‘Welcome to Yesterday’ not coming soon to a theater near you

For those who saw television and print advertising for “Welcome to Yesterday,” a found-footage time travel movie produced by “Transformers” director Michael Bay, it may be surprising that they will not be able to see the film any time soon. Originally slated for release on Feb. 28, the Paramount Pictures release was curiously pulled from the schedule and delayed indefinitely, despite already having pre-release critics and word-of-mouth screenings.

Major delays of a film’s release date are not uncommon; hotly anticipated releases such as “Batman vs. Superman” and “Fast and Furious 7″ were recently delayed almost a year on account of production troubles, and in the case of the latter film, the unexpected death of star Paul Walker. It is much more rare for a film that is already completed to suddenly disappear from the schedule, but it is not unprecedented.

The most extreme example of this is the horror movie “All the Boys Love Mandy Lane,” which was released worldwide in 2006 but did not reach American audiences until last year. Despite being given several release dates, the movie continued to be kicked down the road until it became the stuff of legend. The film’s long journey to the big screen has helped it develop a cult following, and it didn’t stop star Amber Heard and director Jonathan Levine from having fruitful careers. While Mandy Lane was his first film, it released after the several films he has made since, including “50/50″ and “Warm Bodies.”

 

 

Another victim of a sudden release date fake-out is the intensely popular “The Cabin in the Woods,” which was initially scheduled for release in February 2010. Just months before the planned release date, the film was delayed over a year because of the studio’s decision to convert the film into 3-D. The film was then delayed indefinitely after its distributor, MGM, was in dire financial straits. The 3-D conversion was eventually scrapped, and the film was released in April 2012.

While those films took their time to show up to the cineplex because of problems internally with their distribution, sometimes a sudden release change shift is the result of bad tracking. The teen comedy “Charlie Bartlett” was scheduled for release in August 2007 and had a substantial marketing campaign. Less than two weeks before release, the film was pushed back to February 2008 due to a lack of awareness that spelled doom at the box office. The retooling of the marketing campaign did not help; the film only made $5 million domestically according to boxofficemojo.com.

What reason did Paramount have to indefinitely delay “Welcome to Yesterday?” The studio is keeping mum, but rumors that the film might become a late summer release suggest that they have higher hopes for the film. February is one of the lowest months for box office grosses, due to holiday movie season fatigue. On the flip side, the film could simply be considered too unpalatable for general audiences.

Until the film eventually comes out, it’s anybody’s guess.

Reach the reporter at zheltzel@asu.edu or follow him on Twitter @zachheltzel