There are so many properties that studios purchase, whether it’s a video game series or a popular novel. But most of the time, they never see the light of day. Other times, years down the line, when movie pundits have completely forgotten the movie was ever in development, an old property comes out of the woodwork and shockingly gets a release.
So many movies have been stuck in development hell over the decades, and when they do finally get a release, sometimes the production problems are visible on the screen. But they can also, against all odds, become one of the greatest movies of the year of its release. For better or worse, these movies had a tired and storied development process.
10 Jurassic World (2015)
The fourth movie of the series struggled to get off the ground since Jurassic Park III in 2001. Spielberg reportedly came up with the idea of Jurassic World while on-set of the third movie and several writers got to work on penning a script.
But as there were so many different screenplays of the idea circulating Hollywood, including one from The Departed writer William Monahan. It wasn’t until Colin Trevorrow signed on as director years later that a proper story was ironed out, even if there were still a lot of things the movie got wrong.
9 The Irishman (2019)
Being one of the times an actor came out of retirement for the perfect role, Joe Pesci returned to the big screen for the first time in over a decade - which is just the same amount of time Scorsese spent trying to get The Irishman off the ground.
The production of The Irishman took more than 10 years, with it originally being planned to have younger actors play the younger versions of the characters. But as the de-aging technology worked brilliantly in the movie. It might have worked better for the movie that it was stuck in development hell.
8 Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
Mad Max: Fury Road has quite possibly the most unfortunate development. Even when the movie was greenlit and everyone (from the director to the studio, to the stars) were on the same page, there would be a huge disaster that would throw a spanner in the works.
The movie was scheduled to shoot in 2001, but it was halted due to 9/11. It was then scheduled to film in the Australian desert years later, but the location was ruined by rainfall, and the problems just kept building. And history repeats itself as Mad Max 5 is seemingly struggling to get off the ground too. Since there are many characters the audience wants to see return, the fans are hoping all the problems can be ironed out.
7 Sonic The Hedgehog (2020)
Sonic The Hedgehog is one of the movies that many fans had low expectations of. However, it turned out to be amazing. There were just one or two problems that arose with the release of the trailer. The reception to the design of Sonic was abysmal, which led to animators rapidly changing the design last minute.
But the problems were happening as far back as the 90s since the movie has been in the works since 1994. It was even passed around by studios, with Dreamworks Animations turning its back on the IP.
6 Tomb Raider (2018)
Rebooting one of the worst video game movies of the 2000s turned out harder than the studio initially thought. There were some pipe dreams revolving around the reboot of the series after Angelina Jolie retired from the role, and those dreams stalled the remake getting developed.
The studio thought that they could create an expanded universe for Tomb Raider that included other video game IPs such as Just Cause, Hitman, and Deus Ex. These ideas were abandoned and a more regular reboot was released in 2018.
5 Watchmen (2009)
It took 20th Century Fox 22 years to release the movie from initially buying the rights in 1987. The biggest hindrance the movie had was its budget, as even in the 90s, it required $100 million. However, producer Joel Silver could only afford a quarter of that.
Many different directors were attached to the project throughout the years including Paul Greengrass and Darren Aronofsky. As Watchmen finally landed on Zack Snyder’s desk, it got a release in 2009, and it ended up being the best Zack Snyder movies.
4 Alien vs. Predator (2004)
The fact that Alien vs. Predator was the subject of development hell for over a decade is clear as soon as viewers turn on the movie. Although there are some incredibly interesting and unique concepts in the movie, it’s obviously a case of too many cooks in the kitchen.
It was originally planned to be released shortly after Predator 2 in 1993, but since then, the script had so many rewrites and false starts, leading to the final result in 2004.
3 Uncharted (2021)
Initially, Mark Wahlberg, who has been attached to the project since 2010, was going to be playing Drake and he even hinted at Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci being involved too. However, in 2016, he later dropped out which gave Tom Holland the opportunity to step into the role.
2 Alita: Battle Angel (2019)
20th Century Fox had been trying to make a movie adaptation of Alita: Battle Angel ever since the early 2000s. The project had switched hands so many times and, at one point, James Cameron was even attached to direct.
Although that didn’t end up happening, he did pen the screenplay for the end result, with Robert Rodriguez in the director’s chair. When it was finally released, the movie underperformed at the box office, which was a shame since it had a $200 million budget.
1 Deadpool (2016)
The movie had a long and storied development up to the point where it finally got made. Ever since the infamous Deadpool feature in X-Men Origins: Wolverine - in which Wade’s mouth was sewn shut - the disastrous portrayal massively halted the future Deadpool project.
After Ryan Reynolds leaked test footage for a potential movie on to the internet, there was a huge upheaval from the fan base, which finally led to Fox green-lighting the movie.
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