John August Shares His Rejected ‘Catwoman’ Pitch from 1998

     August 17, 2018


Hollywood is paved with broken dreams and rejection. So when the hashtag #ShareYourRejection bubbled up yesterday, it was unsurprisingly a gold mine of fascinating projects that never came to fruition and Hollywood executives making boneheaded decisions. One of the more intriguing rejections that was shared came from screenwriter John August, who broke out with the 1999 film Go and whose credits range from Big Fish to The Nines. He’s also the co-host of the excellent Scriptnotes podcast alongside Craig Mazin, which is a podcast devoted to the art of screenwriting.

Before Go hit theaters in 1999, August revealed that he actually pitched a Catwoman movie to Warner Bros. The studio had been actively developing a spinoff starring Michelle Pfeiffer after Batman Returns, with Tim Burton originally attached to direct from a screenplay by Daniel Waters, who penned Returns. But Waters turned in his Catwoman screenplay around the same time Batman Forever was released, which recontexualized this franchise as something far more family (and product-) friendly. Needless to say, Burton and Waters subsequently dropped out.

But the project was still something WB wanted to make, so August pitched his own take on a Catwoman movie starring Pfeiffer. In the pages below, you can see that the film opens on Halloween night, but then finds Selena Kyle falling off a building and losing her powers/identity. Not only that, but her comatose body is moved to Chicago, where we encounter her parents and two sisters.

This sounds like a mighty intriguing take on a fascinating character, and it’s unfortunate it never saw the light of day. Warner Bros. would eventually attach Ashley Judd to star, and even offered the part to Batman Forever star Nicole Kidman, before eventually forging ahead with a Halle Berry-led version directed by French filmmaker Pitof. To say that film killed any idea of a Catwoman franchise for years to come would be an understatement.

The character remains ripe for adaptation (Anne Hathaway‘s portrayal in Dark Knight Rises remains excellent), and with Warner Bros. now developing a Batgirl movie, a Supergirl movie, as well as a female-centric Birds of Prey film, it feels like Catwoman is still a viable option at some point. Alas, August’s story is a great reminder of how hard it is to get movies made, even when your ideas are exciting.

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