Nicolas Cage was infamously set to star in Superman Lives, a Tim Burton-directed Superman movie. According to Cage, things didn’t end up working because of studio intervention.

Speaking during an appearance at the Red Sea Film Festival in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia this past week (via Deadline), Cage spoke briefly about the film. According to the actor, studios at the time didn’t want Burton directing it, and potentially were afraid of the cost.

“Tim was hot off Mars Attacks!, and it was a brilliant movie. They wanted Renny Harlin to direct it, but I knew if you’re gonna play that part, you have to hit the bull’s eye. We got really close, but the studio called and shut the whole thing down,” he said. “I think they were afraid about how much it would cost and they would get their money back.”

Superman Lives remains an infamous “what if” moment in movie history

The infamous Superman Lives was originally developed in the mid-1990s and was written by Kevin Smith after he pitched an idea for the film to producer Jon Peters.

A release date was originally planned for 1998, with Kevin Spacey in talks to play Lex Luthor, Christopher Walken the choice for Brainiac, with Sandra Bullock, Courteney Cox, and Julianne Moore in the running for Lois Lane, and Chris Rock as Jimmy Olsen. Ultimately, the project was put on hold in 1998 and never came out.

The legend of Superman Lives was detailed in Jon Schnepp’s 2015 documentary The Death of Superman Lives: What Happened?, which featured an interview with Burton. Had the movie been made, Superman Lives would have been a loose adaptation of DC‘s The Death of Superman, with the Man of Steel facing off against Lex Luthor, Brainiac, and a giant alien spider.

While the project never got made, The Flash director Andy Muschietti convinced Cage to cameo as Burton’s Superman in the DC Universe movie for its colliding multiverse ending.

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