The trick for any sequel is to balance the old with the new. A good one should deliver more of what made the last movie a hit, but avoid retracing too many of the exact same steps. But that order gets harder to fill as the series churns out more and more installments, each less surprising than the last. Sometimes, it starts to look like all that’s left to do is simply take the franchise in a whole new direction.

Like, say, shifting the focus from dinosaurs to terrifying human-dino hybrids in a fourth Jurassic Park movie. Or traveling back to 16th century China for The Karate Kid, Part III. Obviously, neither of those concepts actually ever came to be — but concept art from a scrapped idea for Jurassic Park IV and an interview with Karate Kid writer Robert Mark Kamen offer some insight into what could’ve been. More after the jump.

Jurassic Park IV has been in development for about a decade now, with little progress to show for it. A new incarnation of the project picked up steam this summer when Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver (Rise of the Planet of the Apes) signed on to script, but as of yet we have no inkling of what the new storyline might be.

Now, however, we have a pretty good idea of what Jurassic Park IV almost was. Reddit user sketchampm posted the following snapshots of concept art related to the a 2005 version of the script by William Monahan and John Sayles.

Back in 2005, William Monahan and John Sayles wrote a script for Jurassic Park 4 in which a secret genetics lab has been cross-breeding humans with dinosaurs. The result is an army of grotesque and intelligent humanoid dino freaks with problem-solving intelligence and the ability to fire automatic weapons. Yeah. Their storyline was scrapped but it apparently got much farther along in production than anyone realized.

Looks wild… and terrible. Weapon-wielding dino-men could be cheesy fun in the right context — a Syfy TV movie, perhaps? — but a Jurassic Park movie probably isn’t it. Hopefully, whatever Silver and Jaffa have cooking isn’t quite this silly. For more details from the script check out this 2007 writeup from AICN, which actually admired the over-the-top lunacy of the idea.

The scrapped idea for The Karate Kid, Part III seems somewhat less absurd in comparison, but it still would’ve represented a sharp change of pace for the series. Fans of the series will recall that the threequel released in 1989 simply picked back up with Daniel LaRusso and Mr. Miyagi after the events of the first two films. But Kamen, who wrote the first three Karate Kid movies, says his original plan was to make Part III a prequel set in 16th century China — and that it would’ve been an all-out kung fu movie with flying people.

Kamen spilled the details in an interview with Crave Online (via Movies.com):

I was going to tell the saga in reverse. Daniel and Mr. Miyagi are in a boat. It all happens when Daniel gets hit on the head and he has a dream. He’s in a coma or something and they see a boat in the mist. It docks and Mr. Miyagi and Daniel follow the first Miyagi ancestor into China and then they get involved in this thing. It would’ve been really cool but nobody wanted to do it.

Unfortunately for Kamen, the studio and producers weren’t as enthused about the idea as he was:

[Columbia president] Guy McElwaine, rest his soul, refused to do it. He wouldn’t do it. [Producers] Jerry [Weintraub] wouldn’t do it. They didn’t want to mess with the franchise and I felt very strongly that doing the same story all over again was f***ing boring so I didn’t do it and they hired somebody else to do a draft. Somebody else could not write Mr. Miyagi and Daniel, couldn’t write them. So Dawn Steel took over the studio from Guy McElwaine and she was a good friend of mine. She said, “How much would it take for you to do what they want to do?” I was very flippant and I threw a number out and she said okay. I didn’t really want to do that one but I ended up doing it because first of all, they appealed to me. They said, “What, do you want somebody to f*ck up Mr. Miyagi? Because we’re going to make the film.” And I said, “Okay, I’ll do it” but I wouldn’t do the fourth one, the one with the girl with Hilary Swank.

The idea itself isn’t bad, but would fans of the first two Karate Kid movies really have been interested in a historical kung fu actioner? For better or for worse, the storyline that actually stuck seems like the much safer choice.

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