7 Completed Movies That Went Unreleased For Years

These Movies Were Finished... and Then Sat on a Shelf

Though it was originally supposed to be released in Summer 2015, the heist comedy Masterminds finally hits theaters on September 30, 2016. The year-plus release delay was a result of the movie's production company, Relativity Media, filing for bankruptcy. The release postponement of Masterminds created an unusal situation – the movie features Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones, and Kate McKinnon, who also starred together in 2016’s Ghostbusters. However, even though Masterminds is being released after Ghostbusters, Masterminds was actually shot first – back in July 2014!

While a movie being released 26 months after it was shot may seem like a long delay, it’s not uncommon for a movie’s release to be pushed back for a variety of reasons. However, there have been a handful of films that had a much, much longer road to being released. In some cases, a studio behind the film is unable to release the film because of financial reasons, and in other cases the studio simply just doesn't have faith in the quality of the film and doesn't know what to do with it.

These are seven films that sat on a shelf for three or more years before they were finally released.

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Red Dawn (3 Years)

Red Dawn

There were two reasons why the release of the remake of Red Dawn, which was shot in 2009 but not released until 2012, was delayed. First, the studio behind the film, MGM, had financial troubles and could not afford to release the film on its original November 2010 release date. FilmDistrict eventually bought the rights to release the film

Second— and more humorously— the film had a lengthy post-production process in order to digitally change the antagonists from Chinese to North Korean so the film could potentially be released in China (it never was). In the meantime, star Chris Hemsworth became a big name because of Thor (2011) and The Avengers (2012). Regardless, Red Dawn received awful reviews and did poorly at the box office.

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Take Me Home Tonight (4 Years)

Take Me Home Tonight
Rogue Pictures

In February 2007, a film set in 1988 titled Young Americans starring Topher Grace and Anna Faris went into production. Though the movie was completed on schedule, Universal didn't release the film. It went unreleased until Rogue Pictures purchased the rights to the film—now titled Take Me Home Tonight —and released it March 2011.

Why the delay? Even though it was a teenage comedy, the movie features characters doing cocaine— in interviews, star Topher Grace expressed that he believed that Universal got cold feet about releasing it because of the drug use. When it finally was released, it got mostly negative reviews and bombed in theaters.

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A Thousand Words (4 Years)

A Thousand Words
Paramount Pictures

When director Brian Robbins and star Eddie Murphy shot A Thousand Words in 2008, the pair already had released the hit film Norbit. However, the duo's next film, Meet Dave, came out at the end of 2008 and was a box office bomb. Around that time, DreamWorks and Paramount split and A Thousand Words got lost in the shuffle not only because of the studio changes, but also because Meet Dave was such a bomb.

Paramount did some reshoots in early 2011, but the film wasn't released that year either. When it finally made it into theaters in March 2012, it "earned" a rare 0% on Rotten Tomatoes and bombed at the box office.

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Get a Job (4 Years)

Get a Job
CBS Films

Get a Job is a comedy shot in March 2012 about college graduates trying to find work. However, by the time it was released in 2016, star Anna Kendrick was about ten years older than the typical college graduate. Despite Kendrick, Miles Teller, and Bryan Cranston starring in the film, when it finally was released in March 2016 it received very poor reviews.

It appears that CBS Films didn't have much faith in the film because despite the stellar cast it essentially went straight-to-VOD.

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Don’s Plum (6 years)

Don's Plum
Zentropa Entertainment

Technically, Don’s Plum has never been released in the United States or Canada... and stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire want to keep it that way.

The duo shot this low-budget indie film in 1995 about a group of teenagers who regularly meet at a diner. Unhappy with the finished product, DiCaprio and Maguire did not want the film to be released and have spent the last 20 years blocking its U.S. release. However, the film did screen in Europe, Japan, Mexico, and several other countries in 2001. Producer Dale Wheatley has tried repeatedly to release the film in the United States, but it has yet to be legally available in the U.S. or Canada.

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Margaret (6 years)

Fox Searchlight Pictures

In 2005, director Kenneth Lonergan shot Margaret, a drama about a disillusioned New York City teen who witnesses a fatal accident starring Anna Paquin, Matt Damon, Mark Ruffalo, and Kieran Culkin. Lonergan and Fox Searchlight Pictures argued over the length of the movie—Lonergan's cut ran 186 minutes, while Fox Searchlight demanded that Margaret be no longer than 150 minutes. Even Martin Scorsese and his longtime editor Thelma Schoonmaker lent their hands to work out a compromise, but their 165 minute cut was not released either.

After lengthy legal battles, Fox Searchlight released a 150 minute cut in September 2011. In July 2012, Lonnergan's 186 minute version was released on DVD. Both versions of the film received very positive reviews and Paquin won some (belated) Best Actress awards.

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Accidental Love (7 years)

Accidental Love
Millennium Entertainment

Acclaimed director David O. Russell began shooting a comedy title Nailed in April 2008 starring Jessica Biel, Jake Gyllenhaal, Catherine Keener, James Marsden and Tracy Morgan. Capitol Productions, the company behind the film, faced financial issues because of the Great Recession and production was repeatedly shut down. Russell eventually quit the film because of the turmoil, and in 2010, production shut down on the film, seemingly for good.

Millennium Entertainment bought the rights to Nailed in 2014 and finally released it under the title of Accidental Love in the United States in February 2015. The Directors Guild of America allowed Russell to remove his name from the film since some scenes had been shot without him and because he didn't have anything to do with assembling the final cut (he is credited as “Stephen Greene”). Unsurprisingly, the film received terrible reviews.