It’s hard to get a movie made. We know this. Of all the scripts out there in Hollywood and beyond, only a fraction ever get optioned. Beyond that, even fewer of the ones purchased are ever produced. That being said, once you get your film shot, generally they come out. Those that don’t fall into the tragic world of Post Production Hell. These are titles that are in the can but literally just sitting on the shelf. It’s one thing to struggle to get your project made and fail. It’s another thing entirely to actually get it made but fail in having it see the light of day.
There are a number of films that succumbed to this fate. Some are caught up in legal issues. Some saw a cast member or filmmaker object to its release. Others are a recent victim of the end of The Weinstein Company. Still, others are forever being tinkered with in an effort to salvage the final product. In the past, we’ve seen movies like “Margaret” take almost a dog’s age to finally reach theaters. Just last year, we had a perfect example of numerous factors with “Tulip Fever” and its journey. Historically though, there are a few really notorious ones out there.
In honor (?) of “Slender Man” finally being released (though quality-wise, it appears more like it escaped), we’re going to look at some current titles that are stuck in Post Production Hell. Some have been there for a long time, while others are more recent. A handful is likely to see the light of day soon, while at least two are probably forever lost, fated to sit on the shelf. There’s a dozen here, though that’s just scratching the surface. For the purposes of this article, we’ll be looking at completed films that have never received the stateside release. It’s just easier that way.
Here now are some current movies stuck firmly in Post Production Hell:
The most recent example, just this week Global Road pulled the film from its release date. Johnny Depp has been in the news lately, and not for the right reasons, so perhaps the company just wants to get away from bad press? Regardless, taking a movie off the calendar completely when it was scheduled to come out in a month is a bad sign. Perhaps it’ll quietly hit in 2019? If not, we could be looking at a title that might sit on the shelf for a while.
With all the problems that Depp has at the moment, keeping “City of Lies” away from screens makes sense. Now, depending on what happens with the actor in the near future, that could be a clue to how long this will sit. If he continues to sink deeper into bad publicity quicksand, it may not come out for some time. If we do see Depp in this flick, where he plays a detective investigating the murders of The Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur, it will be when things have calmed down for him. Until then, you can forget about it. At the very least, wipe away that September release.
A solid portion of the movies on this list is tied into Harvey Weinstein. This is the first of many TWC releases that are now searching for a new home. In the case of this biopic, trouble was already brewing. The Toronto International Film Festival was not kind to this flick. Despite a cast that included Benedict Cumberbatch and Michael Shannon, reviews were mediocre to poor. Initially pegged for a November 24th release date last year, Weinstein moved it to this year after the fest.
Well, with The Weinstein Company no more, “The Current War” sits in limbo. Once an Academy Award hopeful, now it’s somewhat forgotten about. Remember how we thought similar things once upon a time about “Tulip Fever,” only for that to sink lower and lower? There’s a distinct possibility that this will suffer the same fate. Oscar attention is a long shot. Hell, the film just needs to figure out who is putting it out and when it can get off the shelf.
Easily the highest profile member of this list. The infamous Jerry Lewis film, it has long been thought of as something the world will never see. Considering the fact that it’s a Holocaust story where Lewis plays a clown helping lead children to the showers, maybe that would be for the best? Well, a few years ago, before his death, Lewis donated a copy to the Library of Congress. The catch? “The Day The Clown Cried” wouldn’t be shown until 2025.
With eight years to go until that time arrives, we’re basically in a holding pattern. Before you mark the date on your calendar, just remember what Harry Shearer wrote in 1992 when he managed to see it: “This movie is so drastically wrong, its pathos and its comedy are so wildly misplaced, that you could not, in your fantasy of what it might be like, improve on what it really is. ‘Oh My God!’ – that’s all you can say.” Depending on who you are, that either makes it something to eagerly await or forget you heard of. For now, it has almost another decade firmly entrenched in a Post Production Hell of Lewis’ own doing.
When you see the cast for this low budget independent title, you’ll be shocked that this never saw a U.S. release date. The movie features very early work from Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire before either was famous. Shot in the mid-1990’s, it then was subjected to lawsuits from many parties, including an effort by Maguire to stop any release whatsoever.
For those wondering, a deal was eventually made that prohibited it from a stateside release. Sure, fans of DiCaprio and Maguire would undoubtedly be curious about the movie. At the same time, with the duo often fighting to keep it from illegally streaming on the internet, they clearly don’t want you to see it. That suggests that this isn’t going to contain two hidden gems, performance wise. Maybe in the case of “Don’s Plum,” it’s better to let sleeping cinematic dogs lie?
Made on the down low, this little flick is the least likely of any to ever see the light of day. Shot in 2001 by Roger Avary during the production of “The Rules of Attraction,” it’s an expanded version of a sequence from that movie. On the fly, he and star Kip Pardue spent two weeks improvising, with the latter always being in character. Ideally, the plan was to use this material as a movie that could be a bridge into “Glamorama,” the Bret Easton Ellis novel that uses Pardue’s character Victor as its protagonist. That was wishful thinking.
As you might imagine, going out and causing trouble in Europe with real people as unsuspecting co-stars didn’t sit well with some. Avary himself has long contended that “Glitterati” won’t ever come out, in fact calling it “ethically dubious,” among other things. Almost certainly, this will remain on the shelf forever, only being shown to folks who know the filmmaker personally.
Here’s a twist. Believe it or not, I (and many critics) have seen this Louis CK project. Last year, after it screened as a bit of a surprise on the film festival circuit, it was acquired by The Orchard. Press screenings in New York were held. I saw it, found it to be unusual and as uncomfortable as much of his work can be, though not without merit, in terms of its filmmaking. Then, CK wound up in the news, with some of his lewd acts oddly paralleling moments in the film. Suddenly, this flick couldn’t logically be released. CK purchased the rights back from the company, which is where we currently stand.
A true theatrical release will never really happen. If you ever get to see it, it’ll be when CK releases it himself on his website. Despite a cast that includes Pamela Adlon, Rose Byrne, Charlie Day, Helen Hunt, John Malkovich, and Chloe Grace Moretz, no distributor will ever touch it. There’s literally a scene where Day’s character simulates masturbation during a phone call. Art imitating life? It’s almost as if CK was filming a confession of sorts. Knowing what we know now, it’s just too icky to ever hit theaters. “I Love You, Daddy” just wouldn’t fly in 2018.
Terry Gilliam just can’t catch a break, can he? For almost 30 years, Gilliam struggled to make this movie. The issues that plagued production are so well known, a documentary was made about it. Then, last year, he finally got the film in the can. It even screened a few months ago at the Cannes Film Festival. Adam Driver and company finally got the project over the finish line. Or, so they thought…
As befits this project, more trouble hit right at that moment when it should be a celebration. A former producer on the film sued, claiming he owned the rights, not Gilliam. Recently, a judge ruled in the producer’s favor, taking the movie away from the filmmaker. Now, we wait to see if more lawsuits are in the cards. If it ever gets settled, a U.S. release might be booked. For now, the film synonymous with Production Hell now sits firmly in Post Production Hell. The question of whether anyone in America will ever see “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote” remains unanswered.
Formerly known as “HHhH,” this is another Weinstein release stuck in limbo. Shot in 2015, the World War II film centered on a plan to assassinate Nazi leader Reinhard Heydrich. Jason Clarke plays Heydrich, with Jack O’Connell, Rosamund Pike, Jack Reynor, and Mia Wasikowska also in the cast. Even just a year or so ago, TWC was testing it in Manhattan multiplexes, trying to figure out how to make it a player. Some critics saw it, as the movie has a Rotten Tomatoes score and everything.
As you might expect, the end of the company left this flick without a home. No company has stepped up to acquire it, so “The Man with the Iron Heart” waits. It doesn’t seem like it has the Oscar juice, so while someone might pick it up, no one is in any hurry. There’s no controversy keeping this one from theaters, just a lack of urgency by the powers that be.
Speaking of Weinstein-related purgatory, there’s this high profile film. With Rooney Mara in the title role and Joaquin Phoenix playing Jesus, interest was high. Initially a 2017 release, it wound up delayed, and now has come out internationally, where TWC wasn’t handling it. The reviews weren’t especially strong for it over in the United Kingdom, which probably dampened some of the enthusiasm that buyers might have otherwise had.
As you’ve seen above (and will see more of below), projects that The Weinstein Company had, have mostly gone untouched. There are a lot of reasons for it, but it does seem that, as much as anything else, no one wants to be associated with Harvey, even in passing. “Mary Magdalene” has the star power to get a release, but it will need time to distance itself. This one shouldn’t sit on the shelf for too long, but for now, that’s where it will reside in America.
Here’s a potential mess. Initially, Josh Boone giving a YA horror spin to the superhero genre had some appeal. The trailer that hit even had a lot of promise. Then, reports of heavy reshoots and a delayed release came out. The former isn’t a huge issue these days, but the latter mixed with it to raise eyebrows. Plus, more characters were being added, which is…concerning. Instead of hitting this past April, it was set for February of 2019. That won’t happen either now, as it’s scheduled for August 2nd of next year. If you expect it to be delayed again, you’re not alone.
The acquisition of 20th Century Fox by Disney puts “The New Mutants” in a rough spot. The latter probably would rather it just go away, but so much money has been spent, it’ll eventually get all of its reshoots done and find a release date. The time spent on the shelf will be short, but any hopes of it being a franchise starter are out the window.
The Weinstein Company claims another victim. Notice how this horror flick did not come out last November? Yeah, we noticed that too. That was the third scheduled release too, as August 25th and September 1st came and went previously. It seemed destined to be dumped, one way or the other. Well, the universe sort of took care of that, as it now sits without a home.
Low rent horror often sits unreleased. For example, “The Poughkeepsie Tapes” used to be the poster child for something of this ilk that rests firmly in Post Production Hell. Before that, “The Cabin in the Woods” was another prime example. “Polaroid” won’t find acclaim like that did, but it hopes to avoid only ending up getting a cursory Blu-Ray release, like the former. Stay tuned…
We wrap up with, you guessed it, another former Weinstein Oscar hopeful that now has no signs of hitting theaters stateside. A remake of “The Intouchables,” this dramedy starred Bryan Cranston and Kevin Hart in a pair of baity roles. The company had high hopes for it, perhaps even including awards. Then, it had a mixed response at TIFF last year (another trend), reducing expectations. Without a solid release date, when TWC folded, it found itself in Post Production purgatory with all the others.
Like has been previously mentioned, titles like this just need to get the stench of The Weinstein Company off of it. Then, a proper release can probably be had. “The Upside” has commercial appeal, so it should only be a matter of time. Cranston and especially Hart get people into theaters, so some company will step up before long.