POLTERGEIST IV?

Since the release of the third film in 1988, there have been several rumors of a possible "Poltergeist IV." With the poor box office success of P3, the death of Heather O'Rourke, and the superstitions of the "poltergeist curse," it is unlikely there will be a fourth film. But, you never know. I think if MGM ever decided to do another sequel, they'd have to come up with a new storyline, especially if they wanted to have an adult Carol Anne. Following is a history of the rumors over the years......

The comments below are from an industry insider named Macklin Crux who heard "through the grapevine" about a rumour of a script being in development in the early 1990s. I heard the same idea several years ago from Heather O'Rourke's step-father, Jim Peele, which is why I think this likely did take place. I wonder who wrote the (unused) script?

Here's what Macklin said:

I was at Universal ("Mrs.. Claus" with Angela Lansbury) in the early 90's and I heard about Poltergeist 4.  This is all I remember:  Someone told me about a new script that was being developed about the pre-story. Kane and his followers.  Kane was a healer (like an exorcist), a good-looking man who was a preacher who had fallen and was going to go to California to rid himself of the "demons".  We were on the "western" lot when it came up.  I remember "a Psychological thriller with less effects".  The development would make some sort of connection to the Freeling family of the future.  Carol Anne was the great -great grand daughter or something equally ridiculous.  I don't remember if someone suggested it or if it was part of the original story but the "Freeling Family" of the past escaped Kane at the end and were the only survivors.  They were protected by an Indian medicine man.  Sound Familiar? It should!  This was originally part of the original Poltergeist property (Story) and elements (Kane, Indian medicine man, Family Clairvoyance, etc) were incorporated into p2.

(Actually, Michael Grais and Mark Victor, who co-wrote the original with Spielberg, created Kane for part two. They may have been considering a similar character in the first film, but I've never seen any evidence of this. They did feel that "the conflict wasn't resolved" in part one, and that "there were a lot of things" they didn't get to do. "Poltereist II" gave them a chance to further the backstory of the original ghosts).

In addition, actor/writer Martin Casella's agent approached MGM in the late 1980s to discuss the possibility of Martin writing a script for one of the sequels. It was thought it would be good from a marketing standpoint to have one of the stars from the original write a new installment, but unfortunately nothing ever came of this.

In 1989, plans were made for a "Poltergeist" TV series (not "Poltergeist: The Legacy," which came later in 1996):

Copyright 1989 CRAIN COMMUNICATIONS, INC.;
Electronic Media

February 6, 1989

SECTION: AT PRESS TIME; Pg. 1

MGM/UA sees ghosts


MGM/UA Telecommunications and two foreign partners plan to co-finance 90 episodes of "Poltergeist the Series," said MGM/UA Telecommunications President Norman Horowitz. He said the strip may or may not have participants from the successful "Poltergeist" theatricals.

I spoke with Mr. Norman Horowitz over the phone and he was kind enough to answer my questions regarding this 1989 planned series. Mr. Horowitz was President of MGM/UA Telecommunications at the time. He was unsure if MGM had planned to do a fourth film, but a series was proposed. Members of his staff put together a video presentation combining clips from all three films as well as market research data detailing the box office performance of the movies. This data also included information about the number of times they had run on HBO, Showtime, Network, pay per view, the number of video copies sold, etc. It was proposed originally that the series be more of a direct spinoff from the movies, but Mr. Horowitz did not personally care for the films, believing them to be too violent and gory.

Instead, he put together a general story outline detailing the basic premise of the proposed "Poltergeist" TV series. He described his version as being more esoteric and less horror/gore themed as the movies. It would not feature characters from the films. Instead, the story would propose that from the beginning of time, there were certain "energies," good and bad, which inhabited various life forms in the universe. When the life forms died, the energies would gravitate into the void, returning to other life forms. From time to time these energies would not find a new body and would get stuck between worlds, thus becoming good and bad poltergeists and affecting the living. Presumably the series would involve stories involving different poltergeists and scientists who investigated the hauntings.

As the project progressed, two other production companies from overseas (one from Canada) agreed to co-finance the proposed 90 thirty minute episodes with MGM, at an estimated cost of $60 million dollars. The series was to have run in syndication. At one point one of the story execs questioned Mr. Horowitz on what a typical episode would be like. He replied he didn't really have any set specfics about the show-that would be up to the individual writers, who had yet to be put together. He did, however, want the show to stick to the basic premise he had laid out in his outline.

MGM was eventually purchased by another company, and as it is with big company mergers in which some executives are let go, Mr. Horowitz ended up being released from his role as President of MGM/UA Telecommunications. The two foreign partners were still willing to work with Mr. Horowitz on production of the series, but because MGM owned the rights, it was their decision not to greenlight the project, and the proposed "Poltergeist" TV series died.

However, as we all know six years later (1996) this project was put into the pipeline again, though this time with new writers/producers in the form of "Poltergeist: The Legacy," which ended up first on Showtime and then on Sci-Fi in syndication.

In late October 2005, the P4 rumors started up again, spurred on by this posting on the "Poltergeist" section of the IMDB message board.....

from:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0084516/board/thread/27639588


Nothing to do with my project at MGM, but the one I'll mentioned here was one that was lost in the MGM>Sony kafuffle too. I'm talking about the new "Poltergeist" film ("Kayeri" I believe it was called) - which some of you have mentioned on here before - which was as good as a go-project about twelve months back. It's still on a 'must do' list on someone's whiteboard somewhere, but according to the writer it's stalled.

I've read the script. Was written by a guy called Clint Morris, and basically skipped over Poltergeist 3, and picked up the Freeling's story again - interwoven with a horde of Indian mythology. Craig T.Nelson was the star, and I think he was near committed to it.

BUT I'd say it was going to go the direct to video route if only because Craig 'was the star'. It came about, off the back of the success of "The Incredibles" though.

Anyway, last I heard, the writer had been talking to Amy Pascal about it. Like my project though - things have changed since Sony took over. Maybe they should stop greenlighting, say, "Deuce Bigalow" sequels and get some "real stuff" off the ground? what do you think?

I can't help you out with contact details for the writer or executive producer sorry. I had the writers email, it now bounces back, and the exec has left MGM.

I never actually saw the TV series based on this - did anyone? The Legacy? any good?

**********************************************************************

So, a few days later a few "news" articles like these one got published online:

http://72.14.207.104/search?q=cache:tdVnskyhhIIJ:www.ananova.com/entertainment/story/sm_1581755.html?menu=entertainment.film "poltergeist: kayeri"&hl=en&ie=UTF-8

http://72.14.207.104/search?q=cache:VsH5_twWbgQJ:www.contactmusic.com/new/xmlfeed.nsf/mndwebpages/theyre%20back%20poltergeist%20to%20return "poltergeist: kayeri"&hl=en&ie=UTF-8

http://www.thehollywoodnews.com/article/21100503.php

A new 'Poltergeist' movie is coming
Posted by: Paul Heath
Source: Moviehole.net
Date: 21st October, 2005

Plans are afoot to add a new movie to the hugely successful POLTERGEIST series. The original movie, directed by TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE helmer, Tobe Hooper, was produced by one Steven Spielberg.

The new movie will be entitled POLTERGEIST: KAYERI apparently. This one will revolve arounbd Native American mythology, according to Clint and co. over at Moviehole.net.


*********************************************************************

Then, Clint Morris, the alleged writer of the new script, posted this on his Moviehole web site:

http://www.moviehole.net/news/laest_on_pol..._and_hallo.html

Latest on Poltergeist and Halloween sequels
Posted by Clint Morris on October 20, 2005
OK, first things first. Been getting a few emails asking about news items at places like WENN and the Internet Movie Database suggesting I'm involved in a new "Poltergeist" movie. Unfortunately, nothing very exciting to respond to that - it's old news.

It's something that didn't actually come from this site, I actually got the same email sent to myself (apparently it originated in an IMDB forum - from another writer) but hoped most would not post it. Anyway, can I comment? Yah, To an extent. There's been discussions with Ms Pascal, but with the whole MGM/Sony kafuffle of late, a lot of projects have been put on simmer. At the moment there's no real steam gathering around the "Poltergeist" franchise. The news, I'm afraid, is a good year or two old. Still, I'm a huge fan of that series and I'd be just as excited as the next guy to find out what the Freeling's are up to these days. Craig T.Nelson's a fantastic actor/guy and deserves a nice big fat vehicle to show us what 'he's still got'. (Hear he's wonderful in "The Family Stone").

Very intrigued by all this, I sent Clint an email asking about his work on the script:

**************************************** 

Hey Clint,

Saw your posting about P4. You made it sound like you were "in discussions" on the film. Could you elaborate?
 
Clint: There's not much say to really - I was working on another franchise at the time and a producer asked me to have a crack at coming up with a new template for a new Poltergeist. MGM was considering getting the series going on, but when Sony took on MGM - it was no longer a priority. So, Nope, nothing happening with it - it's in a Sony vault somewhere.
 
Fascinating stuff. Thanks for the info. I presume what happened was that another writer somehow got hold of your script or outline while at MGM and then posted this knowledge on the IMDB message board (I noticed your response on there asking "Who are you?").
 
Clint: Yeah - I could guess who, but I think that's what's happened....but u never know, could have just got turned into a chinese whisper of sorts...
 
Obviously I'm sure you wouldn't want to give too much of your story away, but did your outline involve the entire Freeling family? I'm guessing that the issue of how to handle Carol Anne was discussed by the studio (whether to continue with her as an adult and recast the role, or leave her out altogether). I actually considered what I would do if writing a 4th film, and I thought perhaps the best thing would be to have Carol Anne grown up, but have her face a new group of ghosts (since by the end of 3, the conflict with Kane was pretty much stretched thin). Then again, there are always inventive ways to rework the story, and there were aspects of Kane's background that seemed to get hinted at in the second film that could be further explored in additional movies.
 
Clint: In short. The story focused primarily on Stephen Freeling (Craig T.Nelson) now living hermit-esque in the Santa Ynez alps. He's forced to reconicle with his family again once you-know-who comes-a-calling/in new form again.  Craig was the only original cast member involved at that stage. Carol Anne was written into the script (Hilary Duff was mentioned at one stage), but she had a very 'small' part to play in the movie. That was actually about two years ago I helped do something on that - it was about the same time that a number of franchises started to gather steam then, just as fast, gather dust - Paramount's Beverly Hills Cop, Sony's Karate Kid etc.
 
Would you have explained Kane's return by saying he come back "out of the Light"  (considering that Tangina supposedly led him into the Light at the end of 3)? I always thought that was one of the main things they messed up in the third film-changing Kane's motivation.
 
Spot On.
 
Was "the beast" (Kane) the only returning ghost in your script, or did his followers come back too?
 
Clint: Just Kane, yeah. Basically, the film had hoped to target a 'younger audience' so they had us write in a group of other young characters - members of a band, filming an EPK video in the Santa Ynez mountains - that join in on Freeling's plight with the beyond. So mostly, besides Stephen Freeling, it would've centreed on new characters (an Indian friend, the kids, and so on) with JoBeth Williams and whomever-was-cast-to-play-Carol-Anne (Sarah Carter, and a few other relative unknowns, are who I would've liked to have seen play the role) appearing ONLY in the very last act of the film. I didn't think it was right to base a whole movie around Carol-Anne - - because we all remember Heather so fondly for that role.
 
Clint's got a great site at www.moviehole.net. Recently he posted this as a followup to the P4 thread on the IMDB message board:
 

Hey All,

The emails have been a-pouring in, so here's an update on the project -

Clint here from Moviehole. Nup, it didn't come from Moviehole - I tell you what's happened there..

I've had SOOOOO many people come to the site looking for the story on POLTERGEIST 4, only to discover that there isn't one and never has been one. The story started here at the IMDB, I believe.

The link though to Moviehole is that I wrote the film. Yes. But the sad truth of it is.....it's stalled. Nothing's going on.

There was a brief discussion about resurrecting the franchise, but when MGM was sold to Sony, it was no longer a priority. They've got bigger fish to fry - like the Bond series. As you could understand. Having worked now as a gun-for-hire/favour jobs on a few franchises, like this, it's not uncommon for something to boil up, then simmer down again. E.G, Beverly Hills Cop 4 (Paramount/Bruckheimer productions).

At the moment, "Poltergeist Kayeri" is about as frozen as an Antarctic fisherman's Wang.

Cheers gang!

Clint

07-05-06: I received this from someone who claims to be a former MGM insider:

Don't want to rain on anyone's hopes..... but well, I don't think there's a P4 happening in the near future.

I was at Metro Goldwyn in the late 80s and early 90s. Yes, they were going to do another movie AND TV show (about 100 writers submitted treatments, and they did start talking about recasting Carol Anne), but they ultimately decided not to do both. And now that the property is owned by Sony, I still don't believe there are any immediate plans. However, there was some talk about six months back, of doing a new film - something that would serve as both a remake and sequel, sort of like what Rob Zombie is doing with "Halloween". I don't know if that is still the plan, but that's what the word was back before Christmas (as a matter of fact, I'd heard that Zombie was someone that was interested in doing it at one stage - maybe he decided to go with Halloween instead?). They were going to do a remake/sequel, find a 'visionary' to direct it, and find a new Carol Anne. The Hilary Duff rumors were just that, rumors. I think they're going to go 'older'. When? Who knows. REMEMBER, THEY HAVE BEEN TALKING ABOUT THIS FOR A GOOD DECADE OR MORE.

I remember that MGM was keen to spin-off "The Legacy", back in the day, but the studio nixed that idea. No interest. Back before "P3" was released, they WERE already talking about doing a "P4" - and having it set years later, with a Goldie Hawn or Jessica Lange type - and I ASSUME that is what they keep going back to. It seems to be the only way to do it. I don't see anyone accepting a 'young Carol Anne, if it's not Heather O'Rourke'.

ALSO:

In response to this recent posting from Arrow in the Head (http://joblo.com/arrow/index.php?id=4622) I did want to clairfy some things:
 
1. The script for the alleged "prequel" of P4 was something that was apparently being considered in the late 80s-early 90s (the one about Kane's back story).
 
2. Around the year 2000, MGM began considering a 4th film again, this time allegedly hiring multiple writers (around 30!) to work on a script over a period of several years (a 2000 DarkHorizons.com posting mentioned rumors that the new film would take place in a "rebuilt" Cuesta Verde).
 
3.  Clint Morris, who runs www.moviehole.net, wrote a draft that focused on Steven Freeling (Craig T. Nelson), who would have reunited with his wife Diane and an adult Carol Anne after the evil Rev. Kane came back.
 
However, after Sony purchased a stake in MGM, this script got placed on the back burner. Now, there are apparently some talks that are going on again about either doing a fourth film OR a remake. I personally hope they do another sequel; there have been enough bad remakes the past few years. I myself have actually written my own version of "Poltergeist IV," but have not submitted it to anyone as of yet. It needs some work!:>) And, finally, I have recently obtained some more details about a possible 4th film that are even more interesting (considering who is involved), but unfortunately can't divulge them at this time. I'll keep you updated though!
 
Funnily enough, an enterprising guy has already purchased the domain name www.poltergeistIV.com in the hopes MGM will want to buy it from him.
 
On 11/27/06, this item appeared at the web site Bloody Disgusting claiming "Poltergeist" would get remade:
 
 
However,
 
This is what I received from a representative of someone who was connected with the original film regarding the alleged remake:

"there is NO truth to this...it is all bullshit..."

Further, Clint Morris over at Moviehole said a source of his told him:

"it's possible, and it has been discussed before, but heard nothing about it lately".
 
I think a remake now would be a terrible idea; a direct sequel with an adult Carol Anne would be much better, in my opinion.
 
UPDATE: 11/30/06:
Now Spielbergfilms.com has posted a further debunking of the remake rumor:
 
 
Of course the thought of anyone remaking a Steven Spielberg film not only borders on, but goes well beyond the sacrilegious, and the very utterance of such a deed should be punished by forced repeat viewings of the Spielberg-less "Poltergeist III" for a 24-hour stretch.

Thankfully, the rumor turned out to be nothing more than a rumor, despite Bloody Disgusting's source claiming official status. According to reps at Steven Spielberg's offices, there is "no truth" to the rumors. Period.

Breathe easy, "Poltergeist" fans, and rejoice in the fact that a special edition DVD of the incomparable Spielberg classic is in production for a 25th anniversary release in 2007.

UPDATE: For the record, this article was not meant to be an attack on the reporting over at Bloody Disgusting. The point is that their info is false, and any talk of a "Poltergeist" remake is false. Word is that individuals at Sony briefly considered the concept in the past (understandable given their acquisition of "Poltergeist" rights-holder MGM), but that does not make the new reports any more accurate.

Our sincere apologies to Bloody Disgusting and their readers if this article caused any unintentional offense.

 

***********************

But, BloodyDisgusting, the site that first posted the rumor, is standing it's ground:

 
 
A little fansite by the name of spielbergfilms.com, which doesn't even work, claims to have called Steven Spielberg's offices and got word that there is "no truth" to our previous report that a frame-by-frame remake to Poltergeist was in the works. Of course before this blows up in our faces I want to respond with A: why the hell would they confirm it? B: I have had two, yes two directors tell me they were approached for the project. Whether it happens or not is yet to be seen, but when the entire community is against the idea... sometimes the studios listen. Good riddance.

Further, an anonymous poster made this claim right below the update:

Funny enough I
was at a meeting at the studio and over heard them talking
about it at lunch today! They were "shocked" that
it got out. go bloody disgusting!

So, what's going on? Maybe MGM put this rumor out there as a test, to see if there was any interest in a remake. The almost universal reaction has been one of "NO!!" Hopefully a direct sequel (if done right) would be more appreciated by the fans....

1-27-07
In response to my question about the rumors of a sequel or remake that have been floating around the net, I received this statement from Charles Cohen, senior executive Vice President at MGM:
 
"We are working on a Poltergeist idea, and hope to have some news to announce shortly.
Stay tuned."
 
4-19-07: MGM says new "Poltergeist" idea NOT a direct to DVD release 
 
Last week MGM announced plans to release a string of direct to DVD movies, some based on MGM franchise films such as "Species" and "Legally Blonde." I asked Charles Cohen, Senior VP at MGM, whether the new "Poltergeist" idea he told me about back in January involved one of these releases. Here's what he said:
 
"No, our idea is different. It is taking longer to pull together than I expected."

 

5-8-07: "Poltergeist IV" confirmed!
Clint Morris over at Moviehole.net has confirmed that there is indeed a new "Poltergeist" film in the works, and it's being written/developed by Michael Grais, co-writer of the original film and co-writer/co-producer of "Poltergeist II!" From Clint:
 
Michael Grais, writer or “Poltergeist” and co-writer of “Poltergeist II : The Other Side”, has been coaxed back to the land of scary old farts; evil bedside clowns and [very] long-distance phone calls, it seems. Word has it – confirmed by three people in the know - that he may have scored the job of penning the next “Poltergeist” film. The new film “Poltergeist: In the Shadows” is in the “early stages of development right now”, sources inform us. I can tell you that the new film is in no way based on “Poltergeist: Kayeri” – of which I penned the first scriptment pre-Sony/MGM amalgamate – and have been informed that it’s not a remake of the first film either. One can only assume “Shadows” will encompass the mythology and world of the first three films but not necessarily feature any of the previous cast or characters (In contrast to “Kayeri”, which would’ve seen Craig T.Nelson reprising his role as Stephen Freeling). Honestly, I don't know. And I won't know. So please don't ask for any more on it. My guess is as good as yours. What I do know is that the film will be prepped as a theatrical release, and isn’t intended to be one of MGM’s direct-to-video sequels (of which they’re doing quite a few, at the moment). “I believe it’ll take it another direction”, an insider told us this morning. “You know as well as anyone how many times they’ve tried to get a Poltergeist 4 off the ground; too many to count. Grais might be the man to revive it.”
 

So, there you have it. I actually was aware of the fact that Michael Grais was involved with the project before Moviehole broke the news, but had decided to keep the info off my site at the request of Michael's manager. However, once it was posted by Moviehole, it made sense to mention it on my site too. I discovered Michael's involvement months ago by visiting his web site: www.michaelgrais.com.

 

10-25-07

Well, looks like (sadly) the remake talk is back again:

from:
 
 
Today we learned that Mandate Pictures, which is now owned by Lionsgate, is officially attempting to acquire the remake rights to Steven Spielberg's Poltergeist. After checking in with multiple sources we learned that the deal is yet to be completed and if Mandate does in fact receive the rights, it does not mean that it will be released via Lionsgate. Watch for any updates as we'll keep you posted. In Tobe Hooper's film a young family are visited by ghosts in their home. At first the ghosts appear friendly, moving objects around the house to the amusement of everyone, then they turn nasty and start to terrorise the family before they "kidnap" the youngest daughter.


11-11-07

 
On Sunday, the blog radio show "Movie Geeks United" interviewed Michael Grais, co-writer of the first film and co-writer/producer of "Poltergeist II." You can listen to the clip here:
 
 
Regarding "Poltergeist: In the Shadows," Grais seemed like he was dodging the question. He seemed perplexed as to why people were talking about it (the reason is that Grais himself has the title listed as being "in development" on his web site). He did say that he had written a treatment for what he called "Poltergeist III" but that MGM hadn't bought it and he hadn't been hired to write the script. I think he actually meant to say "Poltergeist IV." (Perhaps it's his version of what "Poltergeist III" should have been.)

UPDATE: I just confirmed with Michael's manager...he meant to say "Poltergeist IV."

11-13-07

Apparently MGM rejected Michael's treatment for "In the Shadows," and the remake is on the way:

from:

http://www.bloody-disgusting.com/news/10437

Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Get more Poltergeist (remake) news

I removed that completely ridiculous and laughable news post from this morning and decided to replace it with something authentic, juicy and even a little sexy. We've been reporting here for months that a remake to Tobe Hopper/Steven Spielberg's Poltergeist was in the works, we even went as far as to report that Mandate Pictures was attempting to acquire the remake rights to the franchise (read more here). We can now 100% CONFIRM - without a shadow of a doubt - that Mandate Pictures will be producing the remake for MGM. This is a fact, this is done, this is not speculation and it's time to quit denying it (yes you sh-tty fan site). The remake won't happen until post-strike, so watch for news in 2008.

However, Steven Awalt over at SpielbergFilms.com had this to say:

Bloody Disgusting is reporting that they've confirmed the remake is officially on. They also took a moment to take another swing at our site, which makes me think they must have a sincere complex. For the record, I never said that such a remake could never happen. I did, however, say that one wasn't happening at MGM back when they posted that news earlier this year. It was a fact that they were wrong and they're using a new turn of completely separate events to try to bludgeon another site. My info proved right previously, and it didn't just come from some secretary at Amblin as they allege, but as credible as a source as you could get outside of Spielberg himself.

So they were wrong then, they were wrong about "Jurassic Park IV" casting, and they can take a cold shower to get rid of that raging fascination they have for calling out our "sh---y little fansite" in every damned article they write with a Spielberg connection.

Back to the present, is a remake of "Poltergeist" indeed happening? Perhaps, perhaps not. As someone who doesn't trust the journalistic integrity of that site, I'll check with my sources. If they prove right this time, we'll post the news and give Bloody Disgusting a shiny star of encouragement for being right on the story finally. Under different circumstances.

8-20-08

Well, it's pretty much official. "The Hollywood Reporter" has named the two writers hired to do the remake: Juliet Snowden and Stiles White. MGM hasn't officially announced this yet, but I'm sure they soon will....

If you have any more scoops on P4 (or the remake), email me at david@poltergeistIII.com. I'll be happy to keep your name and email address confidential if you request it!