The early treatment for the fifth movie would have featured a longer journey through the mysterious Valley of the Maze, the Element Lords as key characters, and Mata Nui and crew getting launched to Bota Magna, the land of biomechanicaldinosaurs. Of course with the toyline being cancelled, the storyline had to be quickly concluded and this and the 2011 storyline were scrapped.
This post by Templar Studios (the people that created the Mata Nui Online Game) reveals there had been plans for a BIONICLE movie as early as 2001, but it got scrapped, along with the BIONICLE: The Legend of Mata Nui video game.
Mask of Light would have had a way different ending and a deeper characterization for Makuta, as revealed by early plot summaries, preliminary character descriptions and tons of stuff in the movie just not making any sense. Originally, Makuta wasn't outright evil but more misguided, with his lines about "protecting Mata Nui" being meant honestly — he wanted to keep him in a coma because his awakening would have destroyed the island. This would have happened in the movie, but the awakening got pushed back by five years to extend the story, the script was only partially rewritten to accommodate this massive change of plans (leading to multiple plot holes), and this layer of Makuta's personality was completely dropped.
The second movie was planned to be a theatrical feature instead of the rushed Direct-to-Video title it materialized as.
Greg Weisman worked on the first movie for a very short time before being fired for what he thought was a stupid reason. Though some of his ideas were kept, it's interesting to imagine how the film(s) would have turned out had he stayed on board.
According to the official artbook of the movie, the Adelita twins originally started out as part of Chakal's banditos.
There was an alternate scene of which Manolo meets his ancestors and his mother according to the artbook of the movie, in which he arrives at his family ancestors' home in The Land of the Remembered, and they all in a the middle of a meal when they saw Manolo walk through the front door, and all the family members having shocked looks on their faces.
The Land of the Forgotten was originally a Fisher Kingdom that slowly turned the heroes into forgotten spirits as they journeyed through it. This was cut to keep the story simple.
The spirits in the Land of the Forgotten, were originally going to be these wild, monstrous skeletal creatures that had forgotten their humanity. This was changed for two reasons; One, because some thought it would be too scary for younger viewers, and Two, to keep the story simple.
Joaquin was originally going to die in the bandit raid, crushed by his dads statue, which would have been the moment he gave Manolo the Medal of Everlasting Life.
One interview revealed that Manolo was supposed to stay dead and was not able to have any resolution with Maria had it not been changed for being too dark.
Xibalba was originally supposed to take the form of a woman to blend in among the living humans, but that idea was scrapped.
There was a version of the movie in which Manolo actually allowed the bull to kill him as opposed to killing it himself. This was scrapped due to being too sad/non-family friendly.
It was going to be a Michael Jackson vehicle—a live-action/animated film in which he was intended to star and receive a fair amount of creative control. Whether the pedophile allegations may have resulted in Jackson's exit from the project is unknown.
According to director Mark Dindal, it was originally set on the back stages of Broadway, and the cats weren't as anthropomorphized.
During the earliest development, Flint Lockwood was the most successful scientist in the world who got stuck in Swallow Falls when his food machine malfunctioned, but this characterization was deemed too unlikable.
A story line involving Vance LaFleur and The Science League was cut, although a poster remains in Flint's bedroom.
Originally, instead of Flint going to the out-of-control FLDSMDFR, the mayor shot it out of the sky, and it fell into the ocean, creating a huge monster made entirely out of food. This was cut due to the resulting monster being too similar to one in another film that had just been released in early 2009. Smaller food-monsters would eventually appear in the sequel.
Since being 100% similar to the source material would end disastrously for the narrative, the writers of Coraline played around with several ideas for the narrative format. One of them was the eponymous character talking with the audience. And the film was originally going to be much more of a musical...with the songs written by They Might Be Giants! All that remains of this notion is that for about thirty seconds Coraline's father is voiced by John Linnell, and sings an absurdly catchy song. Another song TMBG originally wrote for the film, "Careful What You Pack", ended up being on their album The Else instead - knowing the song is actually about Coraline herself adds a bit of Fridge Brilliance to the lyrics.
The Croods began development in the mid-2000s as a stop-motion feature from Aardman and Dreamworks, called "Crood Awakening". This incarnation never got off the ground because they were too busy working on Flushed Away and Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit at the time. After the Executive Meddling that Flushed Away went through, Aardman left Dreamworks for Sony, and so the responsibility of Crood Awakening was all up to Dreamworks. Years later, the script was re-written, the movie was renamed, and it was finally released in 2013.
During the period of Development Hell on what would become Epic, Fox was close to cancelling the project and John Lasseter offered Joyce the opportunity to make Leaf Men at Pixar. Fox ended up changing their minds and the project stayed at Blue Sky. Chris Wedge stated that while Joyce's book was great, it felt rather blase for a good Hollywood blockbuster, and the Leafmen were changed into samurai-like warriors. The script went through around five rewrites before they arrived at the script that was ready to be animated in 2009.
At a time when the Garfield Specials were still in production, Jim Davis wrote a script for a feature length film titled Garfield's Judgement Day. Notably Darker and Edgier than the source material, it would have been about a storm threatening to hit the town and Garfield proposing that the pets break their taboo of talking to humans to warn them. Sadly, no animation studio was willing to animate it. Davis tried rewriting it as a special, before eventually giving up and releasing it as a stand alone book.
Early in the production of Gnomeo and Juliet, the production team considered Tybalt's death being investigated by a CSI-esque group of gnomes note no, notthoseCSIs, unfortunately, lead by Detective Prince (based on the Prince from the original story). The investigation would have proven Gnomeo guilty of "gnomicide", and sentenced to the wheelie bin, where he'd be thrown away in the morning. He'd have managed to escape the rubbish truck and end up in a gardening centre.
Also, after the sentencing, Juliet would have tricked her father into organising her wedding to Paris (and gotten slapped by Nanette before she revealed she wasn't really going through with it) and replaced herself with one of Paris's floral creations so she could sneak out and try to reunite with Gnomeo (who'd promised to return to her). The scenes were cut because the producers thought they'd be too cliche.
All of this is small potatoes compared to Walt Disney Feature animation originally being meant to animate this film...
Happy Feet: Mumble was meant to have fully molted by the end of the film however they decided not to and re-rendered the parts.
All plans of a Gatchaman CGI film we're eventually canceled after the 2009 Astro Boy'' film bombed and Imagi Studios went flat.
Heavy Metal was originally planned to have all the vignettes connected and a cohesive plot between all of them, but time constraints forcing production at several companies made this impossible. This would have included things like Hanover Fitse appearing on Zeke and Edsel's spaceship, declaring that Stern would go free, a vignette called "Neverwhereland", which would have the Loc-Nar landing on a planet and changing its development and culminating in World War II, linking Stern and B-17. There was also meant to be a carousel with a taxi, a bomber, Taarna's bird-thing, and the dragonfly-thing from Den in Grimaldi's house, but this was left out for various reasons. Unfortunately, there isn't any information on what would have linked the rest of the vignettes. (Because of this, several vignettes either end abruptly or have rushed-feeling resolutions.)
Hoodwinked originally had a much different voice cast. A couple of actors even did Voicing For Two. This was because the producers were planning for a cast made largely of lesser-known actors.
However, they eventually loosened up to allow for some more celebrity roles. Two of the first celebrity actors to join the production, Patrick Warburton and Andy Dick, would retain their roles as the Wolf and Boingo, respectively.
In an effort to save costs, the film's directors, and producer Preston Stutzman all voiced characters: Cory Edwards voiced Twitchy (with his voice sped up by 50% in Pro Tools), his brother Todd voicing the Sandwich Man (the guy in a fur suit that Red passes by in "Great Big World" and is seen being interviewed by the Wolf), Tony Leech voiced Det. Bill Stork, with Leech and Stutzman voicing two of the Three Little Pigs officers (Glen and Timmy). Cory and Todd Edwards' cousin Tye was brought in to voice Dolph, the husky skier and only one on the ski team who has speaking lines, and their close friend Joshua Greene voiced Jimmy (the lizard directing the commercial Kirk tries out for). Another friend of theirs, Benjy Gaither, provided a voice for Japeth (the mountain goat that Red shares a mine cart with). Voice actor Tom Kenny voiced the third pig, Tommy, as well as the Wolf's informant Woolworth, while Joel McCrary voiced Chief Ted Grizzly.
For the main characters, several prolific voice actors were hired. Many did Voicing For Two, as shown here:
Tara Strong voiced Red Puckett. She also voiced Zorra, a fox who is on Granny's team at the ski race.
David Ogden Stiers voiced Kirk, as well as the private eye Nicky Flippers.
Throughout production, Hoodwinked! was shown to various distributors. The newly formed Weinstein Company signed on near the end. When they came in, the Weinsteins made several suggestions to speed up the pace of the film, especially the first 20 minutes (which comprise the opening and Red's story). A side effect is that they also did Executive Meddling, recasting many of the characters and bringing in more known actors and actresses in hopes of reaching a larger audience. The result is that of the four principal characters, only one - the Wolf - is voiced by his original actor (Patrick Warburton). So for the final film:
Despite this, Tara Strong retains her role as Zorra, David Ogden Stiers stil voices Flippers, and Tom Kenny and Tony Leech still voiced pigs Tommy and Glen.
Joshua Greene almost got replaced by Albert Brooks in voicing Jimmy. Japeth almost got recast with a better known country singer, but ultimately Benjy Gaither kept his part.
The first scripts for How to Train Your Dragon was much closer to the original book, featuring much younger human-protagonists, a much smaller and more-annoying Toothless, and apparently had a lot of Toilet Humor. (It was changed to its final version because the directors felt the first script was too goofy and too similar to their other projects, and wanted to do something more dramatic with the idea.) Other ideas were Hiccup's mother still being alive, and apparently having a tiny dragon like a puppy, and Snotlout being a girl. A lot of the concept art is seen in the art book, and during the credits of the movie itself.
Another version of the film would have been a straight-up Heroic Fantasy. The Elder was going to have a much larger role as the village seer, and there would have been magic and a prophecy involved.
Originally in Igor, Dr. Glickenstein was working on a time machine, and went back in time one minute, discovering Igor and his inventions (Scamper and Brain), and then teaming up with his past self to kill Igor. In the end, Glickenstein was just in the movie for too long, so this was cut and he was killed off much sooner.
Vin Diesel wasn't the first choice to be the voice of the Iron Giant. The first choice was none other than Peter "Optimus Prime" Cullen. Had they stuck with this decision, it would have been awesome (and hilarious, given the live-action Transformers movie).
There use to be a sequence where the Giant's dreams would be beamed into Dean's TV. Dean would see a vague surreal world where a bunch of identical giants destroyed planet after planet, and it implied that the Giant was meant to do this before he got his head bump.
There were plenty of changes made during production of Kung Fu Panda, most of which is covered in the official art book. Among other things, Tai Lung was originally going to have both an army of wolves and a clouded leopard trio known as the Wu Sisters serving under him, but they were both cut to make him seem more menacing as a One-Man Army. However, the wolves ended up going to the Big Bad of the second film and the Wu Sisters made appearances in the video games and one of the DVD shorts, so they weren't completely wasted.
The Lorax was originally going to feature a gritty rock opera ballad that would have went along with the company growing bigger as the forest gets destroyed. The creators then determined that the song was most likely too dark for this otherwise colorful family film and instead replaced it with "How Bad Could I Be?" The original song, however, is featured as a bonus track on the soundtrack.
Here's an odd case — the tale of Chanticleer, time and again, was supposed to be adapted into an animated film from Disney. Walt himself, apparently, was never happy with how it kept turning out (his main issue was that he believed that it is impossible to draw a rooster in such a way as to make him sympathetic; Bill Peet's many sketches for the characters suggest otherwise), and it kept getting scrapped. Whatever the original plans were, they were probably miles better (and less weird) than the version of the tale that former Disney animator Don Bluth gave us when he decided to make his version at his own studio: Rock-A-Doodle.
The Secret of Kells was originally going to be much longer, but the studio didn't have enough funding to extend the movie. This may be why they didn't really explain a lot of things (like how Aisling is still alive, when the audience thought for sure that she died earlier on), and why the ending left a lot to be desired.
Shrek was originally going to be a hand-drawn feature and would have featured Bill Murray as Shrek and Steve Martin as Donkey.
Chris Farley was originally cast as Shrek and even recorded some dialogue, which was scrapped after his death, and then Mike Myers took over the role. Farley's version of Shrek was a shy and sensitive ogre still living with his parents and being pressured into the family business of scaring people.
Farley's Shrek also had Janeane Garofalo attached (for a while) as Princess Fiona.
It was also going to be re-released in 3D on IMAX screens during either Christmas 2001 or Summer 2002, but it got cancelled due to creative differences.
The late Ben Hurst, one of the writers for Sonic the Hedgehog, attempted to pitch a movie in an attempt to revive the old Saturday Morning universe, shortly after MGM gave the film rights for Sonic the Hedgehog back to Sega. However, it's said that Ken Penders, then-head writer of Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog, got wind of this attempt and, after initially working with Ben, apparently killed his attempt by claiming to Sega that he was trying to co-opt the franchise. To add insult to injury, Penders then brought up his own concept for a movie There are◊ four◊ concept◊ pieces◊ for the movie. The movie seems to work in the idea that Mobius would have been destroyed and that roboticization would be a much more gruesome procedure than was shown in the cartoons and comics. A number of major characters are not shown and a few of them have major redesigns (the biggest being Snively, who's now more cyborg-like). There was some interest, but at the time Sonic X was being made and they felt it wouldn't be worthwhile to have two running series in two different continuities, so it was backburnered, then dropped completely. With the subsequent announcement of a live-action/CGI Sonic in the works at Sony Pictures a decade later, it's safe to say that any chance of the comics-based scripts being green-lit is dead.
The original theatrical trailers and promotional images featured some of the scenes that were cut or altered before the final release. One notable example: Ike was originally going to accompany the boys to the battlefield, but his role was cut down and he gets left in Kyle's attic in the finished product.
The opening number was originally titled "Goin' to the Movies" and had much different lyrics. Also, originally there were going to be two songs called "Something Must Be Done," one sung by the adults and the other by the boys; they were replaced with "Blame Canada" and "What Would Brian Boitano Do?," respectively.
Up through the eighth draft, Kenny was given a subplot in Hell where Satan challenged him to find Snacky S'mores proofs-of-purchase in order to get a wish granted. In the end, he opts to use them to wish everyone back to life. This was dropped, and instead Satan lets him make a wish due to having been freed of his loveless relationship.
The Mole originally debuted at Gregory's "La Resistance" meeting, digging up through the floor to get in.
The first draft of the film was said to start with Saddam Hussein being executed, setting up his appearance in Hell later on. Phillip's line "How's aboot: 'Get me the fuck out of this chair!' How's that for last words?" was originally going to be Saddam's line in this scene.
Wendy outright broke up with Stan in the original drafts, over him liking Terrance and Phillip more than being serious. The advice Stan gets towards the end to win her back is simply to "Give her ice cream".
Instead of Conan O'Brien jumping and falling to his death, he would take out a gun and shoot himself in the head (to the horror of his guests). This was rejected by the MPAA due to the violent nature of the scene, necessitating the replacement.
In the finished product, Stan suddenly winds up face-down in a puddle after being thrown by an explosion. Earlier drafts show that he ran after the explosion and got lost in a forest, before he'd trip and fall. This was likely cut for time purposes.
A memo from Matt Stone to the MPAA details a few edits that were made to reduce the rating from NC-17 to R. One scene in particular involved the boys discovering an X-rated video of Cartman's mother with a horse, which the creators tried to fight to keep in the film. In the end, it was replaced with the boys finding a scat film of her and a German man.
Rumor has it that in the earlier drafts, Sheila disowns Kyle.
The Winona Ryder scene was originally going to have her shoot ping-pong balls from her vagina, but under the threat of getting an NC-17 rating, the scene was changed to a Bait and Switch joke where it appeared she was using her vag, but turned out to be using paddles. Before this, earlier drafts had Winona simply singing at the USO show.
The "Uncle Fucker" was originally going to be called "'Mother'' Fucker" instead. This would've landed the movie an NC-17 rating, so it became the "Uncle Fucker" we all know and love.
In one draft of The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie originally SpongeBob and Patrick on their journey to retrieve the crown were to encounter the Rocko's Modern Life cast scuba diving. There is also a storyboard on the DVD with Sandy appearing on the surface having her own adventure.
Yellow Submarine: When The Beatles decided that they wanted to cameo in the film after all, the film-makers were happy to throw them in — but the decision was made so late that there was not enough money to mix proper animation into that scene. (It works anyway.)
For that matter, The Beatles believed that as it was being produced by the same producers of the Beatle cartoons of the mid-'60's, which they hated at the time, they felt the film was a bad idea and only gave them half-hearted songs for the film's soundtrack, to fulfill the contract Brian Epstein signed in 1967. By the time the group saw the finished product, and liked and supported it, it was too late to offer better quality material.
It was also believed that the Beatles initially wanted to disassociate themselves with Submarine after the stinging criticism of their TV special Magical Mystery Tour.
There's a bit of a nod towards that in the released version of the movie - in the opening montage which shows how happy a place Pepperland is, there's a shot of Old Fred picking a bouquet of flowers and giving them to a lady who is never seen again.
There were plans for a 3D animated Power Rangers movie. It would have been a reimagining of the Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers first season. However, the reasoning for why the movie was dumped vary - some say Toei nixed it, some say Saban ultimately said no.
The Powerpuff Girls Movie was originally pitched to have all the show's regular villains battling to see who would become the ultimate ruler of Townsville (and the world, for that matter). But it left very little screen time for the girls themselves, so the pitch for an original story for both the girls and Mojo Jojo was made and accepted.
My Little Pony 2017 was first picked up by Sony, who planned to co-finance the movie and distribute it with Hasbro. The negotiations began falling apart later on over budgeting disputes and script disagreements. It all boiled over when Sony declared they wanted to distribute the movie and not participate in funding it, giving Hasbro full control over the movie. When the Sony hack temporarily interrupted those negotiations, the studio had underwent executive changes in the fallout of the hack, and by then, Sony completely lost interest in the movie and backed out entirely. Hasbro ultimately went to Lions Gate to help distribute the movie instead.
Some details of the movie were leaked in the Sony hack, revealing parts of an original draft written by FiM writer Meghan McCarthy. It was to be based around the backstory of Princess Luna and Princess Celestia, a new villain named Cosmos was to appear and terrorize Equestria, and Celestia decides Twilight wasn't up for the job and decides to deal with him herself, highlighting an extremely emotional relationship between the two. When Meghan's script was presented to the Sony executives, they felt it was more like an extended episode than a movie, and demanded a rewrite of the story. This was where a little-known scriptwriter named Joe Ballarini stepped in and decided to help with the movie. Whether or not he remained in the movie after Hasbro struck the aforementioned deal with Lionsgate is unclear.
When Planet 51 was being imported to the United States for distribution, it was initially picked up by New Line Cinema. Halfway through production, Warner Bros. took over New Line and the producers demanded that the release date be pushed to November 2008, which was the original month Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince was going to be released. Warner refused and decided to cut the film from their slate. The distribution rights were later picked up by Sony, who opted to push the initial summer 2009 release date to November 20th of that year.
There were also some rumors kicking around soon after Anastasia was released that Bluth would be working on an adaptation of Deep Wizardry, which sure would have been somethin' note mostly because it's not the first Young Wizards book, but the second in the series). He was also supposedly considering The Belgariad and The Quintaglio Ascension Trilogy. And he was even one of many directors rumored to have had a go at The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy film!
An early draft for Anastasia had an extensive opening number called "Rulers of Russia", the Dowager Empress's name was Tatiana, and many servants, including young!Dimitri, had far more lines. There were also several cut characters and songs, including cute orphans and additional cute little animals. Bartok the bat was also a far raunchier character, with his own mini-reprise of "Paris Holds the Key to Your Heart" that included the line: Paris holds the key to my heart, French bat-chicks hang out at Montmarte, we'll eat some insects, then go home and have—. (That actually might explain the random female bat that shows up at the end...) And at the end, Dimitri would get hypnotized by Rasputin as one of the ways to attempt to kill Anastasia.
The whole reason Anastasia got made was that Fox obtained the rights to two films, and asked Don Bluth to pick one to adapt. The one he didn't choose? My Fair Lady.
Don Bluth is said to have once wondered, "I wouldn't mind collaborating with another director again. I think James Cameron and I could come up with something really good. Can you imagine if James Cameron made an animated film?" Can you, indeed...
All Dogs Go to Heaven was originally intended to be part of an anthology of three short stories directed by Don Bluth. And Charlie Barker was a detective in the original draft. Burt Reynolds' interest in the role got the story expanded to feature-length but it isn't known what happened to the detective plot, except that it has since been picked up by fanfic writers.
Originally, none of the characters from The Land Before Time were actually going to talk, but this was changed toward the end of production as an attempt to avoid copying the "Rite of Spring" segment from Fantasia shot by shot (the battle between Littlefoot's mother and the Sharptooth even looks almost exactly like the battle between the Stegosaurus and the Tyrannosaurus rex!). This is also true with Disney's Dinosaur, which was originally almost going to be directed by Paul Verhoven of all people!
But that's not all. The now infamous original cut of the film has Littlefoot finding the valley, after he goes off on his own and the others go with Cera. His mother's ghost makes him realize he has to go back and find the others because they won't make it on their own. The defeat of Sharptooth happens after he finds the others, and then they all go to the valley. Interestingly, some of the animation was still used; if you watch the background when Littlefoot is telling his mom he'll never find the Great Valley, the big rock they push onto Sharptooth is still clearly visible in its original place. Oddly, the original plot was evident in the paperback picture books that were released.
Additionally, there are a lot of additional deleted scenes that ended up on the cutting room floor! Notably is one with the group finding an oasis and getting turned away by the two groups of dinosaurs already there, who only wanted their own kind to eat and drink. There were other scenes deleted for being too scary, such as Sharptooth's face up close as he sinks under the water, and a full-on visual of Sharptooth jumping onto the back of Littlefoot's mother, the scene which is in shadow in the final film (although early VHS copies, apparently).
Many members of the Land Before Time forum site, The Gang of Five, as well as pretty much any fans of the film in general, are dedicated to the end to track down these missing scenes, and restore the movie in the full form Don originally intended it to be, making "what could have been" an actuality.
Another particularly fascinating rumored Don Bluth coulda-been: 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. It would consist of 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. Further along in 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 an animated film. The only part of the film that managed to be made was test footage of the "Beatles gangsters."
There's a long, long list of animated films that were never made in this Cartoon Brew post. Quoting from the article, "Imagine if Orson Welles had released an animated feature at the height of his influence?"
Also, he and John Kricfalusi planned a Teen Comedy called Bobby's Girl, but the studio cut off funding after a change of hands.
Cool World was scripted as an animated erotic horror about an underground cartoonist who falls in love and has sex with his creation (a blonde bombshell named Debbie Dallas) and is the proud father of a half-cartoon, half-human freak who hates herself and goes on a rampage against her father. Then Executive Meddling drastically changed the plot into a Roger Rabbit knock-off with none of the appeal of the original, and it bombed spectacularly.
Back in the early '90s, Nickelodeon was in talks with 20th Century Fox to make movies based off of their three main Nicktoons: Rugrats, Doug, and The Ren & Stimpy Show. However, plans for them fell through and these original ideas would go unused. Doug and the Rugrats would get their own movies, though Doug would get his through Disney and Rugrats from Paramount. Ren and Stimpy would go movieless.
John Kricfalusi was nearly hired to work for them, but after meeting the executives, who wanted him to conform to the studio's style, he backed out. Kricfalusi highlighted this event in his blog.
There are dozens of whole films that were never made. These include Punk Farmnote based on a children's book and Truckersnote based on a children's trilogy written by Terry Pratchett.
In the mid-2000s, they came this close to creating a property based on Miss Chevious, a character from an extremely obscure 80s black-and-white comic (Tales From The Aniverse). Given DreamWorks' muscle, it could easily have lifted a 6-issue furry comic from the 80s to prominence, but apparently someone high up the ladder didn't understand the treatment written by the comic's creator.