age story and starts being a whole bunch of nonsense about shapeshifting bears. If they had just let Chapman handle the movie, it might have actually been a coherent, enjoyable story.

Jason Merritt/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

If David Lynch had made 'Return of the Jedi'...

…lord, we’d have had a much darker, stranger, and less accessible capper to the Original Trilogy. Lynch had only directed two feature films by the time Return of the Jedi hit theaters: Eraserhead and The Elephant Man, neither of which suggested that he’d be amenable to carting along the sweet, black-and-white mythology of George Lucas’ Star Wars universe.

In fact, the very notion that the man whose debut picture involved a swollen-faced sprite singing haunting showtunes from inside a radiator was even considered to helm the era’s most anticipated blockbuster indicates just how different Hollywood was back then. Return of the Jedi, of course, went to Richard Marquand, and Lynch did indeed get his chance to direct a sprawling sci-fi epic: the disappointing Dune. And speaking of which…


If Alejandro Jodorowsky had made 'Dune'...

…we actually don’t have to use our imaginations for this one; the wonderful Frank Pavich-directed documentary, Jodorowsky’s Dune, explores the story of the wildly imaginative Chilean director’s ill-fated project. Rich and vibrant in design, Jodorowsky’s take on the sci-fi story looks like the sort of thing cult audiences would have eaten up ravenously. Now that he’s finally come back to filmmaking with The Dance of Reality, maybe Jodorowsky can pick up where he left off on this unfinished adaptation.


If Steve Rash had made 'Beethoven'...

…it probably would have gone straight to video. Though a purveyor of commercially successful films at the forefront of his career, Rash has since switched gears to helming the likes of American Pie Presents Band Camp and the Bring It On sequels. We’d like to identify the Pauly Shore starrer Son In Law as the tipping point.

Image: Universal Pictures

If Edgar Wright had made 'Ant-Man'...

…we’d see a Marvel movie that feels different for once! A particularly big piece of the recent Marvel Cinematic Universe conversation involved the ousting of beloved auteur Edgar Wright from the production of Ant-Man . Anyone who’s seen even one of Wright’s films knows that he delights in a potent and energetic style; swift cuts and rhythmic dialogue make for an inimitable trademark.

But Marvel replaced Wright with the more docile director Peyton Reed. As far as most fans (including Joss Whedon) are concerned, the dismissal of Wright is a huge loss for the MCU.

AFP/AFP/Getty Images

If Michelle MacLaren had made 'Wonder Woman'...

…we should actually begin with “If Patty Jenkins had made Thor: The Dark World” for this one. Following the leave of Kenneth Branagh, Monster helmer Jenkins was announced as the MCU’s first female director, re: the second Thor picture, only to be booted from the production later on due to creative differences.

Two years later, Jenkins takes the reins from Michelle MacLaren on the other side of the comic book movie divide. MacLaren, fresh off the success of a few highly celebrated Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones episodes, was originally hired to helm Warner Bros’ Wonder Woman film, but left the project with a likewise ambiguous rationale.

You can bet that MacLaren would have applied the same command of tension and timing that made her TV work stand out so much to the super heroine production. Luckily, she shouldn’t be unemployed for long.

Angela Weiss/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

If Martin Brest had made 'WarGames'...

…who knows?! This is the guy who directed the comedy classic Beverly Hills Cop, the emotionally vibrant drama Scent of a Woman, and the utterly detested Gigli… and then fell off the face of the Earth, save for the rare interview. We wouldn’t dare predict what his vision for the Cold War teen dramedy would have been like.

HAL GARB/AFP/Getty Images