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Spielberg's abandoned projects: Rain Man.

Steven Spielberg has made some amazing films in his career so far, but the list of films he hasn't made (yet) is much longer. Most of you may have heard the story of how TinTin was made: Steven found out about the comic-book hero in 1981, obtained the rights to make a film about this reporter and after 30 years he was finally able to present it to the world.

With TinTin it finally worked out, but there are lots of titles that weren't so lucky. Some have yet to see the light of day, but there are others that have been picked up by others. Let's take a look at one of those: Rain Man.

Steven wanted to follow the path that he had started with The Color Purple and Empire of the Sun: films with more emphasis on the story and with lesser or no special effects. That's when he was offered the script for Rain Man. He was hooked on the story right away and wanted to make the film himself. As a result of this he had already begun making notes on the script in order to prepare for the shooting. However than he talked to George Lucas who had come up with a great storyline for another Indiana Jones-film and because of a promise Steven had made to George, he decided to go ahead with Indiana Jones and the last Crusade and so he had to back out of Rain Man. After Steven dropped out, Barry Levinson was considered as a director (He had been asked before but at that time he had been busy on Good Morning Vietnam), and therefor Steven met with Barry and gave him all his notes an remarks on the script, to give him a head start.
Levinson on set, with Cruise and Hoffman.

Originally the script had been written for Dennis and Randy Quaid to play, but very soon it became obvious that that wouldn't happen. Even Jack Nicholson and Al Pacino entered talks for the main roles, but they didn't sign on. That's when Dustin Hoffman entered the scene. The producers thought he would be great for the part of Charlie, and even one of the earliest candidates for directing (Martin Brest) loved that idea, but Dustin wanted the part of Raymond.
Martin Brest

And when Brest left the project in favor of the action-comedy Midnight Run, Dustin went for the part of Ray, in the process even changing his character from mentally retarded to autistic, trying to get Bill Murray for the role of Charlie.

That didn't happen, but when Tom Cruise entered the talks, the producers smiled from ear to ear.

Shooting went rather smooth, the chemistry between Cruise and Hoffman was so good (even though neither one of them believed in the film's success), that a lot of takes, where one of the two was improvising, actually ended in the final cut of the film.

So in the end the film got made, but when it opened it did rather poor business at the box-office in America, only $6 million in it's opening weekend. Word-of-mouth however was astonishing good and so after a few weeks the film climbed to the top of the box-office and in the end it became the highest grossing film in the US in 1988, and until today it still is the only film to win both the Golden Bear® in Berlin and the Academy Award® in Los Angeles for Best Picture.
Ronald Bass, Tom Cruise, Dustin Hoffman, Barry Levinson.

And a bit of other trivia:

Rain Man marks the Hollywood debut for composer Hans Zimmer. The only restriction that Barry Levinson gave him, was that Barry didn't want Hans to use strings, for that would make the film too sentimental.

The part of Dr. Bruner, Raymond's doctor in the Walbrook Institute is portrayed by Jerry Molen, a.k.a. Gerald R. Molen, one of the producers of Rain Man, but also one of the wingmen of Spielberg in the years after Rain Man, when he served as producer on various Spielberg- and Executive Producer on various Amblin- and DreamWorks- projects (Minority Report, Hook, The Flintstones, Casper, Twister and Schindler's List among them).

He even landed a few acting-credits in some of these films: Jurassic Park, Amistad and Catch Me If You Can.

However, it still makes you wonder: How would the film have turned out, if George hadn't kept Steven on his promise ?





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