HomeEntertainment‘Gilligan’s Island’: James Gunn Pitched a Cannibal Castaway Film But Was Shut Down

‘Gilligan’s Island’: James Gunn Pitched a Cannibal Castaway Film But Was Shut Down

by Anna Dunn
(Original Caption) The cast of the television show, Gilligan's Island, that ran from 1964 to 1967. Left to right, Thurston Howell III (Jim Backus); Lovey Howell (Natalie Schafer); Mary Ann Summers (Dawn Wells, seated); Ginger Grant (Tina Louise); Willy Gilligan (Bob Denver); The Skipper, Jonas Grumby (Alan Hale Jr.); and The Professor, Roy Hinkley (Russell Johnson.)

Director James Gunn once pitched a dark version of Gilligan’s Island with cannibals, but the film was shut down. Gunn is known for his directing of films like Guardians of the Galaxy and the new Suicide Squad. In a recent tweet, Gunn talked about how Charlie Kaufman actually pitched the film to executives in the 90s. While Warner Brothers wanted to sign on, Sherwood Schwartz, the creator of Gilligans Island, absolutely refused.

Following Guardians of the Galaxy, Gunn tried to revive the idea, but the estate of the late Gilligan’s Island and Brady Bunch creator Sherwood Schwartz shot down the idea.

“Pitch a movie with two pictures, no caption,” the director tweeted. The pictures showed a photo of the Gilligan’s Island cast next to an old depiction of cannibalism.

“A true story: In the late 90’s screenwriting GOAT Charlie Kaufman pitched a movie version of Gilligan’s Island where the islanders, starving & desperate, started killing & eating each other. Warner Bros wanted to do it – but Sherwood Schwartz, the creator, said no way,” he continued. Gunn created a thread on the matter talking about his own mission to make the movie happen.

“After Guardians I tried to resurrect the idea & wanted to direct. It seemed Warners & Charlie were interested but, this time, the estate of the late Sherwood Schwartz nixed it. Anyway, if the Schwartz estate changes their mind, I’m here,” he wrote.

Scherwood Schwartz Was Known for Wholesome TV

The issue with the “cannibal Gilligan’s Island idea is Sherwood Schwartz is kind of the king of wholesome TV. Seriously, proposing cannibalism to the man who created The Brady Bunch was going to be a hard sell. Schwartz worked very hard with both Gilligan’s Island and The Brady Bunch to assemble a cast of characters that perfectly matched the tone of the show.

Gilligan’s Island differed from The Brady Bunch in the fact that it wasn’t really about a family, but a group of strangers having to live together and create bonds despite their differences. The hilarious show proved itself to be a huge success. While some people would be down for a gory reboot, others may balk at the idea.

It also makes sense that so many directors would want to do some version of a Gilligan’s Island re-boot/re-imagining. Re-boots, spinoffs, and revivals seem to be all the rage lately for producers. For TV and movie fans… not so much. A reboot would have to be different and creative enough on its own people to be down. The Gilligan’s Island re-imagining is definitely one that would stand out from its inspiration.

Still, Cannibalism may be an interesting spin, but even with the guy who directed Guardians of the Galaxy Behind it, it would be a pretty hard sell.