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15 Shelved Movies That Were Eventually Released Years Later

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Sometimes, movie releases are delayed because studios don’t know how to sell the film to audiences or because of financial or legal pitfalls. These projects are “shelved,” meaning they sit collecting dust, unseen by audiences for years (or even decades).

1. 'Margaret': Shelved for 6 Years

Margaret completed production in 2005, but it was shelved for six years because of lawsuits against director Kenneth Lonergan. He was contractually obligated to deliver a movie with a run time less than 150 minutes, but the final cut came in more than half an hour longer than that. Fox Searchlight shelved it until the lawsuits between the director and his financiers could be settled.

When it finally came out in 2011 in a limited release of just 14 theaters, Margaret’s run time was exactly 149 minutes and 49 seconds. Now on DVD, you can now enjoy the director’s cut that clocks in at 186 minutes.

2. 'Prozac Nation': Shelved for 4 Years

Although Prozac Nation made its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2001, its distributor Miramax then shelved the film for more than four years due to lukewarm test screening reactions. Miramax was under the belief that they couldn’t sell the film to general audiences, so they quietly released it on the premium cable network Starz! in 2005.

3. 'The Cabin in the Woods': Shelved for 2 Years

The Cabin in the Woods was set for release in early 2010, but its distributor MGM was on the verge of bankruptcy. As a result, the post-modern horror film didn’t open until early 2012. When it finally did come out, the rising star power of Chris Hemsworth and co-writer/producer Joss Whedon gave The Cabin in the Woods a boost at the box office.

4. 'Take Me Home Tonight': Shelved for 4 Years

Take Me Home Tonight was completed in 2007, but it didn’t receive a theatrical release date until four years later. According to star Topher Grace, Take Me Home Tonight’s distributor Universal Pictures delayed it because they didn’t know how to market a youth comedy with so much cocaine and drug consumption.

"It's an audience film. It's not drama, but there was a real hesitation because there is so much cocaine in it, and our feeling at the time was, 'You can't do a movie about Prohibition without alcohol, and you really can't do a movie about partying in the '80s, at the age these kids are, without showing cocaine use," said Grace. Rogue Pictures acquired the distribution rights for $10 million and released the film in 2011.

5. 'Fanboys': Shelved for 1 Year

In 2009, Fanboys was finally released in theaters after a shaky post-production period that saw it sit on the shelf at The Weinstein Company for a year. After a re-shoot period where director Kyle Newman had a difficult time getting the cast together again, The Weinstein Company wanted to re-edit the movie's story from a group of teenagers breaking into Skywalker Ranch so their friend could watch The Phantom Menace before he dies of cancer into a road-trip-sex comedy. Without Newman’s consent, Little Nicky director Steven Brill was brought in to shoot new elements to remove the cancer plot and to make it more raunchy.

6. 'The Plot Against Harry': Shelved for 20 Years

Director Michael Roemer’s The Plot Against Harry premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 1969, but it could not find theatrical distribution because it tested poorly with general audiences. It sat on the shelf for twenty years until Roemer wanted to show it to his children. Both his kids and the film transfer technician working with Roemer thought the film was funny, so Roemer struck new prints and applied to the New York Film Festival. The Plot Against Harry belatedly found critical acclaim and commercial distribution in 1989.

7. 'Red Dawn' (2012): Shelved for 3 Years

Although the film was finished in 2009, the remake of Red Dawn sat on MGM’s shelf for three years. Before an expected summer 2010 release date, MGM had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and was unable to finance projects. After MGM re-structured, Red Dawn was slated for 2011, but another controversy hindered its release.

MGM didn’t want to offend the emerging Chinese movie-going market, so producers decided to change the enemies’ nationalities. Throughout 2011, filmmakers painstakingly changed the Chinese invaders and their insignia into North Koreans using digital special effects.

8. 'A Thousand Words': Shelved for 4 Years

The Eddie Murphy comedy A Thousand Words completed production in 2008 with a release date planned for sometime in 2009. However, it didn’t open until 2012 because it was caught in a legal battle over distribution rights between Paramount Pictures and DreamWorks.

The studios split and equally divided about 200 film projects, but they couldn’t come to terms with two films that were already completed at the time of separation: A Thousand Words and The Lovely Bones. Considering that the latter is from Peter Jackson, an Academy Award-winning director, and the former tracked poorly with test audiences, Paramount and DreamWorks released The Lovely Bones and shelved A Thousand Words.

9. 'Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer': Shelved for 4 Years

While it was completed in 1986, Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer wasn’t released until four years later because of its violent and bloody subject matter. Director John McNaughton experienced a long battle with the MPAA when he couldn’t deliver an R-rated version without compromising his vision. However, Roger Ebert felt a passion for Henry, and the critic led a campaign to see its release in theaters. The MPAA eventually gave it an unrated tag in 1990.

10. 'Repo Men': Shelved for 2 Years

Although the film was completed in 2008, Repo Men didn’t come out in theaters until two years later. Relativity Media and Universal Pictures shelved Repo Men when they learned that the film adaptation of cult rock musical Repo! The Genetic Opera was opening around the same time. Both featured similar titles and plots involving men tasked with repossessing organ implants when customers were unable to pay their bills. While the musical gained cult status, the other film failed to find an audience or admirers when it was released in early 2010.

11. 'Romance and Cigarettes': Shelved for 2 Years

John Turturro’s Romance and Cigarettes premiered at the Venice Film Festival in 2005 but sat on the shelf for two years until its eventual self-financed release. It found distribution with United Artists, but was lost in the shuffle when Sony bought out the smaller company. Frustrated with the lack of movement, Turturro put up his own money to finance a limited release in 2007.

12. 'Rampage': Shelved for 5 Years

The William Friedkin film Rampage screened at European film festivals in 1987, but it didn’t receive a theatrical release until 1992. Its production company, De Laurentiis Entertainment Group, filed for bankruptcy, which contributed to the five-year lag between premiere and release. When Rampage finally found new distribution with Miramax during the early '90s, Friedkin changed his point of view on the death penalty and shot a new ending, and re-edited the film accordingly. Instead of committing suicide in prison, the main character sends his victims’ families disturbing and violent letters and is scheduled for a parole hearing.

13. 'Blue Sky': Shelved for 3 Years

Blue Sky was completed in 1991, but it wasn’t released in theaters until 1994. Its distributor, Orion Pictures, filed for bankruptcy shortly after Blue Sky wrapped production and, after Orion's restructuring, the film was released and received widespread critical acclaim. Jessica Lange received an Academy Award for Best Female Actor in a Leading Role.

14. 'Lovers on the Bridge' (Les Amants du Pont-Neuf): Shelved for 8 Years

French director Leos Carax’s Lovers on the Bridge gained some critical acclaim when it premiered during the Cannes Film Festival in 1991. Impressed with how audiences and critics took to the film, Miramax acquired the distribution rights for the stateside market. However, Miramax co-founder Harvey Weinstein didn’t see any commercial appeal with Lovers on the Bridge and let it sit on the shelf for eight years. Director Martin Scorsese’s passion and enthusiasm for the film led to its release under the Miramax Zoë subdivision in 1999.

15. 'I Love Lucy: The Movie': Shelved for 48 Years

In 1953, MGM made a feature film version of the widely popular TV comedy I Love Lucy. It was made up of three episodes of the television show with new footage that bridged the gaps. However, MGM shelved the movie because studio executives believed it would interfere with the release of The Long, Long Trailer, which also starred Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. I Love Lucy: The Movie sat on the shelf for almost 50 years until it was screened at a fan convention in 2001.

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14 Not-So-Dirty Facts About Dirty Dancing
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Released on August 21, 1987, no one—not even stars Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey—could have predicted the phenomenon that Dirty Dancing would turn into. Today, 30 years later, we’re still talking about the dance-musical-romance’s sensual choreography, its oldies soundtrack, and not putting Baby in a corner. Here are some not-so-dirty facts about the iconic movie, which grossed nearly $215 million worldwide.

1. PATRICK SWAYZE BELIEVED DIRTY DANCING ENDURED BECAUSE OF ITS HEART.

In an interview with AFI, Swayze explained why he thought Dirty Dancing has stuck around for so long. “It’s got so much heart, to me,” he said. “It’s not about the sensuality; it’s really about people trying to find themselves—this young dance instructor feeling like he’s nothing but a product, and this young girl trying to find out who she is in a society of restrictions when she has such an amazing take on things. On a certain level, it’s really about the fabulous, funky little Jewish girl getting the guy because [of] what she’s got in her heart.”

2. THE FILM GAVE NEWMAN HIS FIRST BIG MOVIE ROLE.

Before starring as Stan, the resort’s social director, Wayne Knight had small roles in a few TV movies, including an uncredited role in the nuclear holocaust drama The Day After. Dirty Dancing showcased his talents, which in 1992 led him to be cast as Newman on Seinfeld.

3. BILL MEDLEY THOUGHT HE WAS BEING HIRED TO RECORD A SONG FOR A “BAD PORNO.”

Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes sang the vocals to the Oscar-winning song “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life.” Medley told Songfacts that Dirty Dancing music supervisor Jimmy Ienner called him and mentioned he was gathering music for the movie. “It sounds like a bad porno movie,” Medley said. Medley’s wife was expecting a baby, so he turned the song down. A few months later Ienner convinced him to do the song, even though Medley didn’t think the movie would be popular.

“We just went in to work together, to sing together, and little did we know it was going to be the biggest movie of the year. Just unbelievable,” Medley said. The song ended up selling more than 500,000 copies, and Medley ended up titling his own memoir The Time of My Life. (Note: The film was actually the 11th highest grossing film of the year; Three Men and a Baby took the top spot for 1987.)

4. PAUL FEIG STARRED IN A DIRTY DANCING TV SHOW SPINOFF.

Dirty Dancing the TV series lasted for only 11 episodes beginning in the fall of 1988, but it gave us then-unknown actors Paul Feig (creator of Freaks and Geeks and director of Bridesmaids) and Melora Hardin (Jan Levinson of The Office). Hardin played Baby but her last name on the show was Kellerman because her dad was Max Kellerman, not Dr. Houseman. CBS even used “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” for the show’s opening credits.

5. A DIRTY DANCING REALITY SHOW AIRED OVERSEAS.

For two seasons between 2007 and 2008, the UK’s Living network aired a reality show called Dirty Dancing: The Time of Your Life, in which groups of dancers competed for a year-long contract with Bloc, a Los Angeles-based dance agency. The series took place at Virginia’s Mountain Lake Lodge, where much of the original movie was filmed. Couples danced in front of three judges, including Miranda Garrison, who played Vivian Pressman in the movie and was also an assistant choreographer on the film.

6. MOUNTAIN LAKE LODGE REGULARLY HOSTS DIRTY DANCING WEEKENDS.

The Pembroke, Virginia resort where many of the Kellerman’s scenes were filmed hosts regular Dirty Dancing­-themed weekends a year. Dinners, a sock hop, a screening of the movie, a watermelon toss, group dance lessons, and a Dirty Dancing scavenger hunt are just some of the many activities on the agenda.

7. ELEANOR BERGSTEIN WROTE ANOTHER DANCE MOVIE AFTER DIRTY DANCING.

Bergstein wrote the script to Dirty Dancing, and in 1995 she had the opportunity to direct as well. She wrote and directed Let It Be Me, starring Jennifer Beals and Campbell Scott. To this day, she hasn’t written or directed any other movies, but she did adapt Dirty Dancing into a successful stage show.

8. ACCORDING TO BERGSTEIN, EASTERN EUROPE WATCHES A LOT OF DIRTY DANCING.

In a 2006 interview with The Guardian, Bergstein talked about the movie’s popularity with people in the former Eastern Bloc. “And in Russia, it’s policy in the battered women’s shelters, when a woman comes in for help. First, they wash and dress her wounds, then they give her soup. Then they sit her down and show her Dirty Dancing. When the Berlin Wall came down, there were all these pictures of kids wearing Dirty Dancing T-shirts; they were saying, ‘We want to have what they have in the West! We want Dirty Dancing!'”

9. PENNY BRIEFLY TRANSFORMED INTO A POP STAR IN THE LATE 1980s.

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Cynthia Rhodes made a name for herself as dancer Tina Tech in 1983’s Flashdance and starred as John Travolta’s dance partner/love interest in Staying Alive that same year. But it was her role as Johnny Castle’s dancing partner, Penny, that garnered her the most notice. A couple of years after Dirty Dancing, she married singer Richard Marx (they’ve since divorced), and she briefly filled in as the lead singer of L.A. pop group Animotion, known for their hits “Room to Move” and “Obsession.”

10. JENNIFER GREY PLAYED A VERSION OF HERSELF ON THE SITCOM IT’S LIKE, YOU KNOW...

The short-lived ABC sitcom (1999-2000) featured Grey as a member of a Seinfeld-like gang, except the show swapped out New York City for Los Angeles. She allowed herself to be self-deprecating, even poking fun at her nose job and her Dirty Dancing celebrity. Arthur (Chris Eigeman) meets “Jennifer Grey” and goes, “Oh, like the actress. Dirty Dancing. You spell it the same way as her?” “I am Jennifer Grey,” she responds, then she does a dance to prove it. “You look different,” he says. “Nose job!” She blurts. “Just one?” he retorts. (She had two of them.)

11. GREY WAS SHOCKED TO BE A PART OF THE MOVIE CRAZY, STUPID, LOVE.

During a scene in the 2012 rom-com Crazy, Stupid, Love., Ryan Gosling uses the famous Dirty Dancing lift to woo Emma Stone into bed with him. As she watched the movie, Grey got an unexpected surprise. “I’m such a fan of Ryan Gosling and all of a sudden he’s saying my name [in the movie],” she told Yahoo!. “I’m just in the theater with my husband and I look at him like, ‘Oh my God, Ryan Gosling just said my name. What’s going on?’ I was so scared. I was like, ‘Oh, no. What are they about to do?’ All of a sudden there I was, part of their movie.”

12. BORSCHT BELT RESORTS LIKE KELLERMAN’S ARE DISAPPEARING.

The area in the Catskills and upstate New York where many resorts like Kellerman’s were located is referred to as the Borscht Belt, because of the area’s popularity with Jewish-American families from the 1920s to the 1980s, with the height of their popularity being in the 1950s and ’60s. Comedians such as Joan Rivers and Jerry Seinfeld got their starts at these resorts. Since the 1990s, hundreds of these resorts have shuttered.

13. TWO FILMMAKERS PRODUCED A DOCUMENTARY ABOUT THE RESORT THAT SUPPOSEDLY INSPIRED KELLERMAN’S.  

For over 100 years, the Monticello, New York-based Kutsher’s Hotel and Country Club welcomed Jewish-American families every summer. Wilt Chamberlain worked there as a bellhop, and according to Caroline Laskow and Ian Rosenberg, the husband-and-wife filmmakers behind Welcome to Kutsher’s: The Last Catskills Resort, it’s also part of the inspiration behind Dirty Dancing.

“Perhaps Hollywood had taken sort of what was true for the Catskills and was using it for their own purposes, but ... [Hollywood] was just copying what was already here,” Rosenberg told ABC News. One of the last bastions of the Catskills’ Borscht Belt, Kutsher’s closed in 2013 and was sold to a billionaire who plans on replacing the resort with a $250 million yoga and wellness center. At least the doc acts as a relic to the halcyon days of dancing and escapism.

14. A DIRTY DANCING REMAKE WAS RELEASED EARLIER THIS YEAR.

Talk of a Dirty Dancing remake had been floating around Hollywood for a few years, and earlier this year it finally came to fruition. The film, which starred Abigail Breslin as Baby, was not met with great reviews. "Somehow, this earnest, anodyne remake has managed to surgically extract the magic—leaving the story and signature lines intact while suctioning out all the subtlety, charm, and lead chemistry that defined the iconic 1987 original," wrote Entertainment Weekly of the remake.

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10 Witty Facts About The Marx Brothers
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Talented as individuals and magnificent as a team, the Marx Brothers conquered every medium from the vaudeville stage to the silver screen. Today, we’re tipping our hats (and tooting our horns) to Groucho, Harpo, Chico, Zeppo, and Gummo—on the 50th anniversary of Groucho's passing.

1. A RUNAWAY MULE INSPIRED THEM TO TAKE A STAB AT COMEDY.

Julius, Milton, and Arthur Marx originally aspired to be professional singers. In 1907, the boys joined a group called “The Three Nightingales.” Managed by their mother, Minnie, the ensemble performed covers of popular songs in theaters all over the country. As Nightingales, the brothers enjoyed some moderate success, but they might never have found their true calling if it weren’t for an unruly equid. During a 1907 gig at the Nacogdoches Opera House in East Texas, someone interrupted the performance by barging in and shouting “Mule’s loose!” Immediately, the crowd raced out to watch the newly-liberated animal. Back inside, Julius seethed. Furious at having lost the spotlight, he skewered his audience upon their return. “The jackass is the finest flower of Tex-ass!” he shouted, among many other ad-libbed jabs. Rather than boo, the patrons roared with laughter. Word of his wit soon spread and demand for these Marx brothers grew.

2. THEY RECEIVED THEIR STAGE NAMES DURING A POKER GAME.

In May of 1914, the five Marxes were playing cards with standup comedian Art Fisher. Inspired by a popular comic strip character known as “Sherlocko the Monk,” he decided that the boys could use some new nicknames. Leonard’s was a no-brainer. Given his girl-crazy, “chick-chasing” lifestyle, Fisher dubbed him “Chicko” (later, this was shortened to “Chico”). Arthur loved playing the harp and thus became “Harpo.” An affinity for soft gumshoes earned Milton the alias “Gummo.” Finally, Julius was both cynical and often seen wearing a “grouch bag”—wherein he’d store small objects like marbles and candy—around his neck. Thus, “Groucho” was born. For the record, nobody knows how Herbert Marx came to be known as “Zeppo.”

3. GROUCHO WORE HIS TRADEMARK GREASEPAINT MUSTACHE BECAUSE HE HATED MORE REALISTIC MODELS.

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Phony, glue-on facial hair can be a pain to remove and reapply, so Groucho would simply paint a ‘stache and some exaggerated eyebrows onto his face. However, the mustache he later rocked as the host of his famous quiz show You Bet Your Life was 100 percent real.

4. HARPO WAS A SELF-TAUGHT HARPIST.

Without any formal training (or the ability to read sheet music), the second-oldest Marx brother developed a unique style that he never stopped improving upon. “Dad really loved playing the harp, and he did it constantly,” his son, Bill Marx, wrote. “Maybe the first multi-tasker ever, he even had a harp in the bathroom so he could play when he sat on the toilet!”

5. THE VERY FIRST MARX BROTHERS MOVIE WAS NEVER RELEASED.

Financed by Groucho, Chico, Harpo, Zeppo, and a handful of other investors, Humor Risk was filmed in 1921. Accounts differ, but most scholars agree that the silent picture—which would have served as the family’s cinematic debut—never saw completion. Despite this, an early screening of the work-in-progress was reportedly held in the Bronx. When Humor Risk failed to impress there, production halted. By Marx Brothers standards, it would’ve been an unusual flick, with Harpo playing a heroic detective opposite a villainous Groucho character.

6. GUMMO AND ZEPPO BECAME TALENT AGENTS.

World War I forced Gummo to quit the stage. Following his return, the veteran decided that performing was no longer for him and instead started a raincoat business. Zeppo—the youngest brother—then assumed Gummo’s role as the troupe’s straight-talking foil. A brilliant businessman, Zeppo eventually broke away to found the talent agency Zeppo Marx Inc., which grew into Hollywood’s third-largest, representing superstars like Clark Gable, Lucille Ball, and—of course—the other three Marx Brothers. Gummo, who joined the company in 1935, was charged with handling Groucho, Harpo, and Chico’s needs.

7. CHICO ONCE LAUNCHED A BIG BAND GROUP.

Chico took advantage of an extended break between Marx brothers movies to realize a lifelong dream. A few months before The Big Store hit cinemas in 1941, he co-founded the Chico Marx Orchestra: a swinging jazz band that lasted until July of 1943. Short-lived as the group was, however, it still managed to recruit some amazing talent—including singer/composer Mel Tormé, who would go on to help write “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)” in 1945.

8. THEY TESTED OUT NEW MATERIAL FOR A NIGHT AT THE OPERA IN FRONT OF LIVE AUDIENCES.

With the script still being drafted, MGM made the inspired choice to let the brothers perform key scenes in such places as Seattle, Salt Lake City, and San Francisco. Once a given joke was made, the Marxes meticulously timed the ensuing laughter, which let them know exactly how much silence to leave after repeating the gag on film. According to Harpo, this had the added benefit of shortening A Night at the Opera’s production period. “We didn’t have to rehearse,” he explained. “[We just] got onto the set and let the cameras roll.”

9. GROUCHO TEMPORARILY HOSTED THE TONIGHT SHOW.

Jack Paar bid the job farewell on March 29, 1962. Months before their star’s departure, NBC offered Paar’s Tonight Show seat to Groucho, who had established himself as a razor-sharp, well-liked host during You Bet Your Life’s 14-year run. Though Marx turned the network down, he later served as a guest host for two weeks while Johnny Carson prepared to take over the gig. When Carson finally made his Tonight Show debut on October 1, it was Groucho who introduced him.

10. SPY MAGAZINE USED A MARX BROTHERS MOVIE TO PRANK U.S. CONGRESSMEN.

Duck Soup takes place in Freedonia, a fictional country over which the eccentric Rufus T. Firefly (Groucho) presides. In 1993, 60 years after the movie’s release, this imaginary nation made headlines by embarrassing some real-life politicians. Staffers from Spy got in touch with around 20 freshmen in the House of Representatives, asking some variation on the question “Do you approve of what we’re doing to stop ethnic cleansing in Freedonia?” A few lawmakers took the bait. Representative Corrine Brown (D-Florida) professed to approve of America’s presence in Freedonia, saying, “I think all of those situations are very, very sad, and I just think we need to take action to assist the people.” Across the aisle, Steve Buyer (R-Indiana) concurred. “Yeah,” he said, “it’s a different situation than the Middle East.”

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