Screenwriter John August Shares His Rejected 'Catwoman' Movie Pitch
Filmmaker John August, best known for his work on screenplays like Big Fish, Charlie's Angels, and [...]
Filmmaker John August, best known for his work on screenplays like Big Fish, Charlie's Angels, and Go, dove into the popular "#ShareYourRejections" hashtag yesterday with an exciting look inside of a never-produced Catwoman pitch he delivered to Warner Bros. in 1998.
The character of Catwoman was so popular when Michelle Pfeiffer played her in Batman Returns that Warner spent years trying to make a movie happen, finally getting one made in 2004 -- which turned out to be one of the most reviled comic book adaptations of all time. Catwoman has an abysmal 9% positive score on review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes, making it the second-worst DC Comics related score of all time, ahead of only the 1984 Supergirl, which has a 7% score...but given the fan culture of the '80s versus now, Catwoman gets a lot more hate.
That film had a tortured road to development. Leverage showrunner and Jaime Reyes/Blue Beetle co-creator John Rogers has gone on record a number of times talking about what a nightmare it was just getting a script approved for Catwoman, with the folks at the studio completely failing to understand what worked about the character and demanding insane changes. After four years of trying to make it work, Rogers abandoned the project and the version that was eventually made, while it had his name on it, bore no resemblance to either anything he wanted to write or anything he turned in at the studio's instruction.
You can hear that full interview here. Recently, Rogers made headlines by declaring on Twitter that the movie was awful and people who defended it were wrong.
August's version sounds like it had a lot more promise: Pfeiffer was expected to come back, and the movie would be a continuation of the Burton Batman continuity, complete with an appearance by Bruce Wayne, and that's just for a start.
Catwoman at Warners in 1998. Sequel with Michelle Pfeiffer returning. Producer excited. After pitch, exec insisted it needed to be Sarah Michelle Gellar and involve hair-washing scene, then showed me Matrix trailer. #ShareYourRejections— John August (@johnaugust) August 16, 2018
You can see the synopsis as August shared it (with some minor typos, but not all, fixed), below:
We open at Halloween in Gotham City, which as expected, is a near riot. Swooping up through the building, we come to a skyscraper office.
In this psychiatrist's office, Catwoman slinks back on the couch. I'm thinking of getting out of Gotham, she says. It used to be fun, but not there are just too many freaks. What do you think, am I crazy? Looking the other way, we see the man she is talking to is tied to his chair. I'm not a psychiatrist. She's actually robbing the office. He wants to tell her where the safe is, but she won't let him. She finds the safe and opens it.
Outside, heading to her second robbery for the night. She thinks she sees Batman, but it's just some guy in a costume. There are many Batmen, many Catwomen. It pisses her off.
At the site of her second robbery, she encounters NIGHTFALL, who ranks very low on the Gotham villain hierarchy. He's trying to rob the same place, which he's already rigged explosives. The explosion blows Catwoman through three plate glass windows.
We crane up over her comatose body to find Batman, the real one.
Catwoman (Selina Kyle) wakes up in the hospital in her home town, Lake City (Chicago), a place with actual daylight. We meet her family: City council FATHER, civic MOTHER, hyper-successful MIDDLE SISTER, trouble-finding YOUNGEST SISTER. By normal life standards, Selina is tremendously unsuccessful: no hubby, shitty secretary job, pushing 40.
Bruce Wayne comes to visit her at the hospital. As they're talking we realize that Selina has no idea she was ever Catwoman. It's not amnesia. Just as a fall created her, this explosion knocked it out of her. She recognizes Bruce Wayne as this really rich guy she met once or twice, but has no idea of their backstory. Him: You seem really at peace. I guess in some ways, I envy you. He goes back to Gotham.
Selina moves in with her parents, get sa job with Dad's company. Normal life, but we're noticing small things. When an idea is stolen out from under her in a business meeting, she unconsciously claws her nails into the table. Crossing a street, a car stops short. Cut to Selina crouched on top of the car, no idea how she managed that jump.
Meanwhile, Catwoman has hit Lake City, performing a series of robberies. We don't see Catwoman do it, just hear the news reports. There are no other costume freaks in the city, heroes or villains, the perception is that the "big city Gotham crime" has come to their town, even though statistically Lake City is much safer. In secret meetings, the City Council decides a costumed superhero of their own.
The marketing team designs a costume, a name ("Victory"), and a plan to pay for it:2comments