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    Films Animation 
  • Le Roman de Renard, a notable Stop Motion film based on the Reynard the Fox folktales, was made in 1929-30, but not released until 1937 due to issues with the soundtrack. (The film was originally made as a silent, but it was then decided to add a soundtrack using a synchronised sound-on-disk process which proved unreliable and didn't take off, then there were financial difficulties and artistic arguments about creating a sound-on-film talkie version.)
  • Felix the Cat: The Movie was completed sometime in the late 1980s (and it shows) but after premiering in January 1989, it wasn't released until 1991 and effectively went straight to video and cable.
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame II was put out by Disney in 2002 but has a copyright notice of 2000.
  • Happily Ever After was completed in 1988 by Filmation, but sat unreleased as the company filed for bankruptcy in 1989. A 1990 wide release was advertised and even warranted reviews but was yanked at the last moment; it eventually saw a limited theatrical release in 1993, and was met with the lukewarm response that had been the norm for the company.
  • Foodfight! had a Troubled Production, as it started production in 2002, but sometime afterwards, the animation programming was stolen. It got shelved for several years, was completed by 2009, and saw release in 2012.
  • Two of Batman's animated movies have undergone this trope:
    • Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero was intended to be released in 1997, to tie in with Batman & Robin. The latter's horrendous reception, however, led it to be delayednote  until March 1998 (by which time Batman's new cartoon had already aired a sequel episode to the movie).
    • Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker was originally advertised as coming to straight-to-video on October 31, 2000, but once it got unexpectedly slapped with a PG-13 rating from the MPAA, the film was re-edited, and one violent scene had to be completely replaced with new animation. This cut of the film was finally released on December 12, 2000. The original unedited version wasn't released until April 23, 2002. This was during a heavy backlash against violence in films, TV shows, and video games following the Columbine High School massacre.
  • The English dub of the South Korean animated film Dino Time was meant to be released theatrically in 2012, but these plans were cancelled, possibly fearing competition from better movies. It went straight to DVD in Australia in 2013, then in 2015 it got released on a Blu-Ray/DVD set in the US and retitled Back to the Jurassic while in the UK it was released on DVD only and retained the original title.
  • Ratchet & Clank was finished around the middle of 2015, with an expected release date of Christmastime. After finding a distributor, this got invoked a second time when they set the release date to early 2016 due to the releases of much larger pictures such as Captain America: Civil War. This also affected the tie-in game, which was complete and ready to go by the same time, but kept aside until the movie was out.
  • Big Bug Man was announced in 2004. It starred Brendan Fraser as the titular character and was notable for having the final performance of Marlon Brando before his death. The film has yet to see the light of day.
  • The Stellaluna Animated Adaptation was released in 2004 but has a copyright date of 2002.
  • An American Tail: The Treasure of Manhattan Island was released in the United Kingdom in 1998, but wasn't released in the United States until 2000.
  • A Troll in Central Park was finished back in 1992 but it was delayed for two years, first being scheduled to come out on March 1994 but it was ultimately decided to release Thumbelina on that date instead due to production issues and then the film finally came out months later in October.
  • The Triplets of Belleville was released in 2003, but the credits show that it was produced in 2002.
  • Tom and Jerry: The Magic Ring was made in 2001 and released in the United Kingdom that year, but not released in the United States until 2002.
  • The film adaptation of NIMONA, scheduled for a 2022/23 release, was almost finished when Disney halted production in early 2021 after shutting down Blue Sky Studios as part of a cost-cutting measure amid the COVID-19 Pandemic. Fortunately, in spring 2022, the film adaptation re-entered production after Netflix and Annapurna Pictures snatched it from Disney with plans to release it in 2023.
  • The final big COVID 19-delayed film to come out ended up being Universal's Minions: The Rise of Gru in July 2022, exactly two years after its initial release date.

    Films Live-Action Studios 
  • The 2008 bankruptcy of Capitol Films (mostly caused by the embezzlement of company funds by head David Bergstein) led to a number of films to either be unreleased or to fade into obscurity due to tangled legal issues.
    • The dark comedy Nailed starring Jessica Biel and Jake Gyllenhaal; it apparently was such a bad experience that director David O. Russell refused to finish the film. Eventually, Nailed (now called Accidental Love) was released in 2015 without Russell's involvement (or credit).
    • Also hit was the crime drama Black Water Transit, directed by Tony Kaye (American History X) and starring Laurence Fishburne, though there was a 2009 screening at Cannes on the latter (which Kaye says he's still in the process of editing, so that one may well see the light of day eventually). The rights for Black Water Transit have been acquired, but as of 2016, it still hasn't gotten a general release.
  • CBS Films:
    • The Coen Brothers' Inside Llewyn Davis had a hard time finding distribution after its completion due to films about the music industry being box office poison and the lack of a major lead. Finally, CBS (who ironically shelved the Coen Brothers-written Gambit) picked it up for a December 2013 release.
    • Speaking of Gambit, CBS Films initially planned an October 2012 release date for the film only to shelve it without explanation. It ended up bypassing a theatrical run and went Direct to Video in April 2014.
    • The horror movie Flight 7500, The Grudge director Takashi Shimizu's third English-language movie, was originally scheduled for an August 2012 release (and had trailers released in February 2012) but was pulled from the release schedule by distributor CBS Films a few months before opening. It was then pushed to April 2013, which passed with no release, and star Scout Taylor-Compton tweeted that it would come out in October of 2013. It didn't, but then was reported to be coming out on October of 2014. It didn't.
      • Lionsgate, who took over distribution duties for CBS Films, finally put Flight 7500 out of its misery by giving it a straight-to-DVD release on April 5, 2016.
  • Dimension Films / The Weinstein Company:
    • In general, they would arbitrarily delay some films because of Hollywood Accounting reasons. It's unclear if they were promised bonuses for meeting goals or were trying to spread out their revenue to avoid paying out bonuses.
    • Texas Rangers and My Boss's Daughter (changed from original title "The Guests") were both shelved for over a year owing to the problems at Dimension Studios. The former only got a limited release, though the latter managed to do decent business.
    • All the Boys Love Mandy Lane. The tale of this cult horror film's long-delayed American release is a long and tragic one that's almost more famous than the movie itself. The Weinstein Company spent $3 million to pick the finished film up for distribution, and planned to give it a wide release in 2007... and then Grindhouse flopped despite large amounts of publicity and a warm reception from critics, along with other big studio horror films around the same time. The Weinsteins, feeling that horror was now an unsound investment, sold Mandy to Senator Entertainment, who went out of business before its release, leaving the film in limbo. For years, it didn't see the light of day in America outside of bootlegs and film festival screenings. Fortunately, the film was released in Britain, where it proceeded to make back its budget two-and-a-half times over. Even more fortunately, The Weinstein Company bought back the film, settled the legal troubles and got a limited October 2013 theatrical release (following a VOD release the month before) through their Radius label. Examined in detail in GoodBadFlicks' 183rd episode.
    • Amityville: The Awakening was originally supposed to be released on January 2, 2015, but was delayed indefinitely a few months prior to its release. It was rescheduled for a April 15, 2016 release, only to be bumbled up to April 1. Suddenly, the film was delayed yet again and set for a January 6, 2017 release before being shelved again a month before release. It was then set to come out on June 30, 2017, but was then put on the shelf once again. It was released in foreign markets beginning on July 20, 2017. In the US, it was dumped on Google Play for free viewing on October 12, with a limited theatrical release following on October 28.
    • Dimension Films also delayed horror films Demonic and Clown for unknown reasons. The latter did see a limited/VOD release on June 2016 after being completed for three years, and the former was quietly dumped on Spike TV (of all places) in July 2017 with a DVD release following on October 10th.
    • The medical thriller Awake was shot in 2005 but not released until 2007 due to numerous test screenings that required further re-editing involving subplots that were deleted, and being delayed repeatedly by The Weinstein Company.
    • Fanboys went through a legendary delay it was finished in 2007, but delayed because the Weinsteins thought the cancer subplot in the film would make it less profitable, so they hired another director to re-shoot certain scenes, though Kyle Masterson eventually prevailed and managed to get the film a limited theatrical release in 2009 with the subplot intact.
    • The Weinstein Company strikes again! They originally set an April 2015 release date for the animated film Underdogs, but they pushed it back to August 14, 2015 to take advantage of the late summer season. Then the Weinsteins delayed it indefinitely a mere week before it was set to open for unknown reasons. It wound up going to Direct to Video and Netflix on July 19, 2016.
    • Horror film Viral was originally set for a February 19, 2016 release, but it was shelved by The Weinstein Company. It later only got a limited theatrical release on July 29, alongside a simultaneous VOD release. Amusingly, this meant the film was released two days after the wide theatrical release of the directors' next film, Nerve (from Lionsgate).
    • 47 Meters Down, which was originally titled In the Deep, was originally set for a Direct to Video release in August 2016 after some delays. Only a week before the film was set to hit the shelves, Dimension cancelled the release and put the film in turnaround. It got picked up by rookie company Entertainment Studios and they gave the film a wide theatrical release in June 2017. Despite mixed reviews, it turned a profit.
    • The film adaptation of Tulip Fever was in Development Hell for almost a decade until it finally went before the cameras in 2014, and it was hoped to be a major awards contender. Footage of the film was screened at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival, and the film was set for a December 2015 release. However it was sent back repeatedly for re-editing, and it was delayed to July 15, 2016, and then again to February 24, 2017 before being delayed once again to August 25, 2017, but it was ultimately dumped to theaters on September 1, 2017 with little advertising and almost no fanfare. To make matters worse, that weekend ended up being the worst at the US box office since the weekend after 9/11, and the film bombed with only $2.4 million across its entire run (with a $25 million budget). It also ended up being the final film released by The Weinstein Company, since Harvey's sexual harassment scandal came to light only a month later.
    • Polaroid was originally set to hit theaters in August 2017, but The Weinstein Company pushed it back to December 2017. It was then moved up to November 22, but the subsequent meltdown at the company following the scandal caused the film to be delayed indefinitely. There were plans to release on Netflix, but negotiations fell through. Eventually, Vertical Entertainment quietly picked up the film and sent it straight to VOD on September 17, 2019 with a limited theatrical run a month later, though not before it was released internationally (Jan 10, 2019 in Germany, and June 1, 2019 in the UK). In the intervening time, MGM arranged a special screening of the film and was impressed enough to tap its director, Lars Klevberg, to direct their Child's Play reboot.
    • The controversy over the company also affected The Current War with Benedict Cumberbatch, as their Oscar Bait hopeful had to abort its November 24, 2017 release date. Eventually, it got released in 2019.
    • Another film affected by the scandals was The War with Grandpa, an adaptation of the children's book of the same name starring Robert De Niro, Uma Thurman, Rob Riggle and Laura Marano. Originally set for an early 2018 release, it was pulled off the schedule at the last minute and sold back to its producers. Eventually, 101 Studios (founded by former Weinstein executive David Glasser) acquired the distribution rights and released the film theatrically on October 9, 2020.
    • The Upside (the American remake of commercial hit French film The Intouchables) was shot in early 2017 for a March 9, 2018 release, however the Weinstein scandal delayed the film indefinitely. It was finally released on January 11, 2019 by STX Entertainment (edited from an R-rated film to PG-13), to mixed reviews but surprisingly good box office.
  • Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer:
    • Found-footage horror film The Poughkeepsie Tapes was originally scheduled for release in February 2008, but its release was delayed indefinitely a month before it was to come out, with no explanation given by its distributor. Given that that distributor was MGM, which was just starting to fall apart at the time, it's not difficult to guess why. The film finally saw a VOD release through DirecTV in 2014, but was pulled shortly thereafter, meaning that the film was not available through any legal channels for the longest time, being only available through bootlegs and festival screenings. Scream Factory finally released it on DVD and Blu-ray Oct 10, 2017.
    • The remake of Red Dawn was mostly complete in 2009, but got shelved due to MGM going bankrupt. After the studio solved its financial problems and after a Re-Cut to replace the Chinese villains with North Koreans — it saw a November 2012 release date after being sold to FilmDistrict.
    • The Cabin in the Woods was also a victim of MGM's collapse. It was finished in 2009, but MGM delayed it to do a 3-D conversion, and then their bankruptcy forced them to abandon those plans. The film was sold to Lionsgate and finally saw the light of day in April 2012, to critical acclaim and box-office success. The delays meant the star of both Red Dawn and Cabin, Chris Hemsworth, had a breakthrough role during the shelving, and had another movie playing the same year both delayed films hit theaters.
    • Zookeeper was filmed in 2009 with a July 2010 release in mind, but MGM's aforementioned financial issues meant the film was delayed to July 2011, along with Sony (who initially only co-produced the film) taking over distribution.
    • The remake of Rollerball was originally supposed to premiere in 2001, but it got pushed back several times until it was finally released in February 2002.
    • Supernova was filmed in 1998, but was shelved until January 2000 due to its Troubled Production, with director Walter Hill disowning the finished product.
    • The remake of Valley Girl finished filming in 2017 and was set for June 29, 2018, but was pulled before release due to controversies surrounding Logan Paul, who has a supporting role. MGM then scheduled it for May 8, 2020... where it ended up as basically straight-to-digital, as the COVID-19 pandemic closed theaters that weren't drive-ins.
    • One Man's Hero, a war biopic starring Tom Berenger as the leader of the San Patricio Battalion (a group of soldiers, predominantly Irish, who fought on behalf of Mexico in the Mexican-American War), was filmed in the fall of 1997 and was going to be released by Orion Pictures. During production, Orion was bought by MGM, who then cancelled the intended fall 1998 release date and put it on the shelf. There were varying arguments as to why MGM shelved it, with director Lance Hool blaming it on pressure from groups who found the subject matter to be un-American, while Berenger accused the studio of intentionally wanting it to flop because they had merely inherited it from Orion and didn't want it competing with their in-house slate. Finally, thanks in part to an Internet campaign led by Berenger fans, MGM finally released it in September 1999, where it was buried in limited release. One Man's Hero was the last film released under the Orion name until MGM revived the brand 15 years later.
  • Miramax Films:
    • Miramax had a glut of films finished in the early 2000s and delayed releasing some of them for several years. Many made nowhere near the money production had cost.
    • The Great Raid was one of these.
    • Underclassman was another.
    • Finding Neverland was filmed in 2002 but unreleased until 2004, since Miramax didn't want the film to open close to/against Universal's straight adaptation of Peter Pan. In a case of Tropes Are Not Bad, the delayed release ended up getting a number of Oscar nominations (including Best Picture; it won for Original Score) and did well at the box-office; it helped that Johnny Depp's star considerably rose in the gap between filming and release thanks to the first Pirates of the Caribbean.
    • Mindhunters was filmed in 2002, but didn't come out in the United States until May 2005 (it was released around the world the previous year) due to the split between Miramax and Disney.
    • House of Cards (1993) was originally shot in 1991 and was scheduled for a November 1992 release by 20th Century Fox but was shelved after Fox dropped the distribution rights, leading Miramax to pick it up and the film was released in June 1993.
  • Orion Pictures filed for bankruptcy in December 1991, but not before delaying release dates of some films and selling off the rights to others (The Addams Family). The studio didn't get back into active film production until around 1995, and spent the interim releasing the already completed pre-bankruptcy product.
    • The Silence of the Lambs was delayed, but not to a great extent. Orion was supposed to release both it and Dances with Wolves during the 1990 Holiday season, but pushed the former to February 1991 because the studio had only enough money to put out one Oscar campaign that year. It ultimately paid off when Wolves and Lambs gave Orion back-to-back Best Picture Oscars and big box office. (Billy Crystal ruefully noted the studio's woes during the 1992 Oscar ceremony with "They can't afford to have another hit!")
    • Blue Sky. Completed in 1990, not released until 1994 — by which time the film's director had been dead for three years. Even so, Jessica Lange won an Oscar for Best Actress!
    • The film adaptation of Car 54, Where Are You? was also released in 1994 after a four-year gap.
    • And RoboCop 3, which completed production in 1991. The film was eventually released in 1993 to weak box office and scathing reviews.
    • The Favor was filmed in 1990 but released in 1994. The presence of Brad Pitt, who had yet to achieve fame when this film was shot, didn't help the film's box-office.
    • Orion abruptly pulled advertising for one of its films after its September 1991 release date was cancelled. That film, a dramedy entitled Married To It (directed by Arthur Hiller and starring some familiar faces) went unreleased until the Spring of 1993.
    • The 1994 Martin Short comedy Clifford was also filmed in 1990 and it clearly shows.
    • The Dark Half, a Stephen King adaptation directed by George A. Romero, was completed in 1991 but unreleased until 1993.
    • The 1960s-set civil rights drama Love Field (filmed in 1990, released in 1992) garnered Michelle Pfeiffer an Oscar nomination for Best Actress.
    • There Goes My Baby, a would-be American Graffiti starring Dermot Mulroney and Ricky Schroeder, had a scene recreating the Watts Riots in 1965 Los Angeles, filmed only a few years before a similar race-related riot occurred in the same city. Rather than publicizing the event, Orion waited until a very limited theatrical run in September 1994 to put it out.
  • Because of the financial issues and subsequent bankruptcy of Relativity Media, many of their pending films have been put into release limbo, getting tangled with legal and rights issues along the way. Trailer Delay played a role for the most part. Among the victims of Relativity's collapse were:
    • The Bronze, a Sundance comedy Relativity bought for $3 million (after a bidding war with Sony, who managed to get the international rights) was set to open on July 10, 2015. It got postponed to October 16, 2015 over concerns of the Summer competition with other raunchy titles like Ted 2 and Vacation. Once the bankruptcy protection went into high gear, Relativity had no choice but to remove the film from its schedule. Sony Pictures Classics snatched up the domestic rights shortly afterwards, creating a sense of Irony. Released on March 18, 2016, The Bronze turned out to have been an embarrassing failure.
    • Masterminds, a comedy starring Kristen Wiig and Zach Galifianakis was supposed to be Relativity's big summer movie with an August 19, 2015 release date. As their financial scars worsen, they pushed it to October 9, 2015 claiming that the studio needed more time to promote the film. Despite Relativity's best intentions to release the film during their potential sale, the plans got thwacked and they were forced to delay the film for the time being. Foreign distributors were miffed on the ordeal. With Relativity exiting bankruptcy, a new date of September 30, 2016 was set. Following poor numbers on opening weekend, Relativity found themselves up for sale suggesting that their financial hopes for the film were a bit too premature.
    • Kidnap was set for an October 9, 2015 release date, which got changed to February 26, 2016 to make room for the aforementioned Masterminds, if it went forward with the release that is. While the film is not off the slate just yet, RKA Film Financing threaten to confiscate the rights to this and three other films from Relativity, only to back out later. The date eventually got pushed back to May 13, only for it to be further delayed to December 2. Eventually, the now flailing Relativity delayed it to March 10, 2017, but that date came and went without any sort of theatrical release. The company had no choice but to let it go and Kidnap bowed from Aviron Pictures on August 4th. The film was only a moderate hit at the box office.
    • Hillsong: Let Hope Rise, a concert film covering the Australian Christian church, was originally set to be released by Warner Bros. for April 1, 2015. After their partner Alcon Entertainment failed to secure the rights, the film was carried over to Relativity and they set a September 30, 2015 date. They ended up canceling the release on the eve of their bankruptcy filings and the rights reverted back to the producers. Pure Flix snatched the film up with a September 16, 2016 release and mediocre box office results.
    • Jane Got A Gun was among the Relativity casualties and it did its Troubled Production no favors. Originally set for a September 4, 2015 release after its February 20 date got pushed back, the film was removed from the schedule entirely and Relativity had to give up on the rights. The Weinstein Company (who co-produced the film) handled the US release, opening it on January 29, 2016 (when it bombed, giving Natalie Portman the first of two consecutive commercial bloody noses, as Pride and Prejudice and Zombies [on which she was one of the producers] opened and underperformed the following week).
    • The British thriller Autobahn, AKA Collide, had an October 30, 2015 release planned, but rights mishaps have screwed the film out of release. Sales agent IM Global successfully worked the issues out, with the film scheduled to open on April 1, 2016 by Open Road Films, though that was then pushed back to August 19th. That date came without the film showing up Stateside; a new date of February 24, 2017 was set. Collide was released on that day, but it crashed and burned at the box office.
    • The Disappointments Room was another victim of Relativity's financial collapse. It was supposed to come out on September 25, 2015, but the release was quietly canned. It was set for March 25, 2016, but that date had to pushed back now that Relativity has emerged from bankruptcy with a sure-fire date of November 18 announced. Later on, the film was moved up to September 9th and replaced the following title. Upon release, the film was nothing short of a disappointment at the box office.
    • Before I Wake. This horror film was originally set for May 8, 2015, only to be pushed back to September 25, 2015. Unfortunately, it could not escape Relativity's perturbation and the release was delayed indefinitely. With the issues at the studio being resolved, a new date for April 8, 2016 has been announced only for it to be pushed back until September 9. Suddenly, the studio delayed the film again to an unspecified date. This cause some friction between Relativity CEO Ryan Kavanaugh and director Mike Flanagan. Given that Relativity is now on life support, they can't set a new date. Though the film did finally manage to get a Blu-Ray and DVD release in Canada and the director of the film encouraged people in the U.S. who wanted to see the film to buy it, as the discs would work on all U.S. media players, the film also got a Netflix release everywhere on April 28th everywhere except the U.S. Fortunately, it seems that Relativity gave up on Before I Wake and Netflix finally released it in the US on January 5, 2018, barring a theatrical release.note 
    • Finally, Solace was picked up by Relativity to be released sometime in 2015. Their bankruptcy ordeal prevented this from happening and once they were released from it they set a September 2, 2016 date for the film. Unfortunately as the year went on, Relativity found themselves unstable again and pulled the release. When their financial issues worsened, they dropped the film completely. Lionsgate/Grindstone rescued the film and gave it a day-and-date limited theatrical/VOD release in December.
    • When the company briefly emerged out of bankruptcy, they acquired the animated feature Animal Crackers and set a date for April 27, 2017. However, when the films they released post-bankruptcy failed in the box office, they were forced to drop the film from their pipeline. Once the rights were reverted back to the producers, they carried over the film to newcomer distributor Serafini Releasing, for a release on September 1, 2017. As it turned out, they too were finically struggling and incapable of releasing any film whatsoever. So once again, the rights to the film were reverted back to the producers, who then gave Entertainment Studios the rights to release the film, but nothing came of it. Eventually, Netflix picked up the distribution rights, finally giving it a release date of July 24, 2020.
  • Dino De Laurentiis' DEG went into serious debt in 1987 after a series of financial flops and went bankrupt the following year, which impacted the releases of several of its later films. Most of them were bought by other companies and many others went straight-to-video, and others had their releases delayed irregardless of their eventual fates.
    • Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure was shot in 1987 but didn't open until 1989, when the rights were purchased by (ironically) Orion. Since time travel is central to the plot, the film's director had to bring Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter in to redub a few lines to cover for the delay.
    • Collision Course, a buddy cop movie starring Pat Morita and Jay Leno (in his only leading role) was filmed in 1987 and was reportedly never finished the money allegedly ran out on the last day of shooting — and the negatives were later seized by Wells Fargo Bank. It didn't see the light of day until 1992, when it was dumped onto video to capitalize upon Leno taking over Johnny Carson's role as host of The Tonight Show.
    • Earth Girls Are Easy had it relatively easy (pardon the pun): It was shot over 1987-88, counting reshoots that took place over five months of post-production. Vestron Pictures picked it up, premiered it at that September's Toronto International Film Festival, and while legal issues prevented the planned February 1989 wide release from going on as planned, the delay was only to that May. (It probably helped that Geena Davis, who became an A-lister in '88, was the lead.)
    • William Friedkin's death penalty thriller Rampage was shot in 1986 but didn't open in the United States until 1992, having been released a few years earlier in some overseas territories (in Japan, it was released on LaserDisc in 1990, and these copies were imported into America prior to its release there). After Miramax picked it up, Friedkin recut the film and changed the ending (the international release got the original ending) due to his opinions on the death penalty changing since filming it. The film was delayed for so long that Ennio Morricone's score album was out four years before the film was.
  • The acquisition of 20th Century Fox by Disney generated complications for the release of a number of Fox projects that were in advanced or completed states, mostly so they wouldn't compete against Disney's big releases (Disney releases relatively few films each year, but has "flags planted" most months) in addition to Executive Meddling-enforced changes.
    • Ad Astra was completed in 2017, reshoots were ordered almost two years later and it came out in September 2019.
    • The New Mutants, originally scheduled for release on April 13, 2018, was delayed no fewer than four times, initially for reshoots that never materialized, then due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. It was finally released in August 28, 2020 to a thud, but it at least cleared contractual obligations to be released for VOD and streaming. It ultimately came out over a year after the film intended to be the Grand Finale of the Fox X-Men films, Dark Phoenix.
    • The pandemic hit Death on the Nile (2022) particularly hard. Originally scheduled for October 2020, was delayed to December of that year, then September 2021, then February 2022.
    • In addition to the above mentioned New Mutants, Disney also delayed the Searchlight Pictures' release of Antlers due to the pandemic, first from its original release date of April 17 to February 19, 2021, and then to October.
    • Another pandemic victim was Free Guy, one of the few projects that was about to enter production when the Fox takeover was completed. Originally meant for a holiday release on July 3, 2020, it got delayed three times, finally hitting theaters in August 2021.
  • In 2022, the restructuring of the newly-merged Warner Bros. Discovery led to numerous completed films being shelved, mainly originals intended for HBO Max and other Warner subsidiaries that will likely never see the light of day. This may be for tax reasons, allowing the studio to write off the cancelled releases as business losses.
    • Batgirl, a film based on the DC Comics superheroine starring Leslie Grace, was shot in late 2021 by Adil El Arbi & Bilall Fallah and intended for release on HBO Max in late 2022. The film would also feature Michael Keaton as Bruce Wayne/Batman for the first time since 1992 (coming before The Flash). In August 2022, Warner Bros. made the unconventional decision to shelve the film completely, which was in late stages of post-production at the time. Considering it cost $90 million to produce, it is one of the most expensive unreleased films ever made. Test screenings were either disastrous or average but blown out of proportion. The two directors tried to save the footage but found out WBD deleted it from their servers.
    • Scoob!: Holiday Haunt, a sequel to SCOOB!, was completed and ready for a holiday 2022 release on HBO Max when it was also shelved.

    Films Live-Action Creators 
  • Two of Eddie Murphy's biggest flops fell into this category: The Adventures of Pluto Nash, which was completed in 2000 but not released until 2002; and A Thousand Words, which wrapped in 2008 but was delayed until 2011, then 2012 when some parts of the ending were re-shot.
  • Howard Hughes, being the head case that he was, had a few of his productions suffering from this.
    • The classic western Red River was filmed in 1946 but held for release for two years, in part due to legal problems with Hughes, who claimed it was similar to his The Outlaw. It was actually Montgomery Clift's first film, but The Search was released first.
    • Scarface (1932) was completed in 1931, but its release was delayed almost a year due to Hughes's protracted battles with regional censor boards.
    • The Outlaw was completed in 1941, but due to censorship issues, it wasn't released until 1946.
    • Jet Pilot finished filming in 1953 (having started in 1949) and was finally released in 1957 due to Hughes tinkering with the film. By the time it was released, Hughes had sold RKO and Universal distributed the film.
  • Two of Miley Cyrus' films, LOL and So Undercover, were delayed from 2011 release dates to 2012, the former getting released to very few theaters with little promotion and barely recouping costs, while the latter was released in theaters overseas in 2012 and released Direct-To-Video stateside in early 2013.
  • Brittany Murphy:
    • Cherry Falls was finished in 1999 but shelved by Universal due to Columbine (the studio felt uneasy over the premise of a teenage serial killer that preys on virgins) and later cancelled the theatrical release (it played theatrically in Europe though, where it was a modest performer). The film finally made its US debut in 2000 on the USA Network.
    • And this wasn't the only Brittany Murphy movie to meet such a fate Something Wicked, her final film, was made in 2009 and released in 2014 five years after her death.
  • 100 Years featuring John Malkovich and directed by Robert Rodriguez is in the process of setting the all-time record for this trope. Sponsored by the company that makes Louis XIII cognac (which takes 100 years to age), the (presumably) completed movie and a freshly-made bottle were locked in a vault in November of 2015 a vault that won't be unlocked until November of 2115, long after everyone involved with the film's production has passed on. One thousand people have been given tickets to the world premiere, to hand down to their descendants. Only time will tell if the gimmick gets ruined by the film getting leaked.
  • Bill Cosby 77, a Bill Cosby stand-up special which was to be released on Netflix in 2014, had its release cancelled after the sexual assault allegations against Cosby came to light.
  • Alessandro Nivola currently has a whopping 12 projects in his filmography that were completed but ended up shelved because no one would distribute them. These include films in which he worked alongside stars like Christopher Walken and Rachel Weisz. He even won best actor at the Tribeca Film Festival for one movie only for it to be completely ignored by distributors.

    Films Live-Action 
  • All About Steve was shot in 2007, but only got released two years later. (In the meantime, leading man Bradley Cooper made a name for himself and star Sandra Bullock had a comeback of sorts, and thus the studio took advantage of it. The DVD tagline is even "What if the girl from The Proposal goes after the guy from The Hangover?")
  • Almost Heroes was made in Fall 1996 with an intended Spring 1997 release date, but got postponed to 1998 due to the merger between Turner and Time-Warner. When it was finally released in May 1998, Chris Farley had passed away in December 1997, so this was his last starring role (Dirty Work, Farley's last overall film, got released around the same time).
  • The Aretha Franklin concert film Amazing Grace 2018 might be the ultimate example.
    • It was filmed and scheduled to be released in 1972, but was pulled due to director Sydney Pollack forgetting to use clapperboards, thus making the audio impossible to sync with the film using the equipment of the time.
    • In 2007, the advent of digital editing made it possible to sync the film's audio and thus the film's editing was finished. It was scheduled for a 2011 release however Franklin sued the film's producers over using her likeness without permission.
    • The film was rescheduled for a 2015 release once Franklin's contract was discovered in the Warner Bros. offices, however she sued again, this time for undisclosed reasons.
    • When she died in 2018, her family finally arranged to release the film in November of that year, putting an end to the film's whopping 46 year long languishment.
  • Andy Kaufman: I'm from Hollywood, a retrospective of his infamous wrestling career and feud with Jerry Lawler that notably doesn't break Kayfabe, was finally completed in 1989 after six years (Kaufman's death in '84 throwing a wrench into production). As co-director/editor Lynne Marguiles explains on the DVD Commentary, however, she couldn't sell it for another three years simply because Kaufman was so loathed by much of the public — an HBO representative even told her they had a "no Kaufman" policy. It finally saw the light of day in 1992, just as Kaufman was about to undergo a sympathetic boost in popularity thanks to the R.E.M. song "Man on the Moon".
  • Anna was completed in early 2018, but when accusations of sexual assault besieged Luc Besson amidst the #MeToo movement, the film was put on an indefinite hold. It did not receive a theatrical release until summer 2019, in the midst of a crowded holiday slate (Toy Story 4 opened that week among others) with very little spent on marketing (no press junkets or screenings for critics) despite opening on over 2,000 screens. The tell-tale sign of the half-hearted release was that the film had the previous Summit Entertainment Vanity Plate (the outline of a mountain in a blue square) instead of the current iteration introduced in 2018, fashioned after the "in the clouds" plate of parent company Lionsgate.
  • The coming-of-age drama All Summers End (which was previously titled Grass Stains) was made during the summer of 2013 but didn't get released until 2018. By then, lead actor Tye Sheridan had become a bona fide star with two high-profile blockbusters to his name.
  • Oren Peli's follow-up to Paranormal Activity, Area 51, was filmed in late 2009 but as of 2014, there's been no news of a U.S. release (though the film was scheduled to premiere in Brazil in November 2013, it didn't turn up Stateside). This is especially puzzling since the former grossed over $100 million and Peli has gone on to produce a number of profitable horror films (such as the sequels to Paranormal Activity, Insidious and Sinister). It eventually became available (sporadically) on Netflix.
  • Arsenic and Old Lace was filmed in 1941 but unreleased until 1944 due to contractual obligations stating that the film could not be released while the Broadway show on which it was based was still running.
  • The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford was shot in 2005, but wasn't released until 2007 because of squabbles between Director Andrew Dominik, who wanted an impressionistic, Terrence Malick-esque approach and executives at Warner Bros. who wanted a more action-packed movie. Eventually Brad Pitt, producer Ridley Scott and editors Dylan Tichenor, Curtis Clayton and Michael Kahn made and tested various recuts. It's currently unknown whose cut was picked for general release.
  • Ax 'Em was filmed in 1992 and shown a few times in Baltimore, but fell into obscurity until 2002, where it was released straight to video and DVD, where again it fell into obscurity until The Cinema Snob reviewed it.
  • The Anthony Hopkins and Chris Rock action-comedy Bad Company (2002) which featured terrorists plotting to blow up New York's Grand Central Station, was delayed due to the 9/11 attacks.
  • Bad Girls from Valley High, completed in 2000, spent so long on the shelf that by the time it came out in 2005, the production company (The Bubble Factory) had gone out of business and cast members Janet Leigh and Jonathan Brandis both passed away.
  • The classic Film Noir The Big Sleep was completed in 1944, but the studio shelved it in order to get through their backlog of war movies before WWII ended. This proved to be a very good thing. Before it was released in 1946, scenes were added to capitalize further on the obvious on-screen chemistry of Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall.
  • Big Trouble was set to open on September 21st, 2001 and had all of its prints ready for shipment when the 9/11 attacks occurred. Disney then delayed the film for seven months before quietly dumping it. This presumably happened because the climax involves the threat of a passenger plane being bombed, although the "terrorists" are really just crooks who stole a nuclear bomb without realizing what it was, and they accidentally turn it on while going through airport security. One of them falls into the ocean with the bomb, and no one else is harmed.
  • The slasher film Blood Rage was completed in 1983, but the film wasn't released until 1987, when an edited version titled Nightmare at Shadow Woods turned up in a few theaters. The original version was dumped to VHS the same year.
  • Blue Steel had its originally announced September 1989 release canceled due to Vestron's bankruptcy. MGM/UA wound up releasing the film six months later.
  • The Brain That Wouldn't Die was filmed in 1959, but ran into trouble finding a distributor and wasn't released until 1962.
  • Brenda Starr, the film version of the comic strip of the same name, was shot in 1986 but due to wrangles over distribution it didn't get a release anywhere until 1989, and didn't open in the U.S. until 1992.
  • Brooklyn's Finest was completed in 2008 and premiered at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival, the film underwent reshoots through its original distributor but after said reshoots, the distributor went under. After spending a few months in distribution limbo, Overture Films (now the distribution outlet for Relativity Media) bought the film at a bankruptcy auction for $2 million, released it in March 2010 (four months after the original Thanksgiving date) and made a tidy profit.
  • Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star was completed in 2009 but not released until 2011 due to poor test screenings and Columbia having little faith in it.
  • Buffalo Soldiers was originally intended to be released in late 2001, the movie was pushed back to 2003 after the September 11 attacks, as it was decided that a satire about the U.S. military would not go over well in the post-attack climate.
  • The infamous Caligula was completed in 1976, but wasn't released until 1979 due to various post-production problems.
  • Canadian Bacon was shot in 1993 and intended to be released by MGM, the film finally opened in 1995 with Gramercy Pictures as distributor (ironically, MGM got the rights back when they acquired the pre-1996 Polygram library).
  • The horror film Carnivore was completed in 1989 but didn't get released on video until 2000.
  • Case 39 was completed as far back as late 2006/early 2007, but it stayed in limbo until it finally got released in the UK, European, and Latin countries in August 2009, as well as a U.S. release in October 2010.
  • Brazilian movie Chatô is an amazing case, as it was mostly filmed in 1998 and 1999, but only got released in 2015 as in-between its director and production company were investigated for improper use of funds.
  • Chaos Walking (2021)'s reshoots were completed in May 2019 but the film wasn't released theatrically until early 2021, nearly two years later. The coronavirus pandemic may have influenced this decision, as many theatres had to close or otherwise had a significant dip in visitors in 2020; the pandemic was still ongoing when the movie finally was released, resulting in it skipping theatres entirely in some countries.
  • Chief Zabu, an indie political satire about a New York real estate developer who tries to take over a Polynesian island nation, was made in 1986 but never picked up for distribution despite the efforts of writers/directors Zack Norman (who also co-starred in the film) and Neil Cohen, with Norman taking out an ad in Variety for three years advertising the film (which became a Running Gag on Mystery Science Theater 3000). For a long time, it was assumed to be a lost film, with Norman, who owned the only copy, not sure if he even still had it in his possession. It was only in 2016 when, thanks to the Presidential run of Donald Trump (who the film's protagonist Ben Sydney was a No Celebrities Were Harmed version of), Norman and Cohen unearthed his old VHS copy of it in a storage unit and finally had it screened at the Monica Film Center in Los Angeles.
  • The Arnold Schwarzenegger film Collateral Damage which featured the main character's family getting killed in a terrorist bombing, was delayed due to the 9/11 attacks.
  • The Melissa McCarthy movie Cook Off! was finished in 2007, and remained unreleased until 2017.
  • The Dark Side of the Sun with Brad Pitt was shot in pre-war Yugoslavia during the summer of 1988. As editing neared completion civil war tore apart the region and much of the footage was lost. In 1996, after a five-year search, all of the lost footage was found and returned to producer Andjelo Arandjelovic, who worked on getting a distribution deal for the film, before it ended up getting released direct-to-video.
  • My Days of Mercy, a romance film starring Elliot Page and Kate Mara, was finished off in 2017 but has its release delayed until 2019 for unknown reasons.
  • The Dead Talk Back was filmed in 1957 but was abandoned after post-production and completely forgotten until 1993 when a copy was discovered in the old offices of its production company. Its first wide exposure came when it was featured as an "experiment" on Mystery Science Theater 3000!
  • Alec Baldwin's remake of The Devil and Daniel Webster was filmed in 2001 but a series of legal issues kept it out of theatres until July 2007, where a recut version (disowned by Baldwin) entitled Shortcut to Happiness played in a few regional markets in the East and South. This version has also appeared on Starz and Netflix but said legal issues have prevented a home video release.
  • The English dub of the South Korean animated film Dino Time was meant to be released theatrically in 2012, but these plans were cancelled, possibly fearing competition from better movies. It went straight to DVD in Australia in 2013, then in 2015 it got released on a Blu-Ray/DVD set in the US and retitled Back to the Jurassic while in the UK it was released on DVD only and retained the original title.
  • 88 Minutes was made in 2005, but got various release dates in 2007 overseas until it was released in the United States in April 2008.
  • Empires Of The Deep finished filming in late 2010 and was scheduled for a wide release in 2011. However, most likely in part due to its utterly massive amounts of Troubled Production and Executive Meddling from the project's conceptualizer and financier (a Chinese billionaire business mogul for whom this film was a blatant Vanity Project), it has failed to find a distributor even more than a decade later.
  • The Entity was filmed for a 1981 release but would not open internationally until late 1982 and in the US in February 1983 due to the original distributor going out of business.
  • Eyes of an Angel is a John Travolta indie vehicle made in 1990, when Travolta's career wasn't so healthy. The production company responsible for the film entered bankruptcy and the film was shelved until 1994, when Travolta made a big-time comeback with Pulp Fiction. Eyes of an Angel was then released directly to home video.
  • Paul Schrader shot his prequel to The Exorcist, but studio Morgan Creek had not much faith in it and instead ordered Renny Harlin to shoot his own version, 2004's Exorcist: The Beginning. Eventually Schrader's version was released as Dominion: Prequel To The Exorcist one year later.
  • The John Cusack horror film The Factory was shot in 2009 but studio politics led the film to be shelved until 2013, when it went straight-to-DVD.
  • The movie version of The Fantasticks was finished in 1995 but shelved after a few preview screenings. It got rushed out to a limited theatrical run five years later due to legal obligations.
  • The Errol Morris documentary Fast, Cheap and Out of Control was filmed in 1992 but for some reason didn't get a release until 1997.
  • The Final Terror was originally filmed in 1981, but it was shelved for two years until it was released to cash in on the sudden successes of Daryl Hannah and Adrian Zmed.
  • Fire On The Amazon was filmed in 1990 but not released until 1993 once Sandra Bullock started to become famous.
  • Fireflies In The Garden was finished in 2008 but not released until 2011.
  • Foxcatcher was filmed in 2012 but did not open until November 2014 (with a premiere at Cannes that May) as Sony did not like its chances in the 2013 Oscar race.
  • The Wesley Snipes western Gallowwalkers was shot in 2006, with reshoots done in 2009, but didn't premiere until late 2012 in London (partially due to Snipes's legal issues, which previously led to delays in the reshoots) and was released direct to DVD in 2013.
  • The ensemble comedy Get a Job from acclaimed indie-film director Dylan Kid was originally shot in 2012 and supposed to make appearances at several film festivals, but wound up being a no-show and it kept getting delayed. When asked on a podcast in 2014 when the film was coming out, Anna Kendrick said she had no idea; rumor had it that the delay was due to issues with management changes at CBS Films. Finally Lionsgate gave the film a limited theatrical/video-on-demand release in 2016.
  • A month before its scheduled release in theaters in June 2012, several months into an expensive marketing campaign and with warehouses full of toys ready for distribution, Paramount Pictures announced that it would be shelving the completed G.I. Joe: Retaliation until March 2013. This was supposedly so they could make a 3D conversion as well (along with adding more scenes with Channing Tatum, who was killed off early in the original cut, and who had become a big star in 2012 after 21 Jump Street, The Vow and Magic Mike). It was also rumored that the delay was caused by the weak domestic performance of Battleship (a fellow Hasbro property), and that the director of Retaliation didn't know the film was being delayed in the first place.
  • Gore, a biopic about Gore Vidal played by Kevin Spacey, had completed principal photography by the time Spacey's history of sexual misconduct surfaced in October 2017, prompting Netflix to sever ties with the actor and shelve the film for the foreseeable future. A year later, the script leaked online, revealing that the film portrays Vidal as grooming a younger man, which, given Spacey's own sex scandals combined with the recent political climate only makes the release of the film even more problematic.
  • The Sandra Bullock/George Clooney sci-fi drama Gravity was intended to be released for Thanksgiving 2012 and be Warner Bros.' big holiday movie (outside of the co-production of The Hobbit). However, the film's Troubled Production (due to many actors pulling out and the complex visual effects work causing delays), director Alfonso Cuaron's weak box office track record (his last sci-fi film, Children of Men, was a major box office disaster) and weak test screenings led the studio to shelve the film. It was released October 4, 2013, and did a $55.8 million opening. It went on to gross over $700 million, and win seven Academy Awards including Best Director.
  • The Greatest Story Ever Told began production in 1962 and was completed in 1963, but then went unreleased for another two years.
  • Eli Roth's The Green Inferno was completed in 2013 but delayed until 2015 due to Roth's legal issues with original distributor Open Road Films. Blumhouse Productions swooped in and saved the film.
  • The Jerry Lewis film Hardly Working was completed in 1979. After a successful 1980 European release 20th Century Fox picked it up and it opened in the U.S. in April 1981 to poor reviews. Still, it did surprisingly well at the box office. Lewis' sketch comedy movie Smorgasbord was shot over 1981-82 but not released anywhere until 1983, and then only direct-to-video in the U.S. as Cracking Up.
  • The sequel to Grizzly was partially filmed in 1983, but not completed or released until 2021, purely because some very young George Clooney, Laura Dern, and Charlie Sheen appear in it in minor roles.
  • Heavens Prisoners was filmed in 1994, but was shelved for two years until its release in May of 1996 when Savoy Pictures, the film's original distributor, went bankrupt and New Line Cinema eventually picked it up for distribution.
  • Hippie Hippie Shake was finished in 2007 but still has no release date planned. Some say it's because of the film's poor quality (though it did receive some good reviews at screenings), others say it's for insurance reasons due to Green Zone doing poorly and Universal not wanting to take a loss by releasing the film. Others believe that the real-life Germaine Greer (one of the central subjects of the film) had put the kibosh on the movie herself because she felt it was an inaccurate representation of her life.
  • Honey, We Shrunk Ourselves was released straight to video in 1997, but the end credits show that it was completed in 1996.
  • Rob Zombie's House of 1000 Corpses was finished in 2000 and originally bought by Universal, but they shelved it as they were afraid the film's content would garner an NC-17 rating, so Zombie had to buy back the rights himself and sold it to Lionsgate, who finally released the film in 2003.
  • The satirical thriller The Hunt was due for a September 2019 release when two back-to-back mass shootings took place in Texas and Ohio, respectively, in early August of that year. In the wake of the tragedies, Universal pulled advertising for the film. Not helping matters was the backlash over the premise, which is a quasi-remake of The Most Dangerous Game about rich "elitists" hunting down lower-class commoners for sport. An "unnamed source" told The Hollywood Reporter that the film's predators are politically liberal and the prey are conservatives. This information, combined with the GOP's general animosity towards "liberal" Hollywood, led to a outcry from right-wing media and then-President Donald Trump despite them never having seen the film.note  Ultimately, Universal shelved the film, but later released it on March 13, 2020.
  • I Love Lucy had a Compilation Movie produced in 1953, by linking together "The Benefit", "Breaking the Lease", and "The Ballet" with new bookends and transitions. However, it didn't immediately receive a public release, to avoid competition with another Lucille Ball/Desi Arnaz comedy, The Long, Long Trailer. After becoming lost for decades, it finally received a screening at a 2001 I Love Lucy convention, DVD releases in 2007 and 2010, and a Blu-Ray release in 2015.note 
  • The film I Love You Daddy, written, directed by, and starring Louis C.K., was originally set for a limited release on November 17, 2017, having attracted plenty of award-season buzz after being filmed in secret over the summer. However, it was pulled indefinitely by its distributor just a week before release after C.K. was accused of, and subsequently confessed to, multiple instances of sexual harassment and lewd behavior, which only made the already-controversial subject matter (a TV producer tries to stop an older filmmaker/sexual predator from sleeping with his teenage actress daughter) that much Harsher in Hindsight. The film has yet to legally see the light of day but surfaced online via bootleg not long after it was pulled.
  • Idiocracy finished filming in 2004 and was dated for August 6, 2005, but was pulled off of Fox's schedule before finally getting released in September 1, 2006.
  • The Interview, a Seth RogenJames Franco comedy about assassinating North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, just barely avoided becoming a victim of this trope. The film sparked outrage from North Korea almost immediately, with Pyongyang referring to it as an "act of war", and hackers (believed by the FBI to have been connected to North Korea, though some cyber-security experts believe it was an inside job from an ex-employee) attacked the servers of the film's studio, Sony Pictures, and released a mountain of emails and personal information. Then, cinema owners were sent an ominous message threatening terrorist attacks against cinemas that chose to screen the film. Sony originally left it up to cinema chains to decide for themselves, but when all five major chains backed out, Sony pulled the film's release. Many people (including President Barack Obama) felt that the decision was a mistake and accused Sony and the theaters of appeasing terrorists, and many petitions to Sony to show the film were created, with at least one gathering hundreds of signatures. The intense backlash persuaded Sony executives to change their minds and give the film a limited theatrical/VOD release on Christmas Day.
  • Invisible Mom was completed in 1995, but not released until 1997, and then only to VHS.
  • Iron Shadows was a low-budget adaptation of the public domain Conan the Barbarian story Iron Shadows in the Moon, starring Finnish hockey player Pasi Schalin as Conan. Production went smoothly in 2014 until it was discovered that producer George Tan — a shady online distributor of Bruce Lee films — had not sorted out complex rights issues with the then-current owner of the Conan property, Paradox Entertainment. Tan suddenly disappeared, Iron Shadows was put on the shelf despite being otherwise completed, and the film has lingered in limbo ever since. Bootleg versions can be viewed online, however.
  • Jason X was completed in 2000, but its release was delayed due to a management shakeup at New Line Cinema. By the time of its United States release on April 26, 2002, it had already been playing in a few European countries for several months and had been leaked to various online file-sharing sites.
  • Jupiter Ascending was completed in 2013, but wasn't released until two years later, in 2015. Warner Bros. claimed it was done to give the Wachowskis more time to do the effects and the Wachowksis didn't use that extra time to do reshoots, instead leaving it in stasis until Warner finally decided to release it.
  • Zack Snyder finished a cut out of compromise with executives with what he filmed for Justice League in early 2017. That seemingly wasn't enough for them and after Snyder's departure, Joss Whedon was hired to write and direct reshoots more to their liking. The resulting theatrical cut scrapped a lot of what Snyder filmed and ended up a Box Office Bomb, and the studio proceeded with the following DC Extended Universe movies without caring about Justice League any further. In 2020 though, after a persistent fan campaign, Zack Snyder's Justice League was announced. With scrapped footage including most of the initial cut Snyder submitted, none of the Whedon additions and new special effects, it released March 18, 2021 on HBO Max and PVOD.
  • The horror film Keep Watching starring Bella Thorne was shot in 2013, but it wasn't picked up for distribution until two years later by Screen Gems. They set a December 2, 2016, release date for the film and released a poster to boot. Not long later, they pulled it from their yearly schedule and aimed for a March 24, 2017, date instead. A short time later, they pulled the release again and finally a trailer popped up in August and the film got a release date for October 31.
  • Killing Winston Jones, the directorial debut of Joel David Moorenote  starring Richard Dreyfuss, was shot in 2012 and has been sitting completed for nearly a decade as of 2022. The film had already been sitting for nearly five years when numerous women made rape accusations against Danny Masterson in 2017, who plays a supporting role, which was probably the last nail in the coffin of the film ever being released.
  • The King's Daughter, based off the 1997 novel The Moon and the Sun by Vonda McIntyre, completed filming at the end of May 2014 with Focus Features distributing in the United States as The Moon and the Sun. Then on August 15, 2014, Paramount bought the U.S. distribution rights and announced a release date of April 10, 2015, then for some reason no trailers were released until three weeks before release, Paramount decided to cancel and later put the film on turnaround with Open Road Films buying the rights and retitled the film as The King's Daughter with no release date in sight.
    • New work was done on the film in 2020, with narration by Julie Andrews being added and Arclight Films picking up the rights. Then in late 2021, it was announced the rights now belonged to Gravitas Ventures, with a release date of January 2022.
  • American World War II propaganda film Know Your Enemy: Japan was scheduled for release on August 9, 1945, three days after the Hiroshima bomb and the same day as the Nagasaki bombing. Since Japan's impending surrender had made the film suddenly irrelevant, Douglas MacArthur ordered the film's release to be withdrawn, and it was never publicly shown until airing on PBS in 1977.
  • The Charlie Chaplin film Limelight was pulled from distribution after he was denied re-admittance to the United States for allegedly having Communist sympathies. Shot in 1952, it was finally released in the United States in 1972. It had already been released in Europe.
  • Little Fockers, the second sequel to Meet the Parents, was released in 2010, however it was filmed in late 2008/early 2009 (in fact, AOL News at the time had posted on-set photos of the film). Primarily the reason for the delay was due to Dustin Hoffman changing his mind about reprising his role (originally he opted not to), so the release date was pushed back so scenes with Hoffman's character Bernie could be filmed. The only thing that really sticks out related to the delay is Robert De Niro's character being shown using MySpace, a social networking site that had lost a good chunk of popularity to Facebook by 2010.
  • The Loft, Belgian director Erik Van Looy's remake of his own 2008 erotic mystery film, was completed in 2011 with Dark Castle Entertainment picking up the U.S. distribution rights with the intent of releasing through Warner Bros. in early-to-mid 2012. However, in April 2012, producer and Dark Castle co-head Joel Silver ended his deal with Warner, taking his studio and the film with him to Universal. The release date was pushed back several times by Universal over the next two years until August 29, 2014 was settled. However, Universal pulled the film from it's schedule two months before release. Dark Castle quietly erased its existence from its website, with Silver's name removed from credits. The film was eventually released in Belgium in October, after which Open Road Films picked up the U.S. distribution rights. It was finally released on January 30, 2015 to scathing reviews, bombed at the box office despite having a $15 million budget, and was pulled from most of the 1,841 theaters after two weeks.note 
  • The Long Good Friday was completed in 1979, but its release was delayed for a year due to a change in distributors. The film was originally produced by Lew Grade and was to be an ITC production, but he pulled the plug when he realised that the plot involved the IRA. It was then bought by George Harrison and released through Hand Made Films.
  • Lucky You was shot in 2005 and not released until 2007, where it flopped at the box office.
  • Marci X was completed in August 2002 but didn't get released until a year later (August 2003) where it opened to mostly negative reviews and did poorly at the box-office.
  • The Anna Paquin/Matt Damon drama Margaret was filmed in 2005 but because of a combination of lawsuits and the inability to deliver a final cut, didn't see a release until 2011. The released version (running a whopping 153 minutes) barely made it out of New York and Los Angeles and became one of the lowest-grossing releases in Fox history.
  • Yuri Kara's adaptation of The Master and Margarita was filmed in 1994 but released in 2011, six years after that other adaptation by Vladimir Bortko.
  • Me and Orson Welles premiered to great acclaim at the 2008 Toronto Film Festival, but was unable to secure a distributor despite the considerable buzz and the fact that they had Zac Efron and Claire Danes as the stars. It was eventually released to perhaps a dozen cinemas nationwide in November 2009 and almost promptly forgotten (its DVD release was even more delayed). Many fans claim that this piss-poor release strategy ended up robbing co-star Christian McKay of a well-deserved Oscar nomination for his performance as Orson Welles.
  • It's unclear how much Monster Trucks, a $115 million family comedy about a truck inhabited by a monster, spent actually being produced, given it started filming in 2014 and had complex visual effects of the sort that take years to finish. But the eventual product was a victim of the shelf, having its release date moved four times, ultimately settling for January 2017 — i.e. the very definition of a Dump Month.
  • Monty Python and the Holy Grail was released in 1975, but has a copyright date of 1974.
  • Movie 43 began production in 2009 and was intended to ready for a 2010 release. Then original distributor Overture Films sold the rights (and later had everything at the studio but the name sold) to Relativity Media, who continued to keep it in-and-out of production (missing a planned Spring 2012 date) until finally releasing it in 2013.
  • The Naked Witch was shot in 1960, copyrighted in 1961, but not released until 1964.
  • Night of the Ghouls was finished in 1959, but the infamously shoestring-budgeted Ed Wood could not even afford to have the film developed. Decades later, producer Wade Williams bought the rights to the film, paid the fees, and released it on video in 1984.
  • 9 Weeks sat on the shelf for a year after it was finished because the studio couldn't figure out how to market it, nor what they could cut to avoid an X rating.
  • Not Safe for Work (Joe Johnston's follow-up to Captain America: The First Avenger) had been finished since 2012 but was held from domestic theatrical release due to studio politics at Universal (the film was originally planned for theatrical release and then a straight-to-DVD release in April 2014). The film was then released to home video in May 2014.
  • The Nutcracker in 3D was filmed in 2007, but not released until 2010. The delay was partly to allow for the afterthought of converting it into a 3-D Movie. It received unanimously negative reviews and is a notorious box office bomb.
  • "O", the modern day retelling of Shakespeare's Othello, was originally supposed to be released in spring 1999, but then Columbine happened, and the thought of releasing a film which featured gun violence amongst high school students so soon afterwards was unthinkable, so the film didn't see the light of day until more than two years later in August 2001. This wound up helping the film, as during the two-year delay, Julia Stiles's profile skyrocketed as one of the hottest young stars in Hollywood, thanks to the 1-2 combo of 10 Things I Hate About You and Save the Last Dance, and was able to add a little more star power to the product upon release.
  • Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre was originally scheduled for the first quarter of 2022 amid COVID-related delays. And then the Russian invasion of Ukraine made it be pulled from schedule for feeling insensitive to issue a movie featuring Ukrainian henchmen. The movie hit international theaters in January 2023, while skipping North America until March.
  • Stephen Sommers' adaptation of the book Odd Thomas was finished in late 2011 (after financing issues briefly halted filming in mid 2011) but had difficulty in finding a distributor. When it finally did find one, the film got tied up in legal lawsuits as a result of the marketing department not promoting the film like they were supposed to, it eventually got a DVD release in 2014.
  • Old Dogs was made in 2007, but wasn't released until late 2009 because of two delays. First, after the death of Bernie Mac, who had a small part in it (this was the last film he ever worked on), in August of 2008, and again in early 2009 after the death of star John Travolta's son Jett.
  • Once Upon a Time in Mexico was finished in 2001 but the release was pushed back to 2003.
  • The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure was filmed in 2009, but wasn't released until 2012 in order for Kenn Viselmann to patent the film's interactive technology.
  • Principal production for Ophelia was completed on July 6th 2017 and the film premiered at Sundance on January 22, 2018, but it didn't receive a theatrical release until June 28, 2019, over a year after the premiere. It apparently took a while to find distributors; it didn't get a UK distributor until mid-August 2019 (nearly two months after the US).
  • Paris When It Sizzles was completed in 1962, but the studio didn't think much of it and shelved it until 1964 when it was released mainly to cash in on the success of another Paris-set movie starring Audrey Hepburn, Charade.
  • The Tyler Perry-produced Peeples was shot in 2010 but wasn't released until 2013.
  • Chuck Jones's adaptation of The Phantom Tollbooth was completed in 1968, but internal shakeups at MGM caused it to be shelved until 1970, when it was released under the studio's "Children's Matinees" umbrella.
  • Phone Booth was completed in 2000 and got delayed in post-production, it was supposed to be released in 2002, but was delayed until 2003 because of the Beltway Snipers rampage.
  • Plan 9 from Outer Space was completed in 1956, but couldn't find a distributor until 1959. That is nowhere near as bad as what happened to Ed Wood's follow-up, Night of the Ghouls, which didn't see the light of day until 1987. The reason? Wood couldn't pay to have the film developed and it was withheld by the lab.
  • The Sarah Michelle Gellar film Possession (a remake of the South Korean film Addicted) was filmed in 2007 and scheduled for a theatrical release in winter 2008, but the film's distribution company ended up going bankrupt, which caused the release date to get pushed back nearly a dozen times until it was finally released Direct to Video in March 2010 (and given the lackluster reviews, it's probably for the best).
  • Pride and Glory was shelved for two years before getting a release date in 2008.
  • Project Almanac was filmed in 2013 with a planned February 28, 2014 release date. However, Paramount delayed it a few weeks before its scheduled release. The film was then released on January 2015 (and it underwent a title change. Prior to the delay, the original title was Welcome to Yesterday).
  • The Prophecy was completed in 1993, but wasn't released until September 1995.
  • Radio Flyer was originally intended as Columbia's big summer 1991 release — odd in hindsight given its B-level cast, lack of big special effects and grim subject matter for a family film. The release date was constantly shuffled due to reshoots, production delays, and finally bad test screenings. Eventually, the film was quietly released in February 1992 and was a critically-savaged Box Office Bomb.
  • Raise the Titanic! was finished in 1978 but not released until 1980.
  • A Real Young Girl (French: Une vraie jeune fille) by Catherine Breillat was produced in 1976 but because of its graphic depiction of sexuality (including Charlotte Alexandra exposing her vulva), it has been banned in many countries and was not released to theaters until 2000.
  • The Catherine Zeta-Jones film The Rebound was completed in 2009 and was released to theaters in almost every country except the U.S., then it finally got released to Amazon in February 2012.
  • Red Tails suffered in Development Hell from the '80s until 2007, and even after it was in the can and ready to go in 2010, it took another couple years before George Lucas could find a distributor willing to take it. The reason Lucas gave for both the decades-long hell and this trope was that the cast was mostly black. Other sources claim that Lucas was demanding an unreasonably large portion of the international grosses as part of the deal.
  • Renegades, a $75 million action film directed by Steven Quale, completed filming in 2015 and was going to be released on July 15, 2016, but the release has been pushed back multiple times and was going to be released on September 1, 2017, but due to the commercial failure of Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets and financial problems in July, Europacorp decided to shelve the U.S. release to an undetermined date. It was eventually been released in international markets with horrible box office results, only gaining $2,602,149. The film eventually got a U.S. release on December 21, 2018, albeit dumped to VOD.
  • Repo Men was finished in 2008 but not released until 2010.
  • Rings, the second sequel to The Ring, had scheduling problems. The film was shot between March and June 2015 and originally scheduled to be released on November 13, 2015. The film was pulled from the schedule two months before it was supposed to come out, and rescheduled for April 1, 2016. A month before that date, it was pushed back to October 28, 2016. A month before it was supposed to come out, it was delayed once again, this time to February 3, 2017.
  • Robot Jox was shot in 1987 but not released until the end of 1990 because of the bankruptcy of Empire Pictures, the original distributor.
  • Run Ronnie Run (the Mr. Show movie) was completed in 2001 but shelved until 2003, when it was released Direct to Video due to New Line Cinema losing faith in the film.
  • Same Kind of Different as Me completed filming in December 2014 and had a release date for April 29, 2016 but Paramount decided to push back the date to February 3, 2017 a month before release. Then on December 30, 2016, Paramount decided to place the film on turnaround and Pure Flix Entertainment picked up distribution rights and was released on October 20, 2017.
  • Serena was the second of the unofficial Jennifer Lawrence/Bradley Cooper quadrillogy to be filmed, preceded by Silver Linings Playbook and followed by American Hustle and Joy (2015). It was the third to come out (in 2014 in Europe, the following year in the US).
  • Seventh Son was filmed in early 2012 for release in 2013. Then the visual effects studio went bankrupt. They were paid off to complete their work anyhow, but a 3D conversion and the severance of a relationship between distributor Warner Bros. and the production company (and thus the switch to Universal) delayed the eventual American release to February 2015 (though it had come out a couple of months earlier in some international markets).
  • Shane was completed in 1951, but it wasn't released until two years later due to extensive re-editing.
  • The John Cusack and Chow Yun-fat film Shanghai was finished in 2008, but was delayed from getting released anywhere until 2010, when it was released in China and other countries, and was finally released in the US in 2015.
  • John Hughes' She's Having a Baby was intended to be ready for a Summer 1987 release but wasn't released until February 1988 due to the director having post-production issues with Planes, Trains and Automobiles and him being unable to concentrate on editing two films at one time.
  • According to a Tumblr post from Brad Jones, his film Shot on Shitteo, the very definition of a Troubled Production, has now, after being completed during pre-production for his following film Jesus, Bro! (which was released April 14, 2017), has become subject to this trope, with Jones having no plans one way or the other on releasing the film.
  • The college comedy Slackers was completed in 2000 but didn't get released until 2002.
  • A Sound of Thunder was completed in 2002, but delayed for three years due to flooding in Prague where the film was shot, as well as Franchise Pictures going bankrupt.
  • Disney's live-action comedy Superdad was made in 1971, but was shelved until it was released, only to flop, in 1973.
  • Super Size Me 2: Holy Chicken!, the follow-up to Morgan Spurlock's critique of the fast food industry, this time focusing on chicken, premiered at TIFF and was picked up by YouTube Red. Unfortunately in December 2017, Spurlock committed career suicide by confessing to past acts of sexual misconduct on Twitter. As a result, YouTube dropped the film and it was pulled from a planned screening at Sundance. Eventually, Samuel Goldwyn Films, co-distributor of the original, picked it up, and the film came out in September 2019.
  • The Swimmer starring Burt Lancaster was completed in 1966, but wasn't released for another two years.
  • Take Me Home Tonight was finished in 2007, but was delayed until 2011 due to the studio being uncomfortable with the scenes depicting drug use.
  • Takers was completed in 2008 (originally under the title "Bone Deep"), but didn't get released until 2010.
  • Terror at Black Falls was filmed in 1959, but wasn't released until 1962.
  • THX 1138 was completed in 1969 but not released until 1971 due to squabbling with the studio.
  • Tony 'n' Tina's Wedding, a film adaptation of the popular "immersive theatre"/improv play (with Mila Kunis and Joey McIntyre in the title roles) was filmed in 2004 and debuted to an indifferent reception at the Tribeca Film Festival that year. It finally got a limited theatrical release at the end of 2007.
  • Touch and Go was completed in 1984 but not released until two years later.
  • Trick 'r Treat was supposed to get a theatrical release in October 2007, but it ended up getting pushed back and dumped directly to DVD two years later.
  • The found-footage sci-fi horror film UFO Abduction has one of the strangest stories on this list. It was intended for a Direct to Video release in 1989, but a fire at the distribution warehouse destroyed nearly all copies of the film and the master print, and it was presumed lost. However, a few bootlegs, stripped of the opening and closing credits denoting it as a work of fiction, survived and found their way into the ufologist community in the early '90s, whereupon the film was mistaken for a real account of an Alien Abduction and came to be known as "the McPherson tape". The film's cult status as an underground hit on the Conspiracy Theorist circuit led to a made-for-TV remake in 1998 titled Alien Abduction: Incident in Lake County, and writer/director Dean Alioto finally got it a proper home video release in 2018. The truly bizarre story of its release, however, simply built up its mystique, and to this day, there are people who claim that Alioto's story and Incident in Lake County are a case of Fiction as Cover-Up.
  • Ultraviolet (2006) finished filming in 2004, but didn't come out until March 2006.
  • Underwater was filmed in 2017, but was kept on the shelf by 20th Century Fox for a couple years. After Disney bought the studio, it finally received a date for January 2020.
  • View from the Top was supposed to be released in late 2001, but was delayed until 2003 due to studios being uncomfortable releasing a film that made fun of flight attendants years after the 9/11 terror attacks.
  • The War With Grandpa was filmed and produced in 2017 and was intially scheduled to be released in 2018, but Harvey Weinstein's rape allegations lead to the film being pulled from the schedule. It wouldn't be until October 2020 when the film would finally see the light of day.
  • Warcraft finished filming mid-2014, was scheduled for December 2015 but delayed to Summer 2016 to avoid competition with Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
  • Warlock (1989) was finished in 1988, but shelved for two years following financial difficulties at New World Pictures (although like The Punisher (1989), which was also affected, it did get released on schedule outside North America). Trimark eventually picked it up and gave it a limited release in 1991.
  • The Warrior's Way was completed in 2008 but not released until 2010.
  • Found Footage horror film Wer was shot in 2012, but it got delayed by its distributor FilmDistrict for unknown reasons. Following the company's closure, the film ended up with Focus Features and they released it straight to DVD in September 2014.
  • Samuel Fuller's racism drama White Dog was filmed in 1981 but Paramount shelved it due to uneasiness over the film's content and it would not be released until it was quietly sneaked onto the Lifetime network (of all places) in 1987. The film would not see a home video release until 2010, when The Criterion Collection released it on DVD.
  • Whiteout was completed in 2007, but didn't get released until September 2009, where it received negative reviews and poor box office returns.
  • You're Next was filmed in 2011 and had a very well-received premiere at the Toronto Film Festival that September (the film's resulting bidding war would later influence the festival to go for a more youth-oriented style in future years). After Lionsgate won the bid, they announced a Fall 2012 opening with a large-scale release. However, Lionsgate buying Summit Entertainment and a bad test screening (director Adam Wingard's handheld shooting style has done well with festival audiences but American audiences haven't been keen on it) led Lionsgate to shelve the film and push it back to August 2013.
  • Due to the highly contagious COVID-19 Pandemic, many movies scheduled for release in 2020 and later have been delayed, some indefinitely, since going to a movie theater basically entails having dozens of total strangers to sit in close proximity for a two to three hour stretch. This left quite a few big-budget tentpole films such as Mulan, Wonder Woman 1984, No Time to Die, Black Widow, Top Gun: Maverick, The King's Man, Ghostbusters: Afterlife etc... in an unusual position of being completed but unable to be released. The aftermath varied from coming out solely on streaming services (Mulan, which had held its world premiere and was first exclusively for a "premium access" fee on Disney+), pushed to the second semester when a number of theaters had reopened (Tenet), downright delayed to the following year (such as A Quiet Place Part II, which even had held its world premiere and would hit theaters the exact week theaters were closed). WarnerMedia opted to use a mix of one-month streaming on HBO Max and theatrical release at the same time for such films (Wonder Woman 1984, Godzilla vs. Kong, Dune and some others, along with Warner Bros.' entire 2021 release slate). Disney opted to mix the theatrical release along with the Premium Access for its delayed to 2021 releases (Raya and the Last Dragon, Cruella, and the aforementioned Black Widow) so that they profit either way, though they have since launched a 45-days theatrical window for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings and further movies before having them go to streaming.

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