For most major movies, it takes about a year from the time filming begins to opening in theaters as a means to get you to buy corn. But for a variety of reasons, studios will often sit on a movie for years at a time, suddenly skittish about earning back their investment on films they had no problem funding and producing. This week, the horror movie You’re Next opens…more than two years after making the rounds on the festival circuit. Here are 10 other movies that people had to wait forever to see.
This movie was barely released in 1994 and won Jessica Lange an Oscar for portraying the mentally ill wife of a military guy. Had this film been released in 1991, when it was completed, Lange may have lost that Oscar to Jodie Foster for The Silence of the Lambs. Blue Sky sat in a vault for three years until the bankruptcy of its studio, Orion Pictures, could be settled.
The Fantasticks is one of the best, most gentle, and long-running musicals of all time—it ran for 42 years (1960 to 2002) in the same off-Broadway theater. It’s a charming movie with great performances from musical veterans like Jean Louisa Kelly and Joel Grey (and Joey McIntyre of New Kids on the Block!), and was set for a wide release for Thanksgiving 1995. Musicals were out at the time (and would be until Chicago), and after a test audience reacted negatively, MGM wouldn’t release it. A contract clause with the production forced a theatrical release, which consisted of four theaters in the fall of 2000.
Take Me Home Tonight
A fake ‘80s movie made in the present day? Like The Wedding Singer and Hot Tub Time Machine? Comedy and box office gold, right? Not for Take Me Home Tonight, which was released in 2011, four years late. Star Topher Grace has said that he thinks the studio didn’t know how to promote a movie that was both youth-oriented, and also featured lots of cocaine use, which was the national pastime of the ‘80s.
A View From the Top
Remember back when after 9/11, every media company in the world was skittish about anything with New York, a plane, or a bomb in it? Well, A View From the Top is a very, very slight Gwyneth Paltrow movie about a flight attendant who learns the power of believing in herself. It was supposed to be released in fall 2001, but was pushed back to 2003 because it’s about airplane people.
Elizabeth Wurtzel’s definitive Generation X struggle memoir was a sensation in 1994, more or less the super-dark literary version of Reality Bites. That means making a movie in 2000 was already fairly passé. And it was really passé when it was quietly released onto DVD in 2005.
Shortcut to Happiness
That’s some generic title. But the story is familiar—this was yet another retelling of The Devil and Daniel Webster. But since today’s audiences neither fear the devil nor know who Daniel Webster is, that title had to do. Shooting began in 2001, post-production started in 2003, and it aired on Starz in 2007. Directed by Alec Baldwin, unhappy with the final product and billed as “Harry Kirkpatrick,” the doomed production just kept running out of money. Hopefully nobody sold their soul to the devil to get this finished.
The Adventures of Pluto Nash
After a shitty script bounced around Hollywood for 15 years, somebody decided to make a shitty movie of The Adventures of Pluto Nash in 2000. It was so terrible, even by Eddie Murphy’s inconsistent 2000s standards, that it wasn’t released until 2002, quietly, in the doldrums of August. It ultimately grossed $7.1 million against its astounding, inexplicable $100 million budget, making it the biggest bomb in Hollywood history for years.
The Plot Against Harry
After making the acclaimed 1964 film Nothing But a Man, filmmaker Michael Roemer made The Plot Against Harry. It was supposed to hit theaters in 1969, but Roemer couldn’t find a distributor—while technically a comedy, none of the executives he showed it to thought it was “funny enough.” Flash forward to 1989, and Roemer hires a guy to transfer all of his movies to VHS as a gift for his children. The video tech laughed so hard at Harry that Roemer’s faith in the movie was restored. He had a couple of film prints made and submitted them to film festivals. The Plot Against Harry screened at Cannes in 1990.
In 1952, Charlie Chaplin was promoting this movie (which would ultimately be one of his last) in Europe, and planned to tour it to theaters in the U.S.…until he was denied re-entry into the country due to alleged Communist sympathies (which was the style at the time). Chaplin, the beloved star of the Silent Film age was now persona non grata, and only a handful of New York theaters wanted to play Limelight, even though it also starred fellow silent film luminary Buster Keaton. Finally, in 1972, the furor had died down and Limelight was released across the country. It qualified for the Academy Awards, where Chaplin won an Oscar for scoring the film.
Like the ratings board could widely release a movie in 1943 which starred Jane Russell, who had large boobs. They had to wait until 1946. By then, Americans were far more cool with large boobs. Something about seeing the death of their loved ones on the battlefield in World War II made clothed boobs so not a big deal anymore.