Doom movie early production history


The Doom motion picture which eventually released in 2005 had a long and troubled production history which dated back to 1995. At least three distinct productions took place, counting the final version of the film, with none of them having a significant influence on the later efforts. This article provides a timeline of major developments.

1995 - 1997: Northern Lights Entertainment[edit]

Credible news of the possibility of a Doom movie first broke in the press around April 1995, with the currently earliest known report appearing in PC Games magazine issue 9.[1] It was stated that rights to the franchise had been optioned by film-maker Ivan Reitman, who at the time operated the Northern Lights Entertainment production company, which was associated with Universal Pictures. Various rumors would continue to circle for a few months, including suggestions that action movie star Arnold Schwarzenegger would be cast in the main role.[2]

Jay Wilbur would finally confirm the film's production status in an interview for FLUX with Dan Amrich and Jeff Kitts in September of 1995, alongside discussion of the upcoming 3DO, Sony PlayStation, and (then so-called) Ultra 64 versions of Doom. Wilbur mentions that a first draft of the script had already come and gone, and that Reitman's Northern Lights Entertainment were currently editing it.[3]:22 Wilbur stated that writing for the first-draft script had been kept entirely in-house at the movie studio, and that although id Software would have direct involvement with a say in everything, they were not keen on "pigeonholing" the story of the movie to be too close to that of the game, referring to the game's plot as "thin" and relating it to the failure of other game-related movies in the past.[3]:23

Continuing production on the film was noted in NEXT Generation in November 1995 in their naming of John Romero as one of the industry's 75 top power players.[4]

Media continue to reference the Reitman production as currently underway through 1996, with a major mention appearing in PC Entertainment containing additional speculation that Arnold Schwarzenegger would play a lead role and that a release was eminent within a year.[5] A passing mention in PlayStation Plus magazine in September of that year moots a 1997 release as well.[6]

1997 - 1999: Ethos Films[edit]

Mainstream media references to the film begin to dry up in 1997, resulting in the rise of a large amount of speculation and rumor mongering, including speculation that the film, still at Universal under Reitman, would now be based on a screenplay adaptation of the Doom novels.[7] Producer Moe Lospinoso of Ethos Films would contact Corona Productions' Coming Attractions site himself to clarify that the rights had at some point earlier passed from Universal to TriStar, that Reitman was no longer attached, and that a screenplay was being awaited which would have nothing to do with the novels, which Lospinoso derided as "bad".[7]

Creature designer and practical effects master Vincent J. Guastini would also weigh in, backing up Lospinoso's account and eventually posting pictures of some of his abandoned work on the 1997-to-1999 production concept, which included sketches and models of the demon, baron of Hell, mancubus, spider mastermind, and a towering cyberdemon puppet.[7][8] Models of the demon and baron, as well as an elaborate animatronic head for the spider mastermind, would later appear at auction.[9][10] According to Guastini, he had been involved with the earlier production at Universal as well and would remain attached to the production until 1999.[8]

In April of 1998, amidst news of Wing Commander and Duke Nukem movies, PC Powerplay magazine would confirm Lospinoso's involvement, as well as mentioning that Ron Mita and Jim McClain were signed for the adaptation, and that Dino Conte was involved in the production.[11]

Lospinoso would remain in direct contact with the Coming Attractions website. On February 2 of 1999, he noted that a deal had been finalized with Todd McFarlane, commenting, "We are very pleased to be working creatively with them." On February 22, he asked Coming Attractions readers to offer their suggestions as to who they would cast in a Doom movie, as well as what director they think would be perfect for the job, claiming that production was now "stepping up".[7]

According to Guastini, the production was canceled permanently some time after April 1999 in reaction to the Columbine High School Massacre, due to its perceived association with the Doom franchise because of one of the killers' obsession with the game.[8] However, this information was not made public at the time and it became widely presumed that the film was again in development hell. It was not until the following August at QuakeCon that John Carmack would mention the movie again. He instead blamed the failure of the project on two consecutive script rejections by id Software, claiming that the first had been "terrible" and the second "pretty mediocre". He said that the rights had lapsed as a result and that the film was unlikely to ever be completed.[12]

2002: Warner Bros.[edit]

An entirely new production to be based on the aesthetics and story of Doom 3 rather than the classic Doom series would be briefly headquartered at Warner Bros. starting in 2002, first being reported in the The Hollywood Reporter.[7] However, the production was given only 15 months before rights would revert to Universal, which did eventually happen. However, the new production would continue under Universal with producers Lorenzo di Bonaventura and John Wells attached, and would eventually mature into the film which was released in 2005. Details of that production are covered on the main article.


  1. Hollywood is Doomed! (archived 🏛). (April 1995). PC Games, 9, 16.
  2. Doomsday for SNES beckons (archived 🏛). (July 1995). Total!, 43, 15.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Amrich, Dan; Jeff Kitts. (September 1995). Hell & Doomnation (archived 🏛). FLUX Magazine, 5, 22-23.
  4. Braben, David. (November 1995). 75 Power Players (archived 🏛). NEXT Generation, 11, 52.
  5. Meyer, Bill. (April 1996). Game News (archived 🏛). PC Entertainment, 28, 11.
  6. Preview - Final Doom (archived 🏛). (September 1996). PlayStation Plus, 12, 42.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 Various contributors (25 September 2002). "Coming Attractions - Rumor Central - Doom." Corona Productions (archived 🏛). Retrieved 23 December 2022.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Guastini, Vincent J. "Doom." Vincent Guastini Productions (archived 🏛).
  9. @SlappyCromwell (1 January 2022). "There was also an eBay auction back in 2005 in which these very models were sold..." Twitter. Retrieved 24 December 2022.
  10. @HDoomguy (1 January 2022). "'s also a 'production bust' or something that was made for the movie." Twitter. Retrieved 24 December 2022.
  11. The 90 minute cutscene (archived 🏛). (April 1998). PC Powerplay, 23, 12.
  12. Kosak, Dave "Fargo" (9 August 1999). "John Carmack at QuakeCon." 3D Action Planet (archived 🏛). Retrieved 23 December 2022.