8 Popular Movies That Hit the Big Screen After a Lead Actor Passed Away

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Fans are still in mourning after the shocking shooting and killing of 22-year-old singer Christina Grimmie on June 10, 2016. She was so young, so beautiful… and all her potential was taken away due to a senseless act of violence.

But, fans are still looking forward to plenty from the YouTube phenomenon. Not only will new music videos be debuting in the coming months, but there’s also a never-before-seen film in the works. Yes, last year, CG filmed The Matchbreaker, and it’s scheduled to be released later this year. While it’s no replacement for the brunette star, it’ll offer some solace for her loved ones.

That’s exactly what happened after Cory Monteith died 3 years ago. The Glee actor passed away from a drug overdose on July 13, 2013, 8 months before the release of his film, McCanick, debuted. It wasn’t a popular film by any means, but it was… something, you know? These projects were quite similar in that sense. Here are eight popular movies that hit the big screen after a lead actor passed away:


The Hunger Games: Mockingjay

The Jennifer Lawrence-led franchise was on the receiving end of a shocking blow when Philip Seymour Hoffman unexpectedly passed away from a drug overdose on February 2, 2014.

The Oscar-winning actor, who portrayed Head Gamemaker Plutarch Heavensbee, starting in 2013's Catching Fire, was reportedly only 7 days away from wrapping up his shooting schedule when news broke.

Rather than replace the actor come Mockingjay — Part 2, creators used the footage they had, along with CGI, for PSH's scenes.

Mockingjay — Part 1 was released in November 2014; the last film was released a year later.

Photo: Lionsgate

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Richard Harris feared that he would not live to see the end of the franchise when he took on the role of Headmaster Albus Dumbledore, but he agreed because his granddaughter insisted. Sadly, he was correct in his assumptions.

Before shooting began on Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, the famed actor was diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease in August 2002; soon after, on October 25, he passed away after being in a coma for 3 days.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets premiered only a few weeks later.

Photo: Warner Bros.

Star Trek Beyond

In what can only be described as a freak accident, 27-year-old Anton Yelchin, who portrayed the beloved Pavel Chekov in three Star Trek films, was crushed by his own vehicle in June of this year.

According to reports, "the engine was running when his body was discovered, and the car was in neutral" — and no one was driving! — leading into an investigation of the 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee.

Star Trek Beyond hit theaters a month later, in July 2016.

Photo: Paramount Pictures

The Dark Knight

The world grieved when Heath Ledger was found dead on January 22, 2008 from an accidental intoxication from prescription drugs. He had so much promise! That was proven when he was featured as The Joker in The Dark Knight, which hit theaters in July 2008.

The late star won a total of 32 Best Supporting Actor awards for his work at the villain, including a Golden Globe, a BAFTA, a SAG, a Critics' Choice award and the coveted Oscar.

Heath's posthumous Best Supporting Actor Oscar win marks the first time an Academy Award has been awarded (in a major category) to a comic book flick.

Photo: Warner Bros.

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb

There was not a dry eye in the house when Robin Williams, as President Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt, said, "Smile, my boy. It's sunrise," to mark his goodbye in the last Night at the Museum film. Not only were they the character's final words, but they were also the last lines spoken by the legendary actor on camera, too.

Robin committed suicide on August 11, 2014, 4 months before the film hit theaters.

Photo: Twentieth Century Fox

The Jungle Book

The latest live-action edition of The Jungle Book was only weeks away from premiering when one of its actors, comedian Garry Shandling, who was the voice behind the porcupine, Ikki, died at the hospital in March 2016 after suffering from a reported heart attack. He was 66 at the time.

Photo: Disney

Furious 7

Paul Walker had one of the most ironic deaths of all time.

After starring in more than a few street-racing action films, the actor died in a single-vehicle collision on November 30, 2013 when he was 40 years old, but he wasn't quite done shooting the latest Fast & Furious flick. So, his own brothers filled in as body doubles.

Furious 7 hit theaters over a year later, in April 2015.

Photo: Paramount Pictures

Alice Through the Looking Glass

You knew Alan Rickman as Severus Snape throughout the course of the Harry Potter franchise, but he also dedicated a lot of time to the Alice series as well.

Since 2010's Alice in Wonderland, Alan voiced the Blue Caterpillar turned butterfly Absolem. Unfortunately, he never got to see Alice Through the Looking Glass for himself. The 69-year-old actor died of cancer in January 2016, 4 months before the Johnny Depp-led movie hit theaters.

Photo: Disney

You can reach this post’s author, Kaitlin Cubria, on Twitter and Instagram!

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