There is a truism in Hollywood that no one wants to make a bad movie. Likewise, no one intends to start a movie that they can’t – or won’t – finish. Yet the history of cinema has seen a litany of directors and studios who have failed to complete their project. One of the most famous is Orson Welles, whose film The other side of the wind languished for decades before being finished by his friend and colleague director Peter Bogdanovich and make his debut on Netflix in 2018.
Take a look at other examples of unfinished, unreleased, or unspooled movies.
1. Revenge of the nerds
You probably remember the original Revenge of the nerds from 1984 as a rowdy comedy about a group of fraternity brothers who intimidate the geek brain of fictional Adams College and where a character nicknamed “Booger” aided in the titular revenge. What you might not know is that a remake has been partially filmed in 2006, before production ceased. The update featured Adam Brody (CO) and Jenna Dewan and was directed by Kyle Newman (2009’s Fanboys). The movie had issues from the start, with Emory University to oppose it to the script and the filmmakers being forced to find a new location at short notice. After filming for two weeks, the executives of the Fox Atomic studio felt the film seemed too “small” and decided that the project was not going as they had hoped. Filming was halted, the cast and crew were compensated, and the nerds and jocks went their separate ways. Seth MacFarlane (family guy) is set to produce another remake with Keith Lucas and Kenny Lucas (2014 22 rue du saut).
2. Empires of the Deep
Hailed like that of China reply to the epic of James Cameron Avatar (2009), Empires of the Deep perhaps the most expensive film to ever see the light of day. Apparently centered on a war between underwater realms with mermaids and crabs, the effects-rich 3D feature has passed through at least four directors – at one point, The Empire Strikes Back director Irvin Kershner was involved – and an inflated budget of $ 130 million, much of it provided by a real estate mogul named Jon Jiang. (He also wrote the script.) The net result was a disappointing trailer that offers a glimpse of a somewhat sloppy production. Empires of the Deep was screened once in North America in 2014 on the Sony Pictures pitch, where it apparently met a lukewarm reception. Jiang later said to the atavist writer Mitch Moxley that funds were needed to complete the effects. It was in 2016.
3. The American
Director J. Stuart Blackton Recount press it The American, also known as The Flag Maker, was a film suggested to him by none other than President (and Blackton’s neighbor) Theodore Roosevelt. Regardless, the silent western was filmed but never aired. The film was made using a new process known as Natural Vision, which was a first attempt at presentation on the big screen. But that decision turned out to be the loss of the film. For one thing, Blackton didn’t have a Natural Vision projector on set, so he had to shoot a cover using a conventional second camera in order to watch the dailies. By the time The American was screened in its entirety, the big screen effect was clearly disappointing, with critics calling it “poorly done”. There is no record that has ever been released.
Blackton, a pioneering filmmaker who was one of the first contributors to animated feature films, ended up losing money in the stock market crash of 1929. He deceased after being hit by a car in 1941.
4. Bogart slept here
Robert De Niro is widely regarded as one of the best film actors of the 20th century. But in 1975, he was fired from Bogart slept here, a lightweight comedy-drama directed by Mike Nichols and written by Neil Simon. De Niro was playing an actor who stumbles into stardom; Marsha Mason portrayed his wife. Of all accounts, De Niro, who had just completed the disturbing psychological study Taxi driver (1976) only a few days earlier, could not understand Simon’s written sensitivities. Nichols suggested to Warner Bros. to fire De Niro and recast the role. De Niro would have been furious at the situation. When no suitable replacement was found, the project was abandoned. Some of the material has been reworked in Simon’s The girl goodbye (1977), which starred Mason and Richard Dreyfuss.
5. Divine rapture
Setting up a production with Johnny Depp, Marlon Brando and Debra Winger seems a safe bet. Corn Divine rapture, shot in 1995, needed divine intervention to be successful. Shot on the small island of Ballycotton in Ireland, the film was to tell the story of story of a woman named Mary (Winger) who “resurrects” from the dead at her own funeral. (In fact, she had only experienced one heart problem.) Brando was to be a priest, while Depp played the role of a reporter sent to town to investigate. After two weeks of filming, the film’s financier, a company named CineFin, ran into legal trouble. When Winger’s agent went to collect his fees, the agent discovered that CineFin’s address was a parking lot.
CineFin directors insisted they needed papers from Orion Pictures, the distributor, to continue. The film never recovered, although it wasn’t a total loss for Brando. The actor requested – and received – $ 1 million in advance.
6. The overcoat
Directors like Stanley Kubrick are often seen as perfectionists, but even Kubrick can’t compare to Yuri Norstein. The Russian animator worked on a film titled The overcoat for 40 years and appears don’t be in a hurry to finish it. Based on a short story by author Nikolai Gogol about a man’s obsession with a particular garment, The overcoat features hand-drawn animation overlaid on glass panels. This painstaking process only produced 20 minutes of footage in the first 20 years Norstein worked on it. The work involved has successful in a film, but not the one Norstein intends to end up finishing: in 2021, a documentary, Make the overcoat, created. You can see part of the animated film in the documentary trailer above.
7. Hippie Hippie Shake
Shot in 2007 with an impressive cast including Cillian Murphy and Sienna Miller, Hippie Hippie Shake details the emergence of the 1960s magazine counterculture ounce. Murphy played ounce co-founder Richard Neville; Miller was his girlfriend, Louise Ferrier. Director Beeban Kidron and her husband, screenwriter Lee Hall, both left the project before it was finished. No one seems quite sure what happened, although Miller once hinted that tax issues between the US and UK would prevent the Universal distributor from making a profit on the film.
8. The king of shadows
Directed by Henry Selick (2009’s Coraline), The king of shadows promised a dark and humorous story of a boy appointed Hap Dagger who can summon shadow creatures with his hands and must face a monster using his new army. It was meant to be Pixaris the first foray into stop-motion animation. But Selick and Disney reportedly clashed over the film’s development, and production was halted after it was only partially completed. Selick attempted to continue the film with German company K5 International, but there has been little news about it since 2013.
9. The monster
Intended to be the final film by silent movie star and director Charlie Chaplin, The monster never made it past the pre-production stage due to the actor’s death in 1977. But what was left seemed offer lots of potential. The monster tells the story of Serapha, a woman born with wings who sees her unique character trait used by others for financial gain. Chaplin intended to have his own daughter, Victoria Chaplin, to play Serapha, and he spent a decade working on screenplay, storyboards, and ways to achieve the ambitious visual effects. He also intended to appear in a cameo role.
ten. Grizzly II: Vengeance
Shot in Hungary and with future stars Charlie Sheen, Laura Dern and George Clooney, this 1976 Bearsplotation sequel grizzly had all the makings of a drive-through success. The three play friends who embarked on an outdoor music festival and ran into a grizzly bear instead. Despite this promising plot, the project never seemed to merge into a releasable project. The funds dried up, which meant more effects of the bear attack remained unfinished. At one point, the 8-foot animatronic bear intended to strike fear into the hearts of moviegoers went faded away.
The film ended up arriving in 68 minutes and sat on a shelf for almost 40 years until producer Suzanne C. Nagy and GBGB International scooped up what they could and gave it direct output on video and in drive-in in early 2021. The film still missing the bear attack scenes it was originally intended, so it’s not exactly a finished product. But, according to Nagy, “it’s watchable.”
11. Waterman movie
Prior to Leslie Nielsen’s death in 2010, the actor, best known for his unmoved portrayal of Frank Drebin in The naked gun franchise-completed a voice over role in Waterman movie. The Flash animated comedy directed by Bryan Waterman was to feature Nielsen as the goofy explorer Ready Espanoza. But Waterman ran into budget constraints, and the film ended with just two minutes of footage completed.