Released: 2005 (on TV in US, DVD here)
We Apologise For The Delay: Miramax trumpeted buying the rights to a zeitgeisty, critically applauded book based on author Elizabeth Wurtzel’s struggle with life, drugs and love, attached hot starlet Christina Ricci to the lead. And produced a steaming turkey.
The movie was swiftly buried in the vaults and quietly leaked out years later with almost zero promotion.
''As you should have figured out by now, it's a horrible movie,'' Wurtzel told the New York Times in 2003. ''It's just awful. If they thought it was good, they'd have released it long ago.''
Filmed: Between 2003-2005
We Apologise For The Delay: Animated movies always take a fair amount of time produce, so a few years isn’t necessarily a shocker.
But with limited resources, tech trouble and tragedy (production company Fathom Studios saw their founder die before the film was finished, then MGM, which had signed on to distribute, had to sell its assets), the ‘toon took far longer than usual.
So long, in fact, that at least one cast member (Anne Bancroft) passed away before it saw the inside of a cinema.
Still, at least James Cameron is honouring it with a big-budget remake thanks to Av… STOP THAT!
Night Of The Ghouls
We Apologise For The Delay: Edward D Wood Jr originally shot what he called Revenge Of The Dead In typically cheap, quickie style as a sequel to his 1955 release Bride Of The Monster.
Trouble was, by the time that Dead was finished, he didn’t have the cash to pay the lab fees to process the negative and the movie was doomed to the vaults.
Then, in 1983, millionaire Wade Williams was informed of the lost title by Wood’s widow, paid the late fees and pumped the thing out as Night Of The Ghouls, garnering a brief cinema run and simultaneous video release.
Released: 2006 (barely)
We Apologise For The Delay: Mike Judge, figuring that 20th Century Fox would be more inclined to treat him with respect after dumping Office Space and seeing that film become a cult hit, trusted them with this loony, ace, futuristic satire.
Whoops… Unsure about how to market the thing, terrified by the negative representation of several mega-corporations (Starbucks gives hand jobs, sister company Fox News is essentially the WWE), the studio refused funding to finish the effects properly and delayed the thing for a couple of years.
When it finally arrived across the pond, it was still listed on some ticket sites as Untitled Mike Judge Movie.
We bet film-within-the-film gag Ass would get a better chance of release these days.
Trick R Treat
Released: 2009 (DVD)
We Apologise For The Delay: Writer Mike Dougherty, riding high on having worked on the likes of X2 and Superman Returns with Bryan Singer, got his shot behind the camera for this linked foursome of Halloween tales.
But despite funding from Warners and Legendary Pictures, the film was due to be released in October 2007. But then the delays started, seemingly without reason.
“I think, ‘Yo, go ask Warner Brothers”" No, I take that back. It's a quirky horror movie. It's not an easy sell. ... It's not a remake. It's not an adaptation. It is probably a dangerous mix of all the elements a film studio typically shies away from. You have anthology format, which has been a dead format for 15 years at least,” is how Dougherty explained it to Sci Fi Wire.
“You have horror comedy, you know, two genres that studio people tend to get very nervous about mixing, because the results are always unpredictable. So, you know, it's not a sure bet. It's not five ... twentysomethings pretending to be 17-year-olds going out in the wilderness and getting slaughtered one by one. It is a very different beast.”
It’ll finally arrive this month on DVD.
A Sound Of Thunder
We Apologise For The Delay: Why did this Ray Bradbury adaptation take so long? Try the fact that it’s utter rubbish. Okay, we’ll be a little less harsh.
The production suffered problems when flooding in Prague destroyed the film’s sets. Oh, and they then ran out of money to finish the effects.
A small company in LA offered to help out and do the work cheap, which led to a 2005 release, derisive laughter from critics and crickets in the cinema.
Finally, when the star slates it, you know you’re in trouble. “I made one of the worst films ever made, called Sound Of Thunder, but Ben Kingsley was in it, so I said, "Hey, Ben Kingsley’s in it, so this thing might be good,” laughed Ed Burns when Total Film talked to him a couple of years later. “We were both very wrong.”
Town & Country
Filmed: 1998-1999, 2000
We Apologise For The Delay: What should have been a starry, light romantic comedy with the likes of Warren Beatty and Diane Keaton became mired in funding issues, disputes and ego.
Originally budgeted at $44 million, costs thanks to production delays, script changes and other issues bloomed up to $90 million. Word circulated that Beatty was re-cutting the film and the schedule dragged to such a degree that extra re-shoots had to be set for when everyone was available again.
New Line ended up losing about $100 million on the movie, and probably wished it had canned the thing.
We Apologise For The Delay: A small thriller directed by first-time helmer Wayne Beach, Slow Burn was hoping to quietly arrive and make it out into cinemas, boosted by a cast that included Ray Liotta, LL Cool J, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Jolene Blalock, and hopeful that the massive similarities to The Usual Suspects might help its cause.
Unfortunately, it was not to be – the movie lingered on the shelf for years (mostly because Lionsgate was waiting for people to, er, forget that The Usual Suspects connection) before the organisers of the Toronto Film Festival finally took pity and screened the thing, to awful reviews.
It eventually arrived in the US in 2007, showed for a couple of weeks and quickly vanished.
We Apologise For The Delay: William Friedkin’s dark little thriller actually did get screened (once) in 1987, at the Boston Film Festival.
But then financial wobbles – the De Laurentiis Entertainment Group, which had produced the film, went into bankruptcy proceedings – saw the Michael Biehn-starring tale of a district attorney hunting a serial killer – dropped into limbo.
Eventually, it was bought by Miramax, who finally released it in 1992, but by then it was old news, even though it got some favourable reviews.
We Apologise For The Delay: Fanboys is notable less for the length of time that it spent lingering on the shelf (a mere couple of years) than for the tortuous development it suffered.
It was supposed to be an easy money-maker – a geek-friendly comedy of four friends trying to sneak an early look at The Phantom Menace before one of them carks it from cancer.
Trouble was, despite a bevy of genre-happy references and a Star Destroyer-load of cameos (Kevin Smith, Seth Rogen – twice), The Weinstein Company, and Harvey in particular, weren’t satisfied with the death subplot.
So it was re-edited, then protested, then left to linger and finally given a smallish release last year, whereupon it made less than a million around the world.
We Apologise For The Delay: Sylvester Stallone’s thriller suffered a case of release date limbo for a couple of reasons.
First off, Universal decided to get it out of the way of his misfiring Get Carter remake, then decided it hated the title and held it back while focus groups were asked about new monikers – Eye See You and The Outpost among them.
Finally, the studio realised it had a stinker on its hands, let it loose around the world, and dumped it on DVD in the States.
Daddy And Them
Released: 2003 (TV premiere)
We Apologise For The Delay: Bill Bob Thornton was still being feted for Sling Blade when he switched genres (to “white trash rom com”) for this film.
Unfortunately, Miramax had no idea what to do with it, leaving it on the shelf for so long that it stands almost as a historical record (Thornton was engaged to Laura Dern when he made the film, and divorcing Angelina Jolie when the film finally got dumped on TV after a couple of festival screenings).
The main problem came when the studio gave it a test release in five Georgia cinemas – and it earned $430 total. Ouch.
Released: 2002 USA, Straight to DVD here
We Apologise For The Delay: Knockaround Guys, the tale of four mobsters’ sons who get caught up in chasing a bag of cash, isn’t a particularly great film, but it’s definitely no turkey.
What really held it back was New Line, which during the Lord Of The Rings hoopla, pretty much shoved everything else on to the back burner so it could focus on wringing cash – and, later, awards from the hobbits.
Released: Still waiting – Jan 2010
We Apologise For The Delay: Renee Zellweger stars as a social worker desperately trying to rescue a girl from what she thinks is an abusive parent situation. Little does she know that the case is a little… stranger than that.
Frankly, we’re about ready to call in social services over this one, which has been trapped in Paramount’s clutches for nearly three years. And it’s not doing much good for Zellweger’s career, which has taken a serious nosedive in the years since she scooped her Oscar.
Director Christian Alvart has had the time to write and direct an entire other movie – Pandorum – while waiting for the Case to be opened.
It has been promised a release in January 2010 and while the month is no longer quite the dumping ground it once was, it’s still not a good sign.
The Wolf Man
Released: 2010 (hopefully)
We Apologise For The Delay: This hairy horror has had problems from the start – script issues started way back in 2006 and it’s been through at least one director (Mark Romanek was going to make it before leaving for “creative differences” and Joe Johnston took over).
It was supposed to be finished in 2008, but disagreements over the effects, and dodgy test screenings held it back.
An announced April 2009 release date came and went and a November opening has been scrubbed. The fact that it skipped Comic Con 2008 was also a bad sign.
It’s currently on course for February next year. But don’t hold your breath…