With the recent sad news of Richard Donner’s passing most of us have been looking back at his excellent filmography that included excellence like The Omen and Superman: The Movie. However what of the future? Even at the age of 91, he had plans to return to the director’s chair and helm sequels to two of his biggest movies to serve as his final projects before his retirement.

After directing Mel Gibson and Danny Glover in four Lethal Weapon movies, he had circled the fifth installment for years. The stars were beginning to align and the project was gaining some traction with Lethal Weapon 5 in active development and Gibson and Glover both set to return.

Richard Donner had said:

“This is the final one. It’s both my privilege and duty to put it to bed. It’s exciting, actually… Hahaha! It’s the last one, I’ll promise you that.”

The long-gestating The Goonies 2 also relied on Donner’s determination to keep the dream alive. For many years Donner and the original cast members alike had all expressed an interest in getting the project off the ground but Warner Bros. seemed uninterested. Then in 2010 a more optimistic Donner seemed to have a breakthrough at Warner Bros. and had stated:

“[The Goonies 2 was a] definite thing, it will happen.”

He made these comments in a Warner Bros. sanctioned production about The Goonies The Making of a Cult Classic.

Getting both of these projects to have any sort of movement in Hollywood appeared to be the result of Donner and his drive, plus his name recognition. In both cases, the pitch was likely that the original casts were joining the original director as book-ends to some classic movies.

In May, Corey Feldman had already claimed that the sequel was floundering in an interview with Dread Central and had been clear that the cast would never want to do the movie without Donner involved, and this was before his passing. The reason, Lethal Weapon 5:

“I don’t know what the hell it is. But all I know is that when I found out my dear friend Richard Donner had signed on to do Lethal Weapon 5 as his swan song, well that pretty much sewed up the rumor mill right there. It’s done. We can’t make [The Goonies 2] without [Donner]. And [Donner’s] off shooting guns with the Lethal Weapon people…”

“And that is the shame of it. Because, just like when we did the [cast reunions] last year, I mean it doesn’t matter how many grey hairs everybody’s got on their faces, the love is still there. And the family feeling is still there. And I know that secretly, each of us weeps at night wishing that there was that magical [The Goonies 2] script landing on our doorstep the next day. But unfortunately and sadly, it still has not arrived.”

Donner’s incredible legacy as a filmmaker will always live on, but without him around it is hard to see how either of these movies now move forward.