I spoke briefly with producer-director Brett Ratner during last November’s Key West Film Festival, and he assured me that Warren Beatty‘s long-gestating, ’50s-era Howard Hughes film (which is more of a 20something love story between characters played by Lili Collins and Alden Ehrenreich than a film about the legendary aviation pioneer and business titan) will open this year.

Lily Collins as Marla Mabrey and Annette Bening as her mom in a still from Warren Beatty’s untitled Howard Hughes film.

And yet here we are in late March with spring and summer films starting to release trailers, and Beatty’s film still has no announced title and no announced release date.

This for a film that completed principal photography on 6.8.14 after 74 days of shooting. A year ago N.Y. Times guy Michael Cieply reported that Beatty shot pick-ups and re-shoots in late February 2015.

I don’t believe there’s even the slightest whisper of a chance that Beatty’s film might play the 2016 Cannes Film Festival, and at this stage it doesn’t seem likely to open before Labor Day. Any bets on 2017? Could Terrence Malick‘s title as Hollywood’s greatest post-production procrastinator be in jeopardy?

Excerpt from 3.18.15 HE piece called “Somewhat Lighthearted?”: “Two words in a N.Y. Times, Michael Cieply-authored piece about Warren Beatty‘s still-untitled Howard Hughes film — ‘somewhat lighthearted’ — have altered perceptions about what kind of film it might be. Or my perceptions, at least.

“I’m sorry but the word ‘light’ scares me. I’m a much bigger fan of films that go for ‘dry’ or ‘mildly subversive’ or ‘even-toned’ or ‘Antonioni-esque’ or ‘haunted’ or something along those lines.

“In my mind ‘somewhat lighthearted’ means a little bit swoony and genteel. It indicates a kind of audience-friendly attitude, one that it might even flirt with frothy from time to time. It suggests a film that doesn’t want to frown or brood, that doesn’t want to be cloudy or provocative or open any closets with skeletons.

“That’s not to say that Beatty’s film will necessarily conform to these descriptions. I know nothing whatsoever. It may be a whole ‘nother animal. But if I know Mr. Beatty’s tendencies as a scenarist (and I do) it’ll definitely deliver an emotional payoff during Act Three.

“Guesses about the nature of Beatty’s ultra-secretive Hughes film have been necessarily vague all along, but if you’ve read Peter Biskind‘s Beatty biography (“Star“) you’ve absorbed the idea that Beatty has long felt a certain spiritual kinship with Hughes, and that the film, which has long been understood to have something do with a relationship between the elderly tycoon and a young woman named Marla Mabrey (Lily Collins), will be a form of self-portraiture.

HE thought at the time: “Beatty’s instincts have always been cautious and reluctant. He has a little man in his chest who’s always whispering ‘wait…wait a bit more…let’s digress…can you trust that person?…kick it around…wait some more…re-think, re-cut, talk things over, wait a bit more, hold back…rescramble the eggs.’ He’ll always try to charm and deflect and to some extent micro-manage until a release date is upon him and there’s no more wiggle room.”

A 12.28.09 HE riff about Peter Biskind‘s “Star” is worth re-reading.

After Collins and Ehrenreich the cast of Beatty’s film includes himself as Hughes as well as Taissa Farmiga, Annette Bening, Alec Baldwin, Ed Harris, Matthew Broderick, Martin Sheen, Steve Coogan, Candice Bergen and Oliver Platt.