Release date delays happen all the time, and they are usually associated with films that are not exactly the best the genre has to offer. Films like The Green Inferno, Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, The Wolfman and this year’s absolutely atrocious The Bye Bye Man are all recent(ish) examples of subpar horror films that suffered some rather lengthy delays. So often this happens that whenever a film is pushed back audiences tent to automatically assume that it will be terrible. That is not always the case though. The Cabin in the Woods, which will be celebrating its five-year anniversary today, was pushed back two years after its originally scheduled release date to critical acclaim.
The Cabin in the Woods got its start in a hotel room where Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard locked themselves up for three days. They wrote one act of the film each day, and turned in their draft later that week. With the film, Whedon and Goddard aimed to resuscitate the slasher genre which they thought had devolved into a quagmire of torture porn. Production on The Cabin in the Woods started on March 9, 2009, seven months before Saw VI came out, making it a rather timely commentary on the genre. Unfortunately, the film wouldn’t see a release until two years after the Saw franchise temporarily concluded in 2010 with Saw: The Final Chapter. This made the commentary that Whedon and Goddard injected in the film a little late to the party, but it still made for an effective film.
Why did it take so long for The Cabin in the Woods to see a release? It certainly wasn’t because it was a bad movie. No, the real reason is a boring one: financial difficulties. Metro-Goldwyn Mayer and United Artists scheduled the film for release on February 5, 2010, but the first delay came when MGM announced that the film would be converted into 3D. They then announced a release date of January 14, 2011. As if that news weren’t bad enough (the 3D post-conversion more so than the delay), audience patience was tested once again on June 17 of that same year when MGM announced that The Cabin in the Woods was delayed indefinitely due to the plethora of financial troubles that they were having.
News on the film was silent for months. Remember when the only image we had scene of the film was the one shown above? I swear I had seen that still a hundred times before the movie actually came out. It wasn’t until ten months later on April 28, 2011 that a distribution sale to Lionsgate was announced. This was a rather ironic announcement, considering that Lionsgate released all of the torture porn films that The Cabin in the Woods was trying to send up. The deal was sealed on July 20th and Lionsgate purchased the distribution rights for the film, eventually scheduling it for release on April 13, 2012.
One has to wonder why Lionsgate didn’t go after a Halloween 2011 release. The only horror movies released that month were Paranormal Activity 4 and Silent Hill: Revelation, but Lionsgate probably thought Paranormal Activity 4 would pose more of a threat to their new film’s box office chances (who could have known it would turn out to be the second-worst entry in that franchise?). The Cabin in the Woods finally saw a release the following April where it grossed $14.7 million it’s opening weekend, landing in the #3 spot behind The Three Stooges (oof) and The Hunger Games, which landed in the #1 spot in its fourth week of release. While not a huge commercial success (it grossed $42 million domestically on a $30 million budget), it was an enormous critical success, earning a 92% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 72 on MetaCritic, making it the best-reviewed mainstream horror film of 2012.
The film has its detractors now (what hugely popular film doesn’t?), but the consensus is that it’s one of the best horror films of the decade. That just goes to show you that delays aren’t always a bad thing, at least not when they’re related to a studio’s financial difficulties, though Red Dawn didn’t fare nearly as well critically or commercially as The Cabin in the Woods. What are your thoughts on the movie? Do you love it? Or are you in the camp that thinks its overrated? Give it a re-watch (or a first-time watch) today on its fifth anniversary and let us know what you think in the comments below!