The quixotic movies that got stuck in development hell
Terry Gilliam’s long-awaited film The Man Who Killed Don Quixote was released in a handful of theaters last year after nineteen years of development and a highly anticipated premiere at Cannes. We look at two other famous cases of great movies that went through their own personal development hells.
Mad Max: Fury Road
Released in 2015, Fury Road received widespread critical acclaim. It’s hard to imagine a film as great as this was stuck in development limbo for 20 years, but that was the case. The movie encountered many problems before its release, with director George Miller (The Road Warrior) originally planning to shoot the film in 2001.
The September 11th that year attacks postponed the film and star of the original Mad Max movies, Mel Gibson, was attached to reprise the famous role. However, the actor’s controversial antics proved to be one of many other Fury Road blockers before its eventual release in 2015.
A groundbreaking film and one of the most notorious cases of development limbo, originally Apocalypse Now was supposed to be a fourteen-week shoot in the Philippines. However, the challenging weather proved to be the least of Francis Ford Coppola’s concerns creating his masterpiece.
Replacing star Harvey Keitel (Reservoir Dogs) with Martin Sheen (The Departed) – who at the time was suffering from alcoholism – only added to the problems. Actors were high and drunk during filming, Coppola (The Godfather) continued adding to the script as he went along, real dead bodies were used as props, and Marlon Brando (Last Tango in Paris) appeared overweight and underprepared, having never looked at the script.
We could go on listing its problems, but we’d be here all day. Thankfully, Apocalypse Now turned out to be a groundbreaking piece of cinema and an instant classic – but at what cost to the cast & crew?