It is no secret that movie production can be an immensely complicated jigsaw. Actors often have other commitments, studios often want to interfere and pull the film in a different direction to the director, and sometimes there is some kind of complicated legal issue that can often hold up the release of a movie. It is due to reasons such as these that movies can often take far longer than the average two years to be completed (if they are even completed at all).
This article will list 10 movies that were trapped in the limbo that is development hell.
10 Alita: Battle Angel
Based on the iconic manga entitled Battle Angel Alita, Alita: Battle Angel had been flirting with a cinematic release for decades before its release in 2019. Originally, the manga adaptation was supposed to be directed by the legendary James Cameron, with the movie’s release being discussed in the early 2000s. However, Cameron later suggested that he would be too busy with Avatar sequels to direct the movie.
Fortunately for fans of the series, the movie was eventually released in 2019 with Robert Rodriguez at the helm and received a warm reception from critics.
9 A Star Is Born
Originally, the heartwrenching love story featuring Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper (who also directed the film), was intended to be helmed by Hollywood legend, Clint Eastwood though this didn’t come to pass. The long road to release for the movie began in 2011, with a myriad of different actors being asked to star in the remake, including Beyonce, Christian Bale, Tom Cruise, and Jennifer Lopez.
Aside from the selection of different actors, the ending could have been completely different (though still ending with Jackson Maine’s death). Bradley Cooper pitched Maine dying by motorcycle accident and drowning in the ocean, but instead opted for the suicide we received the final cut.
8 New Mutants
The tale of New Mutants is tied heavily to Disney’s purchase of Fox Studios in 2019. The film had been in development since 2014, with Fox intending to introduce other X-Men characters into the franchise over time; however, this idea was scrapped by the filmmakers in favor of a more horror-based film.
After being impressed by the film, the producers opted to reshoot aspects of the movie in order to add even more horror elements to the movie. However, after Disney acquired Fox, the House of Mouse did not want to proceed with the horror focus and shifted the movie back to the director’s original vision. Currently, the film is scheduled for release in April 2020. Hopefully it will see the light of day this year.
7 The Man Who Killed Don Quixote
Terry Gilliam’s The Man Who Killed Don Quixote is one of the most infamous examples of a film languishing in development hell, with Gilliam’s movie resting in limbo for over 29 years before its release in 2018.
The film encountered so many accidents and legal issues that one would be forgiven for thinking Moses had returned and ordered ten plagues upon the Monty Python star. The film was delayed by flash flooding, crazy injuries to lead actors, and even the usual boring legal disputes. It is a miracle the film was released at all.
6 Mad Max: Fury Road
Mad Max: Fury Road was one of the runaway hits of 2015. Critics and audiences both loved the visually stunning, post-apocalyptic driving movie starring Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron. While the film was released in 2015, there was talk of a fourth Mad Max movie since the mid-nineties; however, any production was hit by political and financial difficulties.
The film was originally scheduled to film in 2001, but the September 11 attacks postponed filming. After this, the American dollar collapsed, and the budget was no longer sustainable. The film was next scheduled to film in 2003, but this was postponed due to security concerns during filming in Namibia.
5 Jurassic World
The Jurassic Park franchise is one of the most well-known, loved, and successful franchises of all time. Due to this success, production started on Jurassic Park IV in 2001, though the fourth film in the series would not see a release until 2015.
The film was the victim of constant script rewrites, as Steven Spielberg was not happy with the scripts he was being presented with. This, coupled with the business of Steven Spielberg on other products, including the fourth Indiana Jones film, meant that Jurassic Park IV languished in development hell for over a decade.
4 The Hobbit
The Hobbit was another film franchise that suffered greatly from financial and production issues. Since the conclusion of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, fans had been clamoring for more stories from Middle Earth, and the Hobbit seemed like the natural way to go in terms of plot. However, with issues between contract discussions, MGM and Warner Brothers held up any release for several years.
If studio disagreement wasn’t enough, there was also chaotic changes during production. While Guillermo del Toro was originally attached to direct, he eventually left the project, and Jackson returned to Middle Earth.
3 The Irishman
Martin Scorsese’s most recent film had been languishing in development hell for over a decade before its release on Netflix in 2019, although the legendary filmmaker suggested that he had ideas for the movie stretching back to the 80s.
While the Irishman had been in development since 2007, Scorcese’s other commitments had slowed his work on the crime drama considerably as extensive rewrites on the script led Scorcese to prioritize other films such as Hugo.
It is important to acknowledge just how influential Ryan Reynolds was in getting the Deadpool movie released. Talk of a Deadpool movie had been lingering since the mid-2000s, with both Reynolds and David S Goyer working on a script for the movie. However, legal issues over the character rights threw a spanner in the works.
While Reynolds starred as Deadpool in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, it was not a very faithful adaptation of the character, and Reynolds continued to push for a solo movie. It was only after Reynolds (probably) leaked test footage of a Deadpool movie online that Fox eventually greenlit a movie.
It didn’t take long for Fox to purchase the movie rights to Watchmen, with the studio acquiring the rights immediately after the release of the final issue in 1987. However, any work on a movie adaptation would appear to be cursed until its eventual release in 2009.
The film was passed around directors and writers, with the (apparently cursed) Terry Gilliam trying and failing to adapt the graphic novel for the big screen. Eventually, the rights passed onto Warner Brothers, via Paramount Pictures, who would then release the movie in 2009, though not without legal action from Fox in 2008 that slowed the release by another year.
NEXT: Watchmen: 10 Best Quotes From Season 1