Abandoned Sequels: FORREST GUMP 2: GUMP & CO. - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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Abandoned Sequels: FORREST GUMP 2: GUMP & CO.

When life was not like a box of chocolates...

Making $678 million from a $55 million budget and winning Best Picture, Best Actor in a Leading Role (Tom Hanks, who also won the previous year for Philadelphia), Best Director (Robert Zemeckis), Best Visual Effects, Best Adapted Screenplay (Eric Roth), and Best Film Editing at the 67th Academy Awards, 1994's Forrest Gump was a Hollywood executive's dream. Especially when the author of the original 1986 novel Forrest Gump was based upon penned a sequel that directly referenced the movie and the effect it had had on the fictional character's life.

When Winston Groom first created Forrest Gump he wrote him with Savant syndrome, and when his novel was purchased for cinematic adaptation he had someone like John Goodman in mind to play the lead. Goodman, however, was never considered by director Robert Zemeckis or the film's producers, rather the part was offered to and rejected by John Travolta. Bill Murray and Chevy Chase were then considered for the role, with Sean Penn stating in an interview that had Tom Hanks passed he was second choice to play Forrest.

Hanks wanted to change several aspects of the role, including easing Forrest's pronounced Southern accent, but was eventually persuaded against this by Zemeckis. However, what he did do, along with screenwriter Eric Roth, is take off the rough edges and play Forrest more like a "warmhearted dope" rather than "idiot savant", as Groom described the change in character.

After the film's huge success, Groom put pen to paper once more, and taking the lead from Tom Hanks portrayal of Forrest Gump he also smoothed off those "rough edges", leading to 1995's Gump & Co., a chronicle Forrest's life throughout the 1980s.

On the very first page of Gump & Co., Forrest Gump tells readers
"Don't never let nobody make a movie of your life's story, [though] whether they get it right or wrong, it doesn't matter."
The first chapter of the book suggests the real-life events surrounding the success of Forrest Gump the film have been incorporated into Forrest's storyline, and Forrest himself has gotten a lot of, not always desired, media attention as a result of this.

Just as before, the story takes place in flashbacks narrated by Forrest in the present day, largely from a bench...

...and, in much the same way, Forrest inadvertently finds himself stumbling in and out of some of America's most memorable moments of the '80s and early '90s, including contributing to the new Coca-Cola formula, crashing the Exxon Valdez, and riding in the backseat of O.J. Simpson's white Bronco. Towards the end of the novel, Forrest meets Tom Hanks, attends the Academy Awards and is interviewed about the film's success on The David Letterman Show.

It's, perhaps, a bit too meta, but all the same screenwriter Eric Roth worked on an adaptation of the Gump & Co. novel for a planned cinematic sequel to Forrest Gump. Lt. Dan (Gary Sinise) was set to return, with his character now selling off his shares in Bubba Gump Shrimp Company and living in style before being swindled of his fortune and living on the streets. Forrest was to be visited throughout by Jenny's (Robin Wright) ghost, acting as his guide, and the story would heavily feature Forrest Gump Jr. (although very likely not played by Haley Joel Osmet the second time around) who was very protective of his father and the way people perceived him to be "the most lovable idiot in America".

Of course, none of it would work on film if Tom Hanks wasn't prepared to return. Fortunately he was. With Robert Zemeckis also on board to direct, the intention was that the sequel would go into active production in late 2001/early 2002. Yet this clearly never happened, and screenwriter Eric Roth explained why...
"I turned in my version of the Forrest Gump sequel, or Part II, whatever you call it - it's a continuation, really - I want to start the movie literally two minutes after the end of the last one, with him on the bus bench waiting for his son to get home from school. But I turned in the script the night before 9/11"
Much of Gump & Co. sees Forrest intertwined with various skirmishes and conflicts from the era of its setting, including the Iran-Contra Affair where Forrest meets Ayatollah Khomeini and is jailed for war crimes. Later in the story, along with Lt. Dan, Forrest is deployed to the Persian Gulf War where his tank crew "accidentally" captures Saddam Hussein. Also, near the end of the film, Forrest experiences first-hand the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, which left 168 people dead.

With all this included in a sequel about to go into production against the backdrop of rising tensions between America and Iran & Iraq, the "warmhearted dope" approach just didn't feel right post 9/11.
"We sat down, Tom and Bob [Zemeckis] and I and we looked at each other and said, we don't think this is relevant anymore. The world had changed."
2007 saw Paramount Pictures try to resurrect the project, but it seems none of the main players felt it was wise, as Roth once again explained...
"Now time has obviously passed, but maybe some things should just be one thing and left as they are."
Very wise words indeed.

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