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C'MON HOLLYWOOD: Clear off the shelf!

06.16.2011

Shelved. That's what the industry calls it when, for one reason or another, a studio opts not to release one of their films in a timely fashion. The reasons vary. Sometimes, for some reason or other, big chunks of films are tinkered with and re-shot. A famous example of this was the Mel Gibson vehicle, PAYBACK, which was taken away from director Brian Helgeland, and had the last forty minutes completely scrapped. This happens more than we know, with rumours that the recent bomb, JONAH HEX had huge chunks re-shot (with the finished film coming out at a mere 80 minutes- although considering how bad it was, that's probably still too long).

Other times, a film is deemed beyond saving, and winds up with a marginal release, or gets sent straight to Cable/DVD. That happened to two recent Weinstein Company films, KILLSHOT and FANBOYS, with the latter even being partially re-shot, before having that version scrapped as well. The Weinstein's have a bad record with shelving films, with them having dozens of films that collected dust throughout their Miramax reign, and were released en-masse before their exit in 2004. Apparently, they're still up to their old tricks, with their company popping up more than other on the following list.

Currently, there are dozens of films sitting on the shelf, waiting for a release, but what makes this slate unique, is how high-profile, and well pedigreed they seem. More than ever, it seems more of a question of economics -i.e, whether a film can sell - rather than it's quality. The following is a list of film that have wrapped shooting, and are currently gathering dust on a studio shelf.


RED DAWN / CABIN IN THE WOODS : The reason these two films, both of which happen to star Chris Hemsworth, who's arguably A-list now after THOR, are gathering dust is due to MGM's financial difficulties. Word has it that the RED DAWN remake is getting a whole slew of re-shoots to change the villains from the Chinese to the North Koreans, in an effort not to miss out on that all important foreign box-office, which I suppose was not taken into account when this started production. I'm more surprised that CABIN IN THE WOODS, a Joss Whedon production, hasn't yet seen the light of day, with it originally due for release more than a year ago. Even though MGM is back on it's feet, it's still sitting on the shelf, waiting for a release.


LONDON BOULEVARD : Screenwriter William Monahan's directorial debut, which is supposedly a gritty British gangland thriller modelled on films like GET CARTER. Considering the cast (led by Colin Farrell and Keira Knightley) it's strange this hasn't gotten a North American release, or some film festival play. However, it has already been released by Warner Bros in the UK, and bootlegged copies have been floating around the torrent sites for months. JoBlo's own Johnny Moreno cuaght a screening of it at some point, and assured me that it's a winner.

SHANGHAI / THE FACTORY : Not one, but two thrillers starring John Cusack have been shelved, with THE FACTORY having been completed way back in 2008. Considering it's a Dark Castle/ Joel Silver genre film, one would think the film would have made it to the screens at some point even if it happens to be awful. SHANGHAI is even more confounding, with it being a $50 million period piece co-starring Chow Yun-Fat, Gong Li, Ken Watanabe, and Jeffrey Dean Morgan, all of whom have an audience. Of course, it also happens to be a Weinstein Company film, so this should not come as too much of a surprise. Like LONDON BOULEVARD, it's also gotten a foreign release (June 2010 in China, where it managed to gross $10 million on the strength of it's A-list Asian cast), and has since made it's way to the torrents. The reviews have been pretty decent.


ALL THE BOYS LOVE MANDY LANE: Another Weinstein Company film, with them having acquired it back in 2006 after a successful film festival run, including TIFF and SXSW. Reviews have been glowing, and it put Amber Heard on the map, and also launched the career of director Jonathan Levine, who later won the Sundance Grand Jury prize for THE WACKNESS. Like many other films on this list, it's also readily available on torrent sites.

HIPPIE HIPPIE SHAKE: Oscar bait from Working Title films starring Cillian Murphy and Sienna Miller, and based on the life of Richard Neville, editor of the Swinging Sixties London magazine OZ. This one went into production way back in 2007, but has not only sat on the shelf, but also lost director Beeban Kidron in the process, who quit and has taken her name off the film. This means that when (if) HIPPIE HIPPIE SHAKE finally does see a release, it may be the first film credited to a pseudonym since SUPERNOVA (Walter Hill- credited as Thomas Lee).

HOW I SPENT MY SUMMER VACATION : A gritty prison flick starring, and produced by Mel Gibson. Anyone wonder why this is sitting on the shelf? Gibson's personal problems have left this without a distributor, even though it's already been rated by the BBFC (a promising 18A for Strong Violence), meaning that it's locked.

For my money, all of these films seem worthy of a release. Some of them, like CABIN IN THE WOODS, and RED DAWN, seem very commercial, and could probably be big money makers. Others, like HOW I SPENT MY SUMMER VACATION, just need an adventurous distributor. As for the Weinstein titles, there's simply no excuse, especially as far as MANDY LANE is concerned, as by shelving them, they taint the films as damaged goods, or unreleasable, despite loads of evidence to the contrary. A DVD/Blu-ray release at the very least, is a must.

Extra Tidbit: Anyone else know of some promising films sitting on the shelf?
Source: JoBlo.com

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