Michael Flatley's 'hidden' film could be 2022's worst movie - but you might watch anyway

Michael Flatley
(Image credit: Wildcard Distribution)

This has been a vintage year for movies, with so many great releases that it has been impossible to catch everything you've wanted to. 

In theaters, Top Gun: Maverick roared onto screens and blew everyone away, while Thor: Love and Thunder, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and The Batman have proved that superheroes remain as big a box office draw as they've seemingly always been. 

Netflix has had big success with The Adam Project, Senior Year and new blockbuster The Gray Man, while specialist streamers like Shudder and Mubi have also dropped a slew of critically-acclaimed movies. 

Sadly, it has also been a vintage year of a different kind, with plenty of bad movies hitting screens as well.

There are loads of awful movies every year, but 2022 feels exceptional, especially for titles that gain the ultimate badge of dishonor: getting a 0% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. We rounded up five such movies back in May, with dreadful Lena Headey-powered thriller 9 Bullets and the dismal pair of erotic thrillers 365 Days. 

But, could those cinematic disasters get usurped as the worst movies of 2022? There's a new contender, and it has a backstory so weird it's almost certainly going to be more interesting than the movie itself...

Don't say vanity project

Do you remember Michael Flatley? During the 1990s he was, for a time, wildly famous. 

An Irish dancer of some note, he was invited by then Republic of Ireland President Mary Robinson to help create an intermission show for the 1994 Eurovision Song Contest. Flatley performed a seven-minute show titled Riverdance for the interval act of the contest, which went so well that Flatley pushed to turn the show into a full-length production. 

Riverdance was obscenely successful, with revenues of over a billion dollars during its run. Flatley didn't last long in Riverdance; he fell out with producers over royalties and left to form his own show, Lord Of The Dance. That career, which at one time saw Flatley insure his legs for $57.6 million, has earned him a fortune worth more than $250 million. 

Now retired from dancing, Flatley has all that money burning a hole in his pocket and he's decided to become filmmaker. The first product of this new career is Blackbird (not to be confused with Apple TV Plus' excellent new drama) and you can see the trailer below:

Not only does Flatley star in Blackbird, he is also the director, the producer and the screenwriter, and, as you might expect, has put up most of the money. 

Flatley plays Victor Blackley, an Irish-American dancer who also happens to be a former operative with MI6. Now he's retired, he owns a nightclub and hotel in Barbados, but his world is thrown into chaos when an old flame returns...

To help make this film, Flatley has recruited a few people who've acted before. Eric Roberts, who was once Oscar-nominated for his role in Runaway Train, plays the wonderfully-named Blake Molineux. Now we're not saying Roberts isn't choosy, but he did make 19 movies in 2018, and 29 movies in 2017, so his preparation methods probably aren't up there with Daniel Day-Lewis. 

Ian Beattie, who is a Game Of Thrones veteran, is also in the cast, as is Patrick Bergin, last seen in British soap opera Eastenders. 

The movie, if the trailer is anything to go by, is a kind of Dollar Tree James Bond retread, with wince-inducing dialogue and VFX so cheap they could have been produced on PowerPoint. 

Still, bad, slocky action movies are 10-a-penny, but what makes Blackbird special is, for a long time, it looked like Flatley and his team were actively trying to make sure no-one ever saw it. 

Blackbird singing in the dead of night...

Blackbird isn't a new movie. It was finished, and began screening, back in 2018. It actually premiered at London’s Raindance Film Festival in September 2018, but, in a bizarre move for a festival where independent movies are supposed to build hype, all critics were shut out of the screening.

There were no quotes, no screening reactions, nothing. After that screening, it just went silent. Irish journalist Brian Lloyd actually waged a campaign to see the movie, and nobody would let him. 

He wasn't the only one either. 

Now though, according to the Hollywood Reporter, it's coming to movie theaters, at least in the UK and Ireland. It'll come to theaters on September 2, and, not only that, but Flatley has recruited singer Sinead O'Connor to sing a song over the closing credits.

When the Irish release was announced, Flatley blamed Covid-19 for delays, writing in a statement that "...the pandemic has brought about many unprecedented production delays, but we’re finally there. We’ve all put a lot into this project, and for me it’s very personal." Sadly, there's no US release date as yet, but Flatley still has a big fanbase from his dancing days, so you'd assume it'll turn up somewhere. 

Will critics get to see it this time? And will it get a Rotten Tomatoes score above a flat zero? I cannot wait to find out. 

Tom Goodwyn
Freelance Entertainment Writer

Tom Goodwyn was formerly TechRadar's Senior Entertainment Editor. He's now a freelancer writing about TV shows, documentaries and movies across streaming services, theaters and beyond. Based in East London, he loves nothing more than spending all day in a movie theater, well, he did before he had two small children…