I always thought it would be funny if a Hero was faced with a sword-wielding baddie. Instead of swordfighting with him, the Hero just takes out a gun and shoots him. I mentioned the idea to friends a couple of times. Then Raiders of the Lost Arc came out. DAMMIT! They stole my idea! But this has happened to a friend a couple of times.
When we were playing with super-8 and video arcades were popular, my friend had the following idea which we were going to film: A kid plays a certain video game. He’s really good at it. The Best. It turns out the game is a testing device for an alien civilization that needs fighter pilots for their galactic war. After talking about it for a year or two, The Last Starfighter was released. Weird, eh?
My friend was working on a great idea a few years ago. First, instead of working from a script (he’d made two feature-length films by this point, on which I worked), he was going to draw the storyboards and work exclusively from them. He spent about a year making the drawings for a story about a detective. The detective could walk onto a crime scene and get psychic flashes of what had happened. The detective was taciturn and intense. As he works cases, he realizes there is an organization out there that is trying to bring about the end of the world. Just as my friend was finishing his storyboards, Chris Carter’s Millennium debuted as a weekly series.
My friend did make his detective film (I was first unit photography on that one), but the psychic detective became a sleeze-obsessed P.I. and the film itself became a weird comedy. (The opening scenes especially are hilarious!)