“Mixed Nuts” Over “Pulp Fiction”? See Which Hits Studios Missed Out On

Take an infographic look at which studios passed on some of the biggest films ever, and the surprising options they didn’t pass on.

Hindsight is not only infinitely more accurate than its opposite, sometimes it can be very painful. Especially when untold sums of prestige and money hang in the balance. For movie studios, the only way to learn this truth is the hard way.


Weighing any potential movie property involves a cold calculus of concept, cost, and collaborators. It’s not always immediately clear one has a hit in their hands when those hands only hold 120 pages of words, and the assurances of their creator. Back to the Future, for instance, as beautifully explained by comedian John Mulaney, sounds like the most insanely misguided screenplay ever written. Only a very trusting executive at Universal could guess that Robert Zemeckis would have the vision to turn it into a high-grossing family favorite that spawned two lesser sequels. Of course, before that executive even had the chance to greenlight it, his or her counterpart at Columbia had already seen it—and given it a hard pass.

Of course, every time an executive closes a door, he or she opens a window. What’s much worse than the inherent shame of rejecting a future all-timer, though, is when the world sees what didn’t get rejected. The year that Back to the Future opened to phenomenal reviews and box office at Universal, one of the movies Columbia put out instead was Perfect, the aerobics drama starring a spandex-clad Jamie Lee Curtis and John Travolta. It flopped. Hard. If that information inspires any retroactive schadenfraude, then you are in for a treat.

Created by Printerinks, a new infographic called Hollywood’s Missed Opportunities reveals just how wrong many major studios have gotten it over the years. Whether its opting for Perfect over Back to the Future, or Mixed Nuts over Pulp Fiction, this forensic examination of poor choices will make you reconsider ever decision you have to make the rest of the day. Take a regret-free look at the infographic below.

About the author

Joe Berkowitz is a writer and staff editor at Fast Company. His next book, Away with Words, is available June 13th from Harper Perennial.