Don’s Plum

One of the most infamous cliques in Hollywood, the ‘P***y Posse’ counted Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, and Lukas Haas amongst its members. The Posse’s members were infamous for their womanising and generally hooligan-like behaviour, and at some point someone had the bright idea to document their exploits. Safe to say the resulting film, entitled Don’s Plum, did not paint the actors in a good light, and DiCaprio and Maguire launched an extremely expensive – and ultimately successful – legal bid to stop the movie’s release.

Unlawful Killing

A fever dream of half-baked conspiracy theories, Unlawful Killing is a documentary financed by Mohamed Al-Fayed to investigate the deaths of his son Dodi Fayed and Princess Diana. Unsurprisingly, the film focusses primarily on the premise that the British Royal Family orchestrated the fatal car crash due to damaging revelations that Diana made about her marriage to Prince Charles. British and US censors refused to release the film without significant cuts – for example, a scene comparing Prince Phillip to Fred West – which director Keith Allen was unwilling to make.

My Best Friend’s Birthday

Before he became one of Hollywood’s most iconic auteurs, Quentin Tarantino was a video store worker with big dreams. The first film that the director made was called My Best Friend’s Birthday and revolved around a man whose attempts to do something nice to mark his friend’s birthday backfire in increasingly comical ways. Tarantino shot over 70 minutes of film, but a fire in the film lab he was editing in destroyed much of the footage. The remaining half hour has been screened at various film festivals, but has never been made commercially available.

Empires of the Deep

Inspired by the wild success of James Cameron’s Avatar, the Chinese film industry decided to try and make their own alien epic. Empires of the Deep had a budget of $130 million and managed to get former Bond girl Olga Kurylenko on board, but the film was bogged down by the weight of its own lofty ambitions and lack of a clear vision. After a troubled production that saw several directors come and go, the producers finally managed to get enough material to cobble together a trailer in 2011. This was met with universal mockery and the film was shelved, presumably out of embarrassment.

Hippie Hippie Shake

Starring Cillian Murphy and Sienna Miller, Hippie Hippie Shake is based on the memoir of Richard Neville, an Australian counterculture activist who was put on trial in the 60s for the “obscene” content of his magazine, Oz. Despite having been completed over a decade ago, the film has never been released. No reasons have been provided, but it’s suspected that opposition from the people the film is based on is at least partially to blame. Feminist author Germaine Greer was particularly scathing, telling Emma Booth – who portrays Greer in the film – to “get an honest job.”

Fantastic Four

Neue Constantin, a German production company, purchased the rights to the Fantastic Four franchise for the princely sum of $250,000 in 1983. The company then proceeded to do absolutely nothing with them, and when 1992 rolled round they suddenly found themselves facing the prospect of their agreement expiring. A low-budget production was hurriedly slapped together, with filming lasting less than a month. The resulting car crash was never released, but Neue Constantin managed to avoid losing the rights.

The Day the Clown Cried

Jerry Lewis was initially reluctant to make The Day the Clown Cried – the story of a clown in a World War II concentration camp – as he was worried it would negatively affect his comedy career. Eventually Lewis relented, agreeing to both star in and direct the film, feeling it was important to highlight the horrors of the Nazi regime – but he would come to regret this decision. On top of being badly misconceived, the film was plagued with financial difficulties, with Lewis himself forced to cough up funds to keep production going. Eventually, after disputes with producer Nat Wachsberger, Lewis bailed out of the project. It was never completed beyond a rough draft, and Lewis took legal steps to keep it from ever being released.

Dark Blood

Directed by George Sluizer, Dark Blood starred River Phoenix as a man who becomes convinced of the coming apocalypse after his wife dies of radiation poisoning. Tragically, Phoenix passed away during a drug binge before production completed, leaving around 20% of the film unfinished. Phoenix’s younger brother Joaquin rejected Sluizer’s request to fill in for the final scenes, and Dark Blood remains incomplete, although a version with narration replacing the missing scenes has been screened at film festivals.

The Brave

The first and to date last film to be directed by Johnny Depp (who also starred), The Brave follows the story of a Native American man struggling with poverty who agrees to appear in a snuff film. The film screened at the 1997 Cannes Film Festival, where it was blasted by the critics. Depp’s feelings were clearly hurt and he withdrew the film from US distribution, claiming that he was being unfairly maligned by the press out of jealousy. However, while it never hit screens in the US, The Brave was released to DVD in other territories.

Black Water Transit

Described as a Die Hard-esque thriller, Black Water Transit is based on the novel of the same name by Carsten Stroud, and follows a Federal investigation into an arms dealer in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The film stars Laurence Fishburne, Karl Urban and Stephen Dorff – screened at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival but was immediately hit with a slew of lawsuits, some of which allegedly involved director Tony Kaye’s unhinged behaviour during production. The litigation promptly put the brakes on the movie’s release, and it never saw the light of day.