There are plenty of Hollywood movies said to be cursed. There’s the Poltergeist trilogy. The whole Superman franchise. And then there’s the curse of Atuk.
Atuk is a movie that has never been made. It’s a “fish out of water” story about an Inuit in New York, based on a 1963 satirical Canadian novel called The Incomparable Atuk. A string of actors who were in talks for the lead role died prematurely, leading to the belief that the script was cursed.
John Belushi was the first big name attached to the script. According to the book Hollywood Myths: The Shocking Truths Behind Film’s Most Incredible Secrets, the former Saturday Night Live cast member had the script sitting on his coffee table at the time of his death.
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“Belushi had supposedly expressed interest in the project before he went on his final bender,” the book says.
Belushi died on March 5, 1982, due to drug intoxication. He was 33. A woman, Cathy Smith, who was hanging out with Belushi at the time of his death, admitted to having injected him with a mix of heroin and cocaine.
Later, controversial stand-up comedian Sam Kinison signed on to play the lead in Atuk. But eight days after filming started, in early 1988, it was shut down. In an article in the Los Angeles Times, Kinison said his manager told him he could rewrite the script, but he later found out he couldn’t.
“I did not walk off the picture,” he insisted. “They shut it down. I was very professional. I even went to dog-sled school so I was prepared for the part. They tried to find someone to replace me and only when they couldn’t did they shut it down.”
Kinison was sued by the movie’s producers. He died on April 10, 1992, when his car was hit by a pickup truck driven by a 17-year-old who’d been drinking. His wife, Malika Souiri, who he’d married in Vegas just six days earlier, was also in the car but survived. Kinison was 38.