The obvious joke is to list a bunch of terrible movies, but that isn’t my point. What movies were released that were apparently not totally finished? Some examples:
**London Has Fallen **- I don’t know if you have seen this movie, but it’s pretty bad. However, it is also unfinished. There are digital effect shots of helicopters that are not only bad, but clearly not finished. While the budget was not gigantic on a movie like this, it was large enough to finish the effects. My wife and I both noticed and my first thought was that the studio just decided they weren’t continuing to fund this movie and it needed to just come out.
**Exorcist 2 **- I think the director changed this movie after the first week and has spoken how it never really got completed. I’ve not seen it, but know it is notorious for being not only terrible, but incomprehensible.
**Cats **- First, making a movie of the Cats musical is a terrible idea and would always have produced a terrible movie. I believe, though, that the movie was updated after the first weekend with improved effects since it was released with “not final” effects in it.
George Lucas would persuade you all movies are “released” and never finished, but if you watch his Star Wars movies, it is clear they were finished. I’ve never watched the first Star Wars movie or the prequel movies and thought, “he couldn’t finish these”. He just loves messing with his movies.
For Star Wars Ep. 4 Lucas went to UK to do filming with actors while the US group was supposed to do the CGI/model stuff. When he got back he expected them to be done but the story goes US group only finished 1 scene.
You ain’t kiddin’! Wow, all the other effects are dated, but clearly meant to be taken seriously (and no doubt were, given 1951’s technology). Then, the big moment comes, the spaceship crash lands on a snow-covered world, and…
Cut to cartoony landscape right out of Adventure Time. Oh, and it’s summer (forget about all that snow the spaceship landed in).
I kept thinking, “Why didn’t they throw that Lisa Frank atrocity waaaay out of focus behind the leads kissing, and immediately fade out?”
Or get one of the studio artists to paint something quick? Even a semi-realistic matte painting would’ve been 100 times better.
Watch, and weep… (cued up for the landing at 5:35, the we-cheaped-out background is revealed at 7:07).
Not precisely what the OP asked about, but the movie “Brainstorm” was not done with filming when Natalie Wood died unexpectedly. The studio attempted to cash in on their insurance coverage so they could scuttle the film, as they were worried about profitability, but the insurer (Lloyds of London) wouldn’t agree to that.
Ultimately they managed to make it look reasonably finished (using Wood’s sister as a standin in a handful of scenes, which I had not realized).
The original Invasion of the Body Snatchers ended with the main character screaming as he saw trucks of pods going out into the wider world - but the studio tacked on the framing story after initial test screenings.
The Mummy Returns had decent special effects for a 2001 film. Then comes the final scene where The Rock appears as the CGI Scorpion King, and man, is it bad. Rumor is the SFX company wanted another year to get it right, but the studio wanted it released.
Not quite the same, but Mulholland Drive was originally filmed as a pilot for a TV series. ABC watched the pilot, hated it, and pulled the plug. So David Lynch filmed a few more scenes to give it an ending and released it as a standalone movie.
Word is that what you see in the movie is actually a study for the eventual matte painting (which was never done). The producer saw it and said, “That’s good enough; this movie has already cost a lot of money,” and used the study.
The Devil Inside - A fairly interesting “found footage” demonic possession thriller that ends with a car crash and a message to visit a website (now gone) for the rest of the story. They just ended the movie without finishing it.
The Epic That Never Was incorporated contained large parts of the footage from the abandoned attempt to film Robert Graves’s *I, Claudius * which was aborted in 1937 due to creative differences and Merle Oberon’s facial injuries in a car crash. Does that count?
Clarification: Lee had started filming “Game of Death” when the offer to make “Enter the Dragon” came along. He went off to do “Enter”, and died before he could resume making “Game”.
Fortunately Lee had filmed the big, climactic fight scenes first. That footage sat idle for years until the studio decided to finally cash in. So they rewrote a totally new story, hired 3 different stand-ins (“actors” would be too generous) as well as some fading american actors.
Only one of the stand-ins looked vaguely similar to Bruce Lee (if Bruce had had dysentery and lost 80lbs), so the producers pulled out every trick available, including the aforementioned “PGI” (paper generated image technology to squeeze in as much of the real Bruce as they could. There are really short clips from other movies - sometimes even just close-up eye shots, interspersed freely. Nevermind that the haircut changes, and the backgrounds don’t match (no one would notice those things). And even went so far as to use dialogue clips…dubbed to make sense with the revamped storyline (kind of).
Needless to say, the resulting hodgepodge is terrible. And it is torture to sit through until you get to the end when the original “Game” footage is shown (only like 20 some minutes, though). They really should have ended the movie at that point - in this case “incomplete” with no conclusion to the revamped story, would have been a blessing.
Bakshi’s Lord of the Rings was very far from complete when he was forced to release it. Among many other things, Saruman was alternately called Aruman because half-way through filming Bakshi though “Saruman” was too close to Sauron. He changed it but never got back to the earlier scenes.