Fantastic Four

Hollywood runs on hype — from a project’s earliest conception to its world premiere and beyond, the entire movie industry depends on getting audiences as pumped as possible for their blockbuster product while threading the needle between overlooked gems and overhyped films. In fact, there’s an industry within the industry, filled with people whose jobs depend on getting the word out: marketing offices, production offices, PR people, and hundreds of other individuals are instrumental when it comes to letting audiences know about an upcoming movie.

Unfortunately, the folks whose job it is to market and hype up a film aren’t always on the same page as the people tasked with actually making a movie. Announcements are made, interviews are given, and all of a sudden, the film just up and disappears from the studio’s release schedule. It can happen for all sorts of surprising reasons, but regardless, all we’re left with is the disappointment of knowing we’ll never get to see the movie we were promised. Here’s a look at some overhyped films that quietly disappeared from the release schedule.

Dark Universe

The Mummy

The Dark Universe will no doubt go down in Hollywood history as a prime example of the high risk a studio runs of being embarrassed by overhyped films. In an attempt to mirror the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s interwoven narratives (and massive box office success), Universal Studios looked to their own crossover-worthy characters — classic monsters like Dracula, the Wolfman, and so on. While it wouldn’t be the first time Universal had made crossover movies, the ideas behind this new franchise seemed to borrow more from superhero and action movies than the gothic influences of their early 1900s forebears.

Universal even invested in a special "Dark Universe" logo to introduce films that would take place in this universe. Unfortunately, despite all-star casting like Tom Cruise in The Mummy and Johnny Depp as the Invisible Man, the Dark Universe derailed when The Mummy bombed at the box officeBride of Frankenstein was taken off of Universal’s schedule, and, despite a massive launch announcement with a Photoshopped lineup of the stars (and rumors that Angelina Jolie would play the bride of Frankenstein), the architects of the Dark Universe have since departed to other projects. It looks like the real dark universe was ours, all along.

Divergent: Ascendant

Divergent: Ascendant

It’s common knowledge that sequels are an easy way to make money in Hollywood; there’s usually already an existing fan base and audience interest, which can make it easier to drum up the kind of box office returns that movies increasingly seem to need to break even. While that might be the general understanding, that line of thinking ignores movies that don’t get more popular with each installment. For every Marvel movie where each new installment seems to break new box office records, there are plenty of would-be franchises that petered out before finishing their run.

The Divergent franchise is one of those unfortunate examples. An adaptation of best-selling young adult novels, the series followed a group of kids in a dystopian future where your place in life is decided by a psychological test. While the first two movies managed to make respectable returns, the third film in the series, Allegiant, underperformed so badly that the final movie, Ascendant, was quietly shelved by Lionsgate. While there’s still possible talks about the unmade movie appearing as a television special, series lead Shailene Woodley herself has said that she wouldn’t be interested in returning to the franchise on the small screen.

World War Z 2

World War Z

Even when all the stars seem to align for a project, that doesn’t necessarily make for an easy production. World War Z was a bestseller by Max Brooks, son of the legendary Mel Brooks, with a passionate fanbase and one extremely powerful supporter in Hollywood: actor Brad Pitt, who optioned the movie through his production company, Plan B, after a bidding war against Leonardo DiCaprio’s Appian Way. Unfortunately, all that press and expensive bidding lead to a project that would go through four writers, a producer, a visual effects artist, multiple edits, and an entire re-shot third act sequence. That the movie was able to premiere to a solid half-billion box office worldwide was a stroke of luck, considering the litany of behind-the-scenes drama that leaked out to the press during production.

As it was, the drama may have been too much to gamble for a second time; the sequel, World War Z 2, was quietly removed from Paramount’s release schedule in 2017, and a planned 2018 shoot was bumped back to accommodate Pitt’s schedule. This may all be for the best — the movie, though popular enough to earn back its budget and then some, received middling reviews from critics while fans of the original text were upset to find that the adaptation made wholesale changes to the storytelling. Still, World War Z has gone down in history as the most profitable zombie movie ever made, so we wouldn’t count it out, no matter how decrepit the corpse may look.

Terminator Genisys 2

Terminator Genisys

While franchise filmmaking has become the norm in Hollywood, that doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily a good business decision to assume that you’ll have the space to tell your whole story. That seems to be the biggest problem with Terminator: Genisys (well, besides the misspelling of "genesis"), as the reboot/sequel of the long-running Terminator franchise sowed seeds for sequels that will never be savored. The movie retconned some of the events of the original Terminator movies while also acknowledging that they happened in possible alternate timelines as a way to pay homage to past movies without being bound to continuity. These ideas were only hinted at in the actual release but would have been expanded on in the sequel, along with a larger role for Matt Smith’s (Doctor Who) villainous human-robot hybrid.

Unfortunately, planning for a sequel can backfire if the released movie underperforms, and that’s exactly what happened with Terminator: Genisys. Despite the star power of Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones) and the return of Arnold Schwarzenegger (he did say he would be back, after all), the movie underperformed in the US by about $60 million short of its production budget. What was meant to be the birth of a new trilogy turned out to be a non-starter, and Terminator 2 (not to be confused with Terminator 2: Judgement Day) was removed from Paramount’s upcoming releases — paving the way for yet another adjustment of franchise continuity with a sequel that would ignore everything after Judgement Day.

The 13th Friday the 13th

Friday the 13th

The Friday the 13th movies have a long history, even compared to other impressively durable franchises. Series slasher Jason Voorhees has starred in a dozen splatter-filled films, taking place everywhere from Manhattan to Hell and even outer space. Yet while Jason has seemed unfazed by even the most deadly of weapons, that unlucky number 13 has given him almost as much trouble as his victims. The 13th Friday film, once expected to reboot the franchise and re-introduce a new generation of moviegoers to the camp-counselor-killing maniac, has repeatedly gotten itself snagged in studio limbo.

At this point, the project seems to have suffered a more permanent death than anything Jason himself ever endured. Despite nabbing both a director and a completed script (not to mention a sizable tax credit from the state of California), the film was taken off Paramount’s release schedule in 2017. According to Variety, the poor performance of another horror franchise reboot, Rings, might have been a factor. Regardless, fans can only keep waiting to see if the Friday the 13th franchise can survive its latest brutal killing.

Fantastic Four 2

Fantastic Four

Years before anyone seriously believed Marvel Comics could spin off anything approaching a cinematic universe, the venerable publisher fell on hard financial times and ended up selling off the film rights to some of their most popular characters. Spider-Man landed at Sony and the Fantastic Four and X-Men landed at Fox — and without access to those heroes, the fledgling Marvel Studios turned to characters like Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor, properties that had never achieved quite as much mainstream popularity. Of course, this all ended up working out pretty well for Marvel — and for Fox and Sony, both of whom found themselves sitting on properties that had never been more valuable.

As a result, Spidey and the FF have both spawned multiple franchises — but while Sony has managed to hit box office paydirt with its Spider-Man movies on more than one occasion, the Fantastic Four films have had a rougher go of it. Fox’s first pass at a FF franchise made money, but the reviews were less than kind, prompting a reboot in 2015 — and that attempt fared even worse than its predecessors, earning godawful reviews and the worst grosses of any theatrical release in the series.

Still, there’s no benefit to holding film rights you can’t use, so Fox executives consistently reiterated that a sequel was definitely happening, regardless of what happened with the first film. Considering that the latest release date promised a June 2017 arrival, we can pretty safely assume that the sequel won’t be happening. The recent Disney/Fox merger deal might mean that Marvel’s First Family will get another shot at a movie release sometime, although it likely won’t be anytime soon — and it won’t be a follow-up to any past FF film.

Sinister Six

Andrew Garfield Amazing Spider-Man

Just as Fox owns the film rights to all the characters associated with the Fantastic Four and the X-Men, Sony owns not just Spider-Man, but other assorted characters related to everyone’s favorite friendly neighborhood web-slinger. In order to compete with Marvel’s growing domination of the superhero genre, Sony announced plans in 2014 to make a Sinister Six movie, to be directed by Drew Goddard (Lost). The film’s conceit was fairly ambitious, bringing together six of Spidey’s most famous villains together as the titular supervillain team. Promotional materials were even created to build fan fervor following the release of The Amazing Spider-Man 2.

Unfortunately, while everyone involved seemed invested in making the movie a reality, that Spider-sequel underperformed, paving the way for a deal between Marvel and Sony that was struck just in time to reboot the character again with Tom Holland in the role — and have Spidey make his Marvel Cinematic Universe debut alongside Captain America and Iron Man in Captain America: Civil War. It led to all sorts of Spider-Man goodness, but the collateral damage of the deal included Goddard’s Sinister Six.

Sony hasn’t given up on Spider-spinoffs, and although subsequent plans to continue building out the character’s shared universe have hit some snags of their own, fans can still look forward to a big-screen solo outing for at least one of Spider-Man’s most popular foes.

Uncharted

Uncharted

When it comes to experiences that feel like watching an Indiana Jones movie, you’re mostly limited to getting a doctorate in archeology or going on the Indiana Jones ride at Disneyland. Still, the Uncharted video game series manages to scratch the particular itch of watching a handsome and dashing adventurer run around giant monuments while flirting with pretty girls and almost getting killed by amoral thieves. The series follows Nathan Drake as an artifact hunter whose adventures in picturesque locations and grand action set pieces seemed absolutely made for the big screen.

While movie adaptations of video games tend to be poorly received, adapting Uncharted seemed like a perfect continuation of the pulpy adventure movies that Indiana Jones had traded in. Unfortunately, the movie ran through a series of difficult turnovers as director after director left the project. Joe Carnahan (who also experienced the pain of working on an overhyped movie that quietly disappeared from the release schedule after being attached to Bad Boys for Life) was tapped to write the script in 2016, but the Uncharted movie was removed from Sony’s upcoming release list only a few months later.

Still, fans don’t need to lose hope completely; a since-deleted Instagram post by Tom Holland (Spider-Man: Homecoming) seemed to imply that he would be starring in the long-awaited movie. Much like any archaeologist, fans will just have to wait and see if what comes out of the ground is treasure or trash.

Noelle

A good Christmas movie is more or less eternal, especially since it gets shown every single year around the same time. From It’s A Wonderful Life to A Christmas Story to Elf, beloved Christmas movies are basically a guaranteed ticket to holiday-based immortality. Unfortunately for Anna Kendrick, her own starring role in a Christmas movie might have gotten put on ice after Noelle was removed from Disney’s upcoming release schedule. Following Kendrick as Santa Claus’ daughter who takes up the family business, the film had a packed cast that also included Billy Eichner and Bill Hader.

The film was fully completed before getting removed from its planned release date of November 2019, which left Kendrick and her co-stars out in the cold. While it might have been a gift of coal instead of presents, it was eventually revealed that the movie was removed from its release date so that it could appear on Disney’s exclusive streaming service. Still, that might be more "oh oh oh" than "ho ho ho" for the cast if they were hoping to join the annals of Christmas movie classics.

Halloween 3D

Michael Myers might be unkillable, but he’s not nearly as unkillable as the Halloween franchise itself. Spinning out of the original classic John Carpenter film, the Halloween series has continued steadily along, adding everything from witches to a Zombie — director Rob Zombie, that is. For years, though, producers have been trying to add 3D to Michael Myers’ gore-splattered rampages in the form of Halloween 3D. It became almost a running joke that production studio The Weinstein Company would announce Halloween 3D annually before eventually removing it from the release slate once they couldn’t get the development together.

Fortunately for Halloween fans, this story actually has a happy ending. The constant recycling of Halloween 3D eventually cleared the way for Blumhouse Productions to acquire both the rights to the franchise as well as the blessing of Carpenter himself in 2016. Blumhouse’s version of Halloween, directed by David Gordon Green, will premiere in 2018 and star the original Scream Queen herself, Jamie Lee Curtis. Plus, this one probably won’t require 3D-glasses.

Splinter Cell

Video game movies have rarely earned critical acclaim or high box office, regardless of the talent or celebrity involved. Dwayne Johnson himself tweeted proudly about his own video game movie adaptation, Rampage, surpassing just 50% on Rotten Tomatoes. Even Assassin’s Creed, a movie starring Michael Fassbender as a historical assassin turned out to be a domestic box office failure, despite some strong star power and a loyal fanbase.

But Assassin’s Creed bombing at the box office might have bombed yet another video game adaptation: Splinter Cell, starring Tom Hardy. Following the adventures of stealthy assassin Sam Fisher, the film was optioned following Assassin’s Creed and even got a public green light from New Regency that they were going through with production. Meanwhile, the project has been plagued with script rewrites ever since, and there hasn’t even been a whiff of an official release date since the announcement. Maybe Sam Fisher’s too good at staying hidden, because we can’t seem to find any sign of his supposedly upcoming movie.

Gotham City Sirens

While Suicide Squad might have premiered to mixed reviews, Margot Robbie’s performance as Harley Quinn was a standout performance. With the DCEU in a state of flux, it made perfect sense to capitalize on the popularity of the character and actress. Warner Bros. signed a first-look deal with the Australian A-lister. This exclusivity led to an announcement of a spin-off adaptation of the Gotham City Sirens comic series, which would follow Robbie’s Harley Quinn on a team of female anti-heroes alongside Catwoman and Poison Ivy.

Robbie would take the role of executive producer and Suicide Squad director David Ayer was tapped to helm the spin-off, but it apparently wasn’t meant to be. After Justice League premiered to a critical thrashing, the entire slate of upcoming DCEU movies were pared down. And Robbie’s Gotham City Sirens project seems to have been among them. Will the movie ever see the light of day, possibly in some other form entirely? Time will tell.

Justice League Dark

Gotham City Sirens isn’t the only DCEU movie that’s been through a twisted ride during development. That’s right — we’re still rooting around through Warner Bros. list of planned DC Comics-based films. Longtime fans of both comic books and director Guillermo del Toro may recall that he was working on a Justice League Dark film that would focus on the supernatural heroes of the DC Universe. Despite the presence of a beloved director at the helm, the film has since languished in development hell for years.

Despite years of fan interest (and even an update as recently as 2017 that implied it was still in development), the film still doesn’t have a solid release date, if it’s still even happening at all. Supposedly the film is still being worked on, but considering that it’s been in various states of development for longer than the DCEU has actually existed, well… don’t hold your breath.

Amityville: The Awakening

When it comes to the famous "real-life" Amityville hauntings, it seems like the undead forces that refuse to leave innocent people alone are the movies that adapt that story and not the ghosts themselves. There are over a dozen films and counting about the famous haunted house, from horror classics like 1979’s The Amityville Horror to less-discussed movies like Amityville Dollhouse.

Regardless of the franchise’s ever diminishing returns, filmmakers continue to make sequel after sequel. Still, Amityville: The Awakening had some strong factors going for it: it was produced by Blumhouse Productions, a production studio that specializes in creating cheap horror films with huge audience appeal. The film even starred well-known actors like Jennifer Jason Leigh and Kurtwood Smith. Despite this, Amityville: The Awakening‘s release date was continually delayed until finally disappearing from the release schedule altogether. It was later given a limited theatrical run after popping up for free on Google Play. Of course, this won’t be the last Amityville movie: there’s already yet another sequel on the way

Beverly Hills Cop 4

Of all the films that have gotten huge amounts of hype before getting swept under the rug, Beverly Hills Cop 4 has to hold the record for number times that it’s nearly happened. First, it was announced for release in the ’90s through Eddie Murphy’s production company, before plans fell through. Then in 2006, producer Jerry Bruckheimer tried to resurrect the franchise. Director Brett Ratner was attached to the project along with Murphy, but the project languished for years as Murphy turned his attention towards turning it into a television series that would focus on his character’s son.

After CBS passed on the Beverly Hills Cop pilot, talk of a sequel looped back around with the possibility of shooting predominantly in Detroit. The Detroit-based Beverly Hills Cop 4 actually got an official release date, but was scrapped once again after issues with the script. Whether the film is actually ever going to come out or if Murphy’s going to try to get Detroit Cop made instead is anyone’s guess.

Valley Girl

There are many reasons for a film to get taken off a development slate: the directors or producers fighting for a film’s existence can leave, copyrights can lapse, funding can get dropped, et cetera. But it’s safe to say that there aren’t many films that are cancelled for the reason the Valley Girl remake was taken off of its official release date.

The remake of the 1983 cult classic starred an ensemble cast that included vlogging sensation Logan Paul, previously best-known for his massive audience on the now-defunct platform Vine. Unfortunately for excited fans, the release date was pulled after Paul got into hot water for live-streaming a visit to Aokigahara forest in Japan (colloquially known as Suicide Forest) where he mocked the corpse of a suicide victim that he found there. The resulting bad press made Paul persona non grata for a few months, especially after he came under fire for his poorly-phrased apology. Still, the movie completed filming so it’ll likely get released once the controversy dies down and audiences can forget just why Logan Paul is famous at all.

The Something

There’s not many comedy stars that can so consistently anchor a film like Seth Rogen. From Knocked Up starting a trend of man-child rom-coms to Sausage Party becoming a box-office smash as an R-rated CG animated movie, the man might as well be King Midas for R-rated comedies. But even he isn’t immune to cancelled projects. Along with Bill Hader and Zach Galifianakis, Rogen was set to star in The Something, an R-rated comedy (of course) about astronauts trapped alone on a ship for years.

The film was set for a May 2017 release, but was eventually pulled from the schedule for undisclosed reasons. Whatever those reasons are, they seem to have stuck, as there hasn’t been any updates on the film in the last few years, and Rogen has had no shortage of other projects to work on. Looks like there wasn’t space on the schedule for this astronaut-based comedy.

MIB23

In the history of cancelled crossover films, Men in Black/21 Jump Street will certainly stand out as one of the wildest. The plan was to use the renewed interest in Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum’s 21 Jump Street reboot to kickstart the return of Men In Black in one giant crossover that would have all the humor and alien fighting anyone could hope for.

Unfortunately, some things are just too beautiful for this world, and despite constant reassurance from the various parties involved, the film was eventually taken off the release schedule. Worse, Jonah Hill eventually admitted that he didn’t think the film was going to happen at all, leaving the project even more adrift. As it is, the project still managed to accomplish one goal, despite not actually technically existing as a real movie: it seems to have renewed interest in Men In Black, which led to a spinoff getting put into production. While the new film likely won’t have any undercover narcs, maybe there’ll be a fun reference to the canned project in the final version.