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Movie Delays That Outraged Fans

Loyal fanbases can be as much of a curse as they are a blessing. They can be a pivotal tool in drumming up anticipation for a feature film. However, if they get agitated, they can also inspire toxic buzz that can be hard to shake if you're not part of a financially foolproof franchise like the Marvel Cinematic Universe. One way to get these fanbases all riled up is by doing something as drastic as shifting the release date of a highly anticipated movie. Not only do these individuals like to see things when they were initially promised they'd see them, but release date postponements are often associated with a lack of confidence in a movie, which can inspire concern from these groups.

Over the years, a variety of movies, ranging from entries in the biggest franchises of all time to one-off R-rated features, have ended up inspiring outright outrage from fans because of their respective decisions to delay their release dates. Examining these postponements and the reactions they inspired, one can get the full grasp of how those often-helpful loyal fanbases can also provide headaches for people tasked with releasing major theatrical features.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

The release plan for the "Harry Potter" movies initially seemed set in stone. Starting with "Prisoner of Azkaban," the individual installments would alternate between summertime and November releases before the series wrapped up with the two "Deathly Hollows" movies released across eight months in 2010 and 2011. This initial course of action entailed "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" dropping into theaters in November 2008. To prepare for that debut, Warner Bros. dropped the film's first announcement teaser on the studio's "The Dark Knight" in July 2008. Further marketing materials began to trickle out at the start of August 2008, all preparing the general public for a new "Harry Potter" project to arrive by the end of the year.

However, just as this marketing campaign began, a drastic adjustment occurred. Warner Bros. announced that "Half-Blood Prince" would now debut in theaters in July 2009 instead. This was a whopping eight-month delay from its original date and resulted in a two-year gap between "Half-Blood Prince" and its predecessor. Needless to say, "Harry Potter" fans were not pleased with this abrupt decision, with the Los Angeles Times reporting widespread outrage in the fanbase over this alteration in scheduling. Though this change in the initial release schedule for the "Harry Potter" movies resulted in irritated fans and an amusingly out-of-date Entertainment Weekly cover, Warner Bros. likely has no regrets over this decision, given how lucrative "Half-Blood Prince" turned out to be in the summer 2009 marketplace.

The Hobbit

Making more movies set in Peter Jackson's vision of Middle-earth should've been a slam dunk, considering how lucrative the original "Lord of the Rings" movies were. But the "Hobbit" films were plagued by endless setbacks, including legal issues over who actually owned the film rights to these particular J.R.R. Tolkien novels. There were also difficulties securing a director to helm the features, with Guillermo del Toro attached to direct the series for multiple years before he suddenly departed the project.

One of the biggest setbacks came at the start of 2010 due to the then-ongoing financial issues of co-financier MGM. This was the biggest of several factors that inspired the first "Hobbit" movie to vacate its original 2011 release date and shift over to December 2012. Naturally, Middle-earth fans were not pleased with further problems keeping this book from coming to the screen. That Autumn, the Los Angeles Times reported on positive developments for the "Hobbit" movies by noting that the constant delays suffered by the adaptation had "frustrated eager fans." 

The blowback against these postponements became so severe that Peter Jackson even took to outlets like Collider and attempted to say that the films had never technically been delayed due to the project's never getting officially greenlit. This didn't go over well with the fans, who had seen countless projected release dates go up in smoke over the many years "The Hobbit" struggled to start filming.

Shutter Island

In the summer of 2009, moviegoers got their first glimpse of "Shutter Island," Martin Scorsese's follow-up project to his first Best Picture-winning movie ("The Departed"). The initial teaser trailer promised something spooky as well as a film equally heavy on ambiguity and thick accents. This first trailer also promised an early October 2009 release date, which would place Scorsese's next movie in the heart of awards season. Given how 21st-century Martin Scorsese projects like "Gangs of New York" and "The Aviator" had become awards juggernauts after debuting at the end of the year, it appeared "Shutter Island" was poised to become another acclaimed smash.

Then, Paramount Pictures opted to push "Shutter Island" out of awards season to February 2010. The response to this development was not rosy. The Guardian penned a piece noting that the shift "spells bad news for director Martin Scorsese and star Leonardo DiCaprio" and that it was an early warning sign that the film would not live up to the reputation of "The Departed." Similarly glib sentiments were found all over the internet in response to the sudden postponement, with The Week going as far as to say it was a reflection of a movie that indicated Scorsese had lost his touch as a filmmaker. Though not everybody received the news of the film's new release date well, it turned out to be a solid move in retrospect, since "Shutter Island" ended up becoming a box office hit in February 2010.

The New Mutants

"The New Mutants" was once meant to be a very simple project. Set to release in April 2018, it would have been a low-budget spin-off from the main "X-Men" movies with a horror vibe. However, just after its marketing campaign began in October 2017, the film was suddenly delayed by 10 months to February 2019. The reason given for the delay was due to reshoots, which was also the explanation for a further postponement to August 2019. Both the Disney purchase of 20th Century Fox as well as the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic inspired further shifts all the way to August 2020, its eventual release date.

These persistent delays ensured that "The New Mutants" would never be able to known as anything else than a movie that couldn't stick to its release date. In March 2020, Complex published a piece chronicling series of tweets making glib jokes and expressing underlying frustration with how often "The New Mutants" had been given new spots on the calendar. In the end, all of those shifts didn't even help "The New Mutants" stand out at the box office, as the project ended the original "X-Men" franchise on a financial whimper. With all those delays irritating its core audience, "The New Mutants" was a once-simple project that turned into a chaotic punchline.


"Fanboys" was meant to be a raunchy comedy appealing directly to "Star Wars" nerds and other internet geeks with its story about a bunch of friends who try to sneak a peek at "The Phantom Menace" before it hits theaters. In a retrospective oral history conducted for its 10th anniversary, Thrillist interviewed members of the cast and crew, who noted how much buzz the film had from general movie fans and "Star Wars" geeks alike. The film even premiered at "the first European 'Star Wars' Celebration," explained director Kyle Newman. "I flew over alone and showed my cut for over 1,000 fans. This was the first real litmus test, the core audience! ... Once the film ended, the audience went nuts. In fact, the movie received an over four-minute standing ovation, which I filmed and showed to Harvey [Weinstein], who was extremely pleased. That screening became legendary, because fan reaction spread online and 'Star Wars' fans immediately became excited for it. And protective of it. Sadly, [practically] no one else has ever seen that cut of the film."

Incessant postponements of "Fanboys" on the hands of studio executive meddling from folks like Harvey Weinstein, who wanted to turn the movie into something reminiscent of then-recent comedy hits like "The 40-Year-Old Virgin," ensured that "Fanboys" could never commit to a release date. In the process, all that initial hype over "Fanboys" evaporated, and it alienated the only moviegoers who would be passionate about its subject matter.

Jurassic World

It can be hard to remember now that a third "Jurassic World" movie is on its way to theaters, but there was a time when it looked like a fourth "Jurassic Park" movie was doomed to be as impossible as actually cloning dinosaurs. For years, this installment in the franchise was plagued by setbacks and concepts that never actually went anywhere. It finally looked like a new "Jurassic Park" was getting off the drawing board, though, in January 2013, when a June 2014 release date was announced, and Collin Trevorrow was set in the director's chair.

These promising updates were followed up by the news that the then-untitled "Jurassic Park 4" was pulled from Universal's release schedule. Initially, the news looked especially bleak, with First Showing reporting comments from crew members that the project had been canceled entirely. This cause an uproar from disappointed "Jurassic Park" fans, who were discouraged that yet another setback had claimed this project. The gloom surrounding this postponement was exacerbated by the fact that Universal didn't initially set up a new date for it. However, the studio quickly swooped in and clarified the official reason for the delay: The creators of this film wanted more time to get the long-anticipated sequel right. 

History has proven that, despite the many setbacks and delays "Jurassic Park 4" endured, ultimately, there was nothing to worry about. The project would eventually become "Jurassic World" and settle into a June 2015 date. 

Godzilla vs. Kong

If you're a kaiju movie fan, the prospect of seeing a new modern take on "Godzilla vs. Kong" was an enticing one. The MonsterVerse had been building up to the project for years through individual "Godzilla" and "Kong" movies, and originally, the production was set to debut in a Spring 2020 release date. However, the head of Warner Bros. hinted in the summer of 2019 that the project would get a further delay to ensure it was as good as possible, a development that came to pass at the end of the year when "Godzilla vs. Kong" was delayed eight months to November 2020.

The shift inspired puzzled reactions from those anticipating the project, with sites like Fandom Wire suggesting that the lack of promotional materials for the production and all the release date uncertainty were reflections of Warner Bros./Legendary Pictures having little faith in the project. This segment of the population got extra discouraged when "Godzilla vs. Kong" was further delayed to the summer of 2021 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Eventually, "Godzilla vs. Kong" was given one more release date adjustment to March 2021. Though this production moved around the calendar more than the ground under the feet of Kong, the miffed fans apparently didn't sit out seeing the final "Godzilla vs. Kong" product, judging from its strong box office.

Dark Phoenix

Originally, "Dark Phoenix" was set to take the "X-Men" series into new territory: November. This installment in the franchise was initially set for a November 2018 bow, a departure from the summertime debuts for all other main "X-Men" movies. However, the need for extensive reshoots led to "Dark Phoenix" abandoning that slot and instead taking on a February 2019 date. It held onto that date until a day after it dropped its first trailer, at which time it was set for a June 2019 release.

Such a marketing snafu, as well as just the general ongoing delays for "Dark Phoenix," did nothing to help the movie's troubled reputation. Just days before "Dark Phoenix" hit theaters, The Hollywood Reporter published a piece about the film's marketing effort. This article noted how mixed responses to the initial "Dark Phoenix" trailer were delivered alongside intense skepticism over why it took so long to get released. These kinds of fan reactions were also reflected in a piece by Business Insider, which noted that "Dark Phoenix" was a movie that fans were approaching with a heavy dose of skepticism. Clearly, this was an "X-Men" production in need of all the PR help it could get, and a barrage of release date adjustments did "Dark Phoenix" no favors. 

In the end, frustrating fans with its rescheduling was the least of "Dark Phoenix's" worries, since it became a colossal money loser. All that effort to find the perfect release date ended up being for naught.

Avatar 2

When "Avatar" became the biggest film of all time at the worldwide box office, it was an inevitability that it would garner sequels. James Cameron's original promise for more Pandora adventures soon transformed into concrete plans to deliver a whole series of "Avatar" follow-ups. In January 2011, Cameron announced plans for a pair of "Avatar" sequels to hit movie theaters in December 2014 and December 2015. Those dates would end up getting shifted a bit.

In the years that would follow, the two "Avatar" sequels would evolve into a quartet of features while also getting further kicked down the road. By 2020, websites like Distractify were highlighting how often people were making jokes about the constant "Avatar" sequel delays. 

Though fans and critics of the original "Avatar" were equally irritated by the persistent postponements for new "Avatar" movies, James Cameron's commitment to shoving these projects to new release dates has a purpose. The filmmaker has a desire to polish the scripts to their optimal possible levels. Per some of the film's actors, all that work has paid off substantially. "I'm telling you, these scripts are so amazing, I'm not worried about [disappointing fans] at all," Sigourney Weaver told The Hollywood Reporter about the "Avatar" sequels. "Am I worried about how we're going to bring them to life? Yes, because they're so ambitious. They're so worth it. They're well worth waiting for. I'm not worried about that at all." 

Black Widow

It took an extremely long amount of time for a "Black Widow" movie to become a reality. After years of fan demand and promises from Marvel Studios brass to work on such a film, the project finally became a reality. At the start of 2020, it looked like nothing could stop the 24th movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with a large-scale marketing effort underway for director Cate Shortland's "Black Widow," which would debut in May 2020. However, nobody could've predicted that the COVID-19 pandemic would set all theatrical release plans into disarray, causing "Black Widow" to get delayed later into 2020.

From there, "Black Widow" began a game of constant release date postponements. Initially set to drop in November 2020, the feature was further delayed to May 2021 and then one last time to July 2021. The continued release date tweaks were in response to the ongoing pandemic and how it was affecting theatrical exhibition across the planet. Despite the severe circumstances informing the film's release date changes, individuals who had been long awaiting "Black Widow" still grew frustrated with all the new dates. ComicBook.com eventually posted a piece compiling various social media reactions from people who were disgruntled with Disney constantly delaying "Black Widow" further and further into the future. Even in a worldwide health crisis, the experience of fans getting outraged over release date delays will still go on, though the strong box office figures for "Black Widow" indicate that fans weren't too miffed.