7 films that took an insane amount of time to get made

  • 7 films that took an insane amount of time to get made

The average filmgoer doesn't realise the amount of time-consuming work that it takes getting a film from the imaginations of the filmmakers and out into cinemas for us to enjoy.

But in the following cases, the size of the task was so much, that it took many years of toil, stress, sweat and tears before the film was fit for public viewing.

Eyes Wide Shut (1999) - 2 years

Legendary director Stanley Kubrick had a well-earned reputation for perfectionism and he didn't mellow in his later years, with his last film taking 15 months to film.

Earning a Guinness World Record for "for over 15 months, a period that included an unbroken shoot of 46 weeks" - the erotic thriller went on for 400 days without a single day off.

You may be wondering how it took 400 straight days to film a two and a half hour movie, but it's understandable when you consider that Kubrick shot Tom Cruise walking through a door 90 times, and ten days were spent deciding whether or not a character should make a certain hand signal.

Kubrick never got to see the labour of love hit cinemas, as the director passed away four days after presenting Warner Bros. with his final cut.

Sleeping Beauty (1959) - 8 years

Before the animation process began, Walt Disney demanded that the entire movie be filmed with actors in costume to help serve as models for the animators so that the characters would appear "as real as possible, near flesh-and-blood."

The animation process then began two years later, with each animator hand-inking the cels with such caution that they produced one drawing the day, which translated into one second of screen time per month.

Coupled with Disney's dictator-like attention to detail, in which he would sign off every single day's work, adjusting things until they were perfect, meant that the process took a further six years to complete.

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Roar (1981) - 11 years

Most people probably haven't heard of the 1981 adventure film starring Melanie Griffith and her mother Tippi Hedren (most well-known for being terrorised by Alfred Hitchcock while shooting The Birds), owing in part to it not getting a release in The States.

Hedren starred, while her then-husband Noel Marshall directed his passion project about a man who lives with a menagerie of wild and dangerous animals, whose wife and three children come out to Africa to visit him.

Working with 150 untrained big cats, including lions, tigers, leopards and cheetahs, over 70 of the cast and crew were injured including Melanie Griffith, whose face was mauled, requiring 50 stitches to her face.

A planned six-month filming schedule eventually lasted four years after a dam break caused a flood on the ranch that they were shooting, killing many of the lions and also destroying a load of completed footage, setting the production back several years at a cost of $3-4 million.

To continue to fund production Hedren and Marshall sold their Beverley Hills home, and the film's 11-year production and $17 million budget caused Roar to be branded "the most expensive home movie ever made."

Eraserhead (1977) - 5 years

Hollywood's ultimate surrealist, David Lynch had the sort of issues with making his debut feature film Eraserhead that would see any other up-and-coming director giving up Hollywood altogether.

With an initial shooting script only 20 pages long, Lynch got a small grant from the American Film Institute which ran out after three years of shooting and Lynch was forced to deliver newspapers and get donations in order to continue shooting.

Throughout the shooting, sets were torn down to make way for other work and had to be rebuilt to continue shooting, including one scene which saw Jack Nance's character Henry opens a door, and the next cut on the other side taking place 18 months after the previous.

All of this, combined with Lynch's hyper attention to detail meant that Eraserhead was finally released five years after production began, and what we got was an unsettlingly creepy body horror film that has prepared audiences for the wonderfully weird mind of David Lynch.

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Cronos (1993) - 8 years

Mexican filmmaker Guillermo del Toro wrote and directed the horror film, and due to his devilish dedication to detail, the film's long shooting schedule caused it to run over budget, which in turn forced production to a halt.

At $1.5-2 million over the planned budget - which was already the highest for a Mexican movie at the time - Del Toro got half a million dollars in bank loans, as the studio demanded changes and cuts be made, including star Ron Perlman taking a heavy salary cut.

Perlman agreed, which turned the star and his director into firm friends, as Cronos became a cult hit and gave Del Toro the chance to make Pan's Labyrinth and the Hellboy films.

Boyhood (2014) - 12 years

The widely-marketed gimmick of the coming-of-age drama was that the film's main character actually 'came of age' during the film's shooting.

Back in 2002, Before Sunrise director Richard Linklater cast the 7-year-old Ellar Coltrane for his "Untitled 12 Year Project" and set about shooting scenes for a few weeks in each of the following 12 years with the same cast and crew.

What resulted from the 12-year shoot was the Oscar-nominated Boyhood, which wowed fans and critics for its epic scale, labelling it an "emotional powerhouse" and "one of the greatest films of the decade" - proving that good things come to those who wait.

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Avatar (2009) - 10 years

While it didn't take a decade for James Cameron to make the epic fantasy adventure set on Pandora, the Titanic director planned the film to be made in 1999, only for him having to shelve the idea for eight years.

Unfortunately for Cameron, the pre-millennium CGI technology wasn't of the standard be able to effectively portray his epic vision for Avater, as he spent close to a decade tinkering with the screenplay until the technology to be built that could make Pandora come alive.

Eventually, in 2005, Cameron was able to push ahead with realising the events on the densely-forested moon of Pandora - and the film still took four years to make.

What resulted won nine Oscars and is the highest-grossing film of all time, so the wait was worth obviously it.

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