Saved from Development Hell
"What? Did you think I was GONE forever?"
. What some works (and their authors) go through if there's too much of Executive Meddling
, lawsuits and so on.
The fanbase is waiting more and more impatiently, but nothing gets done.
But sometimes, divine intervention or something similar happens. The movie (or book, or whatever) is released. After many years of promises. Or even decades
. (That is NOT hyperbole.
Please only list examples here which have really, definitely left Development Hell
. We only believe it if the book's for sale at shops, and the movie in the theatres. Until then, it doesn't count.
Also, please note that just because a title was Saved from Development Hell
doesn't necessarily mean that it's good
. There are far too many examples of "saved" titles that were so bad or underwhelming that people would have preferred it stayed in Development Hell
See also The Shelf of Movie Languishment
, where it gets done but not released.
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
- Pantheon High, an American manga, was published by Tokyopop. Unfortunately, Tokyopop stopped publishing—but did not go bankrupt—in 2011, right before the third and final volume was to be released. Since Tokyopop wasn't publishing, they didn't release the volume, but since the company still existed, the authors couldn't get the rights back to have it published somewhere else. Comixology finally picked it up in May 2014, and is now selling all three volumes.
- Keroro Gunsou:
- Though this is a dub rather than a series, Sgt. Frog certainly counts. ADV Films announced their license of the series in early 2006, then went completely silent about it for two years and never released so much as a cast list, let alone a DVD or anything close (all we got were trailers for the show appearing on some of ADV's releases from 2007, and some of the actors mentioning it in commentaries and convention appearances). Then ADV lost the rights to Frog — along with nearly 3 dozen other titles — in July 2008. Funimation picked up the distribution rights and released a "test episode" on their YouTube channel seeking feedback in late 2008. Response was... less than stellar, so Funimation went back to the drawing board to tweak the scripts and casting. The first batch of episodes was eventually released on DVD in September 2009, and some of the episodes of the final version are up on their video portal. Six months later all of Season 1 (split into two "seasons" due to its length) had been released.
- The series then went through this again. Funimation had originally announced the acquisition of the first 102 episodes, but stopped halfway through, bringing back unpleasant memories of an earlier series of theirs. It took another year for Funimation to announce 26 more episodes, which were released in quick succession in July and August 2011.
- Slayers missed out on a direct fourth season in 1998 due to production issues and Megumi Hayashibara having schedule conflicts, and while there were more OVA's, a movie (Slayers Premium) and other media, it took eleven years for a fourth season to finally appear. A fifth then occurred the following year.
- It took nine years for Keiko Takemiya to get her manga series Kaze to Ki no Uta published, due to the plot focusing on a homosexual relationship and Takemiya's refusal to release the series with any censoring.
- The Giant Robo OVA, The Day The Earth Stood Still, took ten years to finish. There are seven episodes.
- One Piece:
- It has had a crazy situation with this in America, especially if you're talking uncut episodes. 4Kids got the anime in 2004 and it was aired on Toonami severely edited, even by 4Kids standards. 4Kids originally said they would make uncut releases of this and other shows, then that idea suddenly died. Then in 2007 they lost the licence altogether. Then Funimation picked up the show and started putting their version on Toonami... which was cancelled after just 25 episodes (they had dubbed over 40 at the time). They started releasing DVD's uncut from the first episode, but certain actors told fans at cons that it was Funi's worst-performing series (studio reps denied it), leaving doubt as to whether Funimation would even bother releasing the season they aired on Toonami, to say nothing of any episodes after. Time between original licensing of the show and a proper uncut release: over 3 years.
- It gets crazier once you get to the streaming. The online simulcast was announced and was hacked on the very first night, cancelling the event and leaving Funi and Toei talking for months, leaving fans wondering if they'd ever get caught up to Japan (or keep getting DVD's at all.) Then finally, months later, the simulcast came back and is still going strong.
- After over a year of no information whatsoever -— and a general consensus that they had dropped the show -— Funimation announced Season 4 (the first to get no US TV airing at all) for a Summer 2012 release, and Season 5 a few months later for 2013.
- Haruhi Suzumiya:
- The second season, both in Japan and the USA.
- Also, the second season finally started airing in the middle of a rerun of the first, with no advertising to speak of, amid official denials from the publisher. It's like they think the fans are masochists, or something.
- Steamboy was in production for 16 years, which definitely shows in all the Scenery Porn.
- After two years, Maikaze finally released a trailer for the second episode of their Touhou fanime Musou Kakyou: A Summer Day's Dream, which had been rumored to have been scrapped over criticism, both from ZUN, the original creator of the series, and from fans.
- Shaman King. The series was cancelled at the very last chapters due to low ratings, so it was not ended. Fast Forwards many years later, the author was given the chance to finish it.
- Rebuild of Evangelion:
- The third movie took a really, really long time. It was released on 17 November 2012, more than three years after the previous movie.
- And the end product had nothing to do with the material from the trailer at the end of 2.22. This is all because the original script was scraped mid-production, having already reached storyboarding.
- Kingdom Hearts: Due to Tokyopop's losing the license, the U.S. release was stalled after two volumes. Yen Press acquired the rights in 2013, and are releasing all five volumes in two omnibus editions. Similarly, they've released all three volumes of the Kingdom Hearts: Final Mix manga in two volumes.
- The Barcelona cathedral, Sagrada Familia, was begun in 1882. It is assumed to get finished in 2026.
- The San Francisco 49ers have been trying to get a stadium built for many years under multiple plans. Finally ground was broken April 19, 2012 and is scheduled to be finished in time for the 2014-2015 season.
- Plans for Mall at Bay Plaza in the Bronx (an enclosed mall adjacent to the existing Bay Plaza strip mall) were first announced in 1997. A J.C. Penney store was built on the mall site in 1999, but nothing else ever happened until the mall itself finally broke ground in mid-2012. When completed in 2014, it will be the first enclosed mall built in the U.S. since 2006, and will include a Macy's as the other anchor.
- Since 2007, plans have been proposed for the redevelopment of the Landsdowne Park area in Ottawa, Ontario, since the announcement of a CFL franchise for the city to play in 2010. The date was pushed back to 2013 after it became a necessity to replace the entire stadium and pushed another year back after a lawsuit from a group of residents in the area. The lawsuit was eventually dismissed in 2012 and construction began.
- Famous ancient buildings certainly count, The Great Pyramid in Egypt took one to two decades to build, and The Pharos of Alexandria took at least three.
- The Washington Monumentnote sat one-third completed from 1854 to 1879, with the stoppage mostly due to a lack of donations. (Congress finally stepped in to fund its completion.)
- One World Trade Center, the single tower that stands to replace the Twin Towers which fell on 9/11, went through several designs and concepts, and its progress was slowed nearly to a halt by politics and incompetent administration. A plan was finally settled, construction was resumed, and the building finally topped out in 2012 — 11 years after the attacks leveled its predecessor.
- Washington National Cathedral took 70 years to be completed.
- The "Big Dig", Boston's famous plan to reroute I-93, aka the Central Artery, into a tunnel below the city. 15 years of leaks, fatal collapses, and other boondoggles giving it an estimated price tag of nearly $22 billion. It finally completed and the tunnel opened in 2007...but with numerous problems that are still trying to be fixed.
- Ultimate Hulk Versus Wolverine (Issue 3). Originally solicited for April 19th, 2006. Finally released March 2009. Frankly it's amazing Marvel finally remembered.
- Kevin Smith's "Spider-Man - Black Cat: The Evil that Men Do" mini-series.
- Gemini Storm was created in 2008, but had massive delays since everyone on the project was new to ongoing comics and weren't used to deadlines, especially the colourist. Finally released in March 2010. And then the second issue was on hold until December 2010. According to the notes though, Wood has stopped inking the pages, which has sped up the process and the new colourists are much more reliable.
- Grant Morrison's The Multiversity was notoriously in the works ever since the end of 52, scheduled for 2010, then 2012, then 2013, until finally being solicited in 2014.
- For a long time, Season 5 of Calvin & Hobbes: The Series updated bi-yearly, if at all, all throughout the serial "Nocturnals". Eventually, on September 12, 2013, garfieldodie uploaded Part 2 of Season 5 and revealed that it would update on a semi-regular basis, and that the absence was caused by real life getting in the way.
Films — Animated
- One of the ultimate examples: in the '60s, Richard Williams began work on The Thief and the Cobbler, an Arabian nights-esque tale featuring a silent Buster Keaton style protagonist and a big name star in Vincent Price. The film languished in production for decades, with Williams steadfastly refusing to give up on it. In fact, pretty much every job he took in the interim was done purely for the money so he could continue working on his labor of love (which certainly explains the likes of Raggedy Ann & Andy: A Musical Adventure). By the time the film was finally released in a severely compromised form in 1995, the hero had several lines and Price had been dead for two years. Fortunately, there now exists a fan-created version of the film, which uses both footage from the compromised release as well as the animators' own rough animation tests, to better suit the original vision of the story.
- Whilst its stay in Development Hell was rather short, Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children does fit. Announced at TGS 2003, and originally targeted for a summer 2004 release, it ended up appearing in its original form in September 2005. The reason, according to director Tetsuya Nomura, was that the movie was originally meant to only be roughly 40-50 minutes long. However, fan interest skyrocketed as soon as the movie was announced, so the script was rewritten and the movie lengthened to accommodate for fan expectation.
- Advent Children Complete again deserves a mention: it saw release in April 2009, after being announced at TGS 2006.
- Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil was supposed to be released in January 2010. And... nothing.The creator himself wasn't sure when it was going to be released, if ever. It finally came out in April 2011.
- Bizarrely, this meant Hayden Panettiere had two movies Saved from Development Hell in 2011, as Fireflies In The Garden (filmed in 2008 and released in Europe) had a long wait before US release due to mixed reactions in Europe and distributor difficulties (the original distributor Senator Entertainment went under); it was eventually released in October of that year.
- The French animated film The King and the Mockingbird, which started production in 1948, and wasn't finished until 1980.
- Delgo. Development was begun in 1999 by Marc Adler, who wanted to make a big-budget, computer-animated film independent of titans like Disney and Dreamworks. Marc and his small animation studio, Fathom Studios, spent $40 million making the film, cast the likes of Burt Reynolds, Jennifer Love Hewitt, and Val Kilmer, and took so long to finish it that by the time it was released, two of the actors (Anne Bancroft and John Vernon) had been dead for three years. When they couldn't get any major studio interested in the film, Fathom instead had a distributor-for-hire give the film a wide release, which it received on December 12, 2008. It is now famous for having the the worst opening weekend of any wide-release film ever until it was dethroned by The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure in 2012. That the film itself is a Cliché Storm of epic proportions certainly didn't help.
- The Astro Boy movie was rumored for the longest time before finally getting made, with one version being a live action/CGI mix directed by Genndy Tartakovsky.
- Destino, the unlikely collaboration between Walt Disney and Salvador Dali, was first conceived back in 1946, but didn't reach screens until 57 years later. The home video release also counts; a Walt Disney Treasures set was announced for 2008 but dropped, the short and a making-of documentary eventually appearing as extras on the Fantasia/Fantasia 2000 Blu-Ray release in 2010.
- An Animated Adaptation of the Hungarian play The Tragedy Of Man had its script written way back in 1983. Production began in '88. The finished film was released in late 2011.
- Frozen. An animated Disney adaptation of The Snow Queen had been in development since the early 1940s when Walt Disney himself was interested in adapting it, before ultimately concluding that the story itself was too long and episodic to work as a straight adaption. He shelved the project with the intent of revisiting it later on, but died before he had the chance. The concept was resurrected at Disney in the 1990s as a hand-drawn animated film, but was again put on hold when the animators ran into the same story problems that Walt Disney did. They tried again in 2002... but then stopped again when Disney's management changed a couple of years later. After a few serious retoolings the film was officially greenlit again in 2011, and then finally released in 2013.
- Wreck-It Ralph. Disney came up with an idea for a movie about video games back in the late 80s, under the working title "High Score". This incarnation of the movie never got off the ground. Then they revived the concept during the late 90s, this time under the title "Joe Jump", but this one didn't get very far either. The concept was revived yet again in the mid-2000s as "Reboot Ralph", and production finally started around 2010 or 2011, now with the title "Wreck-It Ralph". The movie was slated for a March 2013 release, but due to the film being finished quicker than expected, it was moved to a November 2012 release (with the DVD and Blu-Ray coming in March, funnily enough), while Pixar's Monsters University, which was slated for that time frame, has now been moved to Summer 2013.
- A Monsters, Inc. sequel had been conceived in the mid-2000s, as a direct-to-video release by Circle 7 Animation. Circle 7 closed down before they could even complete it (or any of their other Pixar sequels currently in production at that time), and so Michael Eisner concluded that all Pixar sequels should be handled by Pixar themselves. Then in the late 2000s, it was announced that Pixar would be making a Monsters Inc. sequel sometime in the near future, but they later changed their minds about making it a sequel, and thought that it would be more interesting and entertaining to make it a prequel instead.
- The Croods was in development for around a decade. It was originally set to be an Aardman Animations film written by John Cleese titled "Crood Awakening" but it ended up falling through. When Dreamworks Animation broke off their deal with Aardman, they retained the rights and different directors tried working with it until it was given to Chris Sanders and gained its current form, released in 2013.
- Mr. Peabody & Sherman was originally to be made by Universal Pictures for release in 2001 as a live-action/CGI combo film. It was scrapped upon the failures of the film versions of fellow Jay Ward properties Dudley Do-Right and Rocky and Bullwinkle, but it was revived by Dreamworks Animation as an all-animated film, which was released in March 2014.
Films — Live-Action
- Alien vs. Predator is probably the most famous film case of development hell. It was finally released in 2004 after more than a decade of different scripts, changes to the cast, false starts, orphaned tie-ins, several series of video games and even promotions of the believed-to-be-coming-soon movie.
- Freddy vs. Jason:
- If AVP is the most famous case, this is likely the second most famous, as the film was also famously mired in development hell for years; originally, the studios who owned the two franchises involved with the titular crossover had wanted to make it for years, but could never agree on how to make it (each studio wanted to license out the other's character and do the film their way). When New Line Cinema bought the rights to the Friday the 13th franchise, the film stayed in development hell as New Line went through numerous screenwriters and even more script ideas...until the two men who ended up writing the script for the film threw out every other script that came before them and set a list of rules to follow that respected both parent franchises involved as they wrote their script. The film was finally released in 2003, and ended up making more money than any other film in either of the parent franchises.
- The story of the film's stay in Development Hell—and the numerous script ideas that came before the final script—is a bonus feature on the movie's DVD.
- The X-Files: I Want to Believe suffered a similar ordeal, but in a smaller scale and shorter time period.
- One of the earliest examples of this was Howard Hughes's Hell's Angels, which, due to Hughes's perfectionism and insistence on the latest film technology, took three years and a budget of $3.8 million to create, something unheard of at the time (and equalling somewhere on the order of $225 million in today's money). Two decades later, Hughes would take seven years to complete a similar film, Jet Pilot.
- The fifth film in the Superman franchise was stuck in pre-production for nearly two decades. The first part of this was mostly the producers wanting to distance themselves from the failure of Superman IV: The Quest for Peace, while the later half was due to Executive Meddling driving director after director after director away from the project. Its proposed sequel similarly became mired in development hell, after Superman Returns' lackluster performance at the box office caused a sequel to be put on the back burner, and Bryan Singer abandoned the project to direct Valkyrie instead. When a Superman film finally came back into production, it was as a Continuity Reboot, Man of Steel, with a new cast and director Zack Snyder, producer Christopher Nolan, and writer David Goyer. The latter two were responsible for the successful reboot of the Batman franchise, incidentally... (see below)
- Batman & Robin:
- The failure also caused many projects for a fifth Batman movie to not take off (including a full-fledged sequel, an adaptation of Batman: Year One, and a Batman Beyond film) until a new one debuted eight years later.
- The whole idea for there to be a Batman movie that wasn't inspired by the TV series was first announced in July 1980, and Tom Mankiewicz wrote a script, titled The Batman, in 1983. Numerous actors were considered for the part of Bruce Wayne/Batman, and several rewrites were done by as many as nine different writers before Tim Burton onto the project in 1986. After several film treatments, Sam Hamm wrote an almost entirely-new script, Michael Keaton was cast in the title role, and overall three years would pass before Batman was finally released in 1989.
- The rights to a live action adaptation of The Lord of the Rings were sold to United Artists shortly before J. R. R. Tolkien's death in 1973. Although scripts were intermittently under development and two animated adaptations made it to the screen despite their own Development Hells, conventional wisdom was that the trilogy as written was unfilmable due to its sheer length and complexity. Studios were extremely reluctant to green-light scripts that would obligate them to more than one film. Even one-film scripts (adapted almost beyond recognition) came with 3-hour running times, well beyond what studios believed moviegoers would be willing to sit through. It wasn't until 1994 that Miramax gave Peter Jackson permission to move forward on a 5-hour, 2-movie script. By 1999, with shooting not even started, the studio had lost confidence and Jackson had to shop the script around again. New Line not only picked it up but also approved a 3rd film, bringing the total running time to 7 hours. Jackson and his writing team, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens, had to completely revamp the script during shooting to meet the new parameters. note The first film was not released until 2001, 28 years after the film rights were sold...but finally redeemed Lord of the Rings from Development Hell with blockbuster success.
- More recently, The Hobbit had to resolve some serious legal issues before it could be green-lit, delaying production until 2009 despite the fact that Jackson had been seeking an adaptation since 1995. The film then suffered creative control problems — such as the studio's refusal to film in New Zealand (the location for the LOTR films) — which caused then-director Guillermo del Toro to leave the project. Fortunately, Peter Jackson managed to retake control as both director and producer and the 1st of 3 Hobbit films came out in December 2012.
- The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy was announced in 1982, but filming did not begin until 2003, two years after series creator Douglas Adams died. Adams said of his experience trying to get the film made, "Getting a movie made in Hollywood is like trying to grill a steak by having a succession of people coming into the room and breathing on it." For several years, the About the Author blurb in Adams' books included the line (in the context of discussing the Hitchhiker's series) "A major motion picture is currently in development hell and should be coming out any decade now." This no doubt helped popularize the term.
- Watchmen and V for Vendetta were both announced as films in the mid-1980s and were mired in development hell well into the 2000s, due to budgetary concerns, the difficulty of finding suitable directors, and Alan Moore's complete unwillingness to participate in adaptations of his graphic novels. V for Vendetta eventually saw release in 2006, and Watchmen was released in 2009. Both these films seem to have come to fruition due mainly to the enormous clout of the Wachowskis and Zack Snyder.
- Quentin Tarantino announced his plans to shoot a WWII movie titled Inglourious Basterds shortly after the 1997 release of Jackie Brown. As of 2007, he was still working on the script, but in late 2008 it began shooting and was released in August 2009.
- The Speed Racer live action film was first announced in 1992. Four directors later and through many casting, studio, and writer changes, the film was released in May 2008.
- The 2000 film Supernova (not to be confused with any of the many other films with that title) was in development for 12 years and cost an estimated 60 million dollars. Although the theatrical version runs only 87 minutes (the director's cut is 91), reportedly several hours of completed footage exists, much of it self-contradictory due to changes made to the script during the filming stage. Both Francis Ford Coppola and H R Giger were involved at one point.
- In a unique example of development hell continuing into post-production, the film Exorcist The Beginning had completed filming and was having some final SFX work done when the studio fired director Paul Schrader and replaced him with Renny Harlin, who recast almost all of the supporting characters, changed the context of the scenes he didn't have reshot, and completely rewrote the film's climax. After Harlin's film bombed, Schrader was allowed to finish his version with a very limited special effects budget, and it received a theatrical release under the title Dominion: A Prequel To The Exorcist, and did a little better critically (due to a limited release, the gross was even shorter).
- The rumors of a remake/reboot of The Pink Panther were first floated around the turn of the millennium, with everyone from Kevin Spacey to Chris Tucker to Mike Myers reportedly being considered for Inspector Clouseau (Myers was apparently the favorite of the studio, but his asking fee was too high.) It filmed as a reboot in 2004 with Steve Martin, but wasn't released until early 2006, largely due to a studio merger in the interim. There was also some editing done, in order to re-cast it as a family-friendly comedy rather than the more ribald, raunchy film of its original iteration.
- It was also around the Turn of the Millennium that the prospect of a new adaptation of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory began development in earnest, going through several potential directors (Gary Ross, Martin Scorsese) and a gigantic list of potential Willy Wonkas (Will Smith, Robin Williams, Nicolas Cage, Marilyn Manson etc.) before settling on Tim Burton as director and from there Johnny Depp as Wonka.
- Peter Sellers read Being There circa 1972 and immediately visualized a film adaptation he could play the lead role of Chance the Gardener in; it didn't come to pass until 1979 (he had to rebuild his box-office clout, for one thing).
- Martin Scorsese first started trying to get Gangs of New York made in 1978. He finally did it in 2002, and a good deal of his DVD commentary on the film is devoted to explaining the arduous process.
- Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. It took a long time before Lucas, Spielberg and Ford agreed on a script - and thus the Trilogy Creep came 19 years after Last Crusade
- A Cats & Dogs sequel was intended for release in 2005. After some story rewrites, it was finally released in 2010.
- The film of Richard Matheson's short story Button, Button became the Chinese Democracy of the film world during its nearly four decades in development hell (though it saw a TV adaptation for the 1980s Twilight Zone in the meantime). It would eventually be released in 2010 as The Box.
- Dead Air, which had been pushed back twice. It eventually got released.
- A live-action Dragon Ball movie was announced in 2002, but didn't get out until 2009 as Dragonball Evolution.
- For some unknown reason there was a 14-year gap between the fourth St. Trinian's movie (The Great St. Trinian's Train Robbery, 1966) and the fifth (The Wildcats of St. Trinian's, 1980). But there's no mystery why there was a 27-year gap between Wildcats and the sixth (St. Trinian's, 2007); Wildcats was reportedly so dire that it's the only one not available on DVD.
- Carl Sagan wrote the 100-page film script for Contact in 1985. When it went to Development Hell, he just made a book out of it. The film was finally released in 1997.
- Although it eventually got a 2005 release in the wake of Doom 3, the Doom movie first began its life as a rumor shortly after the runaway success of the first game, and then a flurry of studio developments, press releases and wild fan rumors after Doom 2 proved even more successful. At one point, according to the stories, Terry Gilliam was interested in directing, and Arnold Schwarzenegger would have starred as the space marine, but then it sank back into development hell for another decade.
- Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, helped by the collapse of Carolco, complicating an already complex rights ownership situation.
- The fourth film, Terminator Salvation, which also burned in said Development Hell during its production as well. There were seven writers of the script when you include Jonathan Nolan and the two guys who actually did the original script, and the ending was fundamentally altered after test audiences reacted negatively. It shows.
- And the fifth and sixth proposed Terminator films look headed in the same direction. First the production company of the fourth bankrupted, then the hedge fund they owed money to became the rights holders before selling them to Megan Ellison's Annapurna Films. Who says more films are in the works, with the fifth scheduled to 2015.
- Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day: In 1939, the film rights for the novel were bought, and production was about to begin when World War II started, throwing everything into a spin. The movie was shelved. They tried again in 1954, but nothing came of it. The movie finally was released in 2008. Nearly seven decades after the movie rights were purchased. A sequel is now in the works. Let's see how long the development period will be on that one.
- Throughout 1989 and 1990, Stan Lee and Chris Claremont were in discussions with James Cameron and Carolco Pictures for an X-Men film adaptation. The deal fell apart when Cameron went to work on Spider-Man, Carolco went bankrupt, and the film rights reverted to Marvel Studios. In December 1992, Marvel discussed selling the property to Columbia Pictures to no avail. Meanwhile, Avi Arad produced the animated X-Men TV series for Fox Kids. 20th Century Fox was impressed by the success of the TV show, and producer Lauren Shuler Donner purchased the film rights for them in 1994. The film went through a number of scripts and actor and director changes and was eventually released in July 2000, starting a long running film series and spawning a reemergence of superhero films.
- A Spider-Man film finally came out in 2002 after the filming rights going through various hands during 20 years - Cannon Pictures, which almost produced a low-budget movie like Superman IV: The Quest for Peace; Carolco, which even considered a screenplay by James Cameron, but was stopped by continued financial and legal problems; and MGM, which traded the rights with Columbia for the rights to Casino Royale, which was separate to the rest of James Bond, after Columbia announced plans on a rival 007 franchise.
- The fourth Spider-Man film went through this later on, to the point where Columbia and director Sam Raimi ended up canceling the project altogether in early 2010, with Raimi announcing that he could not meet the May 2011 release date. At the same time, Columbia announced a reboot was to begin development shortly, and The Amazing Spider-Man was released in July 2012.
- Hulk: Development began in the 1990s, but the film was not released until 2003.
- An Iron Man film adaptation was in development since 1990 when Universal Studios bought the rights. The film then when through several changes in studios, writers and directors for more than a decade until 2005 when Marvel Studios reacquired the rights and the put the film in production as their first independent feature. The film finally released on May 2, 2008 to great success.
- Thor: Sam Raimi originally envisioned making a Thor movie after Darkman. He met Stan Lee and pitched the concept to 20th Century Fox, but they did not understand it. The project was abandoned for a while, but the success of X-Men in 2000 helped it gain some momentum. The film went through several writers, directors and studios before the rights went back to Marvel in 2006, who finally produced the film and released it in May 2011.
- Yet another Marvel property, Captain America also languished in development hell as far back as 1997. In May 2000, Marvel teamed with Artisan Entertainment to help finance the film. However, a lawsuit arose between Marvel Comics and Joe Simon over the ownership of Captain America copyrights, disrupting the development process of the film. The lawsuit was eventually settled in September 2003. The rights were later acquired by Marvel in 2005 who were planning to independently produce several films with Paramount Pictures distributing, and the film finally saw release on July 22, 2011.
- Plans for a Wonder Woman movie have been in various stages of production since the 1990's, with creators ranging from David E. Kelley and Joss Whedon attached at various points. In October 2014, WB finally announced that a Wonder Woman movie is officially in the works for 2017, with the character first making her debut in 2015's Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, portrayed by Gal Gadot.
- A Deadpool movie was announced years ago, with the film set to act as a spin-off of X-Men Origins: Wolverine with Ryan Reynolds reprising his role as the title character. The overwhelmingly negative reception to Wolverine nipped these plans in the bud, and though various screenplays have been floating around since then, it wasn't until 2014 that Fox finally gave the project the greenlight for a Winter 2016 debut. And in case you're wondering, no, it will not be connected to Wolverine in any way.
- The Boondock Saints II All Saints Day. The original came out in 1999, and by 2002 had finally received backing for a sequel. Planned for release in 2005, the film didn't come out until 2009, ten years after the original.
- The first American Godzilla movie was first suggested waaaaay back in the 1970s. Of course, due to things like budget, rejected scripts and the like, it wasn't until 1998 that the movie was finally released.
- The film adaptation of the Whiteout comic book finally got released in 2009 after having been announced nearly 10 years ago.
- A Footloose remake was first announced in 2007, with Kenny Ortega as the director and Zac Efron as Ren. Both Ortega and Efron dropped out in 2009, the former due to disagreements with Paramount over the budget and the latter due to Efron not wanting to be typecast in musicals. Then Efron's replacement, Chase Crawford, backed out due to scheduling conflicts. It finally got to theaters in October 2011.
- It took over a decade for The A-Team film to be made, and the movie went through 11 scripts. In the first script, the team members were supposed to be veterans of the First Iraq War!
- Steven Spielberg's busy schedule lead to many instances of this.
- A.I.: the story that inspired it was published in 1969, Stanley Kubrick begun thinking about adapting it in the early 70's (complete with bringing the author to adapt), brought in Spielberg to the project in 1985, and many false-start announcements appeared through the 90's. Then he died in 1999, Spielberg assumed control of the project, and the film finally took off.
- Since A.I. was mentioned, two films Spielberg considered directing at the time: Minority Report (announced as early as 1998 - postponed twice, first by A.I., then by Tom Cruise's M:I:2) and Memoirs of a Geisha (eventually released in 2005, but only produced by Spielberg).
- The Tintin film, which has a story very close to Indiana Jones: Steven Spielberg met the comic after Raiders of the Lost Ark was compared to the series, tried to make a movie but became dissatisfied and did Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade instead, and finally started motion capture (with Peter Jackson's assistance) after Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was finished.
- Spielberg got interested in Lincoln, after the writer revealed the biography Team of Rivals in 1999, purchased the rights two years later, the book came out in 2005, and the film released in 2012.
- In 1988, Fox got interested in making a new Planet of the Apes with Adam Rifkin (who would later write Film/Mousehunt and Small Soldiers, among others). New executives made the project crash. Peter Jackson, Oliver Stone, Chris Columbus, Arnold Schwarzenegger and James Cameron were involved with the movie in the following years. It only took off after William Broyles, Jr. (Apollo 13, later Cast Away) wrote a script in 1999, which attracted Tim Burton, and led to the film released in 2001.
- It went through a stint in development hell that was actually self-imposed; Christopher Nolan saw the film as his personal opus and spent ten years revising the script until he was sure it was the absolute best he could make it, and everything in the complicated story made sense.
- He was also waiting until he had enough clout in Hollywood to get the budget he wanted. After the success of Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, he was essentially given a blank check to do what he wanted... that being "create a highly rated film that made everyone lots of money". Good things do sometimes come to those who wait.
- One of the strangest cases of development hell occurred with the film Phone Booth. Writer Larry Cohen began work on the project in the 1960's as a project for Alfred Hitchcock. After Hitchcock died, the screenplay was shelved until Joel Schumacher read the screenplay and shot the film on a low budget for two weeks in 2000 (with a then-unknown Colin Farrell and Ron Eldard as the villain). After seeing a rough cut of the film, Fox shelved the project and re-shot Eldard's scenes with Kiefer Sutherland. While the film was on the shelf, Cohen reworked parts of the Phone Booth screenplay, updated the technology and sold Cellular to New Line Cinema (which was released in 2004). Eventually, Fox scheduled Phone Booth for November 15th, 2002, only to delay it after the Beltway Sniper shootings occurred. Finally, the film was rescheduled for April 4th, 2003 and managed to be a hit at the box office.
- This happened to the 2002 Peter Pan. The original plans were made by producer Lucy Fisher who acquired the rights in 1980.
- The Warrior's Way was meant to come out early 2008... almost 3 years later it finally found itself in cinemas.
- Trick 'r Treat went through post-production hell. Which was supposed to have been released in 2007, But was eventually released in October of 2009 on DVD. Some saw this as a punishment to Bryan Singer from Warner Bros. who was disappointed with Superman Returns.
- James Cameron wrote the script for Avatar in 1994, and planned for a 1999 release. It took ten years for technology to advance to the point where he could convincingly and reasonably depict another planet with CGI. He succeeded. Since it was already written at the time, he even snuck a reference to Avatar into Titanic.
- James Bond has two main examples: GoldenEye (which emerged from the failed third Timothy Dalton film) and Skyfall (EON started to arrange things. Then MGM got into financial problems, and it was kept on hold until the studio solved them). On Her Majesty's Secret Service is a minor case: it was first announced as a successor to Goldfinger (Thunderball came instead due to lawsuits and such), then after Thunderball (but the winter locations made producers prioritize You Only Live Twice).
- The film adaptation of Atlas Shrugged. There were two failed attempts in The Seventies to turn it into a Mini Series — the first one fell through when Ayn Rand wasn't able to secure final script approval, while the second one had a finished script (with Rand's approval) and was gearing up for production at NBC, but that too was halted after Fred Silverman came to power at the network. Rand started work on her own script, but she died with only a third of it finished. The film rights switched hands multiple times in the ensuing decades, and at one point such stars as Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Charlize Theron, Julia Roberts, Anne Hathaway and Russell Crowe were all attached. All of their deals, however, fell through, and the current rights-holders rushed through an independently-financed production in order to prevent the film rights from reverting to the Rand estate. The result, released in 2011 as Atlas Shrugged: Part I, was critically thrashed and went largely ignored even by the conservatives and libertarians that its marketing aggressively courted. Still, a sequel was released the following year.
- Superbad was written by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg in the mid-'90s, as a way to prove that they could write a movie script. Years later, after working with Judd Apatow on the short-lived TV series Undeclared, they pitched the script to him. Originally, Seth Rogen was to play the role of Seth, and he recorded a script reading of the lines back in '02. During the early and mid-2000s, they could not find a company who wanted to distribute the film. The script also went through a few revisions, the whole idea of Seth and Evan going to separate colleges, and the emotional friendship stuff was added in a later revision. Anyway, after the success of Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, Apatow and Rogen pitched the script to Columbia Pictures, and they accepted it. But by this time, Rogen looked too old to play the role of Seth, so they had Jonah Hill take the role.
- The film version of the Dave Barry novel Big Trouble had been filmed, had a star-studded cast and was looking to be a big box-office hit...and then September 11 happened a week before the film was to be released. Being a comedy about a plane hijacking with a subplot about two teenagers playing a large-scale tag game called "Killer", the movie was shelved indefinitely. It finally appeared in theaters with little promotion in April 2002. Despite decent reviews, it failed spectacularly at the box office.
- Woody Allen wrote the screenplay of Whatever Works in the 1970s, with Zero Mostel in mind for the main role. After Mostel died in 1977, Allen shelved the project for more then thirty years. The film was eventually released in 2009, starring Larry David.
- Hounddog by D. Kampmeier. The script was originally written in the nineties, but the project hasn't found financing until 2005. When production started in summer 2006, it was overshadowed by accusations of sexual exploitation of the child actors involved. The film was shown at the Sundance Festival in early 2007, booed and basically sent back into Development Hell. It was finally ready in 2009, but was almost completely pulled from distribution at the last moment (only having 22 screens at most). It is available on DVD since fall 2010.
- Two MGM films, The Cabin in the Woods and the Red Dawn (2012) remake were announced in 2009, both films ended up delayed for several years as a result of MGM's financial problems (they were also forced to cancel their plans to convert "Cabin" into 3-D, though most people consider that a good thing) Red Dawn (2012) also had problems securing a distributor due to it's rather "touchy" subject matter with the Chinese invading America, so MGM had to change the villains to North Koreans in post production in order to get a distributor. Both finally came out in 2012, the former getting good reviews and a tidy little profit, the latter... not.
- George Lucas began development on Red Tails in 1988 but could not get any studio to produce the film (due to studios being uneasy on an adventure film with a mostly black cast). Finally, he decided finance the film himself and had most of it filmed between 2009 and 2010. Then the film entered post-production hell due to the many scenes of visual effects, the difficulty in finding a distributor and the film's director being unavailable for reshoots (due to his work on the show Treme). The film was finally released in 2012.
- The rights to the remake of the 1976 movie Sparkle were bought by Whitney Houston's production company in the mid 90's, and Aaliyah was intended to be cast as the lead. However, after Aaliyah's death in a plane crash in 2001, the film was not produced. In 2005, interest in the remake started again with Raven-Symoné in talks to star. In 2011, Mara Brock Akil and Salim Akil, the producers of Jumping the Broom, took on Sparkle as their next project (with Jordin Sparks in the lead and Houston as her mother) and filming ended in November 2011. The movie was released on August 17, 2012 (sadly, Houston had passed away earlier that year).
- John Carter, based on Edgar Rice Burroughs' Barsoom stories, was mired in Development Hell since 1931, as almost every major studio in Hollywood tried and failed in putting a film together. At various points in the 2000s, Robert Rodriguez, Kerry Conran, John Favreau, and Brad Bird had been attached to direct the project. In 2006, Disney acquired the rights after Paramount's attempt at filming it failed, Paramount having acquired the rights from Touchstone (a Disney label) in 2002. Actual filming began in January 2010, and was released in March of 2012 — just in time for the 100th anniversary of the first published John Carter story (a DVD extra is even titled "A Century Into Making"). The Mockbuster version by The Asylum actually came out a full three years before the official adaptation did. And because of an abysmal US marketing campaign coupled with mediocre reviews, it was a spectacular box office failure.
- James Clavell's Tai-Pan and James A. Michener's Caravans had their film rights bought up by MGM, with the 1967 promotional short "Lionpower from MGM" announcing both as future projects. But MGM was falling apart and ultimately both books reached the screen through other means. Caravans arrived in 1978 via Universal, and Tai-Pan in 1986 through De Laurentiis Entertainment Group.
- Sin City 2, which was supposed to be released in 2008, finally came out in 2014.
- A film adaptation of the Les Misérables musical was discussed for many years; the 1991 souvenir program for the stage show claimed it was coming out in 1993 via TriStar Pictures. Universal Pictures was the studio that finally brought the movie to the light of day in December 2012.
- Grown Ups was supposed to made in the late 90s, and starring Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, Chris Farley, David Spade, and Rob Schneider, who were all known as "The Bad Boys of SNL" in the early 90s. However, after Farley's death in 1997, it got put away before it was finally made in 2010 with Kevin James in the role meant for Farley.
- The remake of Last Holiday was originally intended to made in 1985 with John Candy set to star. However, the project got put on the back burner and after Candy's passing, the role was rewritten to be a female (played by Queen Latifah). The film was finally made and released in 2006.
- Warren Beatty spent most of the 1960s trying to make Bonnie and Clyde, even pitching the idea to French New Wave directors François Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard.
- William Goldman tried to get his book The Princess Bride made into a movie for about a decade. He had a deal with one studio, but the CEO was fired and the first thing the new guy does, according to Goldman, is to cancel all projects in progress (so the old guy doesn't get any credit if any of them are hits). He made another deal with a different studio, only to have the entire studio shut down.
- The movie adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of the Opera was being talked about at the end of The Eighties but didn't arrive until 2004.
- Mad Max Fury Road was preparing to start filming in 2001 when the September 11th attacks made it unfeasible for the production crew to travel to Australia. Since then, Mel Gibson has lost interest in reprising the role, making it unlikely that the film will be shot any time soon. Reports in 2009 posited that it will now be made without Gibson's involvement. The title role has been recast (Tom Hardy has replaced Mel Gibson), but production has been pushed back to 2012, where principal photography rolled in Namibia. It is now scheduled for a release in 2014.
- Highlander: The Source stalled for several years and went through several writers and numerous script rewrites before the final project was made. Fans hoped it would improve the thing, but it was still terrible.
- The truly bizarre story of Dark Blood: The movie was, by director George Sluizer's estimation, "80 percent finished" when shooting wrapped up for the night on October 30, 1993, the night that the film's star, River Phoenix, died of a drug overdose. Much of what was left to be filmed consisted of interior shots requiring close-ups of Phoenix's character, so the filmmakers and the insurance company were left to conclude that there was no cost-efficient way to salvage the movie, at which point the investors were paid out and ownership of the movie transferred to the insurers themselves. In 1999, no longer willing to pay to warehouse the film, the insurance company was set to destroy it, but Sluizer somehow rescued the footage. Flash forward to Christmas Day, 2007. Sluizer collapses suddenly while vacationing in the French Alps and was evacuated to a local hospital, then driven five hours to a cardiovascular hospital to be treated for...an acute aortic dissection, which normally kills a person within five minutes. While he's recovering, he comes to the decision that he has to complete this movie, and starts soliciting donations on what amounts to the Dutch equivalent of Kickstarter. Ultimately, the decision was made to fill in the narrative gaps using a voiceover, with Sluizer considering using an actor but eventually deciding to do it himself. The film premiered at the Netherlands Film Festival on September 27, 2012—nearly nineteen years after the death of its star.
- The rights to the movie One For The Money, based on the book of the same name by Janet Evanovich, were bought in the late 1990s by TriStar Pictures. In early 2010, Lions Gate Entertainment announced that they were going to make the movie with Julie Anne Robinson directing and Katherine Heigl as the main character. The movie was shot from July to September 2010, but for whatever reason wasn't released until January 2012. The movie ended up bombing in theaters and was critically panned.
- The Fighter was in limbo for four years. Mark Wahlberg began training (boxing) for the role in 2005. Throughout the various production delays, Wahlberg continued to train every day so that he could be ready for filming. Filming finally began in July 2009.
- It appeared at one point in time that The Lone Ranger would never be made due to its budget coming in at well over $200 million, in part due to the poor performance of Cowboys and Aliens.
- Ender’s Game was written in 1985, and author Orson Scott Card started writing the screenplay for the movie in 1996. The film was finally released in November 2013. Here are more details of its very long development.
- Star Wars:
- The prequels only started development in 1993, 10 years after Return of the Jedi (and the first reached theaters six years later), as George Lucas felt audiences still had interest in his saga, and Jurassic Park showed effects were advanced enough to make his ideas easy to film.
- The Sequel Trilogy was planned since 1975, as Lucas' original idea was for 9 movies (with the first being the fourth). After later being abandoned and denied for several years - ultimately during production of the prequels, as Lucas stated he had no interest in continuing the story as the hexalogy provided a complete Hero's Journey for Anakin\Vader - the trilogy was brought back in 2012 after Disney's purchase of Lucasfilm. Star Wars: Episode VII is scheduled for a 2015 release.
- The Fantastic Four reboot was announced by 20th Century Fox in 2009, but the film languished in limbo until a cast and director were finally chosen in 2014.
- This Means War's initial script goes back at least a decade, with screenwriter Larry Doyle claiming he read an early draft of the script in 1998. Seth Rogen, Bradley Cooper, Sam Worthington, Chris Rock and Martin Lawrence all declined roles in the film. It was finally released in 2012 starring Tom Hardy, Chris Pine and Reese Witherspoon.
- The Wolfman (2010) was planned out and was to be directed by Mark Romanek (of One Hour Photo fame), but he left due to not being able to make changes during the writer's strike at the time. Joe Johnston took over and shot the film in spring/summer of 2008 for a fall 2008 release, but was held back until 2010 due to re-shoots by demand of the studio.
- Patton. Producer Frank Mc Carthy first mooted a biopic of George S. Patton as early as 1953. Then the project was repeatedly delayed due to studio politics, budget issues, rotating stars (with everyone from John Wayne to Burt Lancaster to Rod Steiger attached) and script disagreements. The main obstacle though was the opposition of Patton's family. Mc Carthy and 20th Century Fox ended up securing rights to Omar Bradley's memoir A Soldier's Story and Ladislas Fargo's Patton: Ordeal and Triumph to skirt their resistance, and the movie was finally released in 1970.
- The Silmarillion. J.R.R.Tolkien worked on it from WWI to his death - over fifty years! - and it was published posthumously by his son Christopher.
- The Lord of the Rings could count as well. The skeleton of the story was ready already in 1936, but the book was published nearly twenty years later, 1954-1955.
- The third book in the Inheritance Cycle took around three years to finish. Then Christopher Paolini said the book was too long so he split it in two and still took more time before releasing it. In the acknowledgments for Brisingr, he thanked one person in particular for "giving me a much needed kick-in-the-pants early on" and mentions that without which, he would probably still be working on the book.
- It took Ricardo Pinto eight years to write the third book in The Stone Dance of the Chameleon trilogy, due to real life getting in the way. (His house burning down, for instance.) His British publisher picked up the book and reprinted the older two books, his American publisher did neither.
- ...And Ladies of the Club took Helen Santmyer fifty years to write.
- George R. R. Martin's esteemed series A Song of Ice and Fire did this with its fifth book. While writing the fourth novel in the series, Martin realized that the manuscript had gotten literally too large to publish, so the decision was made to split it in half. The fourth novel was published in 2005 as A Feast For Crows, with the fifth, A Dance With Dragons, listed in its afterward as a 2006 release, since so much of it had (theoretically) already been written. It was actually completed in April 2011, and was rushed to store shelves in three months.
- Incidentally, by "too large to publish" we mean that if GRRM had not split the story, he'd be handing us a book with 1600 pages in it. Before the lengthy House indexes in the back.
- Even better, his original plans were for Book 2 (now called A Clash of Kings) to be entitled A Dance with Dragons, and first editions of Game have it listed as the sequel. In other words, we've been waiting for some book, any book, called "A Dance with Dragons" for well over a decade.
- Martin's decreased writing pace has also raised concerns because the series is being adapted for television as Game of Thrones. At current plansnote , the series' final season will air in 2018, leaving only four years for Martin to finish the last two books (it took six years to finish A Dance with Dragons). While Martin believes Dance was his Darkest Hour and the final two books will be easier to produce, he has admitted concern over getting Book 7 (A Dream of Spring) out on time, which isn't precisely easing the fandom's mind. Bantam Books has all but ruled out The Winds of Winter seeing a 2014 publication date, by the way.
- Fortunately for the fans, Martin did reveal several major plot points to the producers of the show in case he got "hit by a truck".
- Margaret Mitchell spent nearly ten years writing Gone with the Wind, and she had previously written several other hundred plus page stories which never made it to publication.
- Mark Danielewski spent ten years working on House of Leaves.
Live Action TV
- The Battlestar Galactica prequel Caprica was announced in 2007, in July 2008 it was picked up as a 2-hour pilot and in December of that year finally chosen to become a series. It wasn't until April 2009 that the pilot was released as a DVD and the series itself aired in January 2010.
- Doctor Who:
- In 1989, the show was cancelled pending a revamp...which was attempted in 1996, but rights issues and low US ratings of a TV movie (it was co-produced by Fox) pushed it right back into development hell until 2005.
- The 7-year gap between the original show and the TV movie also ended up being a case of development hell. Actually, two cases; after the BBC cancelled the show, they were approached by a film company in the UK who wanted to do a theatrical feature, so when Philip Segal approached the BBC about restarting the show as a joint BBC/20th Century Fox venture, the BBC kept putting him off until it became clear that the film company they'd already given the go-ahead to never was going to produce the property. By the time Segal got the BBC on board, the people he'd dealt with at the Fox TV network were no longer there, and the new guys had no enthusiasm for the project, so he had to take it to the network's movie-of-the-week division (which operated separately from the series-production division) to get it made as a one-shot, in hopes of getting it picked up as a series if it did well enough. (Its failure to do so, on the other hand, was just a classic case of Screwed by the Network, when Fox decided to scheduled it to air in the same time slot as the NBA finals.)
- The Secret Life of the American Teenager was shopped around from network to network for about ten years before getting picked up by ABC Family in 2008.
- Haim Saban had been trying to get a network to pick up an Americanized version of Super Sentai for years, but no one had faith in the idea. He finally got his lucky break as the then president of Fox Kids had previously had tried to do the same thing before but failed. Thus Power Rangers was created, and the rest is history.
- More specifically a DVD release of a classic TV show: The DVD box set of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. lingered in Development Hell for years due, among other reasons, to these factors:
- There were legal issues surrounding the 3rd-season episode "The Pieces of Fate Affair", scripted by Harlan Ellison, who, in true Ellison fashion, had filled the script with Take Thats at numerous thinly disguised people. (This episode was notorious for many years as being one of the few episodes of the show that almost never got shown in syndication.)
- It was very difficult to find top-quality masters of many of the first-season episodes; for quite some time, in fact, it was feared that they had been lost.
- There were disputes over who was entitled to release the show on DVD.
- Eventually, however, the arguments and legal disputes were settled, masters were found, and Warner Brothers, which owns the copyright on the series, finally put the DVD boxset of the series out, first as a limited release through Time-Life Video in late 2007, and then under its own imprint the following year. It all ended happily; the boxset was received with delight by fans and, for the most part, highly positive reviews by critics.
- The US version of Top Gear went through three different pilots before finally being picked up. It's now in its third season.
- Between 1996 and 2002, several pilots were shot for a revival of Pyramid. The show eventually built up a two-season revival with Donny Osmond as host, although this individual version didn't seem to have its own pilot. After that, several more pilots were shot over the next decade — one was almost picked up by CBS but axed. Finally, the show got greenlit for GSN to start in September 2012, but fizzled out only a couple months later.
- The Aquabats! tried for most of the band's existence to get their own TV show. And boy, did they try. And every time they tried, something shot the show down before it could go to air. Once the network got new executives and cancelled the previously-greenlit show. Once the network just stopped talking to them. Once, admittedly, they themselves hated one of the pilots they made. But they just kept trying. It took three pilots, a few networks, numerous network executives, and a different band lineup every time, but finally, after years and years of fighting, The Aquabats! Super Show! got its time on TV on The Hub in early 2012.
- Writer Melissa Rosenberg had been trying to pitch an adaptation of Alias (No relation to the ABC show) called AKA Jessica Jones for years, but had no luck. The project was finally revived by Netflix for a 2015 debut as part its collaboration with the MCU.
- Maybe the worst case ever is Smile, which basically served as an Ur Example for the concept of 'musical development hell' and was supposed to be a The Beach Boys album way back in 1967. Band leader Brian Wilson re-recorded and released it 37 years later, in 2004, as an individual project. What truly makes this sad is the reason it never came out: Brian Wilson suffered a Creator Breakdown of epic proportions and allegedly deleted the original masters before sinking into a fog of mental illness for years. But that was just a lie. The Smile Sessions finally came out on November 1, 2011. The work, which would have followed the band's famous album Pet Sounds, featured session recordings, outtakes, and full songs that earned widespread critical acclaim upon release. Earning the band a Grammy Award, it also ended up being #381 in Rolling Stone's 2012 list of the '500 Greatest Albums of All Time'. A recreation of Smile using all the material recorded back in the 60s, it was released in many formats, including a two disc set and a five disc box set, among other things. The box set features over five hours of session material, most of which have never seen the light of day.
- Chinese Democracy:
- Massive Attack's next album. For a while at the end of 2006 it had a confirmed release date, which was spring 2007, but it did not come out. Since then, it has no release date at all, the band even dropped the title, Weather Underground. As of now (January 2010) we still don't know when will it come out and what will the title of the album be. They released an EP recently though. It was released in February 2010, and the title is Heligoland.
- Shortly after releasing Tommy, The Who began working on an epic followup to be entitled Lifehouse, which would have been accompanied by a film and a series of experimental concerts involving using the vital statistics of audience members to produce synthesizer tracks. The project fell apart and most of the songs were released on the Who's Next and Who Are You albums. Pete Townshend ultimately released Lifehouse in 2000 as a six-disc solo album and a radio play for the BBC, and the synthesizer concept found its way onto the web in 2007.
- The album that became The Who's Endless Wire was announced in 1999 and hit the shelves in 2006, its release having been delayed by touring, Townshend's putting the finishing touches on Lifehouse, and the death of John Entwistle. Two "preview" tracks were released on a compilation album in 2003 - neither made it onto the final album.
- Flavor Flav's solo album, "Lifestyles of the Rich And Flavor", had been touted (mostly by Flav himself) since the mid-90s. It finally saw release (sort of) as "Flavor Flav" in 2006. Most rap fans are completely unaware of the album's existence.
- A similar tale relates to Big Boi's solo debut, Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty. He originally released a single with Andre 3000 to promote it in 2008... then the label got involved. Unlike Lil Jon, though, Big Boi was able to take his previously recorded material to another company and get the album a 2010 release: fans agree it was worth the wait.
- Slightly odd example as it didn't involve newly recorded material: Neil Young's Archives self-curated best-of compilation. First discussed in the late 1980s, and announced several times since. There were rumours that Young had convinced himself that actually releasing them would send him into a terminal writer's block. First massive installment finally came out in 2009.
- Although Meat Loaf has been fairly prolific over his nearly 40 year career, the Bat Out of Hell series of albums are notorious for their stints in Development Hell. The first, released in 1977, is still considered one of the greatest albums of all time. Bat Out of Hell II: Back Into Hell wasn't released until 1992, however, due to ongoing conflicts between Meat Loaf and songwriter/producer Jim Steinman. And finally, after an almost as long gap, Bat Out of Hell III: The Monster Is Loose was released in 2006, which ran into problems including Meat Loaf and Steinman fighting over who owns the rights to the title "Bat Out of Hell" (they were ultimately awarded to Meat Loaf) and only half of the tracks being written by Steinman, and those tracks not being original works, but rather recycled from his work with other musicians and solo projects. When asked to comment on his relationship with Steinman, Meat Loaf once said "Jim and I love each other. We're best friends. It's just our managers and lawyers that can't stand each other, and they're the ones that keep starting all this shit."
- After 1997's Medazzaland, Duran Duran began work in earnest on their next album. In the meantime, Blondie reunited and Nick Rhodes and Warren Cuccurullo were assigned the task of writing some songs for their upcoming album. These songs were never used for some reason and the Blondie reunion album, 1999's No Exit, included only Blondie's songs. Nick and Warren decided to use them for the upcoming Duran Duran album instead. Another complicating factor was the fact that EMI (Duran Duran's record company) dropped them from the label and the band had to find a new record company. Finally in 2000, Pop Trash, whose title is taken from one of the album's songs that were originally written for Blondie ("Pop Trash Movie"), was released on Disney-owned Hollywood Records.
- Simple Minds' Our Secrets Are The Same was recorded and intended for release in 1999. However it wasn't released that year because of a number of record company mergers, followed by their record company deciding they couldn't do anything with it and releasing the band from their contract in 2000. However, during this time an unmastered promo CD-R arrived in the hands of a Spanish radio host who proceeded to play all the tracks from the album over a few weeks. Fans recorded these and these recordings were subsequently bootlegged. Because of the bootlegs, an attempt to release the album in early 2003 fell through as it was considered unmarketable on its own. Eventually it was released officially as the last disc of the box set Silver Box in late 2003.
- Ohgr (Nivek Ogre of Skinny Puppy)'s Welt album was originally recorded in 1995, but got stuck in legal limbo until 2001.
- Paul Pena recorded his second album New Train in 1973, but it got caught in a tug-of-war between his management and his label and never got released. Oddly enough, Pena still made a fair amount of money from the project when Steve Miller had a huge hit covering one of the album's songs, "Jet Airliner". (Miller heard the song because his associate Ben Sidran produced the album and gave him a tape of it.) After 27 years a deal was finally worked out and New Train was released in 2000.
- Mission Of Burma released the EP Signals, Calls and Marches in 1981 and the studio album Vs. in 1982. Then singer Roger Miller lost his hearing. Sophomore effort ONoffON appeared in 2004.
- Chicago's Stone of Sisyphus was originally slated to be Chicago XXII in 1994, but Reprise rejected the album. They responded by leaving the label and making a big band-styled album as their 22nd. Stone would eventually be released in 2008 as Chicago XXXII on another label (Rhino) mostly intact.
- Daniel Amos finished recording their third album Horrendous Disc in 1978. Many factors—two record label changes, mistakes in the initial pressing of the album, and some other behind-the-scenes shenanigans that, to this day, no one really understands—conspired to delay its release. It didn't hit shelves until 1981... one week before Daniel Amos' fourth album came out.
- Dystopia had released two full-length albums (Human = Garbage and The Aftermath) based off tracks from various splits they did with other bands, but their first full album with new material had been in the working process for many years. Tracks were recorded in 2004, but due to label issues they didn't get released at the time. It wasn't until 2008, nine years after The Aftermath and several years after the band broke up, that Dystopia was finally released.
- Orchestral Manœuvres in the Dark's 11th studio album was announced in late 2002 and finally released, after several release dates were announced and retracted, in late 2010, under the title "History of Modern." Since Paul Humphreys rejoined the band during that time, a whole new album was recorded with him, and only one of the songs was retained (in rerecorded form). So technically the album that was announced in 2002 is still unreleased.
- The Beatles on iTunes.
- It was supposed to happen at the end of 2008, but it just fell through. Trying to compensate for the inability of Apple Corps. (the Fab Four's recording company) to make a deal with Apple, Inc. (the iTunes computer company), the former made a limited release of the entire discography on MP3. It finally happened in November 2010, a year after a deal had supposedly finally been made.
- The long-standing animosity between the two companies — Apple Corps. had sued Apple, Inc. several times between 1978 and 2006 over trademark issues — may have been a contributing factor in the delay. The two sides reached a final settlement in 2007.
- Let It Be was supposed to have been an early 1969 "back to basics" album called Get Back (and accompanying "making of" film), with an album cover in which the 1969 Beatles recreated their Please Please Me album cover in the original setting. With the Troubled Production and band squabbles delaying the album, the cover was scrapped (it was used later in 1973 on the compilation 1967-1970) and the album abandoned while the band recorded Abbey Road. With production work and overdubbed orchestral accompaniment of several songs) by Phil Spector it was finally released a month after the band broke up under the new name.
- Peter Gabriel was working on the album Up for about 7 years - he started working on it in 1995, it was supposed to be "near completion" in 1998, and yet it took four more years to finally see release. Then there's the debut album by the side project Big Blue Ball, which was in production for eighteen years.
- Nelly's album Brass Knuckles, which was intended to be released in 2006, spent two years in delays due to having a large number of producers having different ideas on how to produce the record. The final album, with many guests and credited writers and producers, was released in 2008 to negative reviews and very weak sales (selling only 1/24th of what Nelly's previous album, the double album "Sweat/Suit" sold). Nelly hasn't recovered from its failure.
- Hysteria by Def Leppard. Production for the followup to 1983's Pyromania was to begin in 1984, but their producer Robert John "Mutt" Lange was busy producing The Cars' Heartbeat City album, so Leppard worked with Jim Steinman, the composer of Meat Loaf's classic albums. Unfortunately, the band and/or their record label did not know that Steinman was not a producer, and his method of producing was far looser than Lange's style. On top of that, on New Year's Eve 1985, their drummer Rick Allen lost an arm in a car accident. An undaunted Allen was determined to re-learn how to play the drums, using his one remaining arm and his feet. The rest of the band supported Allen fully and tried to boost his confidence (and their own) by having a special electronic drum kit made for him and scheduling a number of comeback concerts. Def Leppard reconvened with Mutt Lange in 1986, and were subject to his usual meticulous taskmaster production style, finally releasing Hysteria in late 1987.
- Limp Bizkit's The Unquestionable Truth (Part 2). The first one came out in 2005, and the band went on hiatus shortly after its release. They reunited later, and released Gold Cobra in 2011, then announced that The Unquestionable Truth 2 was not cancelled and would be released in 2012.
- Recording for Yes's Big Generator album began in 1985, with Trevor Horn producing. Due to Creative Differences between Horn and guitarist/keyboardist/vocalist/co-writer Trevor Rabin, work resumed on the album with Rabin as producer until its release in 1987.
- The Big Star tribute album Big Star, Small World was completed and scheduled for a Spring of 1998 release by Ignition Records. Ignition went under before it could be released though, and the compilation didn't see the light of day until 2006, when Koch Records bought the rights. As a result, the album ended up an Unintentional Period Piece of sorts: Most of the contributing artists were at their height of popularity in the mid-nineties, and three bands who appeared on the album were long broken up when it came out note , while two others had managed to break up and reunite note during the eight year interim. At the time one of the big draws was to be a new song from Big Star themselves, but the song in question, "Hot Thing", showed up on the compilation Big Star Story to generally lackluster reception.
- Big Star's album Third/Sister Lovers was released three years after they broke up.
- Lupe Fiasco's third album, Lasers, was shelved in 2008 by his label because they thought it wasn't "pop" enough. A combination of Lupe caving to pressure and rewriting some songs (something he has said will forever taint his own opinion of the album) and general fan outrage led to the album finally being released in 2011.
- Static Age was technically the first album by The Misfits, recorded in 1978, but was their fourth studio album to be released. This is largely in part due being unable to find a label interested in releasing it, followed by their guitarist and drummer quitting after an early tour, leading chief songwriter Glenn Danzig to write new material for the newer members. Many of the tracks were released on compilations of rarities, such as 1985's Legacy of Brutality, but it took until 1997 for the album to be heard in its full, original form.
- My Bloody Valentine fans spent twenty-two years wishing for a follow-up to Loveless to be released, being tantalised for much of that time by the knowledge that Kevin Shields was in fact working on a new album, but it was in Development Hell. They finally got their wish on February 2, 2013, when the band's third full-length album, mbv, was released.
- Deltron 3030's (Del the Funky Homosapien, Kid Koala and Dan the Automator, all contributors to the Gorillaz) second album was announced around 2006, and Automator started working on instrumentals as early as 2004 . The album, titled Event 2, officially saw release in 2013 - seven years after being announced, and a full thirteen years after their first, Self-Titled Album.
- Uncle Kracker's Happy Hour album spent nearly five years in development hell before it was finally released in 2009.
- Forest For The Trees' self-titled (and so far only) album was being worked on as early as 1993, but didn't see release until 1997 - chief member Carl Stephenson suffered a nervous breakdown that prevented him from working on the album for years. BECK appeared on a couple of songs, and his vocal ad-libs at the end of "Infinite Cow" are the biggest audible hint of how long the album had been gestating - due to Beck's Vocal Evolution it's easy to surmise that his contributions were most likely recorded around 1993. Reportedly, an unnamed second album was completed but remains on The Shelf Of Album Languishment - the label it was recorded for, DreamWorks Records, technically no longer exists.
- Andrew Lloyd Webber announced plans for a sequel to The Phantom of the Opera in the late 1990s; Love Never Dies didn't open until 2010.
- Work on a sequel to Annie, called Annie 2: Miss Hannigan's Revenge started in 1989. After a disastrous out-of-town tryout, two name changes, several rewrites, and going through three different actresses for Annie, it opened off-Broadway as Annie Warbucks in 1993.
- Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark may be the ultimate theater example. After being batted around since 2007, was finally supposed to open in February 2010. As of November 2010, it has had precisely one preview (in which the technical difficulties that had caused the production to be so delayed in the first place still occurred and delayed the performance by over thirty minutes at one point). It has an announced opening on March 2011, which the producers said was "the final postponement". Nobody bought it, and was postponed for summer. Considering how the first reviews went, well...The show finally opened in June 2011, after some major rewriting of the story, and ran until January 2014.
- The Broadway revival of Godspell was scheduled to open at the end of 2008; it lost a producer and thus didn't open until the fall of 2011.
- The Haunted Mansion at Disney Theme Parks was delayed several times, due to the sheer number of unused ideas that were thought up.
- A ride based on The Little Mermaid began planning in the early 1990s. The plans went on hold due to the sluggish business of EuroDisney. During the following decade, a project to renovate California Adventure prompted production on a Little Mermaid ride to resume. It finally opened in summer 2011.
- Duke Nukem Forever (Time in Hell: 14 years), arguably the most infamous case of Development Hell in Video Games, and prior to release (in a world more aware of video games) one of the most infamous cases of Development Hell altogether. First announced in 1997 and released in 2011. An incomplete list of things that happened during DNF's development.
- Daikatana from ION Storm. The initial design was done in 1997 and the finished game came out in the year 2000. Horrible publicity and John Romero's decision to switch to the Quake II engine after eleven months of work was already done did not help matters.
- The free Fan Remake of Half-Life, Black Mesa, started development after the release of Half-Life 2 in 2004. The mod's first release came in 2012, 8 years later. The wait was worth it. Note that the last chapters of the game taking place on Xen are still to be released.
- L.A. Noire. It was released in 2011 after a seven year haitus. One of the reasons behind the delay was because they were trying to master the new technology of facial reading to make the characters look as realistic as possible.
- Limbo of the Lost. Given the quality of the game, you could argue that this "game" was not saved from hell and it would have been much better if it had never been released. Nevertheless, Limbo of the Lost has the second place as the most delayed game ever, perhaps taking the place of Duke Nukem Forever since the game took at least 13 years to be finished. A demo of the first version of the game was released in 1995 (for the Amiga), while the game was finally released in 2008.
- Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth, originally announced in 1999 and set for release in 2001, until the original publishers went under. Luckily, after seeing the success of Morrowind on the Xbox and PC, Bethesda picked up the publishing rights, so long as they made an Xbox version - which tacked on another 6 months. By the time it finally came out (fittingly in October) in 2005, it would become the LAST marquee title released for the Xbox, where it promptly languished with sub-standard sales. After which, the developers Headfirst Interactive were subsequently shuttered and their other two titles planned as sequels; Beyond The Mountains of Madness and Sanity's End, which would form a trilogy were forgotten. The team responsible for making the game splintered off and join Codemasters, Eurocom and Sega Racing Studio.
- MOTHER 3 was originally planned for release on the Nintendo 64's 64DD peripheral. Unfortunately, the 64DD didn't turn out so well and it was scrapped. It was then later put on the Game Boy Advance and was one of the last titles for the system. There was no official English translation. American and European fans were not happy, though at least a fan translation was complete so that foreign players could experience the game.
- An NPC in EarthBound wonders when EarthBound is going to be released, and for good reason: MOTHER 2 was in development for a then unheard-of four years.
- 3D Realms' game Prey began development in 1995, and was finally released in 2006 after they farmed out development to another team. The release of Prey served to give fans hope that 3D Realms' other long-awaited title, Duke Nukem Forever, would eventually find its way out of Development Hell as well (which it did, as mentioned above).
- Alan Wake, first announced way back in 2004, finally released Spring 2010. The PC version took two years longer, only finally seeing light in 2012.
- The Red Star was rescued by XS Games after Acclaim went under and released in May 2007.
- Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising.
- Heart of Darkness took 6 years to develop, and had its release date reported over and over for 4 years, before finally being released in 1998. In France, its Development Hell was so well known the game was sarcastically nicknamed "L'Arlésienne des Jeux Vidéo" by the French video game press.
- Repton: The Lost Realms. Originally titled Repton 4, the game was written in 1988, too close to Repton Infinity for publication. Abandoned, then rediscovered in 2008, by which time the game's home platform (the BBC Micro) was extinct and the source code lost, meaning the entire game had to be reprogrammed from scratch. Even that didn't stop a dedicated team designing additional levels and graphics via emulators, eventually getting the game ready for its release on 6 November 2010.
- Kirby Air Ride, in development since 1995 for the Nintendo 64, shelved a few years later and surprisingly resurfaced in 2003 on the GameCube. Speaking of the pink puffball, the infamous GCN Kirby had been revived in 2011 as Kirby's Return to Dream Land.
- Roughly half of the plots and quest lines from the canceled Interplay Fallout project Van Buren made their way into Fallout: New Vegas after being stuck in limbo for about 15 years.
- NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams was in development hell ever since the 1996 release of the original Ni GHTS Into Dreams and was originally going to be for the Sega Saturn using a tilt sensor in the Analog Pad under the working title Air Nights. It was ported to Dreamcast development then shelved. Then it was planned for a multiplatform release on Wii, Xbox 360, and Playstation 3, but eventually escaped hell in 2007 as a Wii exclusive.
- Team Fortress 2 was announced in 1999 as "Team Fortress 2: Brotherhood of Arms", but the final product didn't show up until 2007. Also, the game went through many changes during this time. For example, the early incarnation of the game featured a realistic artstyle like TF1 and a more serious tone, while the final product features a cartoonish artstyle and a more comical tone.
- Shira Oka: Second Chances is a stat-driven Dating Sim inspired by the Tokimeki Memorial series, but written originally in English. Development began around 2005. A demo was released to the public in summer 2010. The full retail game was released on Impulse Driven on December 10 2010.
- Too Human, which started development in 1998 as a PlayStation game. In the early 2000s, Silicon Knights partnered with Nintendo and got too busy with Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem (2001) and Metal Gear Solid: Twin Snakes (2004) instead. Sometime after the release of Twin Snakes, Silicon Knights were bought out by Microsoft, and so the game finally saw release on the Xbox 360 in 2008.
- Kameo: Elements of Power was originally announced as a launch title for the GameCube. It later came out as a launch title for the Xbox 360, four years after it was supposed to come out (having a cancelled Xbox development on its way). The same thing happened to two other Rare games, Perfect Dark Zero and Banjo-Threeie (renamed to Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts), which were also planned to be GameCube games, but were shelved when Rare was sold to Microsoft, and then cropped up on the 360.
- Also from Rare: Star Fox Adventures. It was announced in the late 90's as an N64 title called Dinosaur Planet, and was essentially Rare's answer to The Legend of Zelda, but with foxes and dinosaurs. Then when the GameCube came out, Executive Meddling caused them to hastily put Fox McCloud in place of the male fox as well as putting in other Star Fox characters (they still kept the female fox, who ended up becoming Krystal), and the game finally released in 2003, as Rare's last game for a Nintendo home console.
- Diddy Kong Pilot was first revealed in 2001, but Nintendo later decided it wasn't good enough. It finally reappeared in 2005 as Banjo-Pilot. Donkey Kong Racing was not so lucky.
- The games that eventually became Pokémon Red and Blue were initially announced in an early form in 1990, and didn't come out until 1996.
- Gran Turismo 5 was revealed at E3 2005. In 2008, a demo version, Gran Turismo 5 Prologue was released and sold well. In 2009, the full version was announced, and got a release date for February 2010... which was then delayed to November 2010 due to technical issues.
- Game modifications are known for often imploding on themselves spectacularly, but every so often, one will come out after a long development period. One such game was The Nameless Mod, a modification for Deus Ex that was in development for 7 years before being released.
- Psychonauts was originally going to be a horror-like platformer published by Microsoft, and was going to be an Xbox exclusive. A trailer was shown at E3 (and can be found on the discs of Blinx the Time Sweeper and Voodoo Vince) in 2002, and the game was originally set for a 2003 release. But later into development, Double Fine decided to change the game's mood from scary to funny, and Microsoft refused to publish the game because of this, so the game was delayed as Double Fine scrambled around to find a publisher, until they found Majesco in '04. The game was then announced for PC and PS2 as well as Xbox, and was finally released in '05.
- Brütal Legend had a similar story. Originally, Vivendi Universal was publishing it, but once they merged with Sierra (who later merged with Activision), Double Fine was left out in the cold, and again, they had to scramble around for a publisher. They found Activision, who tried to turn it into a music game, so then DF left and went to EA instead. Activision tried to cancel the game and then they and EA fought for quite some time. EA won the battle, and so the game was finally released for the PS3 and Xbox 360 in 2009. A PC port was considered, but wasn't released until February 2013, long after EA dropped the rights to the title.
- Dragon Quest VII entered development in 1996 for the Nintendo 64DD, but switched to the PlayStation in 1997. It was not released until 2001, and its release basically let it get Overshadowed by Awesome considering that the Xbox and PlayStation 2 were already out and the GameCube was just around the corner. Not to mention, it was complained about because it looked dated, and still does seem quite dated translationwise with the engrish-y names for some things.
- Golden Sun: Dark Dawn arrived in late 2010, despite having been anticipated since 2003 at the latest.
- I-Mockery's Roger Barr had the idea for a giant NES fangame starring Abobo back in 2002. The project came to a halt, but in 2006 new developers came to the rescue and thus Abobo's Big Adventure was born. It was finally released as a Flash-based game in January 2012, ten years after the initial drafts.
- Solatorobo spent ten years in development, thanks to Namco Bandai insisting that CyberConnect2 continually tighten and tweak the world and gameplay due to Tail Concerto's low sales and their reluctance to back a Spiritual Sequel to such a game. The result, however, is one of the most beautiful for the DS.
- Penny Arcade Adventures: On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness. Hothead Games canned the series after Episode 2 (released in fall 2008) because it didn't sell as good as the first episode, so it seemed that the story was never going to be finished in game format. However, the series was later picked up by a new developer, allowing the last 2 episodes to be released during June 2012 and 2013, respectively.
- Resident Evil 4 officially began development for the GameCube in 2001 (not counting an earlier PS2 version which eventually evolved into Devil May Cry instead). The game originally had Hiroshi Shibata attached as director and after three rejected builds (including one that was never shown to the public), Shinji Mikami took over the directorial duties from Shibata and ended up working on the final version that was released in 2005.
- Max Payne 3, being released a whole nine years after its predecessor, was announced multiple years before its release and delayed multiple times as well.
- Red Dead Revolver was originally announced in 2001 as a collaboration between Capcom and Angel Studios, with Akiman (of Final Fight and Street Fighter II fame) providing the character designs. The game was shelved in 2003 after the preview build received lukewarm reception in E3. After Capcom and Akiman dropped out of the project, Rockstar Games brought Angel Studios (turning them in Rockstar San Diego) and resurrected the game's development, eventually getting a 2004 release.
- Two Blizzard sequels got shelved for 12 years to devote resources to World of Warcraft. StarCraft II was finally released in 2010, and Diablo III in 2012. A trailer for the former famously has Tychus Findlay saying, "Hell. It's about time."
- Run Like Hell began development in 1998 as a survival horror game with a planned 2001 release date. However, constant production delays and a myriad of people being fired by the publisher (along with a genre change to third-person shooter) lead to the date being pushed back several times. Finally, the game was released in 2003 to mixed reviews and weak sales (which in turn led to it becoming a Stillborn Franchise).
- Aliens: Colonial Marines was stuck in development for nearly six years before being released, due to Gearbox focusing most of their efforts on developing their other games like Borderlands 2. Subcontracting game development to a different design studio didn't help either.
- Skullgirls Downloadable Content character Squigly was sent to Development Hell in the game's post-release Troubled Production. The developers made a crowdsourced fundraiser in an attempt to get the funding to create the character. The goal was $150,000 in thirty days. It was raised in a single day. Truly, she was Saved by the Fans. By the end of the fundraiser, they had managed to get $829,829 out of the original $150,000, enough to create five new characters* , new stages and story modes for all of them, eight alternate voice packs for several characters and the announcer, and two extra stages. Yes.
- Cliff Johnson began work on The Fool and His Money, a sequel to The Fool's Errand , in 2003. Nine years and countless delays later, the game was finally released in October 2012. Even more unbelievably, according to nearly all fans, it was still well worth all the wait.
- Final Fantasy XII started development as early as the beginning of the 2000s. It had originally been slated for release in 2004, but then was pushed back to 2005 due to the lead designer leaving the project, but was pushed back again and finally saw release in late 2006, after the Fabula Nova Crystallis metaseries had been announced.
- Final Fantasy XIII was revealed for the first time at E3 2006, via a CG trailer. It had already been in development for at least a year at that point, and later interviews revealed that the game had been in development even longer (the battle system had existed on a PS2 as a prototype). It got into development hell right after its initial trailer, reasons varied from an underdeveloped Crystal Tools engine to late play testing. Every subsequent year they released a slightly modified version of the same trailer with a few new scenes mixed in, any new information being slowly drip-fed. It wasn't until 2009 that Square Enix showed some actual gameplay footage and revealed significant plot details, the game finally seeing retail later that year.
- Its sister title Final Fantasy Versus XIII never even got a gameplay trailer until almost 5 years after it was announced (at which point actual development began on the title), and then completely disappeared for over 2 years until E3 2013, where it was announced it had since become Final Fantasy XV. With the release of Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, the last entry in the XIII sub-series, Final Fantasy XV should hopefully have no more excuses with its development time.
- Final Fantasy Type-0:
- Again, it was announced alongside the other two games as a mobile phone game, but little was said or shown of it (save for some concept art and a logo). This persisted until an announcement at a Square Enix expo in late 2008, where it was said the mobile phone version had been cancelled in favour of a PSP version. After a name change, the game was finally released in late 2011... but only in Japan.
- Type-0 deserves another mention because around the time of its Japanese release, Square-Enix had planned for an English version of the game as well. Unfortunately, perhaps largely due to the flagging PSP market in the U.S., the effort stalled and no word was spoken of it for years. It got to the point that a fan translation of the game which took over two years managed to be completed. THEN at E3 2014, a mere few days after the release of the fan translation, Square-Enix made the announcement that Type-0 was getting an HD Remastered release on the PS 4 and the Xbox One, and this will definitely be localized.
- Neverwinter Nights, originally announced with a 1998 release date, was delayed until mid-2002. Along the way, production company BioWare broke off its collaboration with publisher Black Isle, an entirely new engine was written for the game, and the Third Edition of Dungeons & Dragons was released, necessitating a reworking of nearly all the game's mechanics. In this case, however, the finished product was a popular success. Furthermore, the Mac and Linux versions were originally going to ship in the same box as the Windows version, as full versions with development tools. About a week before release, Bioware announced that the Mac version was going to be a separate SKU after Mac Soft Games ported it, which they were going to start doing Real Soon Now, the Linux version would be available for download eventually, and neither would include the development tools. Mac and Linux users were a bit upset.
- Will Wright's Spore was once considered by many to be vaporware, as it was announced in 2000 under the title "Sim Everything" and wasn't released until September 2008.
- D2, the sequel to D, was first announced for the stillborn Panasonic M2 (see above), and then for the Sega Saturn. Several years and a Wired Vaporware award later, it finally was released for the Sega Dreamcast.
- Ultima IX was stuck in development for five years, as conflicts between Richard Garriott and EA hampered production, much of its staff was diverted to Ultima Online, and the advent of 3D graphics caused the original Ultima Online-like version of game to be scrapped for a new 3D one. Upon its release in 1999, it was poorly received and is generally considered one of the worst games in the series, and certainly not the grand finale that long-time fans were expecting. Many fans prefer to ignore its existence, and one group of fans is currently developing their own Ultima IX as a mod for The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion.
- Freelancer was announced in 1999, and the first demo was shown at E3 in 2000; back then, Digital Anvil promised entire worlds with moving transports, changing weather, dynamic economies, lots and lots of side quests and a non-linear story, you could buy and set up your own base, and the NPCs had their own personalities. However, Digital Anvil soon ran out of money, the owners had to sell the company to Microsoft Games, and while they were gathering up the needed money, they had to stop and scale down the goals of the project. Four years later, in 2003, the game was finally released: the economy was now static, the NPCs had a painfully generic personality, the worlds were reduced to pretty-looking menus, the storyline was made 100% linear (and oddly ends fairly early in the game before 80% of the content is even unlocked), and the side quests were removed. However, the final product did not suck, and still stands today as an example of excellent game design. The graphics were extremely outdated however.
- Working Designs initially announced a United States release of the Sega Saturn version of Magic Knight Rayearth in 1995. It was delayed for three years before finally being released after the console itself was officially dead in America (for six months). The first year of delay was for mostly unknown reasons (most likely relating to the vast amount of voice work involved), but the other two years were no doubt due to Bernie Stolar (head of Sega of America at the time) and his draconian policy towards third party developers. The game was actually finished for a good amount of time, but due to Stolar's involvement, it took a large amount of time before it was finally released - so long that it ended up the last Saturn game ever to come out in the United States.
- Another part of the problem was a hard drive crash that deleted sections of the source code for that game (and several other Working Designs projects), forcing the developers to replace the lost sections from scratch.
- Another possible part of the problem was the fight between WD and Sega over names. You see, Sega had thought Rayearth would be an awesome series to bring to the US and the game would be one way to bring the anime over. However, as it was common in the day, they wanted the names changed in the game to match it. Working Designs, originally planned to change the names in a different way but eventually fought to use the original names.
- While vaporware comes up occasionally in the commercial games industry, it's practically standard operating procedure among amateur authors. Case in point: Work began on Return to Dark Castle, a modern sequel to the beloved classic from the monochrome Macintosh era, by a two-man team in 1996 (a decade after the first game's release.) First announced with a late 2000 release date, development and occasional beta releases dragged on for years while news petered down to nothing, causing most fans to write the game off. It ultimately made a surprise reemergence in 2007 as "nearly done" and was then delayed again until 2008 due to legal issues, when it was finally released. As of 2013, the level editor still isn't out.
- Half-Life 2:
- For several years, it was considered one of these, due to the mysterious nature of the release dates and an infamous delay announced on the day it was supposed to come out. That the game not only came out a year later but turned out to be one of the greatest games of 2004 is truly mind-blowing considering its difficult development cycle. A common rumour supposed that the game was delayed so that Valve could restart development due to a leak of half-finished code. The truth is, no power in this or any other universe could've got a game like that out in the timeframe Valve set themselves.
- The Half-Life 2 sequel episodes (Episode One, which came out in mid-2006, and Episode Two, a year and a half later), while they were greatly praised by critics and players, lasted only a few hours each and there were no justifications for such delays. Multiple critics noted that content of this type was designed to be released quickly. We're now past eight years since Episode Two, and nothing has been seen or heard about Episode Three yet, and frequent rumors say it has been ditched in favor of moving the storyline forward in Half-Life. Valve has expressed regret for this choice of episodic gaming, saying it has lengthened development. The complete failure of SiN Episodes probably hasn't helped.
- League of Legends champions Evelynn and Twitch were severely nerfed by Riot in late 2010. By Riot's own admission, this was to get people to stop playing them - they intentionally broke the characters beyond all reasonable viability. This was so they could retool the characters' mechanics, and an overall stealth mechanic for the whole game. It was said that the rework would arrive very soon. After all, they wouldn't intentionally destroy two characters for over a year, right? Rework finalized and implemented in-game in July 2012.
- The very first Pokemon game went through a number of title options due to trademark issues and was rejected several times by Nintendo who didn't understand the concept. It took some help from Shigeru Miyamoto to get Nintendo on board. It was also Miyamoto's idea to split the cartridges to aid in the trading aspect of the game.
- In the Doom community's the annual Cacowards, the Mordeth Award (named after a community-famous example of Vaporware) is awarded to examples of this trope with Doom WADs. The first recipient was 2004's Hellcore, which not only spent a record nine years in development, but was started in 1995, a year after the modding community began.
- 2005's Jägermörder 02 Terra Nova is no slouch either. It was developed for six years starting just after the original Jägermörder, which seems paltry compared to the above—until you learn that it's a single level that took that long to make.
Build Time: Started in 1999. Yeah.
- The Masked Girl took a year to air the first part.
- Homestar Runner (in-universe) had Dangeresque 3 finally released in movie form, four years later than Strong Bad originally announced! Out of universe (AKA our world), Dangeresque 3 was finally released—in point-n'-click video game form.
- Bite Me - The Gamer's Zombie Apocalypse Series, a web original from machinima who went into hell after the first season, uploaded on 2010, and was saved almost 2 years later with the second season.
- France Five is a French parody/hommage to Super Sentai. The four first episodes were released from 2000 to 2004. The fourth episode ended by a cliffhanger, and the fifth (and last) episode was scheduled for 2005, then 2006 or 2007, then no schedule was given. Finally, after 7 years, it was released on 05/05/2012. it is not the last episode. The sixth (and last) episode is scheduled for the end of 2012.
- Pottermore, an esoteric and unexplained online supplement to the Harry Potter book series. Originally opened for limited beta testing in July 2011 and scheduled for public release that August, release dates were continually pushed back…and back…and back… until finally it opened to the public on April 14, 2012.
- The Spaceballs Animated Adaptation.
- The show Ni Hao, Kai-Lan was originally announced for Spring 2007, but didn't materialize until February 2008, though the characters from the show were featured for months in the now-defunct Nick Jr. Magazine.
- Getting Daria on official DVD was Development Hell for many years. To the point where fans all but gave up on seeing an official DVD at all. It was finally Saved from Development Hell. Sort of. There is the small issue of damn near the entire original soundtrack being ripped away and replaced by generic musical scores or silence, but MTV figures the fans will take what they can get. And for the most part, that's true.
- The Mister Rogers' Neighborhood spin-off Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood was in development for six years before finally arriving.
- The Simpsons was supposed to premiere in Fall 1989, but initial version pilot episode "Some Enchanted Evening" was deemed atrocious by the executives and staff and had to be redone. The show premiered with the Christmas special first (December 1989), and the first official episode aired was "Bart the Genius" on January 14, 1990, with the redone pilot being aired as the season finale.
- In 2004, the CGI film Foodfight! was announced (it had been in development since the '90s, but production was halted in 2002 when the files containing the animation were stolen from a hard drive and the animators had to start over from scratch). Best described as "Toy Story in a supermarket", the film promised to bring together over 80 famous beloved advertising characters (the process of licensing that many food mascots took YEARS) with voice talent including Charlie Sheen, Hilary and Haylie Duff, Wayne Brady, and Eva Longoria. The creators expected it to be a real commercial hit, merchandise for the movie started appearing on store shelves before the movie even had a release date... unfortunately the film ran into countless problems as detailed here. After many years, a trailer was finally shown at AHM in 2011, and a company has the bought the DVD rights for this film in Europe, and a quiet American release though Video-On-Demand came in 2013.
- The original short for Uncle Grandpa was produced in 2008/2009 as a part of The Cartoonstitute. The short lost out to fellow Cartoonstitute short Regular Show for being picked up as a full series, but the pilot lingered online for years. After years of fan demand, and the failure of another series by UG's creator (Secret Mountain Fort Awesome), Uncle Grandpa was finally picked up in early 2013 and started airing on Cartoon Network later that same year.
- Dora's Explorer Girls aired its pilot in 2011 and was due to air future episodes not soon after. Years passed and nothing ever appeared so many assumed it was canceled, probably due to the controversy involving the timeskip. In 2014 it finally aired as Dora and Friends.
- Rumors of a new American Girl doll, Rebecca, began to surface in the adult collector community as far back as 1998, when Mattel trademarked the name of the character. Eventually details leaked that she'd be the first Jewish historical, and after that, she seemed abandoned, with dolls such as Native American Kaya and '70s girl Julie (and the entire Best Friends line) appearing instead. Rumors of prototypes of Rebecca being seen by company insiders floated the entire time, with various descriptions given of her appearance, but most of the collecting world have given her up as an idea dumped on the drawing room floor. Following the retirement of Samantha in 2008, American Girl finally confirmed they were producing Rebecca, who was released in May of '09.