Rome wasn’t built in a day. And so weren’t these cinematic gems. For various reasons, some Hollywood films have taken the longest time to make. Here are 15 examples:
Eraserhead – (1977) 5 YEARS
Being David Lynch’s first feature-length film, the AFI had no idea that 20 pages equal not 20 minutes in Lynchian terms. They gave permission to his project which became an absolute cluster fudge of nitpicking and emergency fundraising in no time. A single scene that featured the main character opening door, took a year to get right.
Cronos – (1993) 8 YEARS
Guillermo del Toro’s hit horror film almost died on the vine, several times. His signature perfectionism obliterated the production budget and schedule, and it only stayed alive because GdT took out some high-interest personal loans (…and cut Ron Pearlman’s pay).
Roar – (1981) 11 YEARS
After four years of the film’s production, a freak flood ruined their sets, killed a bunch of lions, and destroyed a ton of the footage that they had managed to record.
Vegas in Space – (1991) 10 YEARS
Vegas in Space was a sci-fi comedy about astronauts in drag trying to infiltrate the planet Clitoris. It took director Phillip R. Ford around 10 years just to raise the necessary funds.
The Thin Red Line – (1998) 10 YEARS
Director Terrence Malick studied all kinds of insect textbooks before and during production of The Thin Red Line. He wanted to prove with his work that “humans and nature are inextricably linked.”
The Thief and the Cobbler (1993) 28 YEARS
It took animator Richard Williams 28 years to secure funding and hand-animate this incredibly detailed proto-Aladdin.
Tiefland – (1954) 20 YEARS
Writer, director, and star Leni Riefenstahl had to pause production for a spell to go ahead and produce. Nazi war propaganda, yikes. Hitler eventually gave her the all-clear, but that pesky war kept messing up her Shooting schedule.
Avatar – (2009) 10 YEARS
James Cameron had planned to start working on Avatar right after Titanic hit theaters. However, he had to wait for production technology to catch up to his vision. His horny, alien-doinking vision,
The Simpsons – Movie (2007) 9 YEARS
Animating a feature-length film is never an easy task. The voice actors could never make time for the movie because they remained occupied with their regular 30-minute episodes.
Sleeping Beauty (1959) 8 YEARS
Before animation could even start, they actually filmed the entire movie, live on a soundstage, for the animators to use as guides. The animation process itself was much more difficult back then, in no small part because they painstakingly gender-quarantined their entire workforce.
The Lego Movie – (2014) 4 YEARS
Once the plot of The Lego Movie was finalized, the makers took intense measures to make this CGI masterpiece appear to be stop-motion animation.
Boyhood (2014) 12 YEARS
This incredibly progressive film follows a bunch of real people for over a decade. Director Richard Linklater filmed Boyhood for one week once a year, for 12 years.
Avatar 2 (2022) 13 YEARS
Avatar 2 is one of the four planned sequels to the 2009 sci-fi hit Avatar. The sequel is set to hit theaters in December 2022 and has been under development since 2010.
Koyaanisqatsi (1982) 7 YEARS
Koyaanisqatsi which translates to ‘life out of balance’ was a wordless documentary/poem hybrid that used slow-mo and timelapse to take the viewer from deep in nature to deep inside the beating heart of a bustling city. The whole thing started with the leftover budgetary scraps of an anti-Ritalin public service campaign and spent most of a decade slowly growing into this huge production.