Since the release of the third film in 1988, there have been 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.
Copyright 1989 CRAIN COMMUNICATIONS, INC.;
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.....
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://22.214.171.124/search?q=cache:VsH5_twWbgQJ:www.contactmusic.com/new/xmlfeed.nsf/mndwebpages/theyre%20back%20poltergeist%20to%20return "poltergeist: kayeri"&hl=en&ie=UTF-8
A new 'Poltergeist' movie is coming
Posted by: Paul Heath
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:
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:
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.
07-05-06: I received this from someone who claims to be a former MGM insider:
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'.
"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".
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:
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....
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.
Well, looks like (sadly) the remake talk is back again:
UPDATE: I just confirmed with Michael's manager...he meant to say "Poltergeist IV."
Apparently MGM rejected Michael's treatment for "In the Shadows," and the remake is on the way:
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.
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!
Guess after 7 years it was time to update this page! Well, obviously the Juliet Snowden/Stiles White script was not used. And director Vadim Perelman didn't end up directing the film. While a few other writers took cracks at the script (Scott Derrickson and Paul Harris Boardman among them), ultimately the entire project was put on hold while MGM went through yet another corporate upheaval. In September 2012, a completely new script was written by David Lindsay-Abaire (revised in May 2013), and director Gil Kenan took the reins with Sam Raimi as producer. Filming took place in and around Toronto, Canada in late 2013, with a week of re-shoots completed in fall of 2014. While the film is said to be strictly a remake, attentive fans noticed from the international trailer that the woman playing the realtor sounds and looks a lot like JoBeth Williams. Guess we'll find out for sure on May 22nd!