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Escape from development hell: ‘The Man Who Killed Don Quixote’ and other films with troubled productions

Jonathan Pryce and Adam Driver in The Man Who Killed Don Quixote (2018)
Jonathan Pryce and Adam Driver in The Man Who Killed Don Quixote (2018)
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Lawsuits, bankruptcy and flash flooding -- these are just some of the reasons that movies ended up in “development hell”, the film industry’s term for some of the most unlucky movie productions.

Today marks the release of one such film, nearly three decades in the making: “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote.” Director Terry Gilliam first tried to film it in 2000 with Johnny Depp and Jean Rochefort in the lead roles, only to have the production quickly shut down by a series of mishaps.

From the long-brewing “Alita: Battle Angel” to an unreleased “Fantastic Four” film to Orson Welles’ failed attempts at adapting Heart of Darkness, we discuss other notably troubled films productions.

What are some of the most prominent films that stalled during production? And when these films were finally released, were they worth the wait?

With guest host John Horn


Claudia Puig, film critic for KPCC and president of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association (LAFCA); she tweets @ClaudiaPuig

Justin Chang, film critic for KPCC and the Los Angeles Times; he tweets @JustinCChang

Charles Solomon, film critic for KPCC, Animation Scoop and Animation Magazine