8 sci-fi ideas that were too WTF to make it into Minority Report

Contributed by
Dec 17, 2012

It's hard to believe it's been 10 years since Steven Spielberg blew our minds with the Phillip K. Dick adaptation Minority Report, showing off targeted advertising and gesture-based computing tech that's already starting to come into existence. Turns out Spielberg tapped a think tank of scientists and futurists to piece together his proposed future—though not every idea was a keeper.

For every computer-driven car or creepily specific billboard that made the cut, a hundred more ideas died on the conference room table. Wired recently chatted with some of the minds included in the initial planning, and they revealed some of the weirder ideas that Spielberg thought were a little too WTF.

So here are 8 ideas listed in the film's "future Bible"—but axed later on—from Minority Report:

Real cat-dogs

The film's production designer Alex McDowell revealed a pitch to have mutant, genetically altered pets featured in the background, but Spielberg thought it would detract from—instead of adding to—the atmosphere.

"We kept coming across this with the futurists who would say, 'Well, you know in 50 years, your pets will be mutants. You'll be able to do a hybrid between a cat and a dog.' And Steven kept saying, 'It's too sci-fi, the audience will never believe it.'"

Genetically altered bamboo, domestic zebras, eye-color-changing eye wash

Douglas Coupland, author of Generation X and Microserfs, was among the minds invited to Spielberg's summit. He cracked open a copy of the ideas pitched and revealed some ideas that would have definitely stood out:

"Domesticated zebras, an eye wash that changes eye color, bamboo bred to grow hexagonally for more structural support," he said.

Voice-controlled cars

Automotive designer Harald Belker believes cars will be exclusively voice-controlled at some point in the future, and pitched that point only to have it nixed by Spielberg. Why? It looked too boring.

"We showed a car to Spielberg and he said, 'There are no buttons!' Well, of course not—it's supposed to be voice activated. 'OK, so what will the actor do in the car?' We had to add buttons. You think of everything, but you forget that you're making a movie."

Short-necked swans, a ceiling tile black market

Coupland kept digging into his notes and noted an entire subplot that could have focused on a black market to obtain particle board from the 1990s, and swans we wouldn't mind killing:

"Bootleg trafficking of white particle board ceiling tiles from the 1990s, swans bred with super-short necks so we don't feel guilty killing them," he said.

Paparazzi robots

Considering the film followed a team of cops, MIT Media Lab alum John Underkoffler said the think tank decided to take a crack at the tradition of paparazzi and news reporters showing up at crime scenes to get some pics.

"Ninety-nine percent ended up on the idea room floor, stuff like paparazzi 'bots with cameras that would fly to crime scenes and jostle for access."

(Via Wired)

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