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Article

Back to the drawing board: Do long-delayed movies fare better?

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Foxcatcher
Scott Garfield

Foxcatcher, the upcoming biographical film starring Steve Carell and Channing Tatum, hits select theaters Friday and is the subject of quite a bit of awards-season talk. The reviews, so far, are mostly positive, and Carell and Tatum’s performances have been called career-changing, even their best yet. But would it be in this same position if it had come out on its original release date, December 2013?

Probably not. Director Bennett Miller pushed back the release date so he could have more time to work on the film, meaning he wasn’t happy with it—and meaning audiences probably wouldn’t be that happy with it, either. But now, a little less than a year later, Foxcatcher is coming out and receiving widespread praise, perhaps thanks to that delay.

Foxcatcher is just one of many movies that changed their original release date, either because of creative reasons or production-related issues. Here are eight more films that came out later than expected—and whether or not they were worth the wait.

Titanic (1997)

Titanic was originally scheduled to be a summer movie, but director James Cameron had to push it back so he would have more time to work on the film’s special effects. It ultimately hit theaters in December 1997.

Box office: $600.8 million

Critics: EW gave it an A; it has an 88 percent on Rotten Tomatoes

Bottom line: Out of all the movies with delayed releases, Titanic is perhaps the biggest success story. In the months before its release, jokes about the impending Titanic-sized box-office disaster swirled. But when it finally came out, it went on to become the highest-grossing film of all time for 12 years until Avatar—another James Cameron creation—took its spot in 2009. It nabbed 11 Oscars (and was nominated for 14 total).

The Bourne Identity (2002)

The first of what’s now the Bourne series, The Bourne Identity was slated for a September 2001 release but didn’t end up hitting theaters until June 2002 thanks to delays caused by reshoots and rewrites.

Box office: $121.7 million

Critics: EW gave it a C+; it has an 83 percent on Rotten Tomatoes

Bottom line: Critics praised the film for its action sequences and and Matt Damon’s performance as the title character, and it was also a commercial success that birthed the extremely popular Bourne franchise.

Margaret (2011)

Margaret was filmed in 2005 but didn’t come out until 2011. The long delay was because director Kenneth Lonergan was guaranteed complete control over the film as long as his submitted film ran no longer than 150 minutes. He ignored that, and ended up submitting a three-hour-long film that prompted lawsuits between him and the studio. Lonergan, though, claims it was his producer, Megan Ellison, who encouraged him to spend the extra time on it. “To her credit, she said, ‘I think you want a little more time,’ and I think it was a really great decision,” Lonergan told EW. “So we just spent a little more time finishing it.”

Box office: $46,495

Critics: EW gave it a B-; it has a 75 percent on Rotten Tomatoes

Bottom line: Lonergan’s previous movie, You Can Count on Me, was a critical success, so audiences were excited to see what he would do with Margaret—but evidently not too excited: The film, which had a $14 million budget, brought in a abysmal amount at the box office, although it did fare better with critics.

The Tree of Life (2011)

Terrence Malick’s Tree of Life had a couple of release dates: The first was Christmas Day 2009, but the movie wasn’t done in time; the second was late 2010, but distribution issues prevented it from reaching U.S. theaters until May 27, 2011.

Box office: $13.3 million

Critics: EW gave it a B+; it has an 84 percent on Rotten Tomatoes

Bottom line: Sure, The Tree of Life didn’t make waves at the box office, but it was never going to: As an experimental, reflective film, it’s a film for the critics and the patient filmgoers, not for the masses. It was nominated for three Oscars, including Best Picture, proving that in those critical circles, it was a success.

The Lone Ranger (2012)

Because of budget concerns that prompted production setbacks, Disney’s The Lone Ranger didn’t meet its first projected release date in 2011 and then again in 2012. The movie, starring Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer, ended up with $215 million budget and July 2013 release date.

Box office: $89.3 million

Critics: EW gave it a C; it has a 31 percent on Rotten Tomatoes

Bottom line: The Lone Ranger underperformed at the box office and lost a lot of money. A lot. Audiences didn’t like it, critics didn’t like it, and it was nominated for five Razzies—the opposite of the Oscars (although it was nominated for Oscars for best visual effects and best makeup).

The Cabin in the Woods (2012)

This Joss Whedon horror project was first slated for a 2010 release, but that was nixed so they could convert the film to 3D for a 2011 release date. Then its studio, MGM, had financial problems so the release was delayed once again. Lionsgate eventually acquired The Cabin in the Woods, and it came out April 2012.

Box office: $42 million

Critics: EW gave it a B-; it has a 91 percent on Rotten Tomatoes

Bottom line: The Cabin in the Woods isn’t just a horror movie, but a horror movie that toys with the genre in a way that critics and audiences loved. Even though it only came out two years ago, The Cabin in the Woods has already worked its way into the pantheon of beloved horror movies.

The Great Gatsby (2013)

Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation was supposed to hit theaters December 2012 but in August, the studio announced audiences would have to wait until summer 2013 to see Leonardo DiCaprio as Gatsby. Warner Bros. said their desire to reach “the largest audience possible” motivated the date change.

Box office: $144.8 domestically

Critics: EW gave it a B-; it has a 48 percent on Rotten Tomatoes

Bottom line: While waiting didn’t help out in the movie-review department, the film did bring people to the theaters—and that’s exactly what Warner Bros. wanted.

Captain Phillips (2013)

Outlets originally reported that Sony would be releasing Captain Phillips, a fact-based film starring Tom Hanks, in March 2013, but it didn’t hit theaters until October 2013—most likely so it would have a better chance during awards season.

Box office: $107.1 million

Critics: EW gave it a B+; it has a 93 percent on Rotten Tomatoes

Bottom line: If Sony did change the release date so Captain Phillips would have a better chance at snagging nominations, it worked: The movie was nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture. It garnered critical acclaim and was a big box-office success, earning almost double its $55 million budget in the U.S.