BOOTLEG FILES 826: “The Dumb Waiter” (1987 film directed by Robert Altman and starring John Travolta and Tom Conti).
LAST SEEN: On YouTube.
AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: On VHS home video.
REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: There seems to be a rights issue that has yet to be cleared.
CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: Not likely at the moment.
By the mid-1980s, filmmaker Robert Altman’s career was going through a rough patch. During the 1970s, he was praised by critics as being one of the era’s most original and provocative creative artists, but that adulation did not win him favor with studio executives with whom he had difficult relationships. After a series of box office flops and the indignity of having one film – the 1979 all-star “HealtH” – shelved by 20th Century Fox, Altman found himself focusing on small, lower budget works that were released by smaller art house distributors. He also pursued projects for television, which was highly unusual for a director of Altman’s prestige.
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.
BOOTLEG FILES 747: “The Laundromat” (1985 HBO drama directed by Robert Altman).
LAST SEEN: On YouTube.
AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: None.
REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: Most likely due to a problem with rights clearance.
CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: Unlikely at this time.
During the early 1980s, Robert Altman seemed intent on creating his own version of the American Film Theatre by taking theatrical works and creating adaptations that were closer in style to the original proscenium-framed productions than to works of cinema. With “Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean” (1982), “Streamers” (1983) and “Secret Ceremony” (1984), Altman was plumbing dramatic emotions from claustrophobic chamber pieces rather than using the widescreen canvas to explore a greater world of tumult and chaos.