Gilligan’s Island, the classic 1960s sitcom featuring a diverse cast of personalities on a deserted island, nearly got a much less cheerful reboot thanks to Charlie Kaufman and James Gunn. The Guardians of the Galaxy and Suicide Squad director revealed on Twitter that he tried to resurrect a sinister reboot movie Kaufman penned back in the late 90s that would’ve turned the islanders into cannibals.
The thread started as a response to a “pitch a movie in two pictures, no caption” challenge Gunn received from a fan. He posted a picture of the Gilligan’s Island crew next to a depiction of cannibalism before explaining the origin of the idea. Kaufman pitched the idea as a grizzly survival movie where the islanders were forced to kill and eat each other out of desperation. Warner Bros. even approved of the movie until Sherwood Shwartz, the sitcom’s creator, put his foot down, thus crushing any hopes of taking the sitcom in a dark direction.
Gunn, then, tried to pick the project back up after finishing up Guardians of the Galaxy. Again, he got the blessing of Warner Bros. and even secured support from Kaufman for wanting to resurrect his pitch. Once more though, the idea was squashed, though this time it was Schwartz’s estate that stopped it from happening. Schwartz passed away in 2011 and the estate seemed keen on respecting his wishes. Gunn’s not ready to give up on it though, as he left the door open for the estate if their stance on cannibal Gilligan ever changes.
Gilligan’s Island ran for three seasons from 1964 to 1967 and explored the escapades of a group of shipwrecked islanders forced to get along despite their differing backgrounds. The titular Gilligan, played by Bob Denver, usually ended up ruining any plans they had thanks to his dim-witted, but well-meaning nature. The show ended up with a long lifespan thanks to multiple sequel movies and reboots due to its popularity.
The idea of Gunn teaming up with Kaufman, the writer behind Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Being John Malkovich among many other great films, to create a dark yet still comedic take on the classic deserted island comedy is fascinating. It’s not necessarily a concept that lends itself well to a gory, gritty survival setting given the creator’s intentions. Still, it’s a fun idea to ponder. Check out Gunn’s tweets about the aborted project below.