Bone (cancelled film adaptations of Jeff Smith comic series; 1998-2000; 2008-2016)
Bone is a fantasy comic book series created by Jeff Smith and published by Cartoon Books that ran from 1991 to 2004 for 55 issues. It tells the story of the Bone Cousins (Fone, Phoney, and Smiley) who are ran out of Boneville and end up in The Valley. With the help of Thorn and her grandmother, Gran'ma Ben, the cousins try to get back to their home. All the while, they're caught up in trials and tribulations through the valley, and even a war. The series has become a beloved cult classic among readers, with many attempts having been made to adapt the series into film, however, none have been successful. Little to no production material for either adaption of the comic has surfaced.
Nickelodeon Movies/Paramount Pictures version (1998-2000)
In August 1998, Jeff Smith signed a deal with Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Movies to produce an animated adaptation of Bone. A first draft of the script was written a year later, with Smith stating that pre-production may start in 2000, with him to lead as director. The story would've followed the Bone Cousins ending up in the valley, where they would meet Thorn and Grand'ma Ben. Smith pitched the story to be very simple, but with an open ending that could potentially lead to more sequels for the future. However, Nickelodeon wanted to change the ending and make the film more kid-friendly. Most notably, they wanted the Bones to be played by children, and for Fone Bone to have "Magic Gloves". They also wanted to shift more focus on the character Thorn, and even debated focusing the movie on her instead. There were also talks of pop songs by NSYNC and Britney Spears to be featured in the films soundtrack, which was quickly turned down by Smith. The executive meddling caused Smith to walk out of the film, resulting in production being cancelled in August of 2000.
Warner Bros. version (2008-2016)
Nearly eight years after the previous version was cancelled, it was revealed in March of 2008 that a new Bone film was in production. This time, it was to be distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, with Dan Lin producing. Animal Logic (known for their Oscar-winning film Happy Feet) and Lin Pictures were to produce, with Greek creator Patrick Sean Smith directing, and P.J. Hogan writing. It was later announced that the film was instead going to become a CGI trilogy. A four minute animation demo reel was shown to Smith, who described it as:
"Fone Bone was falling in the water and going through cliffs and canyons. The dragon moved in from off camera in the shadows with smoke around him, all in 3-D. It was pretty mind-blowing."
In November 2016, Mark Osborne (Kung Fu Panda) and Adam Kline, were to direct and write the film trilogy, effectively replacing Smith and Hogan. There has been no further news on the project since, and with the announcement of a Bone animated series coming to Netflix, the project has more than likely been shelved.
As of 2020, no material from either version of the film has surfaced. The Warner Bros. animation reel has not been found, and it's unknown how much (if any) animation was done for the Paramount version of the film. Now that Netflix owns the adaptation rights to Bone, it's unlikely either adaptation of the film will ever see the light of day.
- News article on Nick Movies buying the film rights to Bone from 1998. Retrieved 18 Jul '20
- An interview with Jeff Smith from 1999, detailing production on the film. Retrieved 18 Jul '20
- An interview with Jeff Smith from 2003 about the cancellation of the film. Retrieved 18 Jul '20
- News about the cancellation of the Nickelodeon adaptation of the film. Retrieved 18 Jul '20
- news article about the Warner Bros. film's annoucement. Retrieved 18 Jul '20
- News article about the directors and producers assigned to Warner Bros. film adaptation of Bone. Retrieved 18 Jul '20
- Smith reporting on early test footage for the Warner Bros. adaptation of Bone. Retrieved 18 Jul '20
- News of the Warner Bros. Bone film adaptation getting new directors. Retrieved 18 Jul '20
- News of a Bone animated series coming to Netflix. Retrieved 18 Jul '20