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Hidden by Hollywood: All-star cast of bombs

October 15, 2002|Patrick Goldstein

Here's a look at some recent films that have been stranded on the shelf.

"D-Tox." Shot in 1999, this Sylvester Stallone cop thriller was such a disaster that producer Imagine Entertainment took its name off the film. Universal Pictures shot a new ending, but the picture still tested terribly. The film opened overseas earlier this year, but it did little business. It debuts on video Nov. 30.

"Daddy and Them." Written and directed by Billy Bob Thornton in 1998, this drama about the effect of a murder on an Arkansas family featured a host of name actors, including his former girlfriend Laura Dern and her mom, Diane Ladd. Originally scheduled for release by Miramax in 1999, the film was repeatedly delayed until the studio announced it would debut later this year on Showtime.

"Unconditional Love." Directed by P.J. Hogan ("My Best Friend's Wedding"), this comedy stars Rupert Everett and Kathy Bates as a British valet and a housewife who unite to avenge the death of a mutual love interest. New Line plans to release the film, shot in 1999, on home video next summer.

"People I Know." The film stars Al Pacino as a New York press agent whose top client (Ryan O'Neal) becomes embroiled in a scandal that jeopardizes his plans to run for the Senate. Miramax has tried without success to sell it to rival companies, but it says it still could get a limited release before going to pay TV and home video.

"Killing Me Softly." Heather Graham and Joseph Fiennes co-star in an MGM erotic thriller by acclaimed Chinese director Kaige Chen ("Farewell My Concubine"). After bombing with test audiences -- one Internet reviewer called it "two hours of torture" -- the film is still shelved.

"Highway." Despite the presence of young hotties like Jake Gyllenhaal, Jared Leto and Selma Blair, this black comedy bombed at test screenings. Sensing disaster, New Line never gave it a theatrical release. The film was put out on home video in March.

"The Third Wheel." Even with a cast including Ben Affleck, Luke Wilson and Denise Richards, this quirky comedy never worked with audiences. Filmed in 1999, it's still on the shelf at Miramax and will probably go direct to video.

"Double Whammy." Directed by Tom DiCillo and starring Dennis Leary and Elizabeth Hurley, the film did poorly at test screenings and got awful reviews -- the London Daily Mail said the film made "Bad Boy," another Leary and Hurley bomb, "look like 'Citizen Kane.' " Lions Gate is putting it out on home video in December.

"House of 1000 Corpses." This Rob Zombie-directed horror film was made by Universal Pictures but was dropped after studio executives became uncomfortable with the film's explicit violence. MGM execs were on the verge of picking it up when studio chief Kirk Kerkorian ordered them to back out of the deal. Lions Gate now has the film and plans to release it next spring.

--Patrick Goldstein

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