Seven Delayed Movies People Also Thought Would Suck
Batman vs. Superman is delayed until 2016! For some that spells doom. Here is a list of other times the doomsayers were wrong.
You hear that? If you listen carefully, you’ll notice the interconnected screaming of tens of millions of fans pounding away at their keyboard in outrage, anguish, or pure confusion due to the last minute Friday announcement that the highly anticipated Batman vs. Superman was being delayed for nine months. That’s right, instead of the Dark Knight and Man of Steel standing shoulder to shoulder against the horde of other 2015 hopefuls, including The Avengers and Star Wars, WB has quietly opted to push Batman vs. Superman to the greener pastures of May 2016.
And if you can take a step back to reach above the digital cacophony that has crescendoed to near symphonic levels of indignation, you’ll realize…it’s probably for the best. As late as June 2013, Director Zack Snyder and Screenwriter David Goyer did not even know they were making a Batman/Superman movie. When Goyer sat down with Den of Geek to promote his Superman reboot, the discussion was about where to take the character next in Metropolis, not which heroes he was going to accessorize with. Now, it is going to be Batman, Superman, and also Wonder Woman in some capacity? This thing has been moving like a speeding bullet towards its original July 2015 release date, to the point where the film was even supposed to originally begin principal photography this month, and there isn’t even a villain cast.
Frankly, delaying Batman vs. Superman is not only prudent; it’s for the best. It is not a sign of the apocalypse or the end of the Internet, despite what some forums and message boards might lead you to believe. In fact, some of your favorite movies may have also been delayed in the past, and we’re all the richer for it. Thus, here is a sampling of just such films with seven delayed movies people also thought would suck.
Original Release Date: December 25, 2008
Actual Release Date: May 8, 2009
In February of 2008, Paramount Pictures elected to boldly go where no Star Trek movie had gone before (or in about 20 years, anyway). The newest Star Trek reboot would exit its warp drive into theaters on May 8, 2009, despite already having a cozy Christmas Day release set for 2008. This was due to the fact that even while filming a large swath of the movie during the writer’s strike, the dailies were still fantastic, convincing the studio executives that this would have a much wider appeal than other recent Trek fare like Nemesis or Insurrection. Of course, fans already had the teaser from the previous Christmas promising a Federation shaped holiday package for 2008. There was inevitable backlash that this movie was doomed, that J.J. Abrams had admitted he’s not a “true fan” already, and that the film was a complete mess. And while purists still probably think that last part is accurate, by and large Star Trek was a breath of fresh air when it became the most enjoyable blockbuster of Summer 2009, offering the franchise new life with a cast and crew that invited newcomers in, as opposed to forcefully assimilating them like an overly-insistent cyborg. The result is a franchise that is still breathing thanks to the steady foundation of that first Abrams thrill ride.
Cabin in the Woods
Original Release Date: February 5, 2010
Actual Release Date: April 13, 2012
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: five college co-eds go up to a cabin in the woods for a weekend of drinking and pre-marital coitus—and then get delayed for two years. Yes, despite finishing production on this Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon inevitable cult classic, the movie did not see a wide release until one of its stars and writers had graduated to The Avengers franchise. The reason for this delay was primarily two-fold. First, MGM saw an advantage in delaying it to 2011 so that it could be post-converted to 3D for maximum box office appeal (Avatar was coming). Secondly, it was then delayed again because MGM went bankrupt. The result is a flick that took so long to come to theaters that even diehard Whedonites had nearly given up hope, moving on to the more tangible Marvel movie he was working on with a more fabulously godlike Chris Hemsworth. Still, when Cabin in the Woods finally had its belated release a month prior to that superhero mash-up, the faithful were treated to the best “horror movie” (or is that horror satire?) since at least Shaun of the Dead. Do you love horror flicks? This movie is for you. Do you hate horror flicks? This movie is also for you. Its broad meta-humor about a couple of 9-to-5 working stiffs, played by Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford, engineering all the beat-for-beat horror movie clichés befalling the hapless leads is only the tip of an iceberg-worth of self-aware horror madlib zaniness waiting below that reliably spooky cabin in the woods. Does its growing legion of fans even recall it was delayed?
Gangs of New York
Original Release Date: December 25, 2001
Actual Release Date: December 20, 2002
When Harvey Weinstein offered Martin Scorsese the chance to make any dream project that he wanted at Miramax, Scorsese pulled out from his back pocket the epic he had yearned to do for decades, Gangs of New York. A film that explored the criminal underbelly of a forgotten history in New York City in the lead-up to the Draft Riots, the project ambitiously sought to recreate a Manhattan slum (the Five Points) so vile that even London’s Charles Dickens was infamously appalled upon his visit. The passion project also became a studio blockbuster for a studio that didn’t make blockbusters. Gangs of New York went over-budget and over-schedule, stretching the production across the (then) eyebrow-raising $100 million price tag line. When the film was ultimately delayed from Christmas 2001 to Christmas 2002, many in Hollywood cackled that old Marty was making his own Ishtar or Heaven’s Gate. At the time, the studio spin was that they did not wish to release a movie that features haunting NYC imagery so close to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, but the truth is the film was doing pick-up reshoots as late as October 2002 in Italy. Honestly, Scorsese and Weinstein could not settle on a cut of the film until the 2002 release date finally decided it for them. In spite of calling the studio mandated-length version of 168 minutes the “director’s cut,” Scorsese has a three hour-plus work print version without voice over narration that he has shown to friends and family, calling it the version he is reportedly “happiest” with. Nevertheless, all the behind-the-scenes power struggles and tinkering does not change the fact that Gangs of New York is a staggering vision made in the mold of classic filmmaking when craftsmanship was valued over an overabundance of CGI. And whatever notable pacing issues the film does have still bows down to the magnificence that is Daniel Day-Lewis in a performance so riveting that his Bill the Butcher instantly became one of cinema’s greatest villains. This is in no small part thanks to the time-defying sets of 1863 New York around him. The film went on to make nearly $200 million and be nominated for 10 Academy Awards, including Best Picture.
The Big Sleep
Original Release Date: Sometime in 1944
Actual Release Date: August 23, 1946
One of the all-time great film noirs, The Big Sleep, came out in the perfect moment of cynicism and existential crisis: post-war America. However, it is still entirely a World War II picture. For the careful eye, little hints that the war is going on in the movie’s universe are omnipresent, such as the fact that Franklin D. Roosevelt’s picture overhangs as the face of American government, despite having been dead for over a year by the time of the movie’s release. Also, Humphrey Bogart’s Marlowe drive a car with a “B” gasoline rationing sticker, meaning he is doing his part by keeping gasoline consumption under the eight gallon limit and helping out our boys overseas. Plus, many of the background professionals, such as taxi cab drivers and bookstore owners, are women. While this was a godsend for a womanizer like Marlowe, the truth is this was set during a period when all the men were gone and (for the first time ever in American life) professional women were seen as an everyday necessity. It’s because The Big Sleep was a war picture shot in 1944 but got delayed when Warner Bros. realized the war was ending, and all of their heavily war-themed movies on backlog had to be rushed into theatrical release lest the public lose interest. This also turned out to be a boon for the gritty detective classic, because besides even the director and writers being unsure of the plot (reportedly the 1939 source novel’s author, Raymond Chandler, didn’t know the specifics either), it also meant there was time in 1945 to reshoot scenes for Bogart and Lauren Bacall. Despite being 25 years younger than Bogie, Bacall had become his fourth wife that year, and their onscreen chemistry is still more tumultuous than nitroglycerin. The added scenes only helped underscore this as one of THE Bogie and Bacall movies, as well as arguably the greatest Marlowe adaptation of all time.
Original Release Date: May 1978
Actual Release Date: August 15, 1979
The delays and production problems on Apocalypse Now are so famous that Director Francis Ford Coppola’s wife, Eleanor Coppola, made a documentary about her husband’s long spiral into the mouth of madness. Indeed, some dare even say that Hearts of Darkness is way better than Apocalypse Now. However in 1979, nobody expected anything less than a train wreck as the Joseph Conrad and Vietnam War art experiment kept getting delayed. But the madness didn’t stop with the film’s 14-month pleasure cruise into the fires of principal photography Hell in a movie shoot that never seemed to leave the jungle. Post-production began in summer 1977, and due to audio and technical issues in finding the right edit, Coppola convinced United Artists to push back the release just another couple of months all the way until he screened three different versions for the press and attendees of Cannes in May 1979. Along with a work print screened earlier in April, reaction was…not good. The fact that the version that was released in August of that year went on to be heralded as a masterpiece is almost as bizarrely unexpected as Marlon Brando’s appearance in the film as Col. Kurtz. This psychedelic trip into the primordial unknown is more of an experience than a coherent narrative, and it is one of the most stunning visions from the “golden age” of 1970s Hollywood. The transcendence the film reaches in moments like when Kilgore’s attack helicopters descend as the Valkyries on a Vietnamese village make all the nightmares worth it…at least for us. Coppola primarily makes wine these days.
Original Release Date: July 2, 1997
Actual Release Date: December 19, 1997
Love it or hate it, you probably saw Titanic multiple times in theaters. It doesn’t matter if you were “forced” by your girlfriend, wife, mother, sister, or subconscious, because this film somehow became the highest grossing movie of all time when it earned $2 billion. And it accomplished this due to people in 1997 (and huge chunks of 1998) loving it: the sweeping and/or schmaltzy love story, the stunning visual effects that recreated a luxury liner on the 1912 North Atlantic, swelling James Horner music, and…Leo. Without a doubt a movie that struck a nerve with audiences and critics all the way to its Academy Awards sweep of 11 Oscars (tying Ben-Hur and preposterously beating L.A. Confidential). But it was originally considered a fool’s errand. Slated by 20th Century Fox and Paramount Pictures for a July release, as to better “exploit the lucrative summer season ticket sales,” Director James Cameron demanded in April that the movie be pushed to December, because the special effects could not possibly be ready by July. Already the most expensive film of all time at $200 million (chump change for today’s modern blockbusters), with much of it from Cameron’s own investment, it was scoffed at by Hollywood wisdom as egotistical folly that would sink Cameron’s career just as much as the real RMS Titanic; another Waterworld. When it premiered in November at the Tokyo International Film Festival, The New York Times reported that critical reaction was “no big deal.” Hindsight’s amazing, isn’t it?
Original Release Date: November 21, 2012
Actual Release Date: October 4, 2013
If you are a fan of filmmaking as either an art form or simply a vehicle for escapism, then you probably loved Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity from last October. Bold, visionary, and all around impressive, the film is rumored to have 20-minute takes as it created the sense of floating in orbit with two wayward astronauts about to run out of oxygen. What is so awe-inspiring is that it was almost all fabricated with actors on elaborate set-ups in front of green screens. What is nearly as surprising is that was shot in 2011, because Gravity was intended to be a November 2012 release from Warner Bros. Yes, the studio that just delayed Batman vs. Superman also delayed Gravity by 11 months because of the extensive and intricate special effects work that still needed to be completed, even after a year of post-production. Followers of Cuarón never lost faith that this would still be something extraordinary, and the filmmaker delivered simply that last year when this elaborate tale of space and survival rocketed off the big screen and into our imaginations.
So, there are only seven delayed films that turned out to still be pretty A-OK after the pushback. Does this mean that Batman vs. Superman is going to be the next Apocalypse Now? Unlikely. However, it does show that more often than not, a delay is not only a necessity, it can also be a really great thing. Agree? Disagree? Let us know in the comments section below!