Given the deluge of movies, TV shows, miniseries, documentaries and so forth now available via streaming services and television, the idea of something being made and then not being released is kind of baffling.
After all, there's so much to choose from that directors and studios have to fight tooth and nail to get eyeballs on whatever they've made. Still, there exist a number of movies that, for a variety of reasons, have yet to see the light of day.
In some cases, it's complex legal actions. In other cases, it's the directors making the decision not to release them because of some personal circumstance.
Here's nine movies you'll most likely never see.
9. 'Empires of the Deep'
Imagine sinking (no pun intended) $140 million into a movie, going through a total of four directors, 10 screenwriters, trying to rope in Sharon Stone and landing Olga Kurlyenko, and making it in 3D. And then it still never gets released. 'Empires of the Deep' was the creation of Chinese billionaire Jon Jiang, who wanted to spin up a franchise about a mermaid who falls in love with a man, but it also has a spin on the dispute surrounding China's claim over the South China Sea. Pitched as China's answer to James Cameron's 'Avatar', the movie has only released one trailer and some concept art, but it is apparently complete and ready to be shown to the world - some ten years after it originally began filming. Here's that trailer. It's... yeah.
8. 'Don's Plum'
Tobey Maguire and Leonardo DiCaprio starred together in a total of three movies - one was Baz Luhrmann's big-budget sensation, 'The Great Gatsby'. The other was 'This Boy's Life', a 1993 drama where DiCaprio starred opposite Maguire and Robert DeNiro. 'Don's Plum' landed in the middle of all this in 2001, right at the height of their popularity. The story goes that DiCaprio, Maguire, and 'Entourage' alum Kevin Connolly - who were all part of the so-called 'Pussy Posse' - agreed to take part in the movie when it was a short. The whole thing was completely improvised and neither Maguire, DiCaprio, or Connolly came off as terribly nice people in it. What's more, those who saw the movie claimed it was a pretty close approximation to how they were in real life during the late '90s and early '00s. DiCaprio and Maguire both sent in lawyers to stop the movie being released in the US and Canada, and the movie can now only been seen via freedonsplum.com, where if you e-mail the writer and producer of the movie, he'll send you a HD link to it. Really.
7. 'Unlawful Killing'
Legal issues with movies not being released are quite common. In some cases, it has to do with actor contracts not being honoured, or it could be a publishing rights issue with music, but in the case of 'Unlawful Killing', it's a bit more complex. The documentary's topic is a controversial one, to say the least. Financed by Mohamed Fayed and directed by Keith Allen (Lily and Alfie Allen's dad, also the guy who wrote the lyrics for 'Vindaloo'), the documentary laid out a conspiracy that Princess Diana and Dodi al-Fayed were in fact murdered at the behest of Prince Philip, and that the British Royal Family objected to Diana's relationship with al-Fayed because he was a Muslim. Per a report by the Guardian at the time of its release, lawyers on behalf of Fayed and Allen said that the documentary would need 87 cuts before it could be shown anywhere. As a result, it hasn't been seen by anyone.
6. 'My Best Friend's Birthday'
Although we know Quentin Tarantino from the likes of 'Pulp Fiction', 'Inglorious Basterds', and so on, his first movie has been lost to the ages and only fragments of it still exist. 'My Best Friend's Birthday' was shot over a period of around four years with a 16mm camera Tarantino borrowed from cult movie director Fred Olen Ray and featured some of his co-workers from Video Archives, the now-defunct video shop when Tarantino worked before he made it big. The story goes that a lab fire burnt up a significant chunk of the movie and only 36 minutes of it actually remains, which has been show at some film festivals and was included on a region-specific DVD of 'Pulp Fiction'.
5. 'I Love You, Daddy'
When Louis CK had his very public reckoning with sexual harassment and misconduct allegations, it occurred right as 'I Love You, Daddy' was making its way to the screen. The movie premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2017 and was due for release in November of that year, but was then dropped just a week prior by its distributor as a New York Times article about CK's behaviour broke. The story goes that CK tried to buy the movie back and release it himself. The main star of the movie, Chloe Moretz, publicly stated she doesn't want the movie to be released, while Rose Byrne also said that it will be "a while before that film can be seen, and I think that’s right."
4. 'Gods Behaving Badly'
Adapted from the novel of the same name, 2013's 'Gods Behaving Badly' did manage to see a few screenings around film festivals, but it never saw a wider release beyond that. The reviews out of those festivals, it must be said, all seemed to share a common theme - namely, that the movie wasn't very good. While it was released in 2013, the movie hasn't seen any kind of major release since then. No streaming service, studio, or distributor has picked it up and the likelihood is none ever will. Still, it's got a decent cast - Christopher Walken, John Turturro, Alicia Silverstone, and Edie Falco form part of the ensemble - but it wasn't enough for this to make any kind of impact.
3. 'The Day The Clown Cried'
While most of the movies on this list were kept out of cinemas and off streaming services due to legal reasons, 'The Day The Clown Cried' is quite different. The very director who made it who went about suppressing the movie. Comedy icon Jerry Lewis attracted huge controversy over the movie, which featured some truly disturbing and unsettling imagery involving a clown leading Jewish children into a gas chamber during the Holocaust. Yeah, like we said, disturbing stuff. Anyway, Jerry Lewis donated an unfinished print of the movie to the US Library of Congress in 2015 and stipulated that it not be shown until June 2024.
2. 'The Fantastic Four'
This is probably the only example of a comic-book movie somehow not being released. Indeed, 1994's version of Marvel's first family was made specifically not to be released. We'll explain. 'The Fantastic Four' is an example of what's known as an ash-can movie. Essentially, the movie was made merely to keep the producer's option on the property while he secured more funding and basically got the real version of the movie made. That version was released eleven years after this one, and starred Jessica Alba and Chris Evans as Sue and Johnny Storm. You can actually find the 1994 version on YouTube pretty easily, and it's not hard to see why it never saw the light of day.
You might have read our long-read piece that followed us trying to track down a copy of Michael Flatley's directorial debut, 'Blackbird'. That article was published two years ago. Since then, there hasn't been a single, solitary peep about the movie being released. If you're not familiar with the story, here's the gist: Michael Flatley plays a retired spy who - you guessed it - comes out of retirement for one final job, and it's got something to do with a terrorist threat, or something? Again, we haven't seen the movie and we literally spent the better part of a year trying to see it.