It’s perhaps appropriate that we’re taking a look at David Hughes’s Tales From Development Hell during the weekend that Disney’s John Carter hits theatres, given that that film in itself has had a production schedule that could modestly be described as “troubled”. While that films legendary stagnated production might not feature in this newly revised edition of a book first published in 2003 many of it’s counterparts in the bad luck club do come under the microscope.
From a potential fifth Batman film that became Begins via Aronofsky, to attempts to revitalise the Planet Of The Apes franchise in the mid-1980’s that ultimately resulted in Tim Burton’s “reimagination” in 2001, Hughes’s book charts the production schedules of all, giving a fresh spin on the often told tales of the troubled paths that films like Indiana Jones & The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull took (going out of his way in a chapter subtitled “Separating fact from fiction in the development of Indy IV” to do just that). As I haven’t read the original edition of Tales From Development Hell I can’t compare the volumes, but as Hughes has rewritten the entire book one has to assume that any major discrepancies allowed by time are catered for fully, as there certainly doesn’t seem to be any problems from this perspective.
Hughes’s greatest strength lies in his ability to make the potentially mundane exciting and readable. Studio politics and production methods have never been the most exciting aspect of the movie industry, but by angling the “What If’s” with the mouth-watering possibilities that could have been to a backdrop of haggling, arguing and tales of ego Hughes really pulls it off.