Steven Spielberg Was Fooled By The Biggest Fake Movie Never Made

By Nick Venable | Published

steven spielberg jaws

When it comes to making movies, aspiring writers and directors are willing to put things out there to really any studios that will listen. That’s even the case when the studios aren’t, you know, real. That was the case with Steven Spielberg who actually submitted a script to Studio Six Productions. Only problem here? Studio Six Productions wasn’t actually a real company. It was the front for the fake movie Argo.

Back in 2012, former CIA technical operations officer Tony Mendez gave his entertaining account on the CIA website about some details surrounding the tale from Ben Affleck‘s film.

Proving that nothing is too weird to be considered by the U.S. Government, in 1979 Mendez concocted arguably the most bizarre rescue mission imaginable. It was all in order to extract six members of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran who evaded capture by Islamic militants during the Iranian Revolution. For frame of reference, this was prior to Steven Spielberg having made after Jaws and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, but before 1941 and Raiders of the Lost Ark

With the help of Hollywood makeup artist John Chambers (eat your heart out Steven Spielberg), Mendez and a small team fabricated, from top to bottom, the creation and production of a fake film titled Argo. They did this all in four days to fool the militants into thinking the six staff members were filmmakers scouting locations in Iran.

ben affleck argo
Bryan Cranston and Ben Affleck in Argo

But in order to be realistic to the Iranians, it had to pass muster here in the United States as well. As it turns out, Mendez’s mock studio and promotional material, combined with Chambers’ and other Hollywood players’ involvement, were successful in fooling more than just foreign hostiles. Steven Spielberg also took the bait.

It worked back home as well, and when the fabricated Studio Six Productions shut its fabricated doors, 26 genuine scripts had been received, including one from Steven Spielberg himself.

Though it’s not definitely known which script it was, judging from the time frame of the real-life events, it’s very possible that the movie was an early version of one of Steven Spielberg’s E.T. the Extra-Terrestial. Perhaps a few dozen other rescue missions could have been funded had the script sparked anyone’s interest in using a fake film company to make a real film.

E.T. the Extra-Terrestial

It’s a wild story from top to bottom, one that wouldn’t even seem believable by Hollywood standards, yet Hollywood backed the whole thing. So it’s a bit meta in that sense.

And as far as Steven Spielberg and E.T. the Extra-Terrestial are concerned, well I suppose Studio Six Productions shouldn’t feel that bad for never going forward with the movie (they weren’t real after all). Plenty of other real studios didn’t see the potential in the movie with MCA, Columbia and others passing on Steven Spielberg’s story at the time.

It wasn’t until Universal saw the promise in the script that it actually even went into production. They got that one right in a big way.