It’s crazy to think that cursed movies or plays exist, but everyone in the industry knows at least one of them. However none captured people’s intrigue and interest like Atuk…
If you ask anyone in the movie business, they will most likely have one or two insane stories relating to Atuk.
The still unproduced screenplay floated around Hollywood around the early 1970s. The story is about an Eskimo who finds himself in New York, an adaptation of Mordecai Richler’s novel from 1963 entitled The Incomparable Atuk. One producer named Norman Jewison bought the book rights back in 1971, with Tod Carrol, a screenwriter, immediately conjuring up a draft that has not yet been filmed. That’s not to say no one has ever tried, but many people believe that the movie’s script kills every actor that has any interest in playing the role of the lead.
Carroll doesn’t humor any talk regarding a curse on Atuk, but many admit that there are some creepy and odd coincidences surrounding the screenplay, most of which involve death of the actors involved. It has definitely been intriguing enough for many Hollywood buffs to be interested.
As such, the screenplay became one of Hollywood’s infamous mysteries as it is still unproduced, shining a light over the dark, scary side of the industry after the tragic passings of many of the people involved.
What is even creepier- Atuk is still lurking out there. The organization United Artists continue to retain its rights today, even allowing those who wish to dabble in the darkness the ability to read it themselves. If you want to undertake this creepy endeavor, you might need to read this first before cracking it open. There are some stories that are best left untold.
Aturk killed actor and comedian John Belushi.
Atuk had been written with a single actor in Carroll’s mind: Blues Brothers and SNL superstar John Belushi. He was seemingly very interested in the role, which was great for Norman Jewison, the producer, who had been looking for an actor with the characteristics of famed Belushi for around 10 years.
However months later, Belushi was discovered to have died at Hollywood’s Chateau Marmont Hotel. His death was later ruled to be a drug overdose, and his dealer and friend Catherine Evelyn Smith eventually had been charged with giving him the fatal dose in a manslaughter sentence.
It caused the car crash that killed Sam Kinison.
Belushi’s death put a pause on Atuk, but not for long. In 1988, the film’s production resumed, this time with comedian Sam Kinison playing the lead of Atuk. Sources say that Kinison, who is notorious for being picky with scripts, didn’t even read it before accepting the role, arriving on the set with new rewrites already in hand. Others believe that his manager pledged he would have creative control before they got the studio to agree. Either way, many agree that there is footage shot with the actor in the character’s full costume, but production was halted only eight days later. United Artists, Atuk’s supporting studio, sued Kinison after he threatened to give a performance that was intentionally bad, and the actor’s manager left shortly after.
Just a few years later, Kinison, known to be an alcoholic, was tragically killed in a collision head-on with a teenager’s car on Route 95 in California. Ironically enough, Kinison was completely sober while the boy, 17 years old, who crashed into him, was not. Witnesses who were present at the crash tell of a chilling story about what happened that day. Before Kinison passed away, he seemed to be in a conversation with someone, or something, no one saw.
“I don’t want to die. I don’t want to die,” he had allegedly said before he paused and listened attentively to voices that weren’t there for anyone else to hear. He then asked, “But why?” and listened again, quietly muttering “okay, okay, okay” before passing away.
Atuk gave comedian John Candy the heart attack that killed him.
Only two years after Kinison’s death, in 1994, character actor John Candy was approached to possibly take on the lead of Atuk. Candy was interested but sadly died from a severe heart attack before ever making his decision.
Candy’s friend also felt Atuk’s wrath, too.
Sure, Candy wasn’t the healthiest person around and people knew that, but what gave Atuk’s curse the credit for his untimely death is how only months later, screenwriter and friend of Candy, Michael O’Donoghue, also died, but from an unexpected cerebral hemorrhage. Various accounts stated that O’Donoghue might have read the script with Candy, or passed it down to him.
Chris Farley overdosed because of it.
Chris Farley had been the next actor in line to take on Atuk. He did not seem wary of the role even after whispers of its curse- in fact, he was quite vocal about being excited to see the script. Many say that he was about to accept the lead before dying in 1997. Farley’s death, like Belushi’s, was due to a drug overdose, as the comedian was revealed to have taken morphine and cocaine in the John Hancock Center in Chicago.
It allowed for Phil Hartman’s brutal murder.
This is a yet to be verified connection, however many sources claim to know that Chris Farley had shared the Atuk script with friend Phil Hartman, who later was tragically killed by his wife only months after Farley died. While Hartman wasn’t going for the lead as Atuk, he was shooting for a supporting role in the movie.
The screenplay is believed to carry a curse.
In circles that discuss Atuk’s phenomenon and others like it, many reference the “book curse”. This concept was popular during the medieval times, and would inflict ruin and devastation on anyone who stole documents or a tome from the intended owner.
Since John Belushi was the intended “original owner” of the Atuk screenplay, but died before getting the chance to make the movie, could Atuk’s curse be the infamous book curse?
Atuk is not the only screenplay that is cursed.
John Belushi, Chris Farley, and John Candy also had this one in common: each one of them were considered for the lead role as Ignatius J. Reilly, a boisterous character in the unfinished A Confederacy of Dunces. This screenplay, an adaptation of John Kennedy Toole’s novel and Pulitzer Prize winner, was in the development stage since back in 1980. Similarly to Atuk, it was never completed.
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