I wonder how Superman IV is affected--Disney was one of those that worked on the special effects for this film. IMO, Superman IV could have been a good film, but the production was...troubled, to put it mildly...
You mean to say that Disney, owner of Marvel and enemy of WB, which does own DC, once worked on a Superman film?
I'd rather butterfly away the 1984 Supergirl movie and revive this idea for Superman IV:
Or better yet have this replace OTLs Superman III.
Personally, I'd go with the first idea of keeping Superman III the same as IOTL, but reviving the Supergirl idea that they originally had for it and making that the plot of the fourth film. I mean, being less successful than its predecessors is one thing. Being called one of the worst movies ever made is another story entirely.
 
You mean to say that Disney, owner of Marvel and enemy of WB, which does own DC, once worked on a Superman film?

Personally, I'd go with the first idea of keeping Superman III the same as IOTL, but reviving the Supergirl idea that they originally had for it and making that the plot of the fourth film. I mean, being less successful than its predecessors is one thing. Being called one of the worst movies ever made is another story entirely.
Yes (or, at least, according to tvtropes.org)...
 
Two words, Don Bluth:
Speaking of Bluth, did he buy any shares in Disney during the "Save Disney" campaign/battle agaisnt Holmes à Court? Just thought it be funny if an ex-Disney animator now owned shares in his current rival...
Interesting idea, and no, Bluth did not participate in the campaign as he was struggling to keep his company solvent in the aftermath of the Video Game Crash of '83 that screwed Space Ace. Bluth will come up, I promise.

If you ask me, I actually think that The Great Mouse Detective is a better name than Elementary! ever could be. I mean, Terrell Little has a good point when he said that kids would flee on contact at that name. Whereas TGMD gives us a sense of thrill at his sharp wit.

Also, may God have mercy on whomever decides that Tangled, Brave, Frozen, Onward, and the like should be named like that, lest he or she awaken the confusion and anger that is Elementary!
Mileage may vay, of course, but I tend to agree. Basil of Baker Street was pretty much bound to get a new name. Ron Miller just thinks differently than Eisner is the main point here. Elementary at least translates well to a poster (big, exciting sweeping font wrapping around Basil) and is easy for the press to discuss. Either way the animators hate it.

You and me both mate, you and me both!
Be fun if ‘lost footage’ of this moment turned up.

There is a real beauty in proper hand-drawn animation, I really hope the cgi does not kill it at Disney.
Alas the 1980s weren't yet the time when eveyone had a recording device in their pocket and Disney typically didn't like people recording behind the scenes unless they were recording it. Sometimes the legend can be cooler than the event, though.

Once CG animation becomes cost effective it's going to dominate for purely economic and quality control reasons, but Hand Drawn will always have a spot, if ony in the "art house" circuit.

Very pleased Basil of Baker Street (please, oh please let that be the international title after the first release as Elementary!) is virtually unchanged in this timeline, The Great Mouse Detective remains one of my favourites to this day.

Does this mean Basil is a bit taller in this version, or just that he slouches all the way down when thinking?

Likewise very pleased with how Where the Wild Things Are turned out, particularly how they were able to use Sendak's art as foundational and bring it to life.


Oh so true! I truly think a lot of big-budget flops would have been made better if they had less money to work with (most of which seems to be spent on visual effects and casting these days), while a difference in animation budget can be the difference between 1983's He-Man and Genndy Tartakovsky's Primal (two shows with roughly similar art design but vastly different production funding).

Altogether a great update, I love these personal retrospectives from people at Disney, they've been a highlight of the timeline for me.
Basil will look quite similar (tall, thin), but will have a slight hunch to his back explained by his always being bent over with his magnifying glass.

Limited budgets can do great things for live action films by forcing creativity, but animation is 80% time and materials. Having your hero fight a giant monster or fight a human sized monster costs more or less the same in animation. An upcoming post will discuss this.
I wonder how Superman IV is affected--Disney was one of those that worked on the special effects for this film. IMO, Superman IV could have been a good film, but the production was...troubled, to put it mildly...

Here's an idea for Some Kind of Wonderful--Molly Ringwald was the original choice for the role of Amanda (the Lea Thompson role) but she turned it down to avoid being typecast, causing John Hughes, who had collaborated with her on three other films, to become so upset over her rejection that he never worked with her again.

So, here's my idea: Ringwald agrees to do that movie on the condition that Hughes directs the teen pregnancy movie For Keeps (which was supposed to be a darkly funny, yet cautionary tale about teen pregnancy, but turned into something different when John G. Avilsden (who had directed Rocky and The Karate Kid) signed on to direct, and he saw it as an uplifting love story--more details here: https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Trivia/ForKeeps (1)), which she had signed on to do. IMO, Hughes probably would have filmed the material closer to what was originally planned that Avilsden did...

(1) Suffice it to say, Ringwald hates For Keeps today, especially since her career was derailed by starring in it (and Fresh Horses and Betsy's Wedding didn't help--she was good in the 1994 version of The Stand, though)...
I'd rather butterfly away the 1984 Supergirl movie and revive this idea for Superman IV:
Or better yet have this replace OTLs Superman III.
You mean to say that Disney, owner of Marvel and enemy of WB, which does own DC, once worked on a Superman film?

Personally, I'd go with the first idea of keeping Superman III the same as IOTL, but reviving the Supergirl idea that they originally had for it and making that the plot of the fourth film. I mean, being less successful than its predecessors is one thing. Being called one of the worst movies ever made is another story entirely.
Superman will come up pretty soon.
 
The Superman IV left on the cutting room floor was miles better than the one we saw. See the comics adaption for a ton of the stuff that was removed. Add some of the backstory, character building, and exposition back in and it actually works. Nuclear Man was goofy, but he had a point.
 
The Superman IV left on the cutting room floor was miles better than the one we saw. See the comics adaption for a ton of the stuff that was removed. Add some of the backstory, character building, and exposition back in and it actually works. Nuclear Man was goofy, but he had a point.
Honestly, the problem with having a good Superman IV would be that we get a fifth Superman film, and that might result in something even worse then OTL's IV and III, unless fatigue sets in and IV underperforms or is just outright cancelled, its not a good sign.
 
Honestly, the problem with having a good Superman IV would be that we get a fifth Superman film, and that might result in something even worse then OTL's IV and III, unless fatigue sets in and IV underperforms or is just outright cancelled, its not a good sign.
I don't think we're going for a good Superman IV, just a better one.
 
I don't think we're going for a good Superman IV, just a better one.
But that means a better Superman IV could make WB execs consider another Superman film should it do well.

Meanwhile, Burton's not at WB, but OTL's Batman would be in pre-production, so who's gonna direct now?
I have the idea for Wes Craven to do so. If certain movies from Ours are anything to go by, horror directors make for great superhero directors.

Maybe this hypothetical Superman V (Superman Valiant?) will tie in with TTL's Batman? Depends on how it works.
 
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But that means a better Superman IV could make WB execs consider another Superman film should it do well.

Meanwhile, Burton's not at WB, but OTL's Batman would be in pre-production, so who's gonna direct now?
I have the idea for Wes Craven to do so. If certain movies from Ours are anything to go by, horror directors make for great superhero directors.

Maybe this hypothetical Superman V (Superman Valiant?) will tie in with TTL's Batman? Depends on hpw it works.
Maybe the better Superman IV is good enough to keep the property viable but makes the studio decide to go for a reboot for the hypothetical MCU you're proposing. You know who'd be a cool bad guy for Superman V/Valiant? Hank Henshaw aka Cyborg Superman. It'd be fun to see Reeve stretch his acting muscles.

And the idea of Wes Craven directing Batman makes me think of Robert Englund having a role. Maybe as a darker version of the Joker but I think that he'd fit the Riddler better. And that's not just because he was the Riddler in The Batman.
 
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And the idea of Wes Craven directing Batman makes me think of Robert Englund having a role. Maybe as a darker version of the Joker but I think that he'd fit the Riddler better. And that's not just because he was the Riddler
He did the voice for Riddler in the 2004 The Batman cartoon and the Scarecrow in the Injustice 2 video game.
 
He did the voice for Riddler in the 2004 The Batman cartoon and the Scarecrow in the Injustice 2 video game.
So he'd be equally good as Edward Nygma and Jonathan Crane. Would it be too on-the-nose if he were to wear a green fedora instead of a green bowler hat as the Riddler?
Then again, Reeve did say in 1983 he never wanted to make a fourth film. Wonder if WB accepts that?
So maybe the hypothetical fourth Superman movie could be when WB reboots the franchise for the equally-hypothetical cinematic universe?
 
Maybe the better Superman IV is good enough to keep the property viable but makes the studio decide to go for a reboot for the hypothetical MCU you're proposing. You know who'd be a cool bad guy for Superman V/Valiant? Hank Henshaw aka Cyborg Superman. It'd be fun to see Reeve stretch his acting muscles.
Note: Hank Henshaw first appeared in 1990 and not as the Cyborg Superman until 1993.
 
well the whole superman timing probably has at least 1 positive result, changing timing and quite a bit of time in between should put enough butterflies in reeves schedule to prevent his accident
 
Note: Hank Henshaw first appeared in 1990 and not as the Cyborg Superman until 1993.
I clearly don't have the expertise in superhero comics that you do. Maybe Reeve could appear in the hypothetical DC cinematic universe as a brand-new character who first appeared two months before Superman IV debuted. Maxwell Lord. And maybe Reeve's performance can butterfly away what Linkara considers one of the worst heel turns in comics history.
 
There is a far better 80's horror director for TTL's Batman than Craven. Come on Kurt Russell as Bruce Wayne the Batman obviously.... John Carpenter.
Him too, though honestly I lean more towards Craven. Thanks for bringing him up though.
Wes Craven was one of the directors considered for Batman:
Wikipedia said:
Due to the work they did together with the film Swamp Thing (1982), Wes Craven was among the directors that Melniker and Uslan considered while looking for a director.
 
Movie Reviews 1985
From New York Times Short Film Reviews

A Heartfelt Alien Encounter, June 14th, 1985



For nearly a century, since the time of H.G. Wells, alien invaders have been the stand-in for all of society’s ills: colonialism, communism, nuclear war, environmental decay. But lately, thanks largely to Steven Spielberg, that has begun to change. Close Encounters of the Third Kind and E.T. The Extraterrestrial both showed us that aliens can be good, loving, helpful, and curious. Cocoon, directed by Robert Zemeckis[1] (Back to the Future) and starring Don Ameche, Wilford Brimley, Hume Cronyn, and Jessica Tandy, turns the mysterious Antareans into virtual angels, and their mysterious mission surrounding the mystical titular cocoons into one of mercy and rescue. It’s also a story of age, youth, and relationships, a story of love, understanding, and responsibility. The all-star cast brings to this sentimental comedy a sense that youth is a state of mind and love and understanding a necessary choice that everyone has to make. Zemeckis’s direction brings out the inherent humor and sentimentality of the sci-fi situation without delving into sappiness or saccharine. As with his earlier works, the comedy can veer into adult territory, so take the “T” rating seriously when considering the young, but in all this is a good, sentimental adult comedy for the young at heart.

Cocoon, rated T for adult language, adult situations, and sexuality, ⭐ ⭐⭐ ⭐



Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, June 21st, 1985


Never mess with a classic; that is the lesson that must be soaking in at Walt Disney Studios after their misplaced attempt to make a sequel to the classic 1939 MGM musical The Wizard of Oz. And if you’re expecting a return to the magic of the original, then you will be sadly disappointed. Return to Oz is a creepy, atmospheric tale where the magical land of Oz is in ruins, Dorothy’s old friends are turned to stone, and even the yellow brick road is in ruins. Gone (save for cameos) are your favorites from the first film like the Scarecrow, the Tinman, and the Cowardly lion and in their place are the significantly less memorable (and generally creepy) Jack Pumpkinhead, mechanical Tik-Tok, and the flying moose-headed Gump. And all with no cheery musical numbers sprinkled in to soften the blow. While fans of the books may be happy that the film tacks closely to the original L. Frank Baum novels, for those only familiar with the film version (presumably most of the audience) the sight of the head-swapping Princess Mombi or the terrifying Wheelers, much less Dorothy getting electroshock therapy, are sure to leave them shocked and possibly outraged. Children watching this may well be traumatized. And yet, positive features do stand out. Young Fairuza Balk puts in a commendable performance as an age-appropriate Dorothy Gale. The Creatureworks effects are incredible and may get Oscar notice. The music and direction can be atmospheric and moody. And yet all of this doesn’t do enough to make up for the disjointed pacing nor the shocking swerve in mood and tone from the beloved original. By the end you’ll be begging for lions, tigers, and bears (oh my!)[2].

Return to Oz, rated PG for fantasy violence and disturbing imagery, ⭐⭐



“Spies” Slightly Shy of a Success, September 21st, 1985


Hyperion Pictures’ second John Landis film, Spies Like Us, part of a two-picture back-to-back production deal that included the successful comedy The Three Caballeros, is a mixed bag[3]. Starring Chevy Chase and Dan Ackroyd with cameos by Steve Martin and Eddie Murphy, the cold war musical comedy follows two inept spies on a mission with apocalyptic implications in what Landis calls “a salute to the old Hope & Crosby ‘Road to…’ films.” In this spirit, and like the successful Caballeros, the film is full of musical numbers that come out of nowhere and whose diegesis is unclear. And while this worked well in the openly surreal Caballeros, in Spies it lacks the self-aware fun and openly clashes with the apocalyptic stakes, robbing it of much of what made the earlier musical comedy work. Chase and Ackroyd are certainly fun to watch and their interactions are the greatest strength of this film, but that screen chemistry is not quite enough to manage a shaky plot that takes us through a series of semi-related set pieces. That said, as an empty popcorn film it will certainly entertain audiences even as it fails to enrich them.

Spies Like Us, rated T for adult language, adult situations, mild violence, and drug use, ⭐⭐½



Through the Looking Glass, Darkly, October 15th, 1985


This is the story of Alice. The real Alice, not her fictional doppelganger who follows a white rabbit down a hole. And this Alice is far from a little girl. Instead, she is 80 years old and her childhood innocence, and the strange Reverend who told her those fantastic tales so long ago, are far, far behind her. She has come to America for an honorary degree built upon this other man’s stories of her, but when her young escort Lucy falls in love and leaves her sitting alone, the stories, and that past, return to her. And it is not a whimsical and innocent wonderland.

Dreamchild, released and distributed by Fantasia Films, is not the Alice in Wonderland you remember from Walt’s animation, but a darker place, filled with twisted funhouse versions of your favorite Wonderland characters. Rather than revel in innocence and imagination, this trip through the looking glass explores themes of that same innocence lost, the fears of loss, exploitation, the casual cruelty of human social interaction, and the increasingly dark looking glass of human memory. Imagination here is replaced by hallucination. Whimsey is replaced by fear, guilt, and shame. And Alice’s wonderland friends, painstakingly rendered in seeming flesh and blood from the original Sir John Tenniel drawings by Disney’s Creatureworks, are glorious in their nightmarish apparition. The Mad Hatter, March Hare, Mock Turtle, and Caterpillar come to glorious, and frightening life as the voice of old Alice’s memories, fears, and repressed guilt.

So far ticket sales have been brisk[4], but parents take caution, because this is not a whimsical take on the Lewis Carroll tales, but an existential exploration of innocence, time, and memory. This is fantasy drama that will scratch at your fears, both childhood and adult, and tug at your heartstrings. It is an unvarnished look at the challenges of life and the limitations of innocence and memory.

Dreamchild, rated PG for disturbing scenes and adult situations, ⭐⭐⭐⭐.



A Sentimental Journey, November 28th, 1985


Sort of this…

Taking an old film and remaking it is a challenge. And when done as a labor of love, sometimes the rose-colored glasses of nostalgia can blind producers to the elements that were abandoned in the modern day for a reason. Such might easily have been the case with Amblin and Universal’s Always, staring Richard Dreyfuss, Holly Hunter, John Goodman, Rob Lowe, and Audrey Hepburn. A remake of 1943’s A Guy Named Joe, the supernatural relationship story was super sentimental to begin with, and both Spielberg and Dreyfuss have a deep love for the piece[5]. Such a scenario could easily lead a very sappy a super reverential passion-piece, but in the hands of up and coming director Ron Howard the results are a beautifully sentimental WWII period romance that avoids the pitfalls of sappiness and self-reverence and delivers a story that tugs the heart strings without strangling you with them. The story follows Pete Sandich (Dreyfuss), a WWII bomber pilot, who is killed on a reckless mission, but returns in semi-angelic form to help save hotshot young pilot Ted Baker (Lowe), who is also in a budding romance with Sandich’s widow Dorinda (Hunter). The film marks a triumphant return for Dreyfuss following his earlier issues with substance abuse and marks a brilliant big budget debut for Howard, who tackles the Old Hollywood plot well, maintaining that old fashioned sentimentality but balancing it with modern sensibilities. The end result is a date night must.

Always, rated T for language, some violence, and adult situations, ⭐⭐⭐½


A Delightful Return to Form for Disney, November 23rd, 1985


Essentially this…

After taking a dark turn with 1984’s The Black Cauldron, Disney Animation has given us their most delightful and whimsical film since The Rescuers. Elementary! is based upon Eve Titus’ and Paul Galdone’s Basil of Baker Street stories and follows the adventures of Basil, a great mouse detective who lives in the floor of Sherlock Homes’ apartment at 221B Baker street in London. Basil and his friends must rescue the father of innocent Olivia from the Moriarty-like Professor Ratigan, who is brought to glorious, scenery-devouring life by the great Vincent Price. The film is fun, light-hearted, and comedic more in the vein of Classic Walt Disney animation features. Directed by Ron Clements, Bunny Matheson, and John Musker, with art from animators Andreas Deja and Patty Paulick[6], Elementary! maintains a gorgeous balance between the soft and warm colors associated with Basil and the dark, cold pallet associated with Professor Ratigan. It’s a simple story of loving good versus cackling evil that is full of heart, beauty, and adventure, with exciting aerial balloon chases and a manic dash among the grinding gears of Big Ben. For those who love the darker turn taken by Cauldron, this movie may feel quaint and safe, but for those who prefer the cute whimsy of Old Disney, then this is the animated feature you’ve been waiting for. Either way, it is highly recommended for fans of Disney and, unlike its predecessor, is wholly appropriate for children of all ages.

Elementary!, Rated G, ⭐⭐⭐½



[1] Originally intended to direct Cocoon in our timeline, but after the failure of his earlier films (e.g. Used Cars) and the executives being unimpressed by the screening of Romancing the Stone that they saw, 20th Century Fox fired Zemeckis (who instead went on to direct Back to the Future once Romancing the Stone became a big hit) and replaced him with Ron Howard, who is coming up in this very post! In this timeline Zemeckis is directing Back to the Future in ‘83/’84 for Disney and someone else is directing Romancing the Stone. Fox execs in this case liked what they saw with Back to the Future, so they went ahead and kept him on board for Cocoon. It will perform pretty much on par with our timeline.

[2] As in our timeline will make about $11 million against a $28 million budget, but will get Oscar nominations for special effects and will gain a cult following on VHS.

[3] Critics will be mixed on the film, as per our timeline, but audiences will enthusiastic, with the film capturing a good share of the box office, $67 million box office against a $22 million budget, worse than our timeline by a bit since the campy musical numbers alienated some.

[4] In our timeline Universal was going to handle distribution, but legal disputes limited the film to only making a short-lived “arthouse” run. It received glorious reviews, but suffered a major financial loss. Here, when they went to Henson for the effects he agreed to distribute and share production through Fantasia Films. It will be a mild success in this timeline and be nominated for several awards.

[5] The film was a long running passion project for Spielberg and Dreyfuss since the days of Jaws. In our timeline it was on hold until 1989 when Spielberg directed it himself, falling into exactly the sentimentality trap the reviewer is discussing. Here butterflies and the availability of Howard (who is not directing Cocoon) allows him and Dreyfuss to launch it four years earlier. In this case It remains a WWII story, not a modern story with fire bombers. It will perform well but not spectacularly ($64 million worldwide against a $22 million budget) and serve as the breakout film for Howard.

[6] Since Mike Peraza is still working on The Black Cauldron in this timeline, his wife Patty Paulick takes his place on Basil.
 
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Would like to see more Oz books hit the Big Screen, as they were nothing like _Wizard of Oz_, seems that your film was a mash of Marvelous Land and Ozma, too much for one movie
 
Good mix of films there. Nothing I'd have gone to see at the cinema, but would maybe have caught on video later.

Wonder if Cocoon will start a trend of sutble, low-sfx sci-fi - as in no huge flashy space battles/model work, just more terrestrial stuff?

Return to Oz
does sound like a stinker.
 
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