The recent merger of Warner Bros. and Discovery has already transformed the entertainment industry. As the companies’ streaming services, HBO Max and Discovery+, combine, HBO Max has canceled a slew of its original series, and on August 2nd, Warner Bros. shelved its planned Batgirl film despite the $90 million project already being filmed.
HBO Max had originally planned to introduce a slew of streaming-exclusive DC Extended Universe films, but according to The Hollywood Reporter, new Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav opted to kill Batgirl and take the tax write-off instead. Zaslav plans to switch the company’s strategy completely and revert back to producing streaming films for a much smaller budget.
Killing an expensive film in post-production seems like a shocking waste of money, but Batgirl isn’t the first movie to be canceled after filming. We rounded up 10 other films that studios decided weren’t worth releasing, mostly because they just weren’t very good.
David O. Russell sought out to direct Jessica Biel, Jake Gyllenhaal, Catherine Keener, James Marsden, Tracy Morgan, and James Brolin in the romantic comedy Nailed in 2008, but by 2010, he quit the project after it was repeatedly stalled due to financial difficulties. Eventually, the movie was completed without Russell’s involvement and released as Accidental Love in 2015, but despite its all-star cast, it wasn’t a slam-dunk. As the Chicago Sun-Times opined, “The satire is broad and forced and unfunny, there’s no cadence to the setups and visual punch lines, and the likable cast is hopelessly lost.” Refusing to be associated with the project, Russell is credited under the pseudonym “Stephen Greene.”
Uncle Tom’s Fairy Tales: The Movie for Homosexuals
The name says it all, doesn’t it? Filmed in 1968 by then-film student Penelope Spheeris (who went on to direct The Decline of Western Civilization and Wayne’s World), Uncle Tom’s Fairy Tales: The Movie for Homosexuals starred Richard Pryor in a satire in which the Black Panthers kidnap a white man and put him on trial for every racist crime in American history. Legend has it that Pryor and his then-wife Shelley Bonis got into an argument at a screening of the film and Pryor ripped up the negative, though Spheeris later found a surviving clip of the film in her archives and donated it to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 2005.
Empires of the Deep
The pet project of Chinese real estate tycoon Jon Jiang, Empires of the Deep was an action-adventure fantasy film co-produced in China and America that cost $130 million to make. Following the eight mermaid kingdoms as they fight to maintain control of the ocean, the film came as far as releasing a trailer in 2012 — which was then mocked mercilessly. The actual movie never arrived.
Adapted from Gregory Mcdonald’s novel The Brave, Johnny Depp’s directorial debut starred the white actor as an impoverished Native American man, so we probably didn’t miss much from its canned release. Variety called the 1997 film “overlong and unexciting” and noted that “There’s no specificity or authenticity to the characters; they’re simply generic modern Indians, which understandably could be taken as exploitative or insulting.” Due to its negative reception, Depp declined to give the project a proper bow.
A Bad Situationist
The brainchild of writer-director Sam Seder and featuring David Cross, Sarah Silverman, Jon Benjamin, Marc Maron, Janeane Garofalo, Todd Barry, Jon Glaser, and Brendon Small, A Bad Situationist was a 2008 political satire that just didn’t land. Set in May 2001, the film centered around Arthur Lieberman, the unemployed son of Senator Joe Lieberman, as he starts a salon for intellectuals. Soon enough, however, he meets a group of radical orthodox Jewish postal workers who encourage him to commit acts of violence.
Big Bug Man
Starring Brendan Fraser and Marlon Brando (in his last known film), Big Bug Man follows Howard Kind (Fraser), a candy factory employee who gains special abilities after being bitten by insects. Brando was asked to play Kind’s boss, Nicholas Dunderbeck, but the veteran actor thought it would be more fun to voice the woman Mrs. Sour instead, and even wore full drag as he recorded his lines in his home. The film was supposed to be released in the mid-aughts, but it never arrived.
Gods Behaving Badly
Alicia Silverstone, Christopher Walken, and Sharon Stone are among the names featured in producer Marc Turtletaub’s directorial debut, but they couldn’t save Gods Behaving Badly from itself. Based on Marie Phillips’ 2007 satirical novel, the film imagines the Greek Gods as real, selfish beings who live together in New York City and terrorize the humans below them. The film premiered at the 2013 Rome Film Festival and received a scathing review from The Hollywood Reporter, never to make a peep again.