From Batgirl to Quentin Tarantino’s lost comedy: 9 movies that were scrapped during or after production

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It goes without saying that making any film is a pretty mammoth undertaking.

You’ve got to assemble a team of actors, a crew, a script, a director – and you need to make sure the money’s even there to make it in the first place.

Sometimes, even if all the different components manage to fall into place, something still can go disastrously wrong.

The history books are littered with projects that never managed to make it into production. But what about the ones that made it as far as filming before being buried?

This might be the result of a terrible accident, a financial snafu, or a change of management at a studio.

On 2 August 2022, it was revealed that the planned DC Comics adaptation Batgirl was being pulled from release – despite having already been filmed in its entirety.

The blockbuster starred Leslie Grace, and would have featured a return from Michael Keaton in the role of Batman.

Here are 11 movies that were scrapped during or after production.

Batgirl

Despite already being completed and costing $90m (£73.7m) to make, Batgirl was shelved this year, just months before its scheduled release.

The DC film starred Leslie Grace in the lead role of Barbara Gordon.

“The decision to not release Batgirl reflects our leadership’s strategic shift as it relates to the DC universe and HBO Max,” a Warner Bros Picture spokesperson said. “Leslie Grace is an incredibly talented actor and this decision is not a reflection of her performance.”

Batgirl has fallen victim to a changing regime at Warner Bros. It was originally made as a HBO Max release, but was reportedly set to be released theatrically.

Leslie Grace in ‘Batgirl’

(Warner Bros Discovery)

My Best Friend’s Birthday

Quentin Tarantino’s first film was not in fact Reservoir Dogs, but My Best Friend’s Birthday, an amateurish black-and-white comedy which starred Tarantino and his old video store associate Craig Hamann.

The film was finished in 1987, five years before Reservoir Dogs hit screens.

While it would not have been given a wide release anyway, the film was damaged in a fire at the development lab, destroying half the footage.

The film’s full script and a compilation made from the surviving footage are available on the internet for Tarantino obsessives to explore.

The Day the Clown Cried

Jerry Lewis’s legendary lost film saw the comedian play German circus clown who is arrested and sent to a concentration camp after ridiculing Hitler.

The few people who saw early cuts of the film were damning in their assessments; The Simpsons star Harry Shearer once wrote: “This movie is so drastically wrong, its pathos and its comedy are so wildly misplaced, that you could not, in your fantasy of what it might be like, improve on what it really is.”

Copyright disputes involving producer Nathan Wachsberger have meant that the film never saw the light of day.

Who Killed Bambi?

Revered film critic Roger Ebert teamed up with Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren to write this punk-rock spin on Hard Day’s Night.

Russ Meyer was attached to direct, with the Sex Pistols themselves starring. However, filming was abandoned just a few days into production.

Various disputed reasons for the film’s collapse have been posited by those involved, with objections from Fox studios, a personal intervention from 20th Century Fox board member Grace Kelly, and – perhaps most likely – financing struggles all variously attributed to the film’s abandonment.

Number 13

Alfred Hitchcock’s first film was 1922’s Number 13, a socio-political drama. Clare Greet and Ernest Thesiger were attached to star as a husband and wife couple.

Filming was abandoned midway through, however, after financing fell through.

Alfred Hitchcock pictured in 1926

(Getty Images)

Gore

In 2017, a biopic of the late writer Gore Vidal was cancelled by Netflix after its star, Kevin Spacey, was accused of sexual misconduct.

The film was already in post-production. Michael Stuhlbarg, who co-starred as Vidal’s longtime partner, Howard Austen, later addressed the film’s abandonment in an interview.

“I understand what’s going on,” he said. “Honestly, we all have some hope that perhaps… over time there will be a chance for people to see it in the light in which it was meant to be seen.”

Bogart Slept Here

Mike Nichols was two weeks into directing this 1975 film, based on a script by Neil Simon, when production was shut down for good.

The reason reportedly concerned the film’s star, Robert De Niro, whose Method-inflected style of acting failed to gel with Simon’s dialogue.

Bogart Slept Here was later reworked and filmed as The Goodbye Girl two years later.

10 Things I Hate About life

Few cancelled films have proved as controversial as 10 Things I Hate About Life, a spiritual sequel to Gil Junger’s 1999 hit 10 Things I Hate About You.

The film, which focuses on two characters who meet while attempting to take their own lives and fall in love, was to star Evan Rachel Wood and Thomas McDonell.

Two months of filming took place in 2012, but had to be abandoned due to Wood’s pregnancy and management changes at the film’s production company.

Though production had been meant to resume in 2013, it never did. Producers have sued Wood for breach of contract, while Wood’s lawyer has alleged that she was never adequately paid for work already completed.

Evan Rachel Wood was set to star in the now-abandoned project

(Getty Images)

I, Claudius

1937 Roman epic I, Claudius remains one of the most infamous unfinished films ever (almost) made.

Filming was called off partway through after one of the stars, Merle Oberon, was injured in a car accident. Some historians and commentators have speculated that the injury was used as a pretext to excuse fierce creative divisions between producer Alexander Korda and the film’s lead, Charles Laughton.

The film became the subject of the 1965 documentary The Epic That Never Was.

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