The Nice Guys Wasn't Originally Supposed To Be A Movie, Here's What We Know

Shane Black’s The Nice Guys is far from a project that you could say came together over night. In reality, the movie has been in the works for about 13 years now, which – if you’re paying attention – means that it was in development since before Black’s 2005 directorial debut, Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang. Like any script in the industry, as time went by various changes were made, and it’s all but guaranteed that the film that will be heading to theaters in a couple weeks will have some significant differences from early drafts. What it may surprise you to learn, however, is that there was a point when there was talk about converting the feature into a television show.

I learned about the long history of The Nice Guys all the way back in February 2015, when I joined a very small group of other film journalists to visit the set of the movie while it was still in production and interview the filmmakers and cast. While chatting with producer Joel Silver – who has been working with Shane Black since 1987’s Lethal Weapon - he filled us in on how the detective dramedy almost wound up being a project at CBS (something that Silver is extremely happy didn’t wind up going down). Said the filmmaker,

We gave [The Nice Guys] to CBS at that time, and they loved it and they wanted to do a series. Thank God it didn’t happen. Thank God it didn’t happen, but we were in a situation trying to do a series, and then for whatever reason we couldn’t cast it right and we couldn’t get it right. I remember there was this scene where [Ryan Gosling’s character, Holland March], his daughter is in the trunk and he says, ‘Why’d you come?’ and he closes the trunk, leaving her in the trunk. And of course, he goes back and opens it - and CBS said you can’t put her in the trunk. ‘But in a second you’ll open it!’ ‘It doesn’t matter, you can’t put her in the trunk, she’s a little girl.’ ‘But he takes her out in a second!’ ‘No.’ So, there were those kinds of taste issues, and it was a contemporary story.

Clearly the sensibilities of both Shane Black and Joel Silver were not the same as the folks developing new shows over at CBS, so even if a television show based on the The Nice Guys did manage to get rolling, it probably wouldn’t have wound up being the project that anyone involved really wanted. As Silver went on to explain, however, after a few more years passed, it was decided that the script would work for the big screen – so Shane Black re-wrote it, changing the setting to the late 1970s, and after the monumental success of Iron Man 3 in 2013, it was officially the right time to get the film moving and headed towards cinemas.

So instead of a neutered television version of The Nice Guys we’ll be getting a fully R-rated, hilarious-looking period piece that will be arriving in theaters in a few weeks (on May 20th to be exact). We couldn’t be more excited for the film, so stay tuned to learn more about the movie very soon!

Eric Eisenberg
Assistant Managing Editor

Eric Eisenberg is the Assistant Managing Editor at CinemaBlend. After graduating Boston University and earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism, he took a part-time job as a staff writer for CinemaBlend, and after six months was offered the opportunity to move to Los Angeles and take on a newly created West Coast Editor position. Over a decade later, he's continuing to advance his interests and expertise. In addition to conducting filmmaker interviews and contributing to the news and feature content of the site, Eric also oversees the Movie Reviews section, writes the the weekend box office report (published Sundays), and is the site's resident Stephen King expert. He has two King-related columns.