Back in the early 1980s, Bill Murray had a role in a surreal sci-fi comedy that never saw the light of day in theaters – here’s why Nothing Lasts Forever was never released. Think of a Bill Murray movie from 1984 and the one that springs to mind is most likely his ever-popular Ghostbusters. However, 1984 was supposed to be the year another comedy featuring Murray would hit cinemas if MGM hadn’t shelved its release indefinitely.
Nothing Lasts Forever is an offbeat, genre-mashing movie directed by Saturday Night Live alum Tom Schiller in his first and only feature outing to date. It stars Zach Galligan of Gremlins fame as a young man named Adam Beckett who dreams of being an artist but doesn’t know how to go about it or exactly what type of artist he wants to be. To that end, Adam travels to a retro-futuristic New York City that’s under the totalitarian control of the Port Authority, which makes aspiring artists prove their worth with a practical exam. Adam’s journey takes him to an underground network where he discovers the city’s homeless population is actually running the city and to the moon on a bus serviced by a ticket conductor played by Murray to meet his one true love Eloy (Lauren Tom, who would later play Ross’s girlfriend Julie in Friends).
One might think Nothing Lasts Forever was shelved because it’s a bad movie, but that’s not necessarily the case. Pierre-Henri Deleau, the then head of Directors’ Fortnight at Cannes Film Festival, proclaimed Nothing Lasts Forever a “masterpiece” and invited MGM to screen the film at the festival two years in a row but the studio declined. So, why did the studio wash its hands of Nothing Lasts Forever?
MGM hasn’t given an official reason as to why Nothing Lasts Forever has never been released, but there are a couple of theories floating about. In an interview with The Skinny, Schiller said that the executives at MGM described Nothing Lasts Forever as an “art film” and made it clear that was not a compliment. Adding to the film’s woes was a truly disastrous test screening and it seems the studio heads decided to abandon the film after realizing it didn’t have commercial potential.
Another theory suggests copyright issues could be to blame. Nothing Lasts Forever features a ton of clips from classic films of yesteryear (Battleship Potemkin, Un Chien Andalou and Intolerance to mention but a few) which may have thrown up a few intellectual property problems MGM couldn’t overcome. Whatever the reason, the movie has never received a theatrical or home video release in the United States.
Nothing Lasts Forever isn’t quite a lost film, however. It’s been broadcast in several countries including the UK, Germany and Italy and has been screened at a few events and festivals. The movie was also leaked on YouTube back in 2011 for a brief spell before MGM yanked it, but any Bill Murray or arthouse film fans hoping Nothing Lasts Forever will get a proper release anytime soon probably shouldn’t hold their breath.