Charlie Kaufman and James Gunn Both Tried to Redo ‘Gilligan’s Island’ As a Horror Movie
Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale, a tale of a fateful trip. It started from a tropic port, aboard a tiny ship.
And then the people started to eat each other.
Now, that is not how the tale of Gilligan’s Island transpired on television. As chronicled in the famous 1960s sitcom, Gilligan, the Skipper too, and five more castaways got stranded on a deserted island and struggled to survive. While that could be the makings of a dark drama — it’s basically the same concept as Lost when you think about it — Gilligan’s Island was a broad comedy. The gang never got off the island, but nothing all that bad ever happened either.
In the years after Gilligan’s Island was canceled, it became an even bigger hit in syndication. Several TV films followed where the gang were rescued and then invariably wound up back on the island for one reason or another — one of them even involved the Harlem Globetrotters. By the mid-1980s, though, the franchise was basically dead and it hasn’t been revived in a significant way since then.
That’s not to say some haven’t tried. Guardians of the Galaxy and The Suicide Squad director James Gunn revealed on Twitter this week that there was once an attempt by Being John Malkovich writer Charlie Kaufman to make a movie of Gilligan’s Island. In typical Kaufman fashion, this was not a happy-go-lucky retread. Instead, Gunn wrote, “the islanders, starving & desperate, started killing & eating each other.”
Warner Bros. actually wanted to make the film, but Gilligan’s Island creator Sherwood Schwartz vetoed the concept. A few years ago, Gunn claimed, he tried to “resurrect” the idea, hoping to direct Kaufman’s script. Schwartz’s estate nixed it once again.
Perhaps the part that makes this really fun (and probably a little more bankable) is calling the movie Gilligan’s Island. But there’s no reason Gunn couldn’t make a movie about a group of castaways — all of whom are clearly inspired by the different archetypes from the old show — who get stranded and slowly turn on one another. Maybe it wouldn’t have quite the same zing, but it still sounds like a like a fine concept for a really subversive three hour tour. (A three hour tour.)