Move Over, ‘Batgirl’! 10 Notorious Films That Got Shelved By Hollywood

The decision by Warner Bros. Discovery to shelve its feature film “Batgirl” (with a budget somewhere in the $70 million to $100 million-plus range) caught both film industry professionals and casual movie lovers by surprise. Yet there is a precedent in Hollywood for creating a major film release and then yanking it from a release schedule.

For your consideration, here are 10 examples of Hollywood films that got the “Batgirl” treatment.

“A Woman of the Sea” (1926) – Charlie Chaplin agreed to produce this dramatic to highlight the talents of director Josef von Sternberg and leading lady Edna Purviance. Chaplin planned a release through United Artists, the distribution company that he co-owned, but the resulting work was so unsatisfactory that he opted not to make it available. The materials for the film were deliberately destroyed in 1933 in order for Chaplin to declare a tax write-off, and despite rumors of a stray surviving print “A Woman of the Sea” is considered a lost film.

“The American” (1927) – Pioneering filmmaker J. Stuart Blackton helmed this silent revenge-fueled Western headlined by box office stars Bessie Love and Charles Ray. The film was supposed to be the first feature production made in the widescreen Natural Vision process, but its premiere at New York City’s Roxy Theatre was cancelled following a dispute with the producer, George Spoor. The film was never shown and is now considered lost.

“An Enemy of the People” (1978) – Steve McQueen baffled Hollywood with his desire to star in Arthur Miller’s adaptation of the Hendrik Ibsen drama about a doctor trying in vain to warn a town about contamination in local springs that have become a profitable tourist attraction. McQueen sported long hair and a beard that made him unrecognizable, and Warner Bros. was at a loss at how to promote this unlikely vehicle. When test screenings affirmed a lack of audience enthusiasm, the film was shelved. Over the years, it popped up in isolated screenings and occasional television broadcasts before a 2009 DVD release.

“Health” (1979) – Robert Altman’s used a health food industry convention as the setting for his satire on U.S. politics of the late 1970s. Despite Altman’s cred and an all-star cast including Glenda Jackson, Lauren Bacall, Carol Burnett and James Garner, 20th Century Fox repeatedly delayed its opening before giving it a brief single-screen run at New York City’s Film Forum in 1982. The film has since turned up in cable television broadcasts, but it has yet to be released in any home entertainment format.

“White Dog” (1982) – Paramount Pictures initially did not have problems with the concept of Samuel Fuller’s disturbing film about efforts to rehabilitate a dog that was trained by a racist to attack Black people. But when Fuller delivered the finished film, the studio was terrified that it would be accused of releasing a racist production. After a one-week run in Detroit made without marketing promotion, the studio shelved “White Dog” – although it was released in France and the U.K. Years later, the film would later turn up on cable television and in home entertainment releases.

“Nothing Lasts Forever” (1984) – Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer withdrew Tom Schiller’s offbeat science-fiction comedy – which had Zach Galligan as the lead and Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd in supporting roles – shortly before it was slated to play in theaters and, to date, has never made it available in any commercial entertainment outlet, although it did have a single broadcast on Turner Classic Movies in January 2015 and was presented in a handful of one-shot screenings. A bootlegged version was briefly on YouTube.

The Fantastic Four” (1994) – German producer Bernd Eichinger teamed with Roger Corman to make this low-budget, lo-fi film in order to retain his rights to the Marvel Comics franchise. A theatrical release was announced for the cheapjack production through Corman’s New Horizon Productions, but it never found its way into a movie projector and has become known to the general public only through bootlegged copies.

“The Good Life” (1997) – This $5 million crime drama starred Dennis Hopper, Andrew Dice Clay and Frank Stallone, with the latter’s brother Sylvester Stallone appearing in a cameo role as a favor to his sibling. But when the film’s trailer played up Sylvester Stallone’s presence in order to give the false impression that he had a starring role, the actor sued the producer for $20 million, his salary for starring roles at the time. The producer countersued and the matter was latr settled out of court, but “The Good Life” remains unseen to this day.

“The Poughkeepsie Tapes” (2007) – This pseudo-documentary horror film about the pursuit of a serial killer had its premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer had begun advertising its theatrical release when it was abruptly pulled from its schedule. The film finally emerged on DVD and Blu-ray in 2017.

“I Love You, Daddy” (2017) – Louis C.K. wrote, directed, co-produced and starred in this Woody Allen-style comedy that was intended to elevate him into a cinematic force. After its premiere at the Toronto Film Festival, the rights to the film were acquired by The Orchard, an independent distributor, but the film was withdrawn from release one week ahead of its premiere when Louis C.K. faced sexual misconduct accusations – he would later reacquire the rights to his work but, to date, the film has yet to be made commercially available.