- Development Hell: The Film of the Book, production of which seems to be cursed. Every popular fat comedian since 1980 has been attached to play Ignatius and all of them (John Belushi, John Candy, Divine, Chris Farley) died before the latest attempt of the movie got out of pre-production. So in the early 2000s, the producers of the most recent version decided to avoid the whole "fat comedian" thing and got tall and gangly Will Ferrell to play Ignatius (with prospectively some fat makeup) and Lily Tomlin (then later Anne Meara), Mos Def, Paul Rudd, and Alan Cumming in supporting roles. Things were going well for this version's eventual production, but then the head of the Louisiana State Film Commission was murdered. Then Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. While the film still hasn't been made, Nick Offerman starred as Ignatius in a stage version that was widely praised and had a run on Broadway in 2016.
- The book itself went through this. The manuscript was finished by the mid-sixties, but Toole's attempts to get it published were consistently rejected, with most editors claiming they didn't get it, or that the book was pointless or didn't have a coherent plot. After Toole's suicide, his mother took it upon herself to get the novel published, and struggled with it for 11 years. When it was finally released in 1980, it won the Pulitzer the following year.
- Died During Production: John Kennedy Toole spent five years unsuccessfully pitching his novel to publishers before his suicide in 1969. His mother Thelma rediscovered the manuscript a few years later and made her own pursuits to get the book published. In 1976, she gave the manuscript to writer and Loyola University professor Walker Percy, who fell in love with the book and helped get it published in 1980. Dunces subsequently became a literary sensation and won Toole a posthumous Pulitzer Prize. Demand for more works from the long-dead Toole led to The Neon Bible, a novel he wrote as a teenager and didn't think particularly highly of, to be published as a follow-up to Dunces in 1989.
- The Production Curse: The movie has been in Development Hell for years, initially since every fat comedian announced to be playing the lead died (John Belushi, John Candy, Chris Farley), and then when Will Ferrell and a supporting cast was announced, the head of the Louisiana State Film Commission was murdered. Then Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. And that seems to be the end of the attempts to make the film for now.
- What Could Have Been: The various attempts to adapt the book:
- In 1982, Harold Ramis was to write and direct an adaptation starring John Belushi as Ignatius and Richard Pryor as Burma Jones, but Belushi's death prevented this. Later, John Candy and Chris Farley were touted for the lead, but both of them also died at an early age, leading many to ascribe a curse to the role of Ignatius. note
- John Waters was interested in directing an adaptation that would have starred Divine as Ignatius.
- Stephen Fry was at one point commissioned to adapt Toole's book for the screen. He was sent to New Orleans by Paramount Studios in 1997 to get background for a screenplay adaptation.
- John Goodman, a longtime resident of New Orleans, was slated to play Ignatius at one point.
- A version adapted by Steven Soderbergh and Scott Kramer, and slated to be directed by David Gordon Green, was scheduled for release in 2005. The film was to star Will Ferrell as Ignatius, Lily Tomlin as Irene, Anne Meara as Irene, Paul Rudd as Officer Mancuso, Kristen Johnston as Lana Lee, Mos Def as Burma Jones, Rosie Perez as Darlene, Olympia Dukakis as Santa Battaglia and Miss Trixie, Natasha Lyonne as Myrna, Alan Cumming as Dorian Greene, John Shea as Gonzales, Jesse Eisenberg as George, John Conlon as Claude Robichaux, Jace Alexander as Bartender Ben, Celia Weston as Miss Annie, Miss Inez & Mrs. Levy, and Dan Hedaya as Mr. Levy. Various reasons are cited as to why this version has yet to be filmed including disorganization and lack of interest at Paramount Pictures, the head of the Louisiana State Film Commission being murdered, and the devastating effects of Hurricane Katrina on New Orleans. When asked why the film was never made, Ferrell has said it is a "mystery".
Trivia / A Confederacy of Dunces