Independent films, of course, don't always have to play by the same rules. But what if they did? We looked at this summer's crop of the most high-profile indies -- and most importantly, their titles -- and re-imagined them as big-budget, mass-marketed star vehicles. It's common knowledge that movies marketed toward mass audiences tend to get "watered down" with formulaic plot contrivances and predictable, feel-good endings. Anyone who's watched an episode of 'Entourage' knows that.
Independent films, of course, don't always have to play by the same rules. But what if they did? We looked at this summer's crop of the most high-profile indies -- and most importantly, their titles -- and re-imagined them as big-budget, mass-marketed star vehicles.
(Note to Hollywood: We expect compensation if you run with any of our ideas.)
'500 Days of Summer'
What It Is: A charming, offbeat romance about a greeting card writer's year-and-a-half courtship of a free-spirited woman who doesn't believe that love exists.
What It Could've Been: Roland Emmerich's latest global warming-oriented disaster flick in which we watch in delight as the Statue of Liberty melts, the Atlantic Ocean evaporates and the entire population of Arizona spontaneously combusts.
'The Girlfriend Experience'
What It Is: Steven Soderbergh directed this low-budget, documentary-style drama about a high-end call girl (played by real-life porn star Sasha Grey) who struggles to navigate the increasingly blurred line between her career and her personal life.
What It Could've Been: Steven Soderbergh directed this big-budget, star-studded romantic comedy about a high-end call girl (played by Julia Roberts) who struggles to navigate the increasingly blurred line between her career and her personal life ... and finds love.
What It Is: A harrowing documentary about the mass slaughter of dolphins in Japan.
What It Could've Been: A horror flick about a couple who set out on the perfect vacation where they plan to spend their days swimming among marine life -- only to be devoured by a wild pack of genetically altered, flesh-eating dolphins.
What It Is: A thoughtful and taut thriller about a man (indie darling Sam Rockwell) looking forward to returning home after a long-term solo space mission -- when something goes wrong.
What It Could've Been: A Jerry Bruckheimer actioner starring Nicolas Cage as a rogue astrophysicist who's discovered that the moon's orbit has been thrown out of whack by global warming, setting it on a collision course with Earth. His scruffy sidekick is played by ... Sam Rockwell.
'The Hurt Locker'
What It Is: Directed by Kathryn Bigelow ('Point Break'), this intense Iraq War movie follows a bomb squad technician (Russell Crowe lookalike Jeremy Renner) and his team, who roam the streets of Baghdad dismantling bombs in high-pressure situations.
What It Could've Been: Directed by Kathryn Bigelow ('Point Break'), this intense WWII movie stars Russell Crowe as a bomb squad technician whose team is wiped out by a booby-trapped locker full of explosives. Hell-bent on revenge, he recruits a highly specialized team to put a hurtin' of his own on those German Nazi bastards.
'Away We Go'
What It Is: A quirky romantic dramedy about expectant parents (Maya Rudolph and John Krasinski) traveling the continent to find the ideal place to raise their brood.
What It Could've Been: An animated adventure about talking pigeons migrating south for the winter, featuring the voices of John Goodman (as the surly leader), Seth Rogen (as his wide-eyed son) and Rosie Perez (as the wise-cracking Latina pigeon).
What It Is: A charming romantic comedy in which Hugh Dancy plays a man with Asperger's (a light form of autism characterized by awkward social interaction) whose romance with his beautiful NYC neighbor (Rose Byrne) brings him out of his shell.
What It Could've Been: Adam Sandler goes, as they'd say in 'Tropic Thunder,' "full retard" to play a mentally challenged man who, encouraged by his beautiful NYC neighbor (Angelina Jolie), becomes an actor and wins an Academy Award for starring in his own life story.
'The Limits of Control'
What It Is: A deeply existential drama about a mysterious stranger (played by relative unknown Isaach De Bankole) in a strange land, directed by Jim Jarmusch.
What It Could've Been: A "high-voltage thrill ride" starring Jason Statham as a man who has 24 hours to prevent a terrorist attack -- without the use of his recently severed limbs.
'Five Minutes of Heaven'
What It Is: Set in Northern Ireland, this drama stars Liam Neeson as a man who, at the age of 17, kills another man and goes to prison for it. Thirty-three years later, the victim's brother plots to kill the freshly freed ex-con on live television.
What It Could've Been: Teenagers at a raucous party are playing the popular makeout game Seven Minutes in Heaven, but their fun is cut short -- and terror begins -- when a serial killer starts sending the partygoers to heaven ... for good.
What It Is: In this latest entry from the "mumblecore" movement (low-budget filmmaking characterized by improv and naturalism), two hetero friends attempt to have sex with each other for an art project.
What It Could've Been: A couple of totally straight bros/undercover cops (Dane Cook and Johnny Knoxville) must pretend they're lovers in order to infiltrate an ecstasy ring operated out of a Chelsea nightclub.
What It Is: This expose of the American food industry shows how public health, worker safety and the environment are routinely dismissed in favor of corporate greed.
What It Could've Been: When a whistleblower at a slaughterhouse is murdered, a union rep (George Clooney) is determined to get to the bottom of what turns out to be a vast corporate conspiracy. Jon Voight stars as the CEO mastermind (and murderer) whose hidden agenda is to take over the entire food industry.
'World's Greatest Dad'
What It Is: A very black comedy starring an understated Robin Williams as the not-so-proud papa of a teenage d-bag with a soft spot for porn, f-bombs and reaming out dear old dad.
What It Could've Been: A light-hearted comedy starring an over-the-top Robin Williams as a man who, donning a hilarious fat suit, disguises himself as a 400-pound African-American woman to win the affections of his estranged son.
What It Is: The true story of a closeted gay interior designer who, in an effort to drum up business for his parents' dilapidated upstate New York motel, inadvertently sets in motion the watershed concert event known as Woodstock.
What It Could've Been: A CGI-animated 'Peanuts' movie in which high-end thieves, bent on possessing Snoopy's priceless collar, kidnap the pooch's birdie best friend Woodstock and hold him for ransom. Snoopy turns badass action hero to rescue his amigo from danger.
What It Is: Chan-wook Park's take on the classic vampire legend, in which a failed medical experiment turns a priest into a bloodsucker who relies on comatose patients for feedings.
What It Could've Been: The teen-friendly tale of the insatiable attraction and forbidden love between a high school girl and her pale-skinned vampire beau.