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Saved from Development Hell

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Took them long enough, but it's done.

"What? Did you think I was GONE forever?"
Duke Nukem, Duke Nukem Forever trailer.

Development Hell is what some works go through if there's too much Executive Meddling, lawsuits, and so on. The fanbase is waiting more and more impatiently, but nothing gets done.

Sometimes, however, divine intervention happens. After many, many years, or even decades, of promises, the work is finally released.

Of course, the finished product is almost always significantly, or even completely, different from what the creator originally had in mind, if for no other reason than the conditions imposed by the passage of time.

See also The Shelf of Movie Languishment, where it is finished, but not released. May involve What Could Have Been if the project saw changes after being dusted off. Compare Un-Canceled for serialized works.

Please only list examples here that have actually left development hell. Also, 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.



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    Anime and Manga 
  • Pantheon High, an American manga, was published by Tokyopop. Unfortunately, Tokyopop stopped publishing — but didn't 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:
    • 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. The 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. 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 OVAs, 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 Entertainment 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 license altogether. Then FUNimation picked up the show and started putting their version on Toonami... which was canceled after just 25 episodes (they had dubbed over 40 at the time). They started releasing DVD uncut from the first episode, but certain actors told fans at cons that it was FUNimation's worst-performing series (studio reps denied it), leaving doubt as to whether they would even bother releasing the season they aired on Toonami, to say nothing of any episodes after. The 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, canceling the event and leaving FUNimation and Toei talking for months, leaving fans wondering if they'd ever get caught up to Japan (or keep getting DVDs 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 U.S. 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 the series' original creator ZUN and from fans.
  • Shaman King was canceled around the last chapters due to very low ratings and it was finished with a 'Not concluded' note at the end of it, in 2004. It was until 2008 that Shueisha announced that they were releasing a perfect edition of the manga, giving the chance to the author to finish exactly where and how he wanted it to be. The last volume of Shaman King: Kang Zeng Bang was eventually released in 2010.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion:
    • The original series' infamous Gainax Ending was the product of severe budget cuts that left many loose threads hanging. It wasn't until later that Studio Gainax was able to secure the funding for a movie that became The End of Evangelion, which serves as the proper, intended ending to the series.
    • Rebuild of Evangelion: The third movie, You Can (Not) Redo, took a really, really long time. It was released on November 17, 2012, more than three years after the previous movie. The end product had nothing to do with the material from the trailer at the end of 2.22 because the original script was scrapped mid-production, having already reached storyboarding.
      • The fourth and final movie, Thrice Upon a Time, took even longer due to a Creator Breakdown after the third, with the first teaser being released six years after the third movie's debut with a tentative 2020 release. After that was inevitably delayed, it was then announced the film would have a March 8th, 2021 release date, which actually stuck this time.
  • Kingdom Hearts: Due to Tokyopop 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.
  • 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 an expectation. Advent Children Complete again deserves a mention: it saw release in April 2009, after being announced at TGS 2006.
  • Due to the manga centering heavily on ableism in Japan, A Silent Voice took several years to become a series due to its controversial nature. There was even an attempted lawsuit against it. It was originally a one-shot in 2008 but was remade in 2011, where it finally got mainstream attention, and later was adapted into a several volume manga in 2013.
  • The Code Geass Gaiden was first mentioned in the 2008 or 2009 time frame, though its official announcement wasn't until early-mid 2010. It was supposed to air in 2011. It finally came out in late 2012.
  • Sailor Moon Crystal was announced in June 2012 with a tentative premiere scheduled for Summer 2013. The year went by with no updates on the project, and it missed its announced premiere window. Then producers suggested it was pushed back to Winter 2013, and then it failed to make that window. Then updates finally started happening, the first promo image was revealed in March 2014, and the series finally premiered in July 2014, a year behind schedule.
  • While writing Orange, the author Takano Ichigo became extremely ill and had to paralyze the publication of her work for more than a year. She's resumed publishing by now (even moved to another magazine from a different publisher), but she still has sequels, meaning the series doesn't get published monthly if the author couldn't make it to the deadline. The series has been completed as of late 2015, however.
  • An anime adaption of Kizumonogatari, the prequel to Bakemonogatari, was announced back in 2011 after the first installment's conclusion. Shortly afterward it was instead announced as a theatrical release delayed to March 2012. And then it was delayed again... And then again. The one time the movie did have a release date, it was rescinded the same day and never mentioned again. Since the announcement of Kizumonogatari, Studio SHAFT has released five more installments to the Monogatari series and over a dozen other projects with no sign of Kizu seeing the light of day. It finally released in 2016 in the form of a three-part movie series.
  • Back in September 2016, there was an announcement on a basketball sports anime called Barangay 143 which would be set in the Philippines and would be produced by TV Asahi and the Philippine-based studio Synergy 88. Initially, it was supposed to be released in Spring 2017; however, the project is delayed due to lack of manpower. A a mobile video game app was released instead which is sort of a prologue to the upcoming anime. After months of being in limbo, the first-ever Filipino-made anime will be aired on October 2018 on GMA Network.
  • Neppu Kairiku Bushi Road was first announced in 2003 and was to be released in 2005. Then various complications happened (e.g. the staff members all left). It was later announced to become a 3-hour special on New Year's Eve of 2013. That's 10 YEARS it's been stuck.
  • To celebrate the show's 20th anniversary, the long-delayed Mobile Suit Gundam SEED movie was finally announced as part of 2021-2022's Gundam SEED Project Ignited multimedia project. Contributing to the long delay was the illness, and eventual death, of head writer Chiaki Morosawa, wife of director Mitsuo Fukuda, from an aortic dissection in February 2016.

  • Cologne Cathedral began construction on 15 August 1248 with the foundation stone being laid. Construction stalled in 1473, though intermittent work continued until the early-to-mid-1500s; this was typical for most medieval cathedrals, which operated on an "ad-hoc" funding basis from donations. However, in the case of Cologne Cathedral, the original plans were rediscovered in the 19th century, in the social context of a German Romanticist movement to which the grand vision behind the massive Gothic structure appealed. Funding was provided by donations as well as the Lutheran royal court of the Kingdom of Prussia, which saw the cathedral's completion as a way to demonstrate its beneficence to its newly-annexed Catholic subjects. Construction finally resumed in 1842; the cathedral's completion was celebrated on 14 August 1880, 632 years after construction began and four centuries since it originally stalled.
  • The Second Avenue line of the New York City Subway, which was originally proposed in 1920. The first phase opened to passengers 97 years later. It was on the city's to-do list for many years and became more pressing when the 2nd and 3rd Avenue els that served the East Side of Manhattan were demolished in 1942 and 1956. With the els removed, this put additional pressure on the nearby Lexington Avenue line, which was already overcrowded even before they were torn down. City bond issues for the line were approved by voters twice (1951 and 1967) and construction finally began in 1972. But a myriad of issues such as changing demographics, the city nearly going bankrupt in 1975, and NIMBYism stalled the project for decades. The idea was finally put back on track in 2005 with another voter-approved bond issue, and construction restarted in 2007. The first segment from Lexington Avenue–63rd Street to 96th Street finally opened on January 1, 2017, as an extension of the Q train from the Broadway Line, with some rush-hour N and R put-ins. Originally designed to be a 4-track subway, it is now a 2-track line due to rising construction costs.
  • I-95 is the major highway along the East Coast of the United States, going from Miami all the way up through Maine to the Canadian border. Despite being one of the first routes of the Interstate Highway System planned and started when it was first proposed in the 1950s, it was still not one continuous route long after most of the nationwide system was built by the 1980s. The original plan was to build a new highway through New Jersey to connect Philadelphia and New York City, but thanks to freeway revolts (locals feared that the highway would bring unwanted development to area farmland) and opposition by the New Jersey Turnpike (what would you rather travel, a tolled road or a free one?note ), the proposed Somerset Freeway got canned. In 1995, due to increasing traffic along US 206 and New Jersey Route 31, this motivated officials in Mercer County to have New Jersey reconsider building the Somerset Freeway as a way to reduce congestion on local roads, but it was ruled out because of a hefty $700 million price tag. Also around this time, I-95 was extended east along I-295 between the site of the Somerset Freeway interchange and US 1 in Lawrence Township, while being extended down the New Jersey Turnpike (until Exit 6) and then west along the Pearl Harbor Memorial Extension to known as the Pennsylvania Turnpike Connector via the Delaware River–Turnpike Toll Bridge. The gap was finally closed by a new project in Pennsylvania which opened in 2018.
  • The San Francisco 49ers were trying to get a stadium built for many years under multiple plans to replace Candlestick Park, which was built for baseball and had to be retrofitted to accommodate them. The new stadium in Santa Clara finally broke ground in 2012; Levi's Stadium opened in time for the 2014 NFL 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 was one of only two enclosed shopping malls in the U.S. to be built since 2006, with Macy's as the other anchor store.
  • 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.
  • 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, a.k.a. the Central Artery, into a tunnel below the city. 15 years of leaks, fatal collapses, and other mishaps gave it an estimated price tag of nearly $22 billion. It finally completed and the tunnel opened in 2007...but with numerous problems that they're still trying to fix.
  • The Louisiananote  Superdome was another example of its construction. It was originally supposed to break ground in 1968 and be ready to open in time for the 1972 NFL season (with Super Bowl VI that January serving as the final event for Tulane Stadium, which was serving as a temporary home for the New Orleans Saints at the time) and cost $46 millionnote . Instead, political wrangling between the developers and Louisiana politicians delayed the groundbreaking until August 11, 1971, and ultimately cost $165 million factorings in inflation, the 1973 Oil Crisis, and construction delays. The Superdome would open for the 1975 season, after more construction delays that forced Super Bowl IX (which was intended to serve as the stadium's grand opening) being moved at the last moment to the aging Tulane Stadium, where that game would be played in cold, windy and rainy conditions.
  • North Korea's Ryugyong Hotel, which started construction in Pyongyang in 1987, was built with the intent of creating the world's tallest hotel and to attract foreign customers to the North Korean market. Standing at 105 stories, construction stalled in 1992 as a result of an economic depression, and the tower stood dormant for sixteen years with no exterior or interior work conducted as the building essentially stood as an empty shell. In 2008, Egyptian into vestors restarted construction, and the building's exterior was finally completed, with an intended opening date set for 2012, which was then pushed back to 2013; to date, the progress of the interior and the next likely opening date remain unclear.
  • There is a proverb in the Finnish language, rakentaa kuin Iisakin kirkkoa ("to construct like Church of Isaac"), meaning a meticulous, lengthy and never-ending project. The proverb refers to the Church of St. Isaac the Dalmatian in St. Petersburg, Russia. Its construction lasted for forty years, from 1818 to 1858.
  • Berlin Brandenburg Airport was supposed to replace Berlin's older international airports Tegel and Schönefeld) when construction began in 2006. In 2011 the airport was nearing completion and plans were in place to complete the overnight transfer of operations from the old airports to the new, but less than a month before it was supposed to open a test run of the airport's fire suppression system found it to be severely lacking and forced it to delay its opening. And delay it more as they couldn't figure out how to fix it in a satisfactory manner. Then it was deemed too dangerous for construction workers to enter out of fear the roof might collapse. The opening was delayed for a total of nine years, and all the while costs overruns began to mount as the S-Bahn station had to open even without any passengers in order to prevent mold from growing and the LCD screens showing departure and arrival information had to be replaced because they had been left on the whole time and had reached the end of their operational lives. Cargo flights did eventually start to come in, and the airport finally opened for passenger traffic on October 31, 2020.

  • Nissan's GT-R has gone through this way as part of its Continuity Reboot: The first concept car was unveiled in 2001, but the rounder second concept was shown in 2005, two years before the production model went on sale in Japan.
  • Fiat (now Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) at one time, teased the return of their Alfa Romeo brand to the United States and Canada by 2007. It returned in North America in 2008, after a 15-year absence from the market, by initially offering the limited production 8C Competizione sports car. Now Alfa Romeo sells the 4C, a small mid-engine sports car, the Giulia, a luxury sport sedan, and the Stelvio, a luxury compact crossover SUV, in both the United States and Canadian markets. What other models will come to North America remains to be seen, most likely to be an SUV slotting above the Stelvio and two sports cars, both of which resurrect the GTV and the 8C nameplates.
  • Prototypes of a mid-engined Chevrolet Corvette have been shown by General Motors since 1960 CERV 1 (Chevrolet Engineering Research Vehicle) which was designed to compete with Ford GT 40. However both it and the later projects were always axed by GM since classic, front engined Vettes were selling like hotcakes and the prototypes were seen as needlessly complex and pushing Corvette from relatively affordable sportscar into supercar territory (1970s Aerovette prototype featured a 4 rotor Wankel engine, while 1990s CERV 3 had twin turbo V8, four wheel drive and four wheel steering). In 2010s the C7 generation received so much praise from performance enthusiasts, that Chevrolet finally saw an opportunity to market the next generation as a supercar, resulting in mid-engined C8 hitting the showrooms in 2020.

    Comic Books 
  • Ultimate Hulk Versus Wolverine (Issue 3). Originally solicited for April 19th, 2006. Finally released in March 2009. Frankly, it's amazing Marvel finally remembered.
  • Kevin Smith's Spider-Man/Black Cat: The Evil That Men Do mini-series. A 6-issue mini-series started in 2002 but went into hiatus after the 3rd issue. Issues #4-6 were published in 2006.
  • 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 colorist. 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 colorists are much more reliable.
  • Issue #8 of Marvel Comics' The Twelve, a 12-issue limited series, came out in January 2009. Issue #9 came out over three years later, in February 2012.
  • 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.
  • Paul Dini's Black Canary / Zatanna: Bloodspell graphic novel was first announced in 2006 and was finally released in 2014.
  • The third mini-series of Phonogram, concentrating on Emily Aster and titled The Immaterial Girl, was teased by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie for years and initially scheduled to be released in 2012. Gillen's afterword to The Wicked + The Divine #5 strongly hinted that they'd given up on the story because they'd both changed too much over the years to want to write/draw in that world anymore. It finally got Saved from Development Hell in 2015, when its release was announced at the Image Expo, and it finally began in August of that year.
  • Sergio Aragonés Funnies had an 18-month gap between issues 7 (January 2012) and 8 (June 2013). This was due to Sergio Aragones needing an operation, which set everything back.
    • Speaking of which, the Groo vs. Conan crossover was originally announced in 2007, but got delayed several times for various reasons, the aforementioned operation being one of them. It finally came out in 2014, seven years later.
  • CAGE!, a comic book mini-series by Genndy Tartakovsky was originally announced in 2007. It didn't get released until 2016, nine years later.
  • White Sand was languishing on Brandon Sanderson's shelf as a piece of literature for ten-odd years, always awaiting a rewrite, before Dynamite came along and asked if there's something Sanderson has that they could turn into a graphic novel.
  • NYX by Joe Quesada started out as a mini-series in 2003 but repeatedly faced delays in production and release of new issues. It went on hiatus following the 5th issue (September 2004) and was thought discontinued. The final two issues were published in September-October, 2005, completing at least the introduction of the main characters. Some unresolved subplots were covered in a sequel mini-series in 2008-2009.
  • Ghost Rider vol. 2 (1990-1998) was discontinued after 93 issues, mostly because Marvel Comics was facing financial problems and was forced to cancel several of its ongoing series. A number of long-running plotlines and in-series mysteries were supposed to be resolved in issue #94, but that issue was not allowed to be published. After several years of inaction, Marvel published the missing issue as Ghost Rider Finale in 2007.
  • Fred Hembeck Destroys the Marvel Universe, greenlighted by Jim Shooter in 1983 as a way to poke fun at recent leaks about upcoming shake-ups to the status quo of several Marvel books, was delayed several times, due to Shooter being so closely tied to the original concept for the book, people in Fred Hembeck's life passing away or having close calls with death as he was trying to write the original story (thus souring him on the idea of writing about humorous deaths for a while), editor Larry Hama letting it languish while Shooter was focusing on Secret Wars, worsening relations between Marvel and DC rendering the original Framing Device unusablenote , and Shooter's firing from Marvel rendering the revised framing storynote  unusable as well. When it was finally released in 1989, it had a much shorter framing story involving The Punisher and depicting Hembeck as a Fallen Creator whose career had been wrecked by the unpublished book.
  • Sky Doll is a Franco-Italian sci-fi comic started in 2000, whose very complex art style needs long preparation time. Issue 3 came out in 2006, and after some (admittedly gorgeous) preparatory sketches from 2012 or so, issue 4 finally saw the light of the day in 2016, a full decade later.
  • Archaia Entertainment announced a prequel to Labyrinth, an origin story for Jareth the Goblin King, in early 2012. It was supposed to be in stores by year's end, and the one-shot story "Hoggle and the Worm" was published in the company's Free Comic Book Day compilation to hype it. Then the date was pushed back to April 2013...but at the end of February it was pushed back again and its Amazon preorder page was taken down entirely. The 2013 and 2014 Free Comic Book Day compilations each included an additional one-shot story, while the official explanation for the delay on the main book was that the company didn't want it to go out until it was perfect. It finally began release in 2018 as the 12-issue miniseries Labyrinth: Coronation.
  • Firefly — "A Shepherd's Tale". Announced in 2007, finally released in November 2010.

    Comic Strips 
  • Phoebe and Her Unicorn probably counts. Originally, Dana Simpson submitted a strip called Girl to Amazon's Comic Strip Superstar contest in 2009. Even though the strip won, Dana later admitted that the strip was bare-bones and needed further work; a runner-up strip was syndicated instead. On a whim, she added a unicorn in one strip, which she felt changed everything. After some back-and-forth between Simpson and the syndicate editors, Heavenly Nostrils debuted online in 2012. In 2015, the strip (re-titled to Phoebe and Her Unicorn since then) finally debuted in newspapers, nearly six years after the original contest.

    Fan Works 
  • The conclusion of the second "Starship Exeter" fan episode was originally promised to be released around Christmas 2007. For several years, there was no word on when or even if the final segment would be seen beyond "a few months from now" (though the person doing the editing released some screenshots on TrekBBS). The complete episode was finally released on YouTube in May 2014.
  • For a long time, Season 5 of Calvin and Hobbes: The Series updated bi-yearly, if at all, all throughout the serial "Nocturnals". Eventually, on September 1 2, 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.
  • Aeon Genesis's Fan Translation of Ys V: Lost Sand City of Kefin was stuck in development hell for nearly a decade, but was finally completed in time for the release of Ys: Memories of Celceta, the remake of Ys IV.
  • Atelier Marie and Elie had various Fan Translation programs going on for both the original games and the PS2 compilation for well over a decade, before a French team finally delivered the game in English in March 2018, roughly 20 years after the games first hit shelves in Japan.
  • BioCraft: Chronicles, a spoof-style BIONICLE fan film made using Minecraft was set to come out at the end of 2011. After being scrapped and started over, it was put on indefinite hiatus in '14. The project and its status became a kind of running joke in the community, and after final release date of April 1, 2019, was announced, it surprised many when it did come out.

    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 footages from the compromised release as well as the animators' own rough animation tests to better suit the original vision of the story.
  • Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil was supposed to be released in January 2010. However, it was stuck in development hell.note  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 U.S. 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.
  • 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, and even then, they couldn't license all 80 they wanted, so the characters they couldn't license were replaced with rather unintelligent Expies) 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, or perhaps in this New York Times article. 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, at which point it was quickly destroyed by internet critics.
  • 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. Alder 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 worst opening weekend of any wide-release film ever until it was dethroned by The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure in 2012. The fact 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 Dalí, 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.
  • Marcell Jankovics's Animated Adaptation of the Hungarian play The Tragedy of Man had its script written way back in 1983, alongside a Bible series that was co-financed by an American backer. Said backer disappeared some years later, prompting the studio to greenlight The Tragedy of Man instead. Production began in '88, only for state funding to cease a year or two later. Jankovics and various animation teams kept working on the film for the following decades, trying to raise interest by screening completed scenes at festivals. With the help of an aborted gig at Disney (see Kingdom of the Sun below) and a GM advertizing deal, the animation was finally done by 2009. The finished film, with updated vocal work, was released in late 2011.
    • The work that had gone into the unmade 80s Bible adaptation would also be partially salvaged and made into a 2015 illustrated book, alongside a 26 minute long cartoon episode, the only one to be completed.
  • 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), going on to be a critical and commercial success, while Pixar's Monsters University, which was slated for that time frame, was 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 a Aardman Animations film animated in stop-motion and 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 starring Rowan Atkinson.note  It was scrapped upon the failures of the film versions of fellow Jay Ward properties Dudley Do-Right and The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle, but it was revived by DreamWorks Animation as an all-animated film with a different plot, which was released in March 2014,note  becoming a modest success.note 
  • For a better part of the 1990s, Disney had been struggling to make Kingdom of the Sun, a typical animation renaissance-era musical based on The Prince and The Pauper, but after hitting numerous walls in story development, the creators scrapped 90% of what they had drastically re-tooled it into the comedy classic now known as The Emperor's New Groove.
  • The Last Days of Coney Island from Ralph Bakshi was announced in 2005, but due to multiple distributors and production problems, it was eventually out in Development Hell. However, in 2013, Bakshi managed a successful Kickstarter for the film to be made as a short anthology film. It was eventually released to Vimeo on his 77th birthday on October 27th, 2015.
  • Tangled was originally announced in 2006 as a CGI Fractured Fairytale named "Rapunzel Unbraided" about a girl and a pizza delivery boy who was transported into the world of Rapunzel, where the actual Rapunzel and her prince had been transformed into animals. This concept was abandoned rather quickly and it was turned into a more faithful adaptation. Originally it was meant to look like a watercolor painting, but pulling off such a look was too expensive and difficult at the time, thus it was swapped for a more traditional All-CGI Cartoon. The plot at this point was a Darker and Edgier Genre Throwback to early Disney Princess films starring Rapunzel alongside a Gentle Giant thief named Bastion. However, it was lightened up considerably when directors changed. Due to how tasking animating Rapunzel's hair was, and the multiple story changes, the movie didn't end up coming out until 2010. Take into account Walt Disney's own aborted attempts at adapting Rapunzel, and the road to the premiere seems even longer.
  • Since 2003, there had been talks of doing another Hey Arnold! film known tentatively as "The Jungle Movie" which would be the Grand Finale of the series. It would have had Arnold discovering what really happened to his parents and resolving things with Helga. After the box office failure of Hey Arnold! The Movie, this was put on the back burner and became a case of What Could Have Been. In 2016, it was announced that the movie will finally be made (as a Made-for-TV Movie) with Craig Bartlett at the helm and was released in 2017.
  • Teen Titans: The Judas Contract was announced in 2006, originally one of three films to kick off the DC Universe Animated Original Movies line alongside Superman: Doomsday and Justice League: The New Frontier but was postponed various times before being canceled, due to DC feeling that people wouldn't like that sort of story. However, after the success of Justice League vs. Teen Titans, the project was brought back, retooled to be part of the New 52-based DC Animated Movies Universe.
  • Lady and the Tramp (1955) spend more than a decade in development hell. The film concept was conceived by Disney story man Joe Grant in 1937. Grant used his own pet dog called "Lady" as an inspiration. Grant and several other Disney artists worked on various proposed scripts for the film for the rest of the 1930s and 1940s, but all versions were rejected by Walt Disney himself (who thought their stories lacked in action and their protagonist was too sweet). After 12 years of working on a never-finished script, Grant left the Disney studio in 1949. Other storymen continued where Grant left off, and the script was completed in 1953. The animation department worked on the film for two years (1953-1955), and production again faced unexpected delays. Among other things animator, Frank Thomas insisted that a romantic scene he put much effort in (with Lady and the Tramp eating spaghetti) had to be kept, and repeatedly argued with Walt Disney who wanted the scene cut. And the film's initial background artist Mary Blair quit early in production, in order to start a new career as a book illustrator. A replacement had to be found and backgrounds remade in a new style.
  • Alice in Wonderland (1951) spent almost 20 years in development hell. Walt Disney reportedly conceived of the idea of making his first animated feature film in 1932, and that film was supposed to be Alice. He purchased the rights to John Tenniel's illustrations of the story and even had an actress in mind to hire. But then he found out that Paramount Pictures was working on an Alice film and discontinued the project. Alice was replaced in the production schedule with a feature film about Snow White. Disney revived the Alice project in 1938 and discontinued it again in 1939, this time over concerns with the budget. Disney revived the Alice project again in 1945, but delays in the scriptwriting process, redesigns of the characters and animations, and the studio's focus on higher-priority films kept it unfinished until 1951.
  • Uglydolls was announced in 2011 as a planned film based on the toys of the same name for Illumination Entertainment. After nothing for four years, in 2015, it was announced as STX Entertainment's first animated movie, yet still kept dark. Later, in March 2017, Robert Rodriguez was announced as director for the film, only to later be replaced by Kelly Asbury. The movie eventually was solidified with an official May 2019 release date, eight years after its announcement.
  • Filmation started working on Journey Back to Oz around 1964, but due to the funding running out they were forced to put it aside, with the studio becoming busy producing Saturday Morning shows. Eventually, in the early 1970s, they finally received enough funds to finish the film. It premiered in 1974, a whole decade after it entered production.
  • The Haunted World of El Superbeasto was supposed to come out in May 2007 but it was released only two years later when Rob Zombie completed his other commitments. However, the film ends with a Sequel Hook which may or may not be a joke; if it isn't, it counts as development hell, since nothing materialized after that one movie.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • AVP: 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 equaling 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 latter 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)
  • 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 latched 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. Three sequels later, the failure of Batman & Robin 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 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, the 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 the third 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.
  • 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 first of three 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 from a sudden heart attack. 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.
  • A fourth Jurassic Park was initially intended to begin production in 2004 for a summer 2005 release, but soon entered development hell. The producers even considered pulling the plug once the original author Michael Crichton died in 2008. Then in 2011, Spielberg confirmed the fourth movie was on the way, and in 2013 the eventual director of Jurassic World was hired. The film was eventually released in June 2015, being as much of a box office behemoth as the original.
  • 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: 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.note  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).
  • 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 Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, with a fifth film scheduled for 2022.
  • 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.
  • The Terminator franchise post-T2:
    • Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, helped by the collapse of Carolco, complicating an already complex rights ownership situation. Rights bought in 1997, Schwarzenegger hired in 2001, the movie came out two years later.
    • 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.
    • Terminator Genisys, helped by Salvation's production company going bankrupt. The hedge fund they owed money to became the rights holders before selling them to Megan Ellison's Annapurna Films in 2012. Ellison's brother David and others from his Skydance Productions agreed to co-produce the film, which came out three years later.
  • 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 was released in 2002, after the filming rights jumped through several companies for 20 years: Cannon Films, which almost made a low-budget flick in the vein of Superman IV; Carolco Pictures, which even considered a screenplay by James Cameron before suffering financial and legal troubles; and MGM, which traded the rights with Columbia for the rights to Casino Royale.
  • 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.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • An Iron Man film adaptation was in development since 1990 when Universal Studios bought the rights. The film then went through several changes in studios, writers and directors for more than a decade until 2005 when Marvel Studios reacquired the rights and 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.
    • A Doctor Strange film has been considered for three decades, with big names like Neil Gaiman and Guillermo del Toro attached. An adaptation of sorts did get off the ground under Full Moon Features, but hastily became a Captain Ersatz product when they lost the rights, becoming Doctor Mordrid. But as soon as the MCU started up properly, production streamed through from 2010 onward's and a movie of the Sorcerer Supreme was done as part of Phase Three of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and directed by Scott Derrickson, hitting theaters in late 2016.
    • Wesley Snipes began campaigning for a Black Panther film in 1992, and even after he was cast to play the title character in the popular Blade Trilogy, the project was still in various stages of production throughout most of the '90s and the Turn of the Millennium. Avi Arad announced a Black Panther movie as part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe way back in 2005, but nothing came of it until late 2014, when Marvel officially confirmed that a Black Panther movie starring Chadwick Boseman is in the works for 2018 as part of the MCU's Phase 3. Like the Wonder Woman example above, Marvel first introduced the character in another movie (Captain America: Civil War) before spinning him off into his own film in 2018.
    • A Black Widow film was first considered when Lionsgate commissioned a script from David Hayter back in 2004 before dropping the project, and once Scarlett Johansson became the MCU's Natasha Romanoff in 2010, Kevin Feige and Marvel were soon discussing making a solo movie. The movie finally got announced in July 2018, with Jac Schaeffer tapped to write and Cate Shortland as director. Filming eventually started in early 2019, and the movie was ultimately made, but ended up being one of the many projects screwed by the COVID-19 Pandemic hitting less than two months before its original scheduled debut, forcing three delays. The movie finally hit theaters (and streaming) in July 2021.
    • Attempts to get the ball rolling on a Shang-Chi movie date back to the 1980s, when Stan Lee reportedly met with Brandon Lee about possibly playing the character. In 2003, a Shang-Chi film was announced to be in development at DreamWorks, with Hong Kong action legend Yuen Woo-Ping directing and Ang Lee producing. The production soon fell by the wayside and the character’s rights reverted to Marvel, who subsequently mentioned Shang-Chi as one of the projects being developed for the nascent MCU back in 2006. Despite this, the movie wouldn’t officially pick up steam until a writer was hired in late 2018, which was followed by director Destin Daniel Cretton signing on in 2019. The resultant movie, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, would finally be released in 2021, with Simu Liu starring in the title role.
  • DC Extended Universe:
    • Plans for a Wonder Woman movie have been in various stages of production since the 1990s, with creators ranging from David E. Kelley to Joss Whedon attached at various points. In October 2014, WB finally announced that a Wonder Woman movie was in the works, which opened to great success in 2017. Additionally, the character first made her film debut in 2016's Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, portrayed by Gal Gadot.
    • The previously planned Justice League film (a serious case of What Could Have Been) petered out after a year in development. In 2007, pre-production got underway, with many major names attached to star in the film (including Adam Brody as The Flash, Common as Green Lantern John Stewart, and Michael Gough as Alfred [reprising his role from the '90s Batman franchise]). Numerous problems happened during pre-production (the film's costume designer passed away, a Hollywood writer's strike derailed the script development and there were rumors that director George Miller had been canned from the project). Finally, the film was delayed less than a month before it began shooting and become effectively moribund. Then, with the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, specifically The Avengers, the studio began again to make the film happen, with 2013 rumors of releasing Man of Steel first leading into an Avengers-like team-up of Batman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman and The Flash. Then, the Man of Steel sequel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was made as a Backdoor Pilot to Justice League (to the point its subtitle is "Dawn of Justice"). The Justice League film was then released in 2017, after a Troubled Production that led to Joss Whedon taking over directing duties from Zack Snyder (from both Man of Steel and the sequel) to retool the movie. It resulted in mixed-to-negative reviews and a Box Office Bomb. Due to fan pressure, a version of the film that closer to what Snyder and writer Chris Terrio intended, Zack Snyder's Justice League, was eventually released in 2021, and was much better received.
    • The Flash has a long and storied history:
      • Blade: Trinity director David Goyer was hired to write and direct The Flash in 2004 due to the studio liking his screenplay for Batman Begins, with Goyer claiming Ryan Reynolds was his choice to play Wally West. However, Goyer left the project in 2007 due to creative differences, and Shawn Levy was initially tapped as his replacement before leaving due to scheduling conflicts with the Night at the Museum sequel. A new Flash film, this time conceived as a Spin-Off of George Miller's Justice League: Mortal with Dave Dobkin directing, was announced in 2007, only to fall apart due to the 2007-2008 Writers Guild strike, as well as Mortal failing to materialize. Geoff Johns wrote a Flash film treatment for producer Charles Roven in 2009, but again, nothing ultimately came of this. Greg Berlanti, Michael Green, and Marc Guggenheim were hired to write a Flash screenplay in late 2010, but the failure of their Green Lantern (2011) movie the following year forced WB to rethink it's plans for future DC movies.
      • Once the studio decided on creating its own shared universe due to the success of the MCU, The Flash was said to be in the works for a tentative 2016 release, and was officially announced with a March 2018 release date in late 2014, with Ezra Miller tapped to star as the title character. The movie subsequently went through a tumultuous turnover of directors and writers regarding the direction of the film and the change in the franchise's plans after Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice opened to negative reviews and underperformed at the box office. Seth Grahame-Smith (writer of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies) was originally hired as the director before being replaced by Rick Famuyiwa (director of Dope), who later dropped out over creative differences, leading to Warner Bros. settling on John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein (writers of Spider-Man: Homecoming and directors of Game Night). However, production was repeatedly delayed due to Miller's commitment to the Fantastic Beasts series. Furthermore, Miller's dissatisfaction with the Lighter and Softer approach by Daley and Goldstein led to him rewriting the script with aid of Grant Morrison to make it Darker and Edgier. Daley and Goldstein would later drop out with Andy Muschiettiof It (2017) fame signing on to direct in July 2019 while the studio rejected Miller's rewrite and instead hired Christina Hodson (Birds of Prey) to draft a new script. Progress had been made throughout 2020, including some casting (most notably the addition of Michael Keaton as Batman) but production got delayed due to COVID-19 related delays to the third Fantastic Beasts film. However, things got back on track in 2021, with Sasha Calle joining the cast as Supergirl and filming finally officially starting in Spring of that year.
    • Dwayne Johnson was cast as Black Adam as far back as 2007. He never gave up on the film project and it ended up being made in 2021.
    • In 2017, it was announced that Joss Whedon would be writing and directing a Batgirl movie. Whedon subsequently parted ways with the project in early 2018, after which Christina Hodson was brought in to write a new script. The project languished in Development Hell until 2021, when it was announced that the movie had been revived as an HBO Max exclusive with Adil El Arbi & Bilall Fallah directing and Leslie Grace starring as Batgirl.
  • The Deadpool (2016) movie was announced as far back as 2000; when 20th Century Fox got their hands on the project, they originally planned it as a spin-off of X-Men Origins: Wolverine with Ryan Reynolds reprising his role as the title character. The overwhelmingly negative reception to Origins nipped these plans in the bud, and though various screenplays still floated around, it wasn't until 2014 that Fox finally gave the project the green light (thanks primarily to the overwhelmingly positive response to some leaked test footage which had been sitting on a shelf since 2012), with the film finally released on February 2016 to enormous success. And in case you're wondering, no, the final film is not connected to Origins in any way (besides taking multiple potshots at it); it helps that X-Men: Days of Future Past gave Deadpool (2016) a major out by outright retconning Origins out of the X-Men Film Series movie canon.
  • 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 way 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. Early reports indicated that it was to be an adaptation of the stage musical. 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, now a straightforward remake rather than a musical.
  • 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!
  • When Martin Scorsese is determined to make a film he follows through, no matter how many decades or how many films he makes in-between, he will eventually make his passion projects:
    • The Last Temptation of Christ was first recommended by actress Barbara Hershey (who eventually played Mary Magdalene 19 years later) to Scorsese during the making of Boxcar Bertha. Scorsese had always planned on making a film about Jesus, and initially, he even considered adapting Robert Graves' King Jesus before settling on Nikos Kazantzakis' unusual take. The Last Temptation actually entered pre-production in The '80s with Aiden Quinn as Jesus and Sting in key roles but Paramount pulled off and canceled the film. Scorsese then made After Hours and followed with The Color of Money whose box-office success he parlayed, successfully, into getting The Last Temptation of Christ off the ground by the end of the decade.
    • Gangs of New York was planned since The '70s before finally entering production in the late 90s, releasing in 2002. A good deal of his DVD commentary on the film is devoted to explaining the arduous process. Scorsese's initial plans were considered radical and ambitious. In the 70s, he planned to make it a collaboration with The Clash, making it a punk musical starring Malcolm McDowell and Robert De Niro. In The '90s, he considered making it a trilogy. He also stated that it was his hope that the film launch a new genre, a 19th Century Urban Western, with many films set in nascent conurbations, but it didn't quite take off as he expected.
    • Silence his adaptation of Shusaku Endo's novel was planned since The '90s (after Cape Fear) and entered production in 2015 and set for a 2016 release. The film was always regarded as "uncommercial" and Scorsese has hinted in interviews that several films made in The Noughties were essentially Money, Dear Boy projects to finally give him the cash to make Silence. It was planned to be produced after The Departed with Benicio del Toro and Daniel Day-Lewis but finally had Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver and Liam Neeson take over.
    • Scorsese and Mick Jagger had talked about making The Long Play in The '90s, a movie about the music business, its ups and downs. Eventually, the ideas behind it got repurposed for HBO and it became Vinyl, which has been canceled after one season.
    • The Irishman was rejected by theatrical studios for a long time due to its humoungous cost (its Digital Deaging technology in particular) and niche market prospects. Netflix ended up financing it.
  • Steven Spielberg's busy schedule lead to many instances of this.
    • A.I.: Artificial Intelligence: the story that inspired it was published in 1969, Stanley Kubrick begun thinking about adapting it in the early '70s (complete with bringing the author to adapt), brought in Spielberg to the project in 1985, and many false-start announcements appeared through the '90s. 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 Adventures of Tintin, 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 and purchased the rights two years later. The book came out in 2005, and the film released in 2012.
    • The concept for the film Interstellar was first concieved in the early-to-mid 2000s by black hole physicist Kip Thorne and film producer Lynda Obst, who had been friends since Carl Sagan set them up on a blind date decades earlier. The idea attracted Spielberg and development began in 2006, but the project got sent into a spiral when Dreamworks shifted distributors from Paramount to Disney, unmooring Spielberg from the project. The film was finally released in 2014, directed by Christopher Nolan.
  • In 1988, Fox got interested in making a new Planet of the Apes with Adam Rifkin (who would later write 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.
  • Inception:
    • 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) with Chris Evans in the lead role. Eventually, Fox scheduled Phone Booth for November 15th, 2002, only for it to be delayed to April 4th, 2003 following the Washington, D.C. beltway sniper attacks, and the film managed to become 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. It 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 (1997).
  • James Bond:
  • The film adaptation of Atlas Shrugged. There were two failed attempts in The '70s 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) written by Stirling Silliphant (writer of In the Heat of the Night, Route 66, Village of the Damned, The Poseidon Adventure, and The Towering Inferno) 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, the filmmakers managed to get the second and third parts of the trilogy out the door in 2012 and 2014, albeit with even smaller budgets (the third film was made for just $5 million) and recast actors in every film.
  • 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 then-unknown 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 than 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's been available on DVD since fall 2010.
  • 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 to 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-90s, 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).
  • The film adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs's John Carter of Mars series probably holds the record for the longest time a property has been in Development Hell before being released. Originally conceived as an animated film by Bob Clampett in 1931 (which would have made it the first-ever animated feature film), it was handed from company to company for decades. At various points in the 2000s, Robert Rodriguez, Kerry Conran, Jon 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 — 81 years since the movie was first mooted and 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. Perhaps its time in Hell was warranted. The film's failure also gave the Burroughs estate the perfect excuse to claim that they now have the movie rights and are planning a reboot (the franchise is actually in the public domain given it started in 1912, rendering any claims of exclusivity on the part of the Burroughs estate moot).
  • Predators was based on a 1996 script by Robert Rodriguez. The finished film was released in 2010.
  • 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 Laurentis Entertainment Group.
  • Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, which was supposed to be released in 2008, finally came out in 2014. This caused several cases of The Other Darrin since some actors had died in the intervening years.
  • 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 be 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 be 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.
    • Beatty also planned a Howard Hughes biopic after seeing him in a hotel lobby in the early 1970s and being fascinated by him. Initially planned as a companion piece to Reds, it was finally made as Rules Dont Apply in 2016.
  • 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 '80s but didn't arrive until 2004.
  • Mad Max: Fury Road was in development hell for almost a couple of decades. It was preparing to start filming in 2001 when the September 11th attacks made it unfeasible for the production crew to travel to Australia. By then, Mel Gibson lost interest in reprising the role and dropped out of production, which seemed to have made filming almost unlikely until reports in 2009 posited that it would be made without Gibson's involvement. The title role was recast (Tom Hardy replaced Mel Gibson) and started filming in July 2012, where principal photography rolled in Namibia. Filming wrapped up in December of that year and spent almost three years in post-production before it was finally completed in time for a May 15, 2015 release. Critical and public reaction was almost unanimous in praise, and as a result the Mad Max franchise was successfully rebooted and a fifth film began production almost immediately after Fury Road's success. Though said sequel is unfortunately in a Development Hell of its own, owing to creative dramas and the decision to split the movie into two, one focusing on Max and the other on Furiosa (the latter is currently on track for a 2023 release).
  • 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 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 & Aliens. As late as fall 2011 Disney announced it had shelved the project, though production picked up again a few months later, and the film rode into theaters in 2013.
  • 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 filmed 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: The Force Awakens was released in December 2015, Episode VIII: The Last Jedi was released in December 2017, and Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker was released in December 2019. In-between the regular chapters, Disney released Spin Offs, with Rogue One in 2016 and Solo in 2018.
  • A live-action adaptation of Kiki's Delivery Service has been rumored since (according to IMDB) 2005. In April 2013, it was announced that Takashi Shimizu (the known director of Ju On) will direct it, and rather than being a remake of the Studio Ghibli movie, it's a more direct adaptation of the illustrated novel by Eiko Kadono. The Japanese release occurred in March 2014.
  • 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, and it was released in 2015. Unfortunately, it was a critical and financial failure, so now, another reboot is being planned... but by Marvel Studios, thanks to Fox's purchase.
  • This Means War (2012)'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 McCarthy 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 at various points) and script disagreements. The main obstacle though was the opposition of Patton's family. McCarthy 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 2014 film Dracula Untold has been tossed around in one form or another since 2007. Initially called Dracula Year Zero, Sam Worthington was set to star before development hell set in and the film restarted under a new name with a new lead. Alex Proyas, director of The Crow, was originally lined up as director.
  • In the early Nineties there were talks of a film adaptation of the musical Into the Woods by Columbia Pictures, where Robin Williams would have played The Baker and Jim Henson Productions deal with the effects. It was eventually dropped by the studio by the end of the decade. Then in 2002, the success of Chicago made Rob Marshall approach creator Stephen Sondheim towards adapting one of his musicals, with Sondheim suggesting Into the Woods. He accepted, but Marshall postponed the film until he finished Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides in 2011, leading him to pitch the project to that film's studio. Disney accepted in early 2012, filming begun in 2013, and Into the Woods finally hit theaters at Christmas 2014.
  • Sergio Leone's gangster epic Once Upon a Time in America (1984). Leone read Harry Grey's novel The Hoods in 1967, and wanted to adapt it as a follow-up to The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. It took Leone 17 years of planning, arm-twisting, fund-procuring, and numerous screenplays to bring The Hoods to the big screen - during which time he directed two other films and produced several others.
  • Kick-Ass 2, originally subtitled Balls to the Wall. The film was intended to be ready in time for a 2012 release but had been put on hold due director Matthew Vaughn being busy with other projects and star Aaron Johnson wanting to be closer to his family. Vaughn decided to only produce, Cry_Wolf director Jeff Wadlow took over, and the film was released in August 2013.
  • Screen Gems announced interest in a RoboCop remake as early as 2005. MGM announced an interest in reworking the franchise three years later. Three more years later, a director (José Padilha of The Elite Squad) was hired, and another three were necessary for said remake to hit theaters.
  • R.L. Stine's Goosebumps books made a successful '90s TV series, but there were also numerous attempts to adapt them into a feature film long before the 2015 version. As far back as 1998, Tim Burton was tapped to produce a big-screen adaptation that never materialized, partly due to financial turmoil at Twentieth Century Fox, the cancellation of Fox Kids (which produced the series), and the books' loss of popularity. In 2008, after the Horrorland revival series, Columbia Pictures announced a new Goosebumps movie, but the movie was sent to development hell, with various producers and writers attached at different times. Then in fall 2013, Jack Black became attached to star as an Author Avatar of Stine. Principal photography officially began in April 2014 and completed in July 2014; Goosebumps was released to theaters in October 2015.
  • After Leprechaun: Back 2 tha Hood (2003), treatments were written for ideas with the Leprechaun encountering spring breakers or pirates, even a Wild West setting. Though star Warwick Davis and director Brian Trenchard-Smith were keen on another installment, Lionsgate dragged their feet for years. Instead of making a direct follow-up, Lionsgate ultimately produced Leprechaun: Origins in 2014, a Darker and Edgier franchise reboot starring Dylan Postl (WWE's Hornswoggle), without the involvement of Davis or other members of the original franchise.
  • Ghostbusters 3. The story behind the third film is as strange as it gets. Rumors of multiple scripts and new Ghostbuster cast members have floated around the internet for years. To give you some perspective as to how long this was going on, Chris Farley was being considered as a supporting character back in the '90s. Dan Aykroyd has reportedly written several scripts over the years, all of which failed to ignite enough interest to start pre-production. At one point, there was apparently a script written where the original team journeyed to a hellish Alternate Universe New York City called "ManHellton" (which, in turn, prompted the Russian video game studio ZootFly to produce a Gears of War-esque tech demo based on this proposed script in the late '00s). This, in turn, spurred the development and eventual release of Ghostbusters: The Video Game, which (according to Aykroyd) may as well be the canonical third film.

    And yet, script and cast rumors still continued to float around — Ben Stiller, Bill Hader, and Eliza Dushku have all been rumored to be potential replacement candidates. In January 2010, Ivan Reitman announced he was directing the film, and Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky (The Office (US)) reportedly wrote a script with Aykroyd and co-creator/co-star Harold Ramis, that all were very happy with. Yet, there's been no word for years on the status of development. A major part of the delay seemed to involve Bill Murray — as of early 2011, it appeared the production was only waiting on Murray to approve the script before they moved forward with pre-production. The film was slated to start production in 2012, but that year came and went with no news other than the report that new writers were hired to craft yet another script, as well as more back-and-forth on whether Murray would return. Then Reitman began talking about the possibility of a remake for a while, before Aykroyd shifted attention back to the third film in March 2013, in an interview on Canadian television (for a charity project he was doing), saying they have a script (penned by Etan Cohen), they are planning to begin production in fall 2013, and Bill Murray will not be a part of it at all... more or less, what he'd been saying for the past three years. Fall 2013 came and went with very little new news from Aykroyd — the script was being rewritten again, and this time actors Jonah Hill and Emma Stone were being considered as part of the "new" team of Ghostbusters being brought in alongside the older generation (minus Murray). Then Harold Ramis died in February 2014.

    Then in Late July 2014, Aykroyd was on NBC's Today and again claimed that production would begin in Spring 2015, though he was cryptic about it and said it was uncertain who would be involved with it. So, doubt still remained when the development hell would end. And then, it was reported that director Paul Feig was in talks to direct a Continuity Reboot, starring a female crew of Busters. This Ghostbusters began filming in June of 2015 and was released in July of 2016.

    That film, however, ended up getting a poor response and flopped at the box office, which pretty much ended the rebooted franchise. In 2019, it was announced that Jason Reitman was developing a film that would be a sequel to the first two films, titled Ghostbusters: Afterlife. Basically, the film that fans have been wanting for decades, a sequel to the original films, seems to finally be coming into fruition.
  • The planned Warcraft film adaptation has been mired in development problems for years. The rights to the franchise were acquired by Legendary in 2006, and Blizzard brought on Sam Raimi to direct. According to interviews, the first script (which was written by Blizzard's in-house writers) didn't go over well with Raimi, and a second script (written by Raimi and screenwriter Robert Rodat) wasn't accepted by Blizzard, who wanted the story to go a different way. After months of back-and-forth, Raimi walked from the project, blaming mismanagement on Blizzard's part. As of early 2013, Legendary announced that Duncan Jones (Moon) became attached to direct and it all became smooth, yet also painfully slow, sailing. The Warcraft film was finally released in June 2016.
  • The Brazilian film Chatô had a long process that started in 1994, with Guilherme Fontes acquiring the film rights to the acclaimed novel (a biography of media mogul Assis Chateaubriand, who introduced TV to the country), then production started in 1995 with help from none other than Francis Ford Coppola with him promising the press that it would be the greatest film in Brazilian history. Principal photography started in 1998 and then suddenly stopped the next year. That was when the government of Brazil started an investigation which ended with Fontes and the production company being jailed for improper use of funds, as most of the budget came from the Ministry of Culture, and failure to deliver a film project. They were then sentenced to 3 years in prison (later changed to community service) and had multiple court hearings condemning them to return the money used for the film. And then in November 2015, after years of failed promises and controversies, the film was released. It received decent reviews, but barely got distributed - possibly due to being Overshadowed by Controversy.
  • There was talk around 2008-9 of a live-action remake of Ghost in the Shell, possibly produced or even directed by Steven Spielberg, but he seems to have passed on it in favor of other projects. It finally got a director, writer, and production team in 2014 with Dreamworks distributing (Paramount overseas) and Scarlett Johansson and Pilou Asbæk attached to star. It officially began filming in early 2016 and released in 2017.
  • The Revenant, a revenge drama inspired by the legend of Hugh Glass and his tale of survival after being mauled by a bear, had been in development since 2001. In its first inception, director Park Chan Wook was originally in line to make the project with Samuel L. Jackson to star and David Rabe to write but left and the project went into limbo for a while. In 2007, a new script was written by Mark L. Smith and wound up on the Hollywood Blacklist of best unproduced scripts. In 2010, the project gained tract again with director John Hillcoat (The Proposition, the film version of The Road) and Christian Bale but after that fell through, Alejandro González Iñárritu and Leonardo DiCaprio joined the project a year later and began filming in 2014 after Iñárritu was finished with Birdman. After a long and much-noted Troubled Production, the film finally came out on December 25th, 2015 to box office and critical success, finally earning DiCaprio his Best Actor Oscar while Iñárritu picked up another Best Director Oscar in row after his Birdman win.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog, based on the video game franchise, had been on and off in production since the early 1990s but it seemed that it would never be realized. The rights were first picked up by MGM, and a treatment was written and submitted to the studio before MGM and Sega got into some financial and legal problems. Eventually, MGM lost the rights and the film went into hell, only for Ben Hurst, a head writer for Sonic the Hedgehog (SatAM), to negotiate the rights so that he could do a continuation of what was supposed to be the third season. This ran into problems when Ken Penders, then-head writer of the comic book series, tried to intervene and make the movie himself. It was placed in hell once again when Sega decided to place more interest in Sonic X. It seemed to finally get off the ground once more as Sony eventually bought the rights and assembled Neal Moritz and Tim Miller as producers before Sony canceled the project after placing it into turnaround due to Lone Star Funds pulling out of their financing deal with the studio and studio head Tom Rothman having no confidence with the film. Luckily, Moritz had just bailed Sony for a new first-look contract at Paramount around the time of cancellation so he and Paramount negotiated the rights away from Sony, taking much of the movie's staff with them and finally sending the movie back on track. Filming began in July 2018 and the movie finally came out on February 14, 2020.
  • The Godfather Part III went into development shortly after Part II's release in 1974. Unfortunately for Paramount, neither Francis Ford Coppola nor his cast showed any interest in continuing the franchise, which didn't stop the studio from trying. This LA Times article details some of the many prospective stories mooted during the '70s and '80s: depending on the script, the Corleone family becomes involved with the CIA, South American drug lords, African-American gangsters and/or Third World dictators; a few were In Name Only sequels focusing on Michael's son or long-lost relatives. One script written by Thomas Lee Wright was even retooled into New Jack City. Finally, in the late '80s Coppola and Mario Puzo agreed to revisit the series, mostly due to financial woes. After sixteen years, Part III was released in 1990 to a decidedly mixed reception.
  • Shane Black wrote the first version of The Nice Guys in 2002. In the intervening years, where he even begun directing with Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, he tried reworking the screenplay into a TV pilot, only to have its questionable content halt any network ambitions. Then after 2013's Iron Man 3, Black decided to make The Nice Guys - which by this time had been changed from a contemporary work to a period piece set in The '70s. It was announced in 2014, filmed the following year, and released in 2016.
  • The American adaptation of Death Note. It was announced by Warner Bros. in 2008 after a huge bidding war and said to be released in 2011 (with a rumor around that the protagonist would be played by Zac Efron). Shane Black had been announced as the director, but he left the project in July 2014, citing Creative Differences (read: he wanted to stay more faithful to the manga; the studio wanted to change everything). Gus Van Saint was rumored to be directing, but the currently attached director is Adam Wingard (Godzilla vs. Kong). Nat Wolff and Margaret Qualley were cast in roles for the film, and production was moving along smoothly until Warner canceled the project in their decision to release fewer films per year following the disappointing numbers of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. However, they allowed Wingard to shop the project elsewhere, and Netflix picked up the rights, with Keith Stanfield, Paul Nakauchi, and Shea Whigham joining the cast and Jeremy Slater writing the script. Filming officially began in Vancouver on June 30, 2016 for a 2017 release.
  • Alita: Battle Angel, the Live-Action Adaptation of Battle Angel Alita by director James Cameron. On again and off again with rumors as far back as the early 2000s including supposed casting calls for a little girl who could move like a cat ... then nothing. Then he said he was waiting for the technology to catch up to his vision. Then Avatar. Word of God has stated that after he was done with Avatar he still did not believe the technology was ready yet. After multiple delays and Cameron being way too busy with the Avatar Sequels, he officially passed the project off to Robert Rodriguez to direct (with Cameron still producing). Rosa Salazar has been cast in the title role (beating out Maika Monroe and Zendaya), and 20th Century Fox began negotiating the budget down from the $170-200 million range before they could officially green-light the film. The film was finally released on February 14, 2019.
  • The Man Who Killed Don Quixote by Terry Gilliam has been trapped in Development Hell for over two decades coupled with a Troubled Production in 2000. Gilliam eventually released a documentary about making the film (appropriately titled Lost in La Mancha), but the original incarnation of the film itself was never completed. Pre-production resumed in 2009, but as of late 2010, the project was shelved again due to a collapse of funding.
    • In 2014, Gilliam's seventh attempt at production was underway, this time with John Hurt as Quixote and Jack O'Connell as Toby Grisoni, whose character travels back in time and replaces Sancho Panza. Filming was set to begin in January 2015, with the film being released in May 2016. Filming was suspended again in fall 2015 after John Hurt was diagnosed with early-stage pancreatic cancer and he was forced to leave the project. Hurt passed away in January 2017.
    • After more delays, Gilliam was able to regain funding for Quixote in 2016 with Adam Driver and Jonathan Pryce taking over the lead roles of Toby and Quixote respectively. Principal photography finally restarted on March 2017 and wrapped up on June 2017, fulfilling Gilliam's desire to get his dream project off the ground. The film was released in 2018 from Amazon Studios.
  • Mary Poppins:
    • Walt Disney had first considered making a live-action adaptation of Mary Poppins as early as 1938, but author P.L. Travers didn't think it could do justice for her books, mainly because Disney hadn't done any live-action films at the time. After sales of the books started declining, Mrs. Travers finally met with Disney to discuss a movie treatment, and the story finally reached theaters in 1964.
    • Plans for a sequel, based on some of the later books, date back to at least 1965, with an actual outline prepared during The '80s. However, Creative Differences with Mrs. Travers caused it to become shelved. (Among others, Mrs. Travers wanted the sequel to feature Mary Poppins taking Jane and Michael Banks on further adventures, while Disney wanted to explore the possibility of a grown-up Jane or Michael hiring Mary Poppins as the nanny of her or his own children.) Production on the sequel, now titled Mary Poppins Returns, resumed in The New '10s (following Disney's own idea of an adult Michael hiring Mary Poppins as nanny of his own children), with a December 2018 release date.
  • John Huston had wanted to make The Man Who Would Be King since the 1940s. The proposed stars went from Clark Gable and Humphrey Bogart, to Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas, to Richard Burton and Peter O'Toole, to Paul Newman and Robert Redford, to finally, Sean Connery and Michael Caine.
  • The production of Dangerous Men began in 1984, and was continuously worked on until its limited release in 2005.
  • The 2012 movie Dredd became an Acclaimed Flop, so plans for sequels were shelved despite many of the creators repeatedly asserting that they wanted to do a continuation and were "in talks" with various studios. Eventually a spinoff series, titled Judge Dredd Mega City One, was greenlit in 2017 as an in-house production by Rebellion.
  • In 2007, Platinum Dunes announced the "Groundhog Day" Loop horror film Half to Death, which they eventually ditched after rewrites. Nearly a decade later, the guy responsible for the rewrites was reminded of the film by the original producer, gave his script to Blumhouse (he worked there in the Paranormal Activity sequels) and it was greenlit, eventually being released as Happy Death Day in 2017.
  • Apocalypse Now. In the documentary Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse, which chronicles the Troubled Production, it's mentioned that Orson Welles planned to adapt Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness in 1939, but it was abandoned in pre-production (Welles made Citizen Kane instead). Francis Ford Coppola started planning Apocalypse Now in 1969, the idea being to film it in Vietnam. Unsurprisingly, the studio thought it was too dangerous, what with The Vietnam War still going on at the time. The plans were revived in 1975 following Coppola's successes The Godfather and The Godfather Part II. The movie was released in 1979, ten years after Coppola conceived of it and forty years after Welles' initial plans to adapt the novel.
  • Peter Jackson purchased the film rights to the novel Mortal Engines in 2009, but the project was put on the back burner due to Jackson and his production company already being busy making The Hobbit trilogy. Production would officially start in 2016, with the final film being released in December 2018.
  • The Other Side of the Wind, Orson Welles' last completed film, began shooting throughout 1970-1976, but endured a Troubled Production due to financial problems and a legal tangle of epic proportions. The latter especially would lead to the film not being released until 2018, after a team that included actor Peter Bogdanovich note  and Amblin Entertainment's Frank Marshallnote  worked with Netflix to get the film out of legal hell and finally finished, premiering at the 75th Venice International Film Festival before appearing on Netflix later that year. The critical reception was well worth the effort, but a gap of 42 years from start to finish is nothing to sneeze at.
  • Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter spent years saying that they were eager and willing to make a third Bill & Ted film. A screenplay was completed and gone through several rounds of rewrites, and there was a production company willing to front at least part of the budget. Unfortunately, none of these were with the company that owns the actual rights to the franchise and everything kept hitting a roadblock over who pays for what and gets how much of the resulting pie. Fortunately, it was announced on May 8, 2018 that the third film is now in production for real, although a release date wasn't announced at the time. On March 20, 2019, Reeves and Winter announced that production had started and that the film, later titled Bill & Ted Face the Music, was released in August 2020.
  • An adaptation of The Art of Racing in the Rain was in development at Universal in 2009, but was put in turnaround after they couldn't find a director. The project later moved to Disney in 2016 with Neal H. Mortiz producing, but it also didn't go anywhere at the studio. A year later, 20th Century Fox (who would later get acquired by Disney during production) picked it up with Mortiz remaining on board; filming began on May 2018, and it's set to be released on September 2019.
  • The adaptation of In the Heights started development at Universal in 2008 with Kenny Ortega as the director. But months before production would've started, the studio pulled the plug in spring 2011 due to budget concerns. In 2016, Lin-Manuel Miranda announced that he would produce the film with Harvey Weinstein over at his studio with Jon M. Chu helming production. However, development again came to a halt a year later when news reports came in about Weinstein's many sexual harassment allegations against him and the rights were given back to the other producers. Fortunately, by that point, Miranda became a huge star after the massive success of Hamilton and his reputation got multiple studios interested in the project with Warner Bros. winning the rights in a bidding war. Filming started in April 2019, and it arrived in June 2021.
  • The Deadwood movie finally came out after over a decade of on-again-off-again news about its production. Apparently, trying to round up all the actors of the ensemble cast and aligning their schedules was an enormous challenge for David Milch and HBO.
  • A film adaptation of Stargirl was announced in 2015. It spent years in development hell but was finished filming in 2019. However, it stayed shelved until it was greenlit for a Disney+ release in 2020.
  • In 2014 Italian comic book author Zerocalcare mentioned that his comic book La profezia dell'Armadillo ("The Armadillo Prophecy") was being adapted into a movie. Nothing else was said again until late 2017, where the film was confirmed but seemingly without Zerocalcare's involvement. When the film actually came out in September 2018 (again without comment from Zerocalcare), it was clear why: it was a very poor adaptation that lasted a very short time in theaters and was totally forgotten afterwards.
  • Plans for the film adaptation of Artemis Fowl were announced as early as 2001, but nothing came of them until 2013 when the film rights passed to Disney. The film release was announced in 2017 to be scheduled for August 2019. Despite this, the release still became an issue, as it was moved to and pulled from a theatrical May 2020 release date to a digital release on June 12, 2020.
  • A Dora the Explorer movie was announced in 2012, but nothing came of it until 2017 when it was announced that Michael Bay would be working on it. That film became Dora and the Lost City of Gold.
  • After the success of the British film adaptation that was released in 1949, several Hollywood studios were interested in Henry De Vere Stacpoole's best-selling novel The Blue Lagoon. The first attempt to adapt the novel into a major motion picture by a Hollywood studio was in 1955 when the rights were optioned by Warner Bros., and the project was announced the following year as part of a three-picture deal for Tab Hunter and Natalie Wood, with Raoul Walsh to direct, however, Hunter's agent turned down the project and was quietly shelved. Columbia Pictures purchased the rights to the novel from Warner Bros. in 1971, not long after the success of Love Story, went through many iterations, and the finished product was released to theaters in the summer of 1980.
  • Chaos Walking (2021). Lionsgate bought the movie rights back in 2011 and the first draft of the screenplay was written in 2012. Nothing else came of it until 2016 when Doug Liman was announced as director; principal production finally began in 2017. That wasn't the end of the film's troubles, though, as it got delayed again for reshoots. It has finally gotten a release date for early 2021.
  • Following the failure of Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, a third movie based on the games but independent of that languished for decades, including a project that was supposed to be filmed in Louisiana until Katrina ravaged it, and another that would follow the interest raised by Mortal Kombat: Rebirth. Only in 2019 a new Mortal Kombat finally started filming, hitting theaters in 2021.
  • Tom Clancy's Without Remorse had its filming rights bought shortly after its 1993 release by Savoy Pictures, who couldn't get the project done by its bankruptcy four years later. Paramount, who repeatedly adapted Clancy's Jack Ryan, eventually got the project but couldn't get it off the ground until Michael B. Jordan got attached to Without Remorse in 2018, and the film adaptation hit Prime Video in 2021.
  • Ophelia: According to Lisa Klein, author of the YA novel the film is based upon, the movie rights were first optioned when the book was published in 2006, but it took nearly ten years for it to be greenlit. Filming concluded in 2017 and it premiered at Sundance in 2018, before getting a wider theatrical release in 2019.
  • It took about ten years to Alexandre Astier to get the Kaamelott movie project off the ground. He faced a number of issues, including losing the rights (which he regained in 2015) and finding ways to finance it. In January 2019, a trilogy was eventually announced and the first film, Kaamelott: Premier Volet, was released in July 2021.
  • Director Michael Caton-Jones originally optioned the film rights for The Sopranos with his own money when the book was first published in 1998 and spent the next twenty years trying to get the project off the ground, the resulting film Our Ladies was released in August 2021.
  • For Cry Macho, N. Richard Nash's original script got repeatedly rejected by several big studios since 1975. He died in 2000, and it took twenty-one more years for it to be adapted, when Clint Eastwood got the gig.

  • 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 has been adapted for television as Game of Thrones, with the final season being released in 2019. Despite this, Martin has yet 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.
    • 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.
  • Harper Lee's Go Set a Watchman is an unusual example in that it is not technically a sequel, but the original first draft of To Kill a Mockingbird itself, written back in the 1950s and gathering dust for six decades. Since the original eventually was reset to the 1930s after the idea of setting it in the then-contemporary '50s was scrapped, this now makes Go Set a Watchman a sequel.
  • Lilith Saintcrow published one book of a planned Steelflower trilogy in 2007, but piracy of the ebook led her to cancel the other two. She changed her mind ten years later and published Steelflower at Sea in 2017 and Steelflower in Snow the year after.
  • The manuscript to Olivia (1949) was written in 1934. Bussy put it on ice for 15 years after a friend found the story unappealing.
  • Stephenie Meyer worked on Midnight Sun, a P.O.V. Sequel of Twilight in conjunction with the original tetralogy. However, when excerpts of it were leaked, she put the project on hold indefinitely, stating that she wanted to finish it "when everyone's forgotten about it". She fulfilled the promise: it got released in 2020, over a decade later and well after the Twilight fad had died down.

    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 canceled 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 schedule it to air in the same time slot as the penultimate, and crucial to the plot, episode of Roseanne.)
    • The Fourth Doctor story "Shada" was originally going to air in 1980. Due to strike action preventing multiple studio recording sessions from happening, the story was put on the shelf, with the intention to complete and air it later on. With Tom Baker leaving the show the following season, this became an impossibility, and the only footage from that story seen for over a decade was used as stock footage in "The Five Doctors". In 1992, the completed footage was released on VHS, with Tom Baker narrating the unfilmed parts in-character as the Doctor. In 2003, a modified version of the story was used as the basis of an audio drama starring the Eighth Doctor. In 2012, an official novelization of the script was released. Finally, the original story was completed as originally intended in 2017, thirty-seven years after the intended broadcast date, with the unfilmed parts animated and all the surviving actors reprising their roles.
  • 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:
    1. 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.)
    2. 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.
    3. 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 U.S. version of Top Gear went through three different pilots before finally being picked up. It lasted 6 seasons.
  • 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 (The $1,000,000 Pyramid) but axed. Finally, the show got greenlit for GSN to start in September 2012 as just The Pyramid, but fizzled out only a couple months later. Then over the summer of 2016, ABC decided to pick up a primetime version as The $100,000 Pyramid as a companion to Celebrity Family Feud and its revival of Match Game; this version was better-received than the GSN run, and was renewed for a second season.
  • 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 canceled 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 A.K.A. Jessica Jones as far back as 2010, but had no luck. The project was finally revived by Netflix for a 2015 debut (with a slight name change) as part of its collaboration with the MCU.
  • A Cloak & Dagger series was announced alongside Jessica Jones (as well as unproduced Hulk and Mockingbird shows) back in 2011. Like the aforementioned series, it spent a significant time in Development Hell before it was officially picked up by Freeform in 2016, and began airing in 2018.
  • Before its cancellation, the second season of Blade: The Series was going to introduce Moon Knight in order to set up a Spin-Off. In 2006, it was announced that Marvel was developing a solo Moon Knight TV series, but other than writer Jon Cooksey being brought onboard to develop the show in 2008, nothing more was ever heard about it. Then, in 2019, a Moon Knight series was officially ordered for the Disney+ streaming service, with Oscar Isaac entering negotiations to play the title character the following year.
  • All in the Family: Norman Lear bought the rights to adapt the Brit Com Til Death Do Us Part in 1966. It wouldn't be until 1968 when a pilot (titled Justice For All) was taped, but ABC dropped it after the Turn-On fiasconote . Another pilot was made the following year (Those Were the Days) but it went unnoticed. Then a final pilot was taped in 1970, CBS picked it up, and the show premiered in 1971.
  • The unaired episode of Not the Nine O'Clock News available on YouTube was not a pilot, but instead the first episode of a regular series. The show was shelved because of the 1979 general election, and only premiered after the political content was greatly toned down.
  • The Room director Tommy Wiseau shot a pilot for a new TV series called The Neighbors in 2007. Wiseau spent several years pitching the show to various networks until it finally premiered on Hulu in March 2015.
  • An adaptation of Preacher has been talked about for as long as the comic book existed. It first started as a version of the “Gone to Texas” story arc with Rachel Talalay directing, but it was canned due to budget issues and the dark subject matter. Then it was going to be on HBO with Mark Steven Johnson wanting to do every episode issue by issue, but again the dark subject matter got it canned. Then Sam Mendes was attached to do it, before the rights we’re sold to AMC in 2013. The pilot episode was finally filmed in May 2015, with Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg directing and Dominic Cooper starring. It debuted summer 2016.
  • The Wiz almost received a TV special adaptation in 1998, courtesy of the producers and director of Cinderella (1997). However, rights issues with Universal, the studio that distributed the movie version of The Wiz, prevented Disney from getting very far with their take. After the Cinderella producers started airing musicals on NBC, they finally got to release a TV special of The Wiz in 2015 - albeit with a different cast and crew than they had originally lined up for Disney.
  • A Live-Action Adaptation of Archie Comics was announced around 2013 but no news was given until 2015. The casting was finally specified in 2016, when it was revealed to be the Darker and Edgier Riverdale.
  • As early as 2011, Awkward Black Girl creator Issa Rae met with network executives to bring the web series to television. However, Rae faced Executive Meddling from the network execs, who wanted to Race Lift the main character to white. Eventually in 2013 it was announced that Issa Rae would be teaming up with Larry Wilmore to create a pilot for HBO and the show premiered in 2016 as Insecure.
  • Blonde Charity Mafia, a docusoap about three charity organizers in Washington, D.C., was originally developed at Lifetime before ending up on The CW. It was originally scheduled to air in summer 2009, but delayed to early 2010 before being shelved. However, the full series aired on MTV channels in Australia and New Zealand.
  • New Line Cinema had spent $1.5 million dollars to develop a film Trilogy for Foundation in 1998. Their failure to complete the project lead to Peter Jackson's production of The Lord of the Rings trilogy. In 2008, the company announced that Bob Shaye and Micheal Lynne would be co-producers. Columbia Pictures purchased the right to produce a movie from an auction in 2009, and contracted Roland Emmerich as director and co-producer. The other producer chosen at the time was Micheal Wimer. Two years later, Dante Harper was hired on to the project. After that lapsed, in 2014, HBO purchased the rights for a planned TV adaptation with Jonathan Nolan attached. In 2017, Skydance Television and David S Goyer announced that they would develop a TV series based on Foundation. In 2018, the series was purchaced by Apple and will be released on their streaming service in September 2021, nearly a quarter century after the project was first proposed.
  • In 2014, TNT ordered a pilot for a live-action Teen Titans series called either Titans or Blackbirds, with a script by Akiva Goldsman. The series would focus on Dick Grayson as he moved out of Batman's shadow and became Nightwing, with the show's team of Titans including Starfire, Raven, Oracle, and Hawk and Dove. There was a lot of enthusiasm for the project, but the network eventually stated that the series had been put on hold over issues with the script and worries about the over saturation of the superhero genre. However, it was later announced that the project had been picked up and would begin filming on Fall 2017 with Geoff Johns and Greg Berlanti onboard as executive producers. Titans was ultimately released on DC Universe in 2018, before moving to HBO Max beginning in Season 3.
  • There was talk of a movie adaptation of 13 Reasons Why for years before it finally became a Netflix series. Selena Gomez was in talks to play Hannah when development first started in 2011, but by the time it actually entered production, she was way too old to play a high school student convincingly. She is a producer on the Netflix series, however.
  • The British miniseries Our Friends in the North was based on a play Peter Flannery wrote in 1979. Plans to adapt it for television in the 1980s were stalled for legal reasons, due to at least two characters being based on real people. It finally made it to screens in 1996, by which point a lot more history happened, thus causing the story, (which originally ended with Margaret Thatcher being elected Prime Minister) to be expanded to the (then) present.
  • K9 was first announced in 1997. It eventually premiered in the UK in 2009, airing its full season in Scandinavia in 2010.
  • The first script for a Good Omens screen adaptation was written in 1992, it was a movie, and nobody liked it. Terry and Neil were asked repeatedly over the next few years whether there'd ever be a movie. It finally came out in 2019, several years after Terry's death, as a very popular miniseries.
  • Odd Squad:
    • The show itself was in development for at least two years, since 2012, before officially being announced at the 2014 PBS Annual Meeting and premiering in November of that year.
    • The Odd Squadcast, a Podcast based on the show, was first announced in January 2020 alongside a new season of the show (which would premiere a month later). It was initially slated for a release sometime in the summer, but was pushed back to November 25, 2020, likely due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, and the second season of OddTube premiered in the summer instead. It was then pushed back further to December 2, 2020, where it finally premiered.
  • A live-action adaptation of Nancy Drew had been swirling for more than a decade, dating back to the early 2000s and involving multiple different networks. Each one passed on and the project was reworked numerous times, before The CW finally gave it a series order in 2019.
  • An adaptation of A Song of Ice and Fire was first confirmed in January 2007, but was delayed a couple of times. HBO took its own sweet time to greenlight the project, then rejected the pilot because of poor test screenings, requiring a 90% reshoot. The actress who portrayed Daenerys Targaryen dropped out, requiring all of her scenes to be reshot with a new one. Game of Thrones wouldn't see airing until April 2011. Fortunately, it ended up being a hit, and then some.

  • 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.
  • The Guns N' Roses album Chinese Democracy was a famous example, being released in 2008, after 14 years in development (one of the signs it would come out was the song "Shackler's Revenge" being featured in Rock Band 2, about two months before the album itself was released), subverting the long-standing joke that China itself would become democratic before Chinese Democracy was released. And yes, it's Banned in China. Showing that Tropes Are Not Bad, the album received mixed but generally positive reviews.
  • 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. Ultimately it took until February 2010 for the album, which was retitled Heligoland, to come out.
  • 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 rumors 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 re-recorded 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 similarly named companies — Apple Corps sued Apple, Inc. several times between 1978 and 2006 over trademark issues — was most likely 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, Steinman's 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.
  • 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 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. Also, Carl had coined the term "trip hop" to describe the album's psychedelic hip hop sound, and the phrase appeared in the lyrics to the songs "Dream" and "Paint". - by the time the album came out, Trip Hop was more widely known as a totally different genre. 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.
  • Wintersun's second album, Time, has been in development since 2006 due to a never-ending series of technological mishaps. The first half of the album came out in 2012, but the second half is still being mixed.
  • Wildflower, the follow up to Australian plunderphonics collective The Avalanches' debut album Since I Left You, was released in July 2016, nearly sixteen years after their critically lauded debut. Every so often, a member of the band claimed it was done and they were just clearing the samples (this being important, since they're a plunderphonics group that means almost all of their music is samples), but then nothing was heard for a few years. Up to the release of Wildflower, the group even lampshaded the album's perpetual development with a trailer for a (pseudo) documentary entitled Since They Left Us that featured several artists that would end up being featured on Wildflower, including Danny Brown, Ariel Pink, and Father John Misty. Fans and critics generally agree that Wildflower was worth the wait.
  • Obituary's ninth album landed in Development Hell for a couple years after the band was booted from Candlelight Records and couldn't find a new label. They eventually resorted to Kickstarter to raise funds for an independent release, which went better than they expected - the minimum level for the album's recording and release was $10,000, with $20,000 enabling the filming of a series of documentary-style short films during the recording sessions at Morrisound Studios. They got $60,000 by the time the campaign closed, and the publicity later got them a distribution deal with Relapse Records for the album, named Inked in Blood and released in 2014, about two years after the original projected date.
  • Decrepit Birth released Polarity in 2010, but it took seven years for Axis Mundi to follow. Why? It was a mix of things. Matt Sotelo had to focus on his family, numerous lineup changes occurred (Dan Eggers and Joel Horner left basically right after Polarity was released, they had a revolving door of bassists that only finally ended after Sean Martinez left Rings of Saturn, and Chase Fraser was fired in 2014 after a lengthy history of being a dick), Samus Paulicelli went back to school and moved to Canada, the actual writing process was rather slow (and didn't even really begin until 2013) and involved at least one massive overhaul of the material after Samus told Matt that he didn't think it was up to par, the recording process was similarly drawn-out, and, once the album was actually done, the label sat on it for months before giving them a release date. While it wasn't quite up to Necrophagist levels, people had given up hope that there actually would be a fourth album for a while.
  • Most of Northward was written all the way back in 2008 following a propitious jam session between then-After Forever singer Floor Jansen and Pagans Mind guitarist Jørn Viggo Lofstad at ProgPower USA in '07. They planned to record while AF was on what was supposed to just be a hiatus due to guitarist Sander Gommans suffering a burnout. Then AF broke up altogether, which scuttled the recording deal with their label. This led Floor Jansen to form ReVamp as her new full-time band, putting Northward on hold again. Then she went through a burnout herself in 2011, after which she was called in to replace Anette Olzon in Nightwish on very short notice (the band later released a documentary about it called Please Learn the Setlist in 48 Hours). Nightwish finally took a year off in 2017, during which Floor and her partner Hannes Van Dahl had a daughter and only then managed to block out time with Lofstad to record Northward. It finally came out, to rave reviews, on 19 October 2018, ten years after it had originally been envisioned.
  • La Toya Jackson's Startin' Over began its production on November 2001, and had some singles released, but ultimately never saw a physical release. It ended up being released in June 2011 as a digital-only EP, with the slightly modified title of Starting Over.
  • Corelia's second album, New Wilderness, spent five years in development. For about four of those years, the band was completely silent. Since the album was crowdfunded via Indiegogo, where it raised over $30,000, this led some of their fans to question whether or not the album was even being made, or if it was all just a scam. The silence was finally broken in April 2020, when the band was forced to address the issue of an unrelated producer impersonating a member of the band and claiming that he would be releasing the album soon. In response, the real band members issued an apology, explaining that the album had been worked on, but mental health issues and the departure of one of their members resulted in its release being massively delayed. Finally, in May of the same year, their album New Wilderness was released, albeit in a rough, unmixed state.

  • Capcom's Big Bang Bar got players buzzing with excitement as soon as the first machines hit test locations, with many calling it a Breakthrough Hit. Unfortunately, Capcom closed their pinball division before full manufacturing could begin, leaving only 14 prototypes. Fortunately, Gene Cunningham of Illinois Pinball Inc. bought the rights from Capcom, and eventually released a "remake" in 2006 of 191 tables.

  • 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, it 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 original 1927 production of Strike Up the Band closed during its Philadelphia tryout, inspiring its librettist George S. Kaufman's famous quip that "satire is what closes on Saturday night." The producer revived the musical three years later to considerably more success with a reworked score and a revised book by Morrie Ryskind that changed the Pretext for War from Swiss cheese to Swiss chocolate and substituted an All Just a Dream happy ending for the original's Here We Go Again!.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Warriors of Chaos army book from the 7th edition of Warhammer was released in late 2008 and featured images of a new model for the Daemon Prince. The model itself was released only in August 2010, with a White Dwarf article explaining that they wanted to release it as part of a wave of new Chaos Daemons models and so it was postponed until more new models for that range were ready.
  • Krosmaster had a few ones:
    • The original concept for the first Duel Pack was Missiz Freez versus Merkator. The former was replaced with Captain Amakna in the final release, but the instruction booklet found in the box still had a picture of Missiz Freez's datacard. She finally came out as part of Series 5, with a fully reworked stat card.
    • The earliest prototype for the game was promoted by the French-only Wakfu Mag magazine with the release of two promotional miniatures as a freebie with the magazine, Remington Smisse and Maskemane. While the former was released in the first wave of miniatures, the latter's mold was released, but recolored as a generic Masqueraider. It took 4 years for Maskemane to finally get his own miniature as part of a special pack themed around the Wakfu OVAs.
    • A Chafer King miniature was presented in the first teasers for Series 4 but was not featured in the final release. He was finally released as part of the Krosmaster Blast spinoff game.
    • While only two Duel Packs were released, two more were planned but never released: Duel Pack 3 was going to feature Anathar and Justice Knight, while Duel Pack 4 would have presented Adult Ogrest and the God reincarnation form of Tristepin from the Wakfu OVAs. The four miniatures were finally released as stretch goal additions for the Krosmaster Blast Kickstarter campaign.

    Theme Parks 
  • The Haunted Mansion at Disney Theme Parks was delayed several times, due to the sheer number of unused ideas that were thought up.
    • The ride itself has an example of it. In the beginning, one of the planned characters/gags in the ride was going to be the "Hatbox Ghost", the groom to the Attic's bride, whose head would disappear from his shoulders and reappear in his hatbox in time with the bride's heartbeat. The figure was produced, and the lighting implemented to create the disappearing trick, but the figure was taken out very shortly thereafter once it was clear that the distance between the riders and the figure was too short to allow the effect to work. Because it was taken out so early and so few people had seen it, the Hatbox Ghost achieved legendary status within the fanbase. His presence endured in the franchise, and in 2015, with decades of technological advancement, the Hatbox Ghost was made again with a more complex digital heat-transfer effect and more animation, finally placing him in the ride like he was always supposed to be.
  • A ride based on The Little Mermaid (1989) 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 the summer of 2011.
  • The Ark Encounter, a $149.5 million park sponsored by the Christian creationist organization Answers in Genesis, was drowning in controversy and development hell. Its centerpiece is a full-size replica of Noah's Ark, while later phases called for the addition of models of the Tower of Babel and a first-century middle-eastern village, an aviary, and a motion theater. Announced in 2010 with construction scheduled to start in 2011 and an opening date of 2014, despite funding issues (the project had to be scaled down to $70 million), it was still heavily hyped and promoted by AiG since the announcement. Construction didn't break ground until August 2014 when earth-moving machines arrived to begin excavating what will be the parking lot, even though in November 2014 they claimed to be still $15 million short of funding.

    Not helping matters was a controversy over AiG's hiring policy, which requires employees to sign a statement of faith signifying their agreement with its strict Young Earth creationism views. Americans United tipped off the government of Kentucky under the implication that it could apply to the park itself as well. In turn, they refused to grant the park over $15 million in tax incentives. However, AiG sued, citing religious discrimination and First Amendment violations. The district court ruled in favor of AiG, allowing the park to become eligible for the incentives. The first stage of the park officially opened on July 7, 2016.

  • 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 history, 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 has 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.
  • Marvel Legends:
    • Each figure in the Onslaught wave by ToyBiz was originally supposed to include a henchman character as a special bonus, such as a HYDRA agent, a Doombot, a Hand ninja, a Hellfire Club guard, and so on. Rising production costs forced ToyBiz to abandon the bonus figure idea, but the Skrull soldier and Brood drone designed for the wave were later released as part of Diamond's Marvel Select line.
    • In 2013, Hasbro showed off promotional photos for a Mandarin figure that was intended to be part of the Iron Man 3 wave. Despite a prototype being shown off at conventions, the figure wouldn't be released until 2018, when it was included as part of a box set celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

    Web Original 
  • 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. In real life, it was the basis of the fourth episode of Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People.
  • 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/homage to Super Sentai. The four first episodes were released from 2000 to 2004. The fourth episode ended with 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.
  • Awesome Comics was promised by Channel Awesome in 2013, but was saved in 2016 by their intern hosting it along with three new people.
  • The Doctor Puppet stop-motion shorts inspired by Doctor Who are a combination of standalone stories and a multi-part storyline, "The Adventures of Doctor Puppet", which aired its first two parts in March 2013 and features the Eleventh Doctor trying to rescue his previous selves. The time involved in making each individual short combined with the creators having to acknowledge new developments in Who with the standalones meant that the eighth and final short wasn't posted until October 2018, just days before the debut of the Thirteenth Doctor. The Stinger of the final part humorously acknowledges the biggest change to continuity that they couldn't incorporate into the story: the War Doctor is kicking back on a beach in a spoof of the ending of Avengers: Infinity War, as by the time "The Day of the Doctor" aired the puppet storyline had already moved past the point where he would have appeared had its creators known that yes, he was an actual incarnation of the Doctor.
  • Rooster Teeth's Day 5 has been mentioned to have begun development in podcasts from early 2012. It finally came out in June, 2016.

    Western Animation 
  • 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 the initial version of the 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.
  • 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 and Friends: Into the City! aired its Explorer Girls special 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 time skip. In 2014 it finally aired, having added a male character to the line-up.
  • Phineas and Ferb was first pitched around 1990 with a pilot made for Nickelodeon in 1992, but lack of faith in the project and additional commitments from the show's creators (hoping to get their big break that way), delayed the show for more than 15 years, finally premiering in 2007 on Disney Channel instead of Nickelodeon.
  • Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures was first announced in 2011 or 2012. There was no news for quite some time so people assumed it had quietly been canceled due to poor reception. It was eventually released in June 2013.
  • Codename: Kids Next Door was supposed to come out around early 2001 but didn't start until late 2002.
  • The 2015 Inspector Gadget revival series has been in development since at least 2012, but series co-creator Andy Heyward has been hyping it up since at least 2009.
  • Miraculous Ladybug was supposed to come out around August of 2013 but was pushed back to September of 2015. In the process, they changed the art-style from a 2D animesque style to an All-CGI Cartoon and changed a lot of plot details (including replacing the male lead and making the series more kid-friendly).
  • The Dance Pantsed special of The Powerpuff Girls was originally slated for a 2013 release but was pushed back to January of 2014 instead.
  • Making Fiends was in the planning stage for years and there were promos for it A YEAR before it aired on tv. It eventually came out only for Nickelodeon to cancel it after six episodes despite good ratings.
  • Around 2007, Warren Ellis planned to make an animated movie based on Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse. In 2017, Castlevania (2017) was finally released on Netflix with Ellis as the head writer.
  • Back in the early 80s, there were plans of a French-Hungarian co-produced Animated Adaptation of Voltaire's Candide, which were halted when the director's feature film debut bombed, followed shortly by him passing away. Fast-forward to the 2010s, when the project got reimagined as a mini series, taking guidance from the creator's original notes and adapting his excessive Deranged Animation to modern media. A completed episode was released in 2014, and the rest of the show, titled simply Candide (or alternatively The Adventures of Candide), followed in late 2018, albeit censored and almost banned by the Hungarian state. The full, uncensored series was released on Vimeo's on-demand platform some time later.
  • Chinese-Spanish series Filly Funtasia was announced in 2012 but its release kept on being pushed back. It was due for a 2014 release that never happened, although slowly throughout the years, it was revealed that the show was still in production. Not so shortly after it was announced that it would come out in 2019, the show would finally premiere March 11 on an Italian channel, Frisbee.
    • However, none of the channels that were originally intended to kickstart the seriesnote  have aired the show yet. Also important to note is that the show's original language is English, but at the time of writing, only other versions have aired on TVnote , and all that we have is a few English trailers, all with drastically different voices.
  • The Lakewood Plaza Turbo pilot came out in 2013. This lead to the OK K.O.! Lakewood Plaza Turbo mobile game and accompanying short series in 2016, 3 years later. The full series, OK K.O.! Let's Be Heroes, would premiere the following year.
  • Italian series Adrian is a vanity project by the famous singer Adriano Celentano: it was announced for a 2009 release (but the concept dates to around 10 years before that). It was picked up multiple times, but every time it was plagued by tons of problems, mismanagement, and went overbudget several times; finally, around 10 years after the initial announcement, it was released on Mediaset's Canale 5 in January 2019, in prime time and with great fanfare... and it was a humongous flop. Nobody could take seriously an 80-year-old man transposed into a Mary Sue version of himself becoming a messiah in a boring and incoherent dystopian tale that ripped off everything from The Matrix to Blade Runner, Watchmen and Jin-Roh. Only 4 episodes of the planned 9 were broadcast, and they had to wait until November 2019 to show the others because of the falling ratings. To add insult to injury, after the initial bout of Bile Fascination it seems to have been quickly forgotten by most viewers.
  • In the early 90's, an animated series based on Gremlins called Gizmo and the Gremlins was going to debut. Due to Gremlins 2: The New Batch flopping against the heavily-promoted Dick Tracy, production was cancelled. Almost 30 years after the original show was cancelled, a new Gremlins animated series, Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai, will be made for HBO Max.
  • Samurai Jack originally ran on Cartoon Network from 2001 to 2004, ending abruptly without a conclusion to the story. Creator Genndy Tartakovsky tried for several years to finish the show, even having confirmed the development of a finale film in 2006. With sparse details being provided of this film over the following few years, it eventually fizzled out. The show finally ended up seeing a conclusion in the form of a fifth season airing in 2017, this time on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim block.

  • The site of the old Filene's building in Boston was like this for years, after the original developer stopped construction abruptly after they ran out of money and left a huge, unsightly hole in the ground right in the middle of downtown for years until the city revoked their permit and sold it to Millennium Partners, who are now building the Millennium Tower and completed it by 2016, and the end result of a mix of retail and residences that were more or less what the original plan was, but given how long it was in limbo Bostonians are happy to just have something in the space.
  • The Swedish Saab JAS 39 Gripen airplane. Intended to be a jack-of-all-trades, as the name implies (JAS = Jakt, Attack, Spaning or Fighter, Attack, Reconnaissance) the project was initiated in 1977. The design was initiated in 1979, and the first prototype rolled out in 1987. It appeared the prototype was, although promising, seriously flawed, and two prototypes were lost (1988 and 1993). Gripen was seriously immature in 1993 on its first contract competition (Finland chose F/A-18 Hornets instead). It finally entered service in 1997, twenty years after the original concept. It has been developed and improved ever since, and in 2017 it has become fully mature and one of the best all-around light fighters in the world, and Saab has actually earned revenues on Gripen exports. It is now (2017) one of the candidates to supersede the F/A-18 Hornets in the Finnish Air Force - 25 years after the initial competition.
  • Similar to Sweden, in 1985 Canada's government under Prime Minister Brian Mulroney was set to replace its then over 20-year-old Sikorsky Sea King helicopters with a new model. By the time a replacement model (the Westland EH-101 was decided on, it emerged that the Labrador search-and-rescue helicopters also needed replacement. The replacement was tacked onto the Sea King replacement order, ballooning the contract price to nearly $6 billion. With Canada entering a recession in 1993, new Prime Minister Kim Campbell announced that the order would be shrunk, bringing the price down to $4.4 billion. However, it wasn't enough to salvage an already unpopular government, and a new government under Jean Chretien was elected later that year. The order was swiftly cancelled (costing about $500 million in cancellation fees), but as the decade progressed it became more apparent that the Sea Kings were still growing older and becoming even more obsolete - requiring over 30 hours of maintenance for each hour of flight. By 2003, Chretien and his successor Paul Martin made the replacement of the Sea King a priority. The Sikorsky CH-148 Cyclone was chosen in 2004, with deliveries scheduled to begin in 2008. Problems with Sikorsky, which nearly led to yet another cancellation, delayed the first arrivals until 2015 - thirty years after the first selection process began.
  • More recently, in 2010 the Canadian government under Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced an intention to purchase the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II to replace its aging fleet of CF-18 Hornet fighter jets. Unlike the Sea King replacement, no official order was placed, but the decision to pick the model in a sole-sourced contract instead of opening the project up to bidding from multiple aircraft makers quickly proved controversial. Concerns over price and operational suitability were deciding factors in the new government under Justin Trudeau, elected in 2015, cancelling the project and deciding to start over again with an open replacement process. The process is still ongoing in mid-2018, with a winner scheduled to be announced in 2019 and deliveries in 2025. Evidently learning from the Chretien government, the Trudeau government decided to purchase used F-18s from Australia in the interim. However, with an election scheduled for 2019, it's hard to think history isn't about to repeat.
  • The Hubble Space Telescope was originally planned to launch in 1983. Delays in construction pushed that back to 1986, when it was indefinitely delayed by the Challenger disaster. The completed telescope had to be stored in a clean room, powered up and purged with nitrogen(to the tune of $6 million a month), until space shuttle flights resumed. It was finally launched in 1990.


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