5 Incredible Films That Almost Never Got Made

Little Miss Sunshine (2006)

While this heartwarming story of a family road trip became an award-winning success on release, its journey to the screen was, apparently, a feat of sheer will on the part of the filmmakers. Though it took a great deal of time to settle upon the final casting combination, securing the talents of Greg Kinnear, Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Paul Dano, Abigail Breslin and Alan Arkin was the least of the problems plaguing this project.

Screenwriter Michael Arndt completed his first draft of Little Miss Sunshine – his first script – in 2000. Getting it to producers Ron Yerxa and Albert Berger, the pair collaborated with Deep River Productions, who got the script to directing duo Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton in 2001. By the end of that year, one of the film’s producers, Marc Turtletaub, had bought the script from Arndt and began shopping it around movie studios – though only Focus Features showed an interest.

Focus wanted to make adjustments to the script, and fired Michael Arndt. His replacement added extra scenes, but a management reshuffle at the studio resulted in the new studio head rehiring Arndt – replacing his own replacement. By this time, the film had been in pre-production for two years, and Focus Features eventually dropped it – leaving producer Marc Turtletaub to purchase the project from the studio, and provide the $8 million budget himself to allow filming to finally begin.

Little Miss Sunshine premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2006, prompting a bidding war between studios, which Fox Searchlight ultimately won. In the final analysis, the film received 80 awards nominations, and 81 award wins – including Oscars for Alan Arkin, and writer Michael Arndt.