|Photo: 20th Century Films|
It's finally happening! At least I presume someone is excited about this weekend's release of the long-delayed The New Mutants from Josh Boone, said to be the final hurrah of Fox's X-Men continuity. The film was shot in summer of 2017 with a targeted release date of early 2018. In case you don't have a calendar handy, that was over two years ago with the delays blamed on test screenings, reshoots, studios changing hands, and of course, a global pandemic.
So, in honor of this long-gestating piece of 2017 nostalgia, let's look at some other films that have fallen into the abyss of release date shuffles and burials.
Hailing from alleged asshole (but pretty good director) David O. Russell, Accidental Love began production as Nailed in 2008 only to experience multiple shutdowns due to the financiers running out of funds. In 2010, Russell walked away from the project and the film languished for years in bankruptcy until it was recut without Russell and retitled Accidental Love and released in 2015. It is by all accounts terrible and even drew the ire of The AV Club after the distribution company misquoted a review to get a positive blurb.
Many lower budget horror films (like this film and The Poughkeepsie Tapes) seem to suffer a similar fate regardless of the critical acclaim they garner from the festival circuit. All the Boys Love Mandy Lane was an independent film produced in 2006 that was later acquired by Harvey Weinstein and Dimension Films for a wide theatrical release. Instead, in-house fighting about the theatrical viability lead to the film being sold off to a company that would later go bankrupt, tying it up in legal limbo. It would be several years before Dimension would recover the rights to the film and release it.
The tenth (!) installment to a series based around a since-debunked haunted house "true" story, Amityville: The Awakening is some sort of direct sequel or meta-sequel or some shit based on Wikipedia. Produced by Dimension Films and Blumhouse Productions, the film was supposed to debut in January 2015. Suffice to say, inspire of a pretty decent cast, it was delayed several times only to be unceremoniously dumped as a free download on Google Play in late 2017.
A film I had never heard of until before, Black Water Transit is by all accounts mostly finished and good enough to have director Tony Kaye continue to tinker with it. Set in a post-Katrina New Orleans, the movie stars Laurence Fishburne and Karl Urban, among others, in a tale of illegal arms shipments in a Traffic-like story involving criminals, police, and prosecutors. The legal history of this film is long and boring enough that I didn't retain much, but it seems that after being shot thirteen years ago, we shouldn't hold our breath to see this one anytime soon.
Unlike some of the films on this list, Cabin in the Woods is unabashedly great and just the victim of studio chicanery rather than kicking an underwhelming can down the road. Cabin was intended to be released in early 2010 following its shoot the year before. At the time, it was postponed to undergo a conversion to 3D, which was still the rage at the time. Unfortunately, production company MGM's financial troubles caused additional delays until it was picked up and released by Lionsgate in 2012. This probably helped the film considering the previously unknown (or under-known?) lead Chris Hemsworth would have his series in the MCU debut with Thor in the meantime.
In the mid 1990s, a group of friends including Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire and Kevin Connelly, amongst others, would come to be known as the "Pussy Posse." Around this time, the "Posse" would work on a film bad enough that DiCaprio and Maguire would later take legal action to block the release of. Named for the diner it was shot in, Don's Plum was a black-and-white, independent, and loosely-scripted film of a bunch of people hanging around in a diner, talking about the world, and generally being assholes. Per a court settlement, the film cannot be legally distributed in the United States or Canada although you won't have to dig hard to find a copy on YouTube.
While I have not seen this film, the current rating of 1.5 out of 10 stars on IMBd tells me that I am not missing much. Set in a supermarket after closing time, various corporate food mascots like Charlie the Tuna, Mrs. Butterworth, and Mr. Clean that come to life and attempt to stop the Nazi-like (!) Brand X from infiltrating and replacing the brand names. For a computer-animated family film that was originally scheduled for release in 2003, after a series of setbacks including theft of the production's hard drives and various financial issues (ie. embezzling from producers), the film was auctioned off and dumped onto video where no one but podcasts and the bizarrely curious would find it.
Kenneth Lonergan, the director of the most recently acclaimed Manchester by the Sea, embarked on the production of Margaret, starring Anna Paquin and Mark Ruffalo in 2005. It would take six years for the film to be finally released but not for the usual causes of financial difficulties or studio interference. By all accounts, Lonergan was tasked to trim the film down to a breezy(?) 150 minutes but he could not or would not get below 180 minutes, in spite of having a slew of acclaimed editors working with him. Several lawsuits later resulted in a 150-minute movie released in 2011, and although it was not overseen by Lonergan, he was able to get his preferred cut on video.
Kim Henkel, co-writer of the original Texas Chain Saw Massacre, returns to the series as a sort of follow-up to the first film while still acknowledging the other films and wanting to parody the original characters. Whatever. Shot in 1994, two up-and-coming actors were cast, Matthew McConaughey and Renee Zellweger with the film to premiere in 1995. Columbia Pictures released the film, then known as Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, in a handful of US theaters before pulling the film. It was recut and retitled Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation and released in 1997 to coincide with the rising stars of the top actors, much to their chagrin. The film went on to gross less than $200 thousand dollars. PBF argued that it should have stayed buried.