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Trailer Delay

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You see a preview of what seems to be a big movie coming out. It gives you the date and you're all hyped up. But when the big day finally comes, it's not there.

This trope is about delays between the release of a teaser trailer or poster and the release of the movie itself, or even if it never gets released at all. The film could be in Development Hell or is facing delays. The release dates may change in such cases and on some rare cases, they may never get released at all.

Not to be confused with Release Date Change, where the change in release is minor and is done to avoid competition with other films.


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     Comic Books  

  • Archaia Entertainment's Free Comic Book Day compilation for 2012 included a one-shot story based on the film Labyrinth, "Hoggle and the Worm", to whet appetites for a graphic novel prequel (revealing the backstory of fan favorite Jareth the Goblin King) that had been announced for year's end. But the book's release date was pushed back to April 2013, and then to an unspecified date in 2014...Labyrinth: Coronation, a 12-issue miniseries, finally arrived in February 2018.

     Films — Animated  

  • The teaser trailer for Aladdin and the King of Thieves appeared on the 1995 VHS of Angels in the Outfield and said it was to be released in Fall 1995, but it didn't come out until August 1996. (The delay came about due to Disney getting Robin Williams back as the voice of the Genie — midway through production.)
  • Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero had a teaser on the VHS release of Space Jam and a trailer on each video released in the 2nd wave of the Adventures of Batman & Robin videocassettes, stating that it was being released in the summer of 1997. It would be released in the Spring of 1998. This was because of the negative feedback of Batman & Robin, since they both featured Mr. Freeze and the studio was afraid the connection would hurt sales of the animated film.
  • The VHS of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Movie has a sneak preview for In Search of Santa, a Direct to Video Christmas film from the same animation company as Rudolph, which promised for a 2D animated release in Christmas 1999 from GoodTimes Entertainment. The release of this didn't happen until five years later, when it was executed as a computer animated movie and released by Miramax.
  • At the end of the 1998 VHS of Lady and the Tramp was a short trailer announcing that the direct-to-video sequel Lady and the Tramp II: Scamp's Adventure would be released in 2000, but it ended up being released in February 2001.
  • Don Bluth had some pretty bad luck with this in the early '90s:
    • A sneak preview of Rock-A-Doodle appeared at the beginning of the 1990 VHS of All Dogs Go to Heaven, with a vague "coming soon" disclaimer, as MGM had initially planned a Thanksgiving 1990 release date, but then shifted the release to sometime in Spring 1991, before the studio dropped the film and it ended up being released by The Samuel Goldwyn Company due to production issues. It was rescheduled for Thanksgiving 1991, but moved again to April 1992 to avoid competition with Beauty and the Beast and An American Tail: Fievel Goes West (the film was released in Europe in Summer 1991 though).
    • Later, the 1992 VHS of Rock-A-Doodle had a sneak preview of Thumbelina, which said it was to be released by MGM, but due to to production difficulties, it was released by Warner Bros. in March 1994.
  • The teaser poster for Tom and Jerry: The Movie was released in 1990, but the film didn't come out until 1992 in Europe and 1993 in the U.S.
  • A teaser for Jetsons: The Movie (which appeared on the VHS release Jetsons: The First Episodes) promised a release for Christmas 1989, but it ended up being released in the summer of 1990, most likely so it wouldn't compete with The Little Mermaid (1989).
  • Many animated movies released in 2012, such as Brave, Hotel Transylvania and Frankenweenie, showed the trailer for Dino Time with a December 7, 2012 release date before the film got eventually pulled from a theatrical release with no explanation given. It would eventually be released Direct to Video as Back to the Jurassic in 2015.
  • The Disney dub of Castle in the Sky was supposed to be released onto VHS in North America in 1999 and was advertised on the VHS releases of Kiki's Delivery Service and The Lion King II: Simba's Pride, but was delayed until 2003 for unknown reasons.
  • Minions: The Rise of Gru came out nearly two and a half years after its first trailer was released due to the COVID-19 Pandemic wrecking theatrical release dates and production schedules.
  • The first teaser for Farmageddon: A Shaun the Sheep Movie screened before USA showings of Early Man in February 2018. It took two years and a Channel Hop from Lionsgate to Netflix before the film was finally released stateside.
  • The teaser for Wakko's Wish, which gave a November 1998 release date, appeared on VHS prints of Dennis the Menace Rides Again. The actual film would be released on December 31, 1999.
  • The Super Mario Bros. Movie was originally announced to have a global release of Holiday 2022, with December 21 being specific to North America, during the September 23, 2021 broadcast of Nintendo Direct. The following April, Shigeru Miyamoto announced through Nintendo's social media that he and producer Chris Meledandri have decided to push the release back to Spring 2023, with April 7 for North America and April 28 for Japan.

     Films — Live-Action  

  • Alienł had an teaser trailer released in early 1991, which promised a vague 1992 release date and the image of a facehugger egg opening over Earth itself. Although the film was released in May 1992, it was held up by production woes that lasted through the winter of 1991, and the hinted plot in the trailer (xenomorphs take over Earth) was completely different to the final product.
  • Trailers and posters for Big Trouble were shown in the summer of 2001 with a release that September, but because of 9/11, it was delayed until April 2002.
  • The teaser trailer for Bram Stoker's Dracula promised a Summer 1992 release, but it was pushed back to that November.
  • Charlie Bartlett was set to open on August 3rd, 2007 and had trailers, posters and TV spots but MGM delayed it due to financial issues and a crowded release schedule. Amazingly enough, the studio never had the TV spots pulled and TV stations were still running the ads with the old date the week of the canceled release date. MGM finally released the film on February 22nd, 2008.
  • Collateral Damage was to be released in October 2001, but due to the 9/11 attacks, the film was postponed until it was released in February 2002 with major edits.
  • The trailer for Gangster Squad was released in May 2012, with the trailer advertising a release in Fall 2012. But after the movie theater massacre in Aurora, Colorado, the film had to be reshot to lose a similar sequence that had appeared in that trailer, and was thus released in January of 2013.
  • The initial trailers and print ads for G.I. Joe: Retaliation had a listed release date of June 29, 2012. The film was then pushed back, just weeks before its release, to add 3D effects and add more footage with Channing Tatum's character, Duke. The film was finally released on March 28, 2013.
  • Trailers for House of 1000 Corpses were released in 2000 by Universal but the studio dropped the film due to its graphic content. It would be released in 2003 with Lionsgate distributing.
  • Ishtar had its trailer released in August 1986 with plans to open the film around Thanksgiving 1986. However, extensive re-editing pushed the film back to May 1987.
  • Jack the Giant Slayer sent out a trailer in Spring 2012 with a June release date promised, but Warner Bros. decided to push it back to March 2013 and changed the title — it was originally Jack the Giant Killer — in the interim.
  • The 1991 souvenir program for the U.S. tour of Les Misérables included an ad promising a film version via TriStar Pictures for 1993. That movie didn't arrive until 2012, and Universal produced it. A Columbia/Tristar-produced non-musical version starring Liam Neeson was released in 1998.
  • Trailers for the Dolph Lundgren Punisher movie appeared in 1989 promising a Summer release date from New World Pictures. Unfortunately, thanks to a corporate restructuring, New World got out of the movie business and it ultimately went straight-to-video in the Spring of 1991, though it was still released theatrically overseas.
    • Around the same time, New World prepared trailers for Warlock (1989) with a vague "Coming Soon" disclaimer attached to it, because it was planned to be released sometime in 1989, which it did, in some foreign territories, again due to the same corporate restructuring happening at New World. Instead, the U.S. distribution rights were sold to Trimark and got a theatrical release there in January 1991.
  • Trailers for She's Having a Baby were released in January 1987 with VHS copies of Ferris Bueller's Day Off but the film wasn't released until February 1988 due to director John Hughes having production problems with Planes, Trains and Automobiles.
  • Initial trailers for the WWII melodrama Shining Through indicated a vague "Fall 1991" release date (possibly as a potential candidate for Oscars), but 20th Century Fox ultimately dumped the film into a January slot in 1992, and became a critical and commercial disaster.
  • The trailer for Sonic the Hedgehog, which had a November 8, 2019 was attached to fellow video game movie Pokémon Detective Pikachu. However, severe backlash over the titular character's design lead to the trailer being pulled and the release date being moved to February 14th, 2020 to modify the character.
  • A live-action Spider-Man movie was to be released in Christmas 1986 by Cannon and a short teaser and poster were released, but it sadly never came to be. The reasons why are long, complicated and infamous, with the eventual result being Sony/Columbia Pictures taking over the license and releasing their own franchise based around the property.
  • The 13th Warrior had its first trailer released in January 1998, with the working title Eaters of the Dead (also the title of the book it was based on). The film came out in August 1999 with its revised title.
  • The trailer for Jupiter Ascending promised a July 2014 release date, but a month before its intended release, it was bumped ahead to February 2015 due to the filmmakers believing that the special effects wouldn't be finished before then.
  • The first trailer for Justice League was uploaded in March 2017 for a November 2017 release. Most of the scenes in it ended up cut from the theatrical film. Zack Snyder's Justice League (released five years later in March 2021 on HBO Max) featured them all.
  • Subverted in the case of the Ben Stiller movie The Watch (2012), about a neighborhood watch group that encounters aliens. The film was originally titled Neighborhood Watch and had the misfortune of starting its marketing campaign around the time of the Trayvon Martin shooting, in which 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was shot dead member of the neighborhood watch. The title and marketing strategies of the movie was changed, however, 20th Century Fox refused to change the premiere date.
  • The first trailer for The New Mutants was released October 2017 for an April 2018 release in mind, before the film was delayed for years due to a series of production delays related to Fox's own release schedule, the company's acquisition by Disney and their plans to implement it into the release schedule, and finally a global pandemic hitting a few weeks before the intended release date. The poor movie finally caught a break by releasing in August 28th, but not before the Comic Con At Home panel poked fun at the constant delays.
  • The first teaser trailer for Son of the Mask screened in front of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, saying it would come out sometime in 2004. It ultimately came out in February 2005.
  • Another film affected by the coronavirus pandemic is Disney's live-action remake of Mulan, with its poster stating it would come out March 27, 2020, before its delay to the following summer.

  • Beck 's album Colors was announced in 2015 with the single "Dreams", delayed to 2016 (in which "Wow" was suppose to promote it), then finally released in 2017. Interviews over the period had him confused that his record company was taking so long with it, and after its delay until 2017, he felt the material had got so old he remixed it, after which it finally got released.

     Video Games  

  • Endemic in Half-Life 2's Troubled Production. Between leaks that necessitated major changes, tweaks from playtesting results, and the game just plain not being ready, Valve was forced to announce new release dates several times — including, infamously, once delaying the game on its release day. This led to the "Valve Time" meme. Not coincidentally, Valve no longer makes a habit of giving release dates until just before release.
  • Banjo-Kazooie was slated for a 1997 release, with toys appearing at Taco Bell that same year, but it was pushed back to 1998. As a way of making up for the delay, Banjo appeared in Diddy Kong Racing.
  • The Sega Genesis port of Lufia & the Fortress of Doom was advertised with a delay to Spring 1995 ("It's worth the wait!") but never released due to Taito America's closure.
  • 2006 trailers for Metal Gear Solid 4 said it would be released in 2007. It actually ended up being released in 2008 instead.
  • The Xenoblade Chronicles 1 sequel for Wii U was announced in early 2013 under the working project name of X, and was slated for a 2014 release. When E3 rolled around the following year, the game was still far from completion, so it was pushed back until 2015 under the title Xenoblade Chronicles X.
  • Total Distortion (the game where the "YOU ARE DEAD! DEAD, DEAAAAAAD!" meme came from) was set to ship in late 1993, but production issues caused it to be released in November 1995 instead.
  • During E3 2017, Minecraft was announced to have an enhanced graphics pack called the "Super Duper Graphics Pack", with the trailer revealing the pack announcing it will be "COMING THIS FALL". Later that November, the pack wasn't released, but a special music video featuring Melissa Benoist was released to promote the pack, which is now teased to be "COMING 2018". Nothing else was said about the pack until August 2019, when it was announced to be cancelled due to technical difficulties.
  • The first trailer for Batman: Arkham Knight ended with a "Coming 2014" release date. The second trailer had a "Coming Soon" date, which didn't look good. It ended up being delayed to 2015, finally releasing June 23 of that year.
  • Rivals 2, the sequel to Rivals of Aether, was first teased in the "Expanding Aether Montage" video to be released during the year 2023. When the game was fully revealed in 2022, the projected release date was changed to 2024.
  • When Cuphead: The Delicious Last Course was originally announced in 2018, it was said to be coming in 2019. When 2019 came, another trailer claimed it was coming in 2020. The expansion wouldn't release until 2022.
  • When Pokemon Sleep was originally announced in late May 2019, it came with a projected release date of 2020. The year came and went with no official word on the game. It wouldn't be until late February 2023 when Sleep finally got its gameplay reveal, with a new release date slated for that summer.

     Western Animation