'Batgirl' Isn't The First Completed Movie To Get Shelved
This week, the world of entertainment was shocked by Warner Bros. Discovery's decision to just not release the already finished Batgirl movie -- not on HBO Max, not straight to Blu-Ray, and not even as limited edition LaserDiscs. A whole-ass $90 million film featuring actual movie stars is getting thrown into a drawer indefinitely, reportedly because the studio thinks it's more valuable as a tax write-off.
While this turn of events is infuriating for superhero fans and anyone who sees movies as more than just numbers on an Excel spreadsheet, it's not exactly unprecedented. Finished movies are shelved from time to time, sometimes because the people involved are embarrassed and sometimes with no explanation. It happened to Marlon Brando's last movie role and first voice-over performance ever, Big Bug Man, which also starred Batgirl's Brendan Fraser. The movie seemed to vanish from this mortal plane shortly after Brando did, even though he completed his part and was so passionate about the project that he dressed up as his character (an old lady) while recording his lines.
And just this year, Operation Fortune: Ruse the Guerre, a Guy Ritchie movie starring Jason Statham, Aubrey Plaza, Josh Harnett, Hugh Grant, Cary Elwes, and several exploding vehicles (meaning: this was probably not cheap not make), had its release pushed from January to March and then from March to, uh, never, apparently?
The studio didn't provide any reasons for pulling the movie off the schedule, but it's possible they simply realized it's basically The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent with Harnett instead of Nicolas Cage and therefore automatically inferior.
Sometimes, the reasons do exist, but they're just ridiculous. The Debtors, a 1999 movie starring the unlikely pair of Michael Caine and Randy Quaid and directed by Quaid's wife, had its release blocked by a backer who reportedly objected to a scene involving a "squirting rubber penis" (most people backing a Randy Quaid movie would object to it not having a squirting rubber penis).
There's also Frank Stallone's The Good Life from 1997, blocked after his brother Sylvester found out a short cameo he recorded as a favor was being used to make it look like he was the star. He reacted by suing them for what he usually charges to star in a movie, $20 million, which was four times the budget.
And other times, the reasons for shelving a movie are more understandable. Kevin Spacey's Gore Vidal biopic, Gore, was canceled despite being completely shot after he was accused of serious sexual misconduct (by people who, we'll remind you, keep dying). Now, we're not saying everyone should throw their Usual Suspects and K-Pax DVDs into the trash, but this movie might be a special case because it doesn't just star Kevin Spacey -- it stars Kevin Spacey having graphic sex with very young men or, as his character calls them in the script, "little boys," not always with clear consent. Still, it's possible someone might be able to watch this movie without retching in, say, the year 3145 or so.
We're not sure if the same can be said about I Love You, Daddy, Louis C.K.'s long-awaited follow-up to Pootie Tang, about a 70-year-old film director who seduces a 17-year-old girl (but it's okay because "everybody's a pervert"). This was already a creepy premise before C.K. himself was ousted as a prolific perv, and it didn't help that he was very open about offering the director role to his friend Woody Allen before Allen was like, "do you want us both to be arrested, you moron?" It's kinda hard to fault the distributor for deciding they wanted nothing to do with this after a single screening.
There was also Bill Cosby 77, a Netflix special intended to celebrate the beloved comic's 77th birthday while letting him pontificate about "children, the bonds of matrimony, and romantic associations between individuals." The special was "postponed" when several women accused or re-accused Cosby of sexual assault. Eight years later, the scandal still shows no signs of blowing over like Netflix apparently hoped, so they're probably gonna have to write this one off. Maybe they could pair it with I Love You, Daddy and whatever Woody Allen's doing now as Canceled Comic Cavalcade?
Thumbnail: Warner Bros. Pictures, Circus King Productions