Between budgeting issues, diva-driven actors, or even new technology that has a director reshooting scenes, some films take forever to make. But, when an artist has a vision, they’re going to do whatever they can to see it through.
Even if that means reworking a project for many, many years, such as these!
Apocalypse Now: 4 Years
While it was met with critical and commercial success upon its 1979 release, Apocalypse Now was no walk in the park to make. Not only did the lead actor Martin Sheen have an unexpected heart attack during filming, but Marlon Brando was a total diva and unprofessional.
The budget also had to be revised a time or two due to the extreme weather conditions ruining sets. At the end of the day, the film took four years to make.
Mughal-e-Azam: Over 10 Years
The 1960 Indian epic Mughal-e-Azam is extravagant, beautiful, and took over 10 years to complete. Before filming even began, the entire cast was revamped, postponing principal photography right off the bat.
While the sets are marvelous, they took months to construct and a whole lot of money. That money, or lack thereof, put a financial strain on production.
Hell’s Angels: Over 3 Years
Howard Hughes knew no bounds when he was creating the 1930 war epic Hell’s Angels. He wanted to make a masterpiece, opting to reshoot the film halfway through production to incorporate new sound technology.
Because of the delay, he also ran into budgetary issues. Hughs spent over three years on the film.
Eyes Wide Shut: 37 Years
Stanley Kubrick began working on the script for the 1999 film Eyes Wide Shut back in the ’60s! It took him an astounding 37 years to complete and release the film. Of course, the long years were kind of his doing.
A perfectionist, Kubrick would tweak the script in the middle of filming and make the talent do multiple takes without a break.
Roar: 11 Years
The 1981 film Roar was pretty much cursed. Only supposed to take six months, the production wound up lasting a solid 11 years. With a cast of untrained wild animals, more than one injury occurred on set.
Not to mention flooding destroyed $3 million worth of set design, equipment, and completed footage. Afterward, they had to go back to the drawing board.
Sleeping Beauty: 8 Years
It was 1959, so animated movies took a bit longer to put together. In Sleeping Beauty‘s case, it took eight years. First, the entire film was made with real actors on a sound stage, giving animators something to model their animations off.
Between drawing characters and hand-inking each cel, a single frame could take up to a week to complete.
Eraserhead: 5 Years
David Lynch’s 1977 film Eraserhead started as nothing more than a student film project. But seeing its potential, Lynch decided to rework the horror film for the silver screen.
At this time, he was just starting as a director and had no funding. The money came out of pocket, leaving the film to a five-year production run filled with Lynch’s perfectionist attitude and long reshoots.
Boyhood: 12 Years
The 2014 film Boyhood is a bit different, as it follows the same cast over 12 years of their life. In order to do that, he brought together the cast for one week each year for 12 years, capturing their changes, especially that of the main character, Ellar Coltrane.
There were no budget issues, divas, or even rewrites. The long project solely had to do with a vision.
Cronos: 8 Years
In the film industry, director Guillermo del Toro is a known perfectionist. The ironic part is that his long shooting schedule wasn’t the main reason why his 1985 film Cronos took eight years to complete
Budgetary issues brought the entire production to a halt. To make up the funds, del Toro took out a few loans, some of which had a 60% interest rate! Actor Ron Perlman even took a pay cut.
The Simpsons Movie: 9 Years
There are many reasons why The Simpsons Movie took nine years to make. First, the studio had to sign on all of the voice actors for a movie, which didn’t happen until 2001. That was after the film was green-lit in 1997.
Not only that, but a solid 160 versions of the script were written for the film, and the animation took years.
Avatar: 10 Years
James Cameron’s epic film Avatar was a long work in progress. To make sure he brought the world of Pandora alive, Cameron halted production, waiting until the technology was completed and up to his standards.
He also took time to create the Na’vi language as well as the numerous special effects used throughout the film. All in all, it took ten years.
Tiefland: 20 Years
Director Leni Riefenstahl went through a lot to get her film Tiefland released. Starting the script in 1934, Reisfenstahl’s work was put on hold due to the war. Finally, in 1940, she was able to begin filming.
It took four years to complete filming, but after the war ended, the reel was confiscated. The footage was returned years later, with some parts missing. After reshoots and editing, the film was finally released, 20 years later, in 1954.
Schindler’s List: 30 Years
The idea for Schindler’s List was proposed back in 1963. But it took a solid 30 years before it was ever released to the silver screen. The many decades were mainly because the studio wasn’t sure if they were ready for such a tale.
Not to mention the director, Steven Spielberg, wasn’t confident in his ability to tell a Holocaust story. He passed it off to many directors before taking on the project.
The Thief And The Cobbler: 28 Years
The 1993 animated film The Thief and the Cobbler started off in a rough patch, with a lack of funding that had the production go on for a solid 20 years. Finally, director Richard Williams’ project was backed, but not for long.
He continuously went over budget with his ambitious animation style, resulting in him getting booted from his creative control.
The Other Side Of The Wind: 48 Years
Meant to be Orson Welles’ epic comeback, The Other Side of the Wind went from being a 1970s production to not being released until 2018. To start, the film was on-and-off for six years, never having a solid budget to work off.
Unfortunately, by 1979, the money had dried up, and various investors began a legal battle on who owned the right to the footage. Eventually, the film was put on hold for decades, finally making its debut 48 years later.
The Lego Movie: 4 Years
When everything was said and done, the 2014 Lego Movie took four years to complete. The amount of detail that went into the animation was no joke, with more than a few Lego bricks to create.
The script was also reworked more than once, with the original idea for the film being completely scrapped.
The Evil Within: 15 Years
The 2017 film The Evil Within was pretty evil when it came to its production time. Littered with issues, it took director Andrew Getty 15 years to get through numerous problems.
First, there were budgetary issues, as Getty was using his own funs for the film. Next, there were conflicts with the cast. So bad, in fact, that only two main members stayed on! There was even a lawsuit from a studio assistant. Everything delayed production.
Coffee And Cigarettes: 20 Years
Coffee and Cigarettes started as nothing more than a short film for Saturday Night Live. After seven shorts, director Jim Jarmusch finally realized he was sitting on something pretty great.
It might have taken him 20 years, but he finally realized that he had enough material to create a feature film. Sometimes it takes a person time to realize what they have.
Voyage Of Time: Life’s Journey: Over 40 Years
The conception of Voyage Of Time: Life’s Journey happened in the late 1970s. So, why did it take director Terrence Malick over 40 years to complete? Well, he originally walked away from the project, which stalled everything.
When he came back, it took time to research and interview scientists. He was also splitting his time between Voyage and other projects. Insert legal issues with investors, and it’s no wonder it took over 40 years!
Bad Taste: 4 Years
Peter Jackson’s debut film Bad Taste was released in 1987. Unfortunately, it took some time to get to the release. To start, he was using talent that actually had to have day jobs, so filming was scheduled solely for the weekends.
He also had a low, out-of-pocket budget of $25,000, making things move pretty slow. When the film was finally complete, Jackson had worked on it for four years.