twilight zone tower of terror movie

Back in 2015, a movie based on the popular theme park ride The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror was announced to be in development at Disney. But alas, the Tower of Terror movie never came to be. But the ideas behind it live on, and screenwriter John August — the writer of films like Go, Big Fish, and Frankenweenie — is now finally sharing the details on what his unmade Tower of Terror movie would have looked like.

“What could have been” is always a fun game to play in Hollywood, especially with the industry’s glut of unproduced projects that cause a big stir online but never make it past the pitch stage. One of those projects was the Tower of Terror movie, which was announced to be in development with GoTitan A.E., Charlie’s Angels, Big Fish, Corpse Bride, The Nines, and Frankenweenie screenwriter John August writing the treatment. It would have been the latest in a long line of attempted movie adaptations of the popular ride, though the only successful attempt was a made-for-television movie in 1997 starring Steve Guttenberg and Kirsten Dunst. Each version was a little different (after all, a theme park ride offers so many possibilities), but what would August’s version looked like if it had been made?

“It was a little Time Bandits, a little Groundhog Day, a little Back to the Future,” August said of his original Tower of Terror pitch to Disney in a Twitter thread diving into the details of his unmade movie. “I think it would have been fun. But it wasn’t what Disney wanted,” August continued.

August shared some concept art by Simón Estrada with Photoshops by Ryan Nelson, which showed his lead characters, “a 1920 band leader and a 2020 urban spelunker,” who “have to escape through many eras of LA history, stretching back to the Stone Age.” The art shows the two characters nervously emerging from the doors of the familiar Tower of Terror elevators into a wild jungle.

Thus begins the time-jumping plot, which was based on the central conceit that “the building’s elevator moves through time,” August wrote, sharing another image where the characters run from a horde of rampaging bison and a pursuing cowboy in modern-day times, with relics of the past escaping (and wreaking havoc) into the future.

It does sound fun, as August said, but Disney ultimately passed, leaving us only with thoughts of what could have been — and memories of the Tower of Terror ride at the Disney California Adventure Park, which has since been replaced with Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT! The original Tower of Terror lives on at Walt Disney World, with additional versions in France and Japan.

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