If you're a screenwriter (or any kind of artist) and have had the experience of your work being rejected by a producer/studio/actor/your own mother, you know what a crushing blow it can be to your professional esteem. Now, imagine you are working on the next installment of the storied Indiana Jones franchise and, when George Lucas finally takes a look at your script, says, "Meh. I don't like it." Well, that's exactly what happened to Frank Darabont back in 2003.
Most of you have probably heard of writer-director Frank Darabont. If not, then you certainly know his work, including THE GREEN MILE, THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION (currently #1 on IMDb's Top 250 movie list), among many other mainstream entertainments. When it was announced that he would be writing the fourth installment of George Lucas' popular Indiana Jones franchise, there was not much doubt that he would deliver a script that would eventually be directed by Steven Spielberg (who directed the previous three films). Darabont delivered a script, but it was never shot by Spielberg. In fact, it was outright rejected by Lucas and never saw the light of day again.
The script itself is stellar and reads like a movie (or a cinematic novel). It's easy to see why Darabont was so incensed by Lucas' reaction, especially when the end result of the process was the disappointing INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL.
No Film School has all the details, including this reflection from Darabont himself:
“'It was a tremendous disappointment and a waste of a year,' Darabont later told MTV. 'I spent a year of very determined effort on something I was very excited about, working very closely with Steven Spielberg and coming up with a result that I, and he, felt was terrific. He wanted to direct it as his next movie, and then suddenly the whole thing goes down in flames because George Lucas doesn’t like the script.' A despairing Darabont confronted Lucas directly. 'I told him he was crazy. I said, ‘You have a fantastic script. I think you’re insane, George.’ You can say things like that to George, and he doesn’t even blink. He’s one of the most stubborn men I know.'”
With that, here's Frank Darabont's INDIANA JONES AND THE CITY OF THE GODS (11/4/03 draft).