Let’s take it back to the summer of 2014: It was a simpler time, when Democrats controlled the Senate and lemonade was still just a refreshing beverage. It was also a season that would birth one of the most epic clusterf—s in movie marketing history, when director Justin Chadwick and then-burgeoning stars Alicia Vikander, Cara Delevingne, and Dane DeHaan set out to make a little period drama called Tulip Fever.
Though the film — originally set to star Keira Knightley and Jude Law, with John Madden directing — appeared on the tips of awards pundits’ tongues in the ensuing months thanks to the addition of Oscar-verified talent like Christoph Waltz and Judi Dench, it quickly became clear Tulip Fever was perhaps more of a shrinking violet than a flourishing bouquet. The film was previewed at Cannes in May 2015, and it would take another two years of delayed release dates and canceled pre-screenings for the Weinstein Co. to lock in a final release date of Sept. 1, 2017 — more than three years after cameras stopped rolling.
With the film now playing in theaters nationwide, let’s reflect on those bygone days, when Beyoncé (the album) was a mere nine months old, Amy Pascal’s emails were still private, and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign was but a hurricane of brainstorming texts sent to Huma Abedin’s iPhone 5s. Here’s a list of notable cultural happenings that have shocked, awed, and everything-in-betweened since Tulip Fever began filming.
Meryl Streep became a meme
What’s Tulip Fever again?
Alicia Vikander won an Oscar …
Still pre-Ex Machina when filming for Tulip Fever ended, Vikander had yet to solidify herself as a Hollywood commodity. Several months after she left the Fever set, production began on Tom Hooper’s The Danish Girl, which would wrap, release, and win Vikander her first Academy Award in the Best Supporting Actress category well over a year before Tulip Fever would see the light of day.
… and also filmed a big-budget action movie
Taking the reins from Angelina Jolie, who launched the big-screen version of famed video game icon Lara Croft in 2001’s Tomb Raider, Vikander was cast in the character’s live-action origin story, to be directed by The Wave helmer Roar Uthaug. The extensive shoot reportedly began in January 2017 and lasted through the summer, ahead of a March 16, 2018 release date. Furthermore, since 2014, four games in the Tomb Raider series have seen the light of day, including a major sequel to the 2013 title that laid the foundation for the upcoming film’s plot.
Mariah Carey befriended a dolphin
Madonna tumbled down a flight of stairs :(
Perhaps attempting to prophesy Tulip Fever‘s likely box office performance (she is a divine entity with mystic foresight), Madonna took a nasty fall on the set of the Brit Awards on Feb. 25, 2015.
Youth of America declared they’re ‘tired,’ ‘stressed,’ and ‘bored’ :'( :'( :'(
According to a 2015 survey, most teens felt “tired,” “stressed,” and “bored” — not waiting for Tulip Fever to be released, but during regular school hours.
Costars Cara Delevingne and Dane DeHaan filmed, promoted, and released a VFX-intensive sci-fi epic
Sure, Valerian was a domestic flop, but Luc Besson’s sci-fi epic reunited Tulip Fever costars DeHaan and Delevingne for an intensive, effects-heavy shoot on a budget of approximately $175 million, making it the most expensive French film ever made. And still, the project was cast, filmed throughout 2016, post-produced, and released (on July 21 of this year) before Tulip Fever hit screens.
Harvey Weinstein wrote an op-ed in defense of the long-delayed project
Days before the movie was pegged to hit theaters, as many in the film community speculated whether Tulip Fever would meet its seemingly locked-and-loaded Sept. 1 release date, Harvey Weinstein, who’d been attached to the project in one way or another for several years, wrote an optimistic piece for Deadline Hollywood, prompting viewers to go in with an open mind.
“Last night I attended a screening of the film hosted by Tina Brown, Arianna Huffington, Martha Stewart, and Robbie Myers,” he wrote. “We had the likes of Julie Taymor, Daniel Silva (author of the Gabriel Allon series), Nelson DeMille (author of too many bestsellers to mention), Nanette Lepore, Cynthia Rowley, Trudie Styler, and Jennifer Morrison there. I spoke to the audience before the film — I was honest and let them know about the history of the movie but I asked them to have an open mind. Right after it finished, people were coming over to tell me how much they enjoyed the film. … As we near the end of the summer, after so many great films like Dunkirk, Good Time, Atomic Blonde and our own Wind River, Tulip Fever is a smart film for adults. And even if we don’t get a happy ending for the people behind it, my hope is that audiences will at least recognize the talent that went into making it and sticking with it.”
Weinstein also didn’t miss an opportunity to toot his own horn, revealing that Vikander’s mom’s friend reached out to the actress to “tell her how much she enjoyed it.” Picture it on the DVD cover: “‘I enjoyed it,’ — Alicia Vikander’s mom’s friend.”
America chose a new president
Perhaps the only thing on this list more grueling than anticipating Tulip Fever for three years, America headed to the polls to elect a new president in November 2016 after an exhausting election cycle that saw the nation split into two clear-cut camps. If early reviews for Tulip Fever are any indication, the gap could be bridged by near universal disdain for the film.
Beyoncé out-Beyoncé’d herself
In 2013, when she dropped her self-titled album without any prior warning, Beyoncé helped usher in a new era of promotional tactics in the music industry, her name becoming a verb synonymous with surprise releases. She was likely hard at work on the album’s follow-up, Lemonade, while Vikander and company filmed, ultimately unveiling the LP, a companion film, and a new era in her career, on April 23, 2016 — long before Weinstein locked in a confirmed release date for Tulip Fever.
The Academy invited 1,779 people to join its voting ranks
Tulip Fever initially stoked awards buzz after its Cannes sneak peek, thanks to its elaborate costumes and high-profile talent. But critical reviews are heading south (the film stands at a 37 on Metacritic), and the film academy has shifted so far away from tradition in recent years thanks to a series of diversity initiatives that it’s difficult to imagine a traditional period picture being received with such enthusiasm, even if its trajectory hadn’t ultimately been defined by its distribution-based woes.