Welcome to Script to Pieces, a recurring feature at Wicked Horror where we look at the best, most interesting and at times most unbelievable horror movies that never happened. Sometimes these will be productions that never came together at all, other times, they will be original incarnations that were completely different from what we wound up with. Each should be fascinating in its own way, because the stories of movies that never see the light of day can sometimes be even more interesting than the stories of those that do.
Wishmaster is one of the last franchise starting horror films of the ‘90s. Over time, it’s proved to be pretty divisive, but it stands up well as exactly what it was meant to be: a goofy, gooey FX extravaganza. It also hinges on Andrew Divoff’s titular performance as the Djinn. Both the first and the second Wishmaster film center wisely on his guttural, deep voiced performance. When the Djinn was considered to be a burgeoning horror icon of the 1990s, it was all due to Divoff and everything he put in to make that character so memorable.
Because of that, along with the budgetary setbacks, Wishmaster 3 and 4 were not nearly as well regarded as the first two. The new Djinn did not make nearly the same impact and with the sea of DTV sequels of the early 2000s, the last two Wishmaster features kind of came and went. But there had been plans to make something with a bit more impact, at least at one point.
Before the series took an even lower-budget turn in Wishmaster 3: The Prophecy Fulfilled, a much more ambitious script had been written for a proposed third entry titled Wishmaster: The Third Millennium. And this script was written by none other than the franchise’s star, Andrew Divoff. The idea was ambitious, to say the least, mostly revolving around the panic surrounding Y2K. It’s easy to forget now, but in 1999, this was something of a widespread panic. It ultimately stemmed from a fear of technological dependency given how much the world already revolved around the Internet at that point, and people were afraid of everything from a permanent blackout that would even see planes falling from the sky to all-out nuclear war. It was a pretty bad but ultimately short-lived panic.
Written in 1999, at the height of Y2K paranoia, Wishmaster: The Third Millennium opened with an American warship getting struck by a missile in Asia, while a meeting at the UN is interrupted by creatures coming to life and tearing apart the crowd. Explaining his script to Geekadelphia, Divoff added, “Then we open in the desert, with a guy in the desert finding the gemstone again. I won’t go too much further than that, but suffice to say I put a lot of thought into it.”
Just from the sound of the opening few moments, there’s no doubting that the third film would have been much larger in scale than the first two, which probably wouldn’t have ever been within the realm of reason considering the fact that the series had already gone direct-to-video with the second movie.
And that looks to be a large reason as to why it never happened. The scope was just too big for what could feasibly be done with the franchise at that point. When Divoff finished writing The Third Millennium, he presented his script to Lionsgate, who turned it down as the financial concerns became immediately obvious. According to Divoff, “I was a little too well, how should I say, overshooting the mark with what could be expected from special effects at some of the things that were included in my script; like gargoyles on buildings coming to life and coming down into the street and that sort of thing. That would have been, as we had discussed, the budget for that one outweighed the rest of the films.”
There’s no doubt that this potential sequel could and likely would have been a visual feast. And it’s worth noting just how many show stopping effects the original managed to contain despite its budget, thanks to the direction of KNB’s Robert Kurtzman. But simply from the sound of it, Divoff’s Wishmaster 3 would have cost significantly more than the first film as well. It’s hard to know just how much of the globe-hopping elements would persist throughout the movie, but Divoff promised that he had put quite a bit of thought into the script and the way that it would expand the mythology. That, if anything, is the biggest missed opportunity in not getting to see this proposed third entry.
It would have been amazing to see the Wishmaster series continue to grow and become more and more ambitious. This was always a franchise with enormous potential, but the realities of the DTV market in which it came out never really provided that kind of opportunity. The third and fourth films were incredibly low budget and the absence of Andrew Divoff was definitely felt. In the same interview, Divoff explained that he parted ways with the franchise on amicable terms, but has said that he would be open to return and said, “I would love to do it again. But whether it is me or not, I think the franchise has a lot of life left in it.”
If Divoff ever did return for a possible Wishmaster 5, it’s hard to imagine it being The Third Millennium, as the script sounds very much of its time. That might also have been a contributing factor in it not getting made. After all, Wishmaster 2 was released in 1999, so there’s no way the third film would have been released the same year, especially at the scope that Divoff wrote it. While it makes sense to play on the paranoia of Y2K, that whole paranoia, everyone was worried that the world was going to come to an end on the eve of the New Year. By the time The Third Millennium was released, if it had happened, audiences would have known if those fears had come to pass or not. It probably wouldn’t have been timely anymore, no matter how quickly it could have been made.
On the other hand, the franchise has always had a strong sense of humor, and it’s possible that the movie could have played on those fears from a retrospective standpoint. Either way, it’s a shame that it could never have come to pass, especially given the less exciting third and fourth entries that we got.