Although sometimes intended to transport us to an alternate universe, it goes without saying that reality and the fictional world of film can overlap. After all, ideas and inspirations usually start with a little earth-based daydreaming. Therefore, it's not surprising that movies have a tendency to tangle with and reflect the real world.
However, things can get a very awkward, very quickly, when story lines predict and crash into devastating current events. Causing cancellations, delays and box office flops, here's a list of 14 of the most poorly-timed movies in history...
1. Spider-Man (2002)
The trailer for the original Spider-Man movie was pulled after 9/11 as it depicted a helicopter caught in a huge spiderweb strung between the Twin Towers. This was never in the movie, though a shot of the World Trade Center was and therefore later deleted. The scene where Spider-Man hangs from a flagpole with a large American flag was later added to the end of the film, intended as a response to the attacks.
Watch the banned trailer:
2. The Watch (2012)
Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill and Richard Ayoade form a suburban neighborhood watch group in this 2012 movie. Awkwardly, the release date was scheduled 5 months after the tragic murder of Trayvon Martin by a neighborhood watch member. The film was neither postponed nor canceled, though the entire marketing campaign was refocused.
3. Body Parts (1991)
The story of a psychologist who loses his arm in a car accident and has the limb replaced with one that belonged to a serial killer. Body Parts is a run-of-the-mill Horror Thriller that just so happened to coincide with the discovery and mass public attention of Jeffrey Dahmer and his collection of dismembered bodies.
4. Nosebleed (1999)
Jackie Chan was set to star in this action drama as a window washer at the World Trade Center. His character unfortunately eavesdrops on a terrorist attack he must then thwart. Nosebleed, was set to start filming in 2001, just before the 9/11 attacks. Production was permanently canceled.
5. Phone Booth (2002)
Mirroring real events pretty closely, Phone Booth tells the story of an unseen sniper holding a slimy publicist hostage in a phone booth. One month before the films release, the Beltway snipers murdered 10 people in Washington D.C and Maryland, Virginia. Publication of Phone Booth was delayed until after the killers were caught and the media frenzy had calmed down, four months later.
6. Space Camp (1986)
Doomed before it was even released, the timing of 1986 movie Space Camp could not have been worse. Centering around a group of young campers' mission to safely return to Earth after their shuttle is accidentally launched, the story came just 5 months after 1986 Space Shuttle Challenger disaster, in which the shuttle exploded killing everyone on board.
7. Gangster Squad (2013)
Warner Bros were forced to reshoot the entire final scene of Gangster Squad, pushing the release date back four months in light of the theatre shootings in Aurora, Colorado. The offending scene featured gangsters hiding behind a cinema screen, emerging to shower the audience in bullets. Eesh.
8. O (2001)
The modernization of Shakespeare's 'Othello', 'O', is the story of four teens brutally murdered in an all-white high school. The original release date was set for 1999, however it was shelved and eventually released two years later, as the Columbine high school shooting claimed the lives of twelve students and one teacher earlier in 1999.
9. The China Syndrome (1979)
Less than two weeks after the release of nuclear thriller The China Syndrome was released in the US, starring Jane Fonda and Jack Lemmon, the Three Mile Island nuclear facility in Pennsylvania suffered a partial meltdown, which in turn released unquantifiable amounts of radioactive gases and iodine into the atmosphere. The cleanup lasted 14 years and cost an estimated billion dollars.
Creepily, a line in the film mentions that a nuclear accident would render "an area the size of Pennsylvania" permanently uninhabitable.
10. Hereafter (2010)
Although this movie didn't make much of a stir in the US, it was pulled from cinemas across Japan. Why? Because the subsequent Tsunami in Japan killed almost 16,000 people and Hereafter's opening scene depicts a coastal town in Thailand being completely wiped out by a Tsunami.
11. Gone Baby Gone (2007)
Ben Affleck's, Gone Baby Gone, followed two detectives and their intense investigation of a little girls kidnapping. The films release was pushed back 6 months after its initial release date as the story too closely reflected that of British child, Madeline McCann's, disappearance.
12. Confessions of a Shopaholic (2009)
Following the financial crisis, the ending of Confessions of a Shopaholic was reshot to give it a less consumerist, buy buy buy attitude, so as not to offend all us here paupers affected by the crash. How sweet!
13. Big Trouble (2001)
Deemed tonally inappropriate post 9/11, Big Trouble's comedic tale of a group of unfortunate Miami citizens and their involvement in a nuclear attack pushed the release date back 9 months, toned down the publicity entirely and rendered the film a total flop.
14. Jack Reacher (2012)
The Tom Cruise movie, Jack Reacher, had its premiere canceled and was postponed by one week following the 2012 Sandy Hook Massacre in which 20 adults and 6 children were murdered by a sniper. The film opens with a sniper's random targeting which kills 5 civilians and zoning in on a mother and child.
Cruise and writer Christopher McQuarrie backed the move, saying: "Nobody should be celebrating anything 24 hours after a tragic event like that."