When the words "release date change" start to plague a movie, we immediately expect something rather disastrous. While issues such as budget, politics and real-life tragedy can be the cause, often it's simply a case of poor quality.
Just look at Bennett Miller's crime drama Foxcatcher. The film, starring Steve Carell and Channing Tatum, was originally filmed in 2012 with a 2013 Oscar season release date in mind. But after a trailer leak, the film was pushed back a year as "further preproduction" was required. Despite the warning signs, the film has picked up some glowing reviews and is now a strong contender for next year's Oscars
While we're not going to list the films that suffered from delays and ended up being predictably awful (okay we'll list a few - The Adventures of Pluto Nash, View From The Top, All The King's Men, Mr Woodcock etc), we're showcasing the other examples of postponed films that ended up being surprisingly ace.
Foxcatcher hits cinemas later this year
The Cabin In The Woods
Filmed: March 2009
Released: April 2012
The problems: Despite a relatively breezy two-month production, things went rapidly downhill for Joss Whedon's meta-horror. Originally slated for release on February 2010, the film was delayed until January 2011 so it could be post-converted to 3D to cash in on the trend. But in June 2010, it was announced that the film was to be indefinitely delayed due to financial problems at MGM. After MGM filed for bankruptcy in November 2010, things looked pretty bleak for the film. But the following April, the film was sold to Lionsgate and in July they announced it would be released the following April, a whopping three years after the film had been completed.
The response: After a rapturous reception at SXSW, The Cabin in the Woods became a rarity: a horror film that critics loved. Providing a smart and savage dissection of the genre, it scored a massive 92% on Rotten Tomatoes. It also connected with audiences, making $66 million worldwide off a $30 million budget. Time Out called it "one of the most breathlessly entertaining, original movies of the year" while Rolling Stone found it to be "wicked, twisted fun."
The Bourne Identity
Filmed: October 2000
Released: June 2002
The problems: While the Bourne franchise has now become a hugely successful piece of property, both commercially and critically, things weren't always so rosy. Production kicked off late 2000 but problems were apparent from the outset. There was apparently tension between director Doug Liman and Universal, who weren't keen on the pacing or the focus on smaller action sequences. The ending was also a bone of contention and after the original finale went down poorly with test screenings, more action was added and reshoots occurred. The rewrites and reshoots led to the film going $8 million over budget and the release date changing from September 2001 to June 2002.
The response: The film was a surprise hit, making $214 million worldwide and scoring some excellent reviews. Matt Damon was seen as a convincing action star and the Paris car chase scene became the stuff of legend. Variety called it "A first-rate thriller with grit and intrigue to spare" while Empire stated that "a sequel would be welcome." Three sequels did indeed follow.
Filmed: July 1996
Released: December 1997
The problems: Ah where to begin. Cameron quickly gained a reputation on set as being a bit of a tyrant. Kate Winslet claimed she was genuinely frightened of him and one angry crew member poisoned a batch of soup with PCP, leading to 50 cast and crew members in the hospital. After spending hours in cold water, other cast members became ill and three stuntmen broke bones. The schedule went from 138 to 160 days while the budget rose to a record-breaking $200 million. The initial release of July 1997 was abandoned after unfinished effects.
The response: Phenomenal. While the opening weekend gross was merely solid, the film eventually stayed at #1 for 15 weeks in the US. It ended up making $2.1 billion worldwide and also scooped the Oscar for Best Picture. While it's since had its detractors, it was mostly loved by critics at the time and was still a hit during its recent 3D re-release. The Guardian commented that "Only the snobbish or the obtuse could deny its ambition, verve and entertainment firepower" while Variety stated that it was "A spectacular demonstration of what modern technology can contribute to dramatic storytelling."
Filmed: September 2005
Released: September 2011
The problems: The post-9/11 drama, which starred Anna Paquin, Matt Damon and Mark Ruffalo, was originally finished in late 2005 and writer/director Kenneth Lonergan (behind the flawless Oscar-nominated 2000 drama You Can Count On Me) was told to turn his three-hour script into a 150 minute movie. He struggled to cut it down and even borrowed hundreds of thousands from Matthew Broderick and producer Gary Gilbert to help fund the edit. It was scheduled for a 2007 release but Lonergan rejected an outsider's two-hour cut. Finally, Lonergan turned in a 150 minute version in 2008 but Gilbert refused to pay the money he owed and Fox sued him. Legal troubles escalated and finally in 2011, Martin Scorsese agreed to do an edit, free of charge. But Gilbert refused to sign off and finally the Lonergan cut was dumped in two cinemas in the US and just one in the UK later that year.
The response: While rumours persist of the brilliance of Scorsese's cut, the released film went down well in limited release. Critics lauded praise on it, while they also accepts some of its flaws. In fact, some critics launched a campaign to get the film attention at the Oscars and in the UK, despite showing on one screen, it boasted the best screen average of that week. The Telegraph called it "a phoenix of a film, risen from the ashes of what looked alarmingly like failure, and it needs to be seen" while The Guardian thought it was "stunning, provocative and brilliant."
All The Boys Love Mandy Lane
Filmed: Early 2006
Released: October 2013
The problems: A real festival favourite in 2006, All The Boys Love Mandy Lane announced the arrival of two major talents: star Amber Heard (who's since been in Pineapple Express and The Rum Diary) and director Jonathan Levine (who's since directed 50/50 and Warm Bodies). It was snapped up by The Weinstein Company and set for a 2007 release but the failure of other horror films such as Grindhouse meant they sold the film to Senator Entertainment, who then went bust. It was left in limbo and released in other territories, such as the UK. Then finally at the end of last year, it received a hushed theatrical release in the US.
The response: While it might not be a major critical darling, the reviews were certainly more positive than the majority of horror films released every year. In the horror community, it's a mythical fan favourite thanks to its stripped back slasher movie plot and subversive twist. Due to its low budget (just $750k), it's already made money back. Bloody Disgusting called it a "damn good teen thriller" while ViewLondon believed it was an "engaging, sharply acted slasher movie that's a cut above the usual rubbish." If you need convincing then check out the awesome UK trailer.
Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure
Filmed: February 1987
Released: February 1989
The problems: After wrapping in May 1987, Bill & Ted was originally slated for release in the following year but disaster befell the low budget comedy when the De Laurentiis Entertainment, the film's original distributor went bankrupt. The film was bought by Orion Pictures and Nelson Entertainment and scheduled it for release in 1989. But the change in release meant that numerous references to 1987 had to be redubbed as 1988.
The response: A sleeper success. Little was expected from the $10 million film but it ended up making $40 million in the US alone and was a hit on the small screen as well. It rapidly gained a cult following and received some decent reviews from critics at the time. It's success also led to a sequel in 1991. Entertainment Weekly called it a "delightful time-travel comedy.
The Tree Of Life
Filmed: March 2008
Released: July 2011
The problems: Terrence Malick's output can be most accurately described as leisurely. He took a 21 year break after Days of Heaven after all. So the majority of Tree of Life's delays can be handily placed directly at his feet. Announced in 2005 yet shot in 2008, it was given a 2009 release date. but wasn't completed in time. An early cut was sent to Cannes for the 2010 festival yet Malick changed his mind and a later date in that year was set but the film's distributor shut up shop and sold the rights to Fox. It was then finally given a release date the next year.
The response: Like most of Malick's work, the film was extremely divisive. The Cannes premiere was met with boos and applause and it went on to win the Palme d'Or. On release, it became a critical darling and ended up with three Oscar nominations, including Best Picture and Best Director. Village Voice termed it "better than a masterpiece" while Time Out called it "incredibly beautiful".
(Images: All Star)