Sometimes movies mimic real life a little too closely. For example, a movie about American gun violence would not have been well received in the wake of the Columbine school shooting in 1999. Although these films never intended to offend anyone, their subject matter ended up raising eyebrows when their fictional plot lines blurred with actual tragedies a little too easily.
Imgur user profoundwhatever has put together an excellent list of movies that, for various reasons, ended up having horrible timing. Many of these flicks were delayed for long periods of time after a real world incident changed society’s tolerance on acceptable entertainment. Some were pulled from the public altogether.
10. The China Syndrome (1979)
Released less than two weeks before the partial meltdown of the Three Mile Island nuclear facility in Pennsylvania, The China Syndrome was a Jane Fonda/Jack Lemon thriller about a television reporter who discovered safety cover-ups at a nuclear power plant.
In an attempt to save face after the Three Mile Island disaster, Columbia Pictures pulled the movie from theaters. They didn’t want anyone to think they were taking advantage of something that caused unspeakable environmental damage and cost an estimated $1 billion and 14 years to clean up.
9. Space Camp (1986)
Space Camp had a fairly simple plot—a group of young space campers must figure out how to safely return to Earth after they accidentally launch a shuttle they are in. It was never going to be a great movie, but it had the misfortune of releasing just five months after the Challenger disaster—where Americans witnessed seven people die on live TV when a shuttle exploded shortly after launching from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
Space Camp bombed. Maybe it would have regardless, but the memories of the Challenger were still fresh in the minds of the movie-going public.
8. Body Parts (1991)
An easily forgotten thriller/horror film, Body Parts is the story of a doctor who loses an arm in a car accident and has it surgically replaced by a new arm. The catch is that the new arm belonged to a serial killer, and the good doctor starts to have murderous urges as a result of his new appendage.
Paramount Studios pulled all advertising for the film when police found a score of dismembered bodies in the home of Jeffery Dahmer, who would go on to be known as one of America’s most notorious killers. The film fizzled out.
7. O (2001)
Shakespeare’s Othello is a violent tragedy, filled with racism, jealousy, and revenge. It makes for a great story, and it was adapted in 2001 to the setting of an all-white high school in the Southern United States. Staying true to the source material, four of the school’s teenagers are murdered during the film.
However, O was supposed to actually be released in April of 1999. That was the same month that two teenage gunman terrorized Columbine High School in a tragedy that shook the nation and left 15 people dead and 24 injured. The studio decided to hold back on releasing the movie as planned, shelving it for two years.
6. Nosebleed (1999)
Jackie Chan was set to star in a movie about a window washer at the World Trade Center who managed to get caught up in a terrorist plot while on the job. Naturally, Chan would take it upon himself to stop the fictional terrorists before anything bad could happen.
After almost two years of pre-production, the events of 9/11 caused the movie to be cancelled entirely.
5. Phone Booth (2002)
Phone Booth was actually a pretty decent movie, with Colin Farrell’s character being held hostage by a sniper in a New York City phone booth until he comes clean about his lying past. Unfortunately, a month before it was set to release in theatres, the Beltway snipers began gunning down innocent people in the Washington, D.C., area. Ten people were murdered before the killers were eventually caught. Phone Booth, which also featured a bad guy with a sniper rifle, was delayed four months until the media outrage died down.
4. Hereafter (2010)
Hereafter follows three separate stories about how people are impacted by death. One of those stories was about a journalist who barely survived the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. This film didn’t premiere in Japan until February 2011, but was pulled a month later when the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami struck. It was one of Japan’s worst natural disasters in history. Warner Bros. said that the content of the movie was “not appropriate” for Japan, considering the tragedy.
3. The Watch (2012)
The Watch was a science-fiction comedy about a group of neighbors who form a neighborhood watch faction. They soon discover that aliens have moved into their block and are threatening the world. Hilarity and Earth-saving antics quickly follow.
Five months before the movie was set to release, real-life neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman shot and killed teenager Treyvon Martin in Sanford, Florida. It sparked a national debate about gun violence and racism. As a result, the film changed its title (it was originally called Neighborhood Watch) and the studio pulled the trailer, which featured a scene of Jonah Hill using his fingers as a gun pointed at some teenagers.
2. Jack Reacher (2012)
This Tom Cruise thriller was scheduled to be released the day after the Sandy Hook shootings that claimed the life of 20 children and six adults. Jack Reacher is a typical action/thriller movie, featuring guns and violence. The opening scenes involve the cold-blooded murder of five innocent civilians, seen through the crosshairs of a sniper rifle.
Paramount quickly cancelled the film’s premiere, saying that no one should be celebrating a movie release in the aftermath of a terrible American tragedy like Sandy Hook. The film was released the following week with much reduced fanfare.
1. United Passions (2015)
The FIFA-financed movie about the birth and importance of soccer’s international governing body was a joke to begin with. The corruption and greed of FIFA is an accepted fact, and this movie was nothing more than pro-FIFA propaganda, done very poorly.
To make things extra ironic, the film released at the same time that several current and former FIFA executives were arrested in Zurich on charges on corruption. FIFA president Sepp Blatter would then win a re-election before quickly resigning shortly after. In this case, we consider United Passions as having hilariously great timing.