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10 Movies That Took Extremely Long Time To Make

19 February 2017 | Features, Film Lists | by Polina Zelmanova


With the advancement of new technology, the time needed to make a film has considerately shortened. Despite this factor, however, there still are several film makers who, for one reason or another, have extended the pleasurable time of making a movie to quite unthinkable extents ranging from as big as 4 to 30 years.

In some cases it isn’t necessarily the directors doing as there are a billion factors that may influence the time of the production of a film – whether it’s the budget, development issues or a difficult and time consuming editing and effects adding process.

However, for one reason or another the following movies took an extremely longer-than-usual time to make – the results of some justifying the wait and others not so much.

And so, without further ado, here is a list describing the various reasons that justify the extended production time of the various films.


10. Eraserhead (David Lynch) – 5 Years

Eraserhead film

One of the movies that was definitely worth the wait is the legendary cult classic Eraserhead. The filming and production of one of the most bizarre classics lasted 5 years for several reasons. The first was Lynch’s obsession with perfectionism which led to one of the shots of Henry Spence’s (Jack Nance) entrance taking a year to complete which justly explains the other four.

The other more substantial reason however, as is with many movies, was the lack of funding that caused a time lag. In the end the movie was practically fully funded by Lynch himself with the generous help of friends and family that donated their small incomes to the creation of this masterpiece.

There have been many interpretations of the dark plot of the movie, including many metaphorical and post-apocalyptic elucidations. The film follows Henry, a simple factory worker in a town taken over by industry.

After his girlfriend, Mary (Charlotte Stewart) gives birth to their child, Henry who is on vacation, is stranded alone in his apartment with the deformed and mutant-like baby who spends his days screaming away uncontrollably, driving Henry and Mary to misery and absurdity.


9. Cronos (Guillermo del Toro) – 8 Years

Cronos (1993)

Despite being one of those directors obsessed with details, del Toro’s Cronos production was extended to 8 years for a slightly alternative budget reason.

By alternative, the implication is that unlike in many other cases, there was definitely enough money to start with; but as the shooting and production progressed the amount turned out insufficient as he began to drift onto the wrong side of the budget. This forced the extended production period as the director was forced to take out ridiculous loans to continue shooting, which made it a shame that the movie didn’t succeed in the financial sphere despite its clear-cut cult status.

Cronos tactfully tackles the theme of immortality, with the legend of an alchemist creating a device – the Cronos Device, that attaches itself to the human in charge, injecting the gift (or curse) of the envious immortal life. Now in the hands of an old antique dealer, the device turns under threat as a dying man (Claudio Brooke) upon reading about its magical effects desperately hires his nephew (Ron Perlman) to find this life saving machine, beginning a dangerous chase.

The story deeply reflects the battle of good and evil, as well as putting its take on the debate of the questionable choice of wanting to live forever and the price one pays for eternal life.


8. Avatar (James Cameron) – 10 Years


After finishing his work on the Titanic, Cameron was immediately ready to be plunged into the world on Pandora and its blue inhabitants. After second thoughts, however, he decided that the technology of the late 90s was not sufficiently advanced enough in order to create masterfully crafted CGI environment of the setting.

Therefore, the production was postponed for 10 years – but that doesn’t mean that the movie was simply put aside into the ‘waiting’ box. I fact, all of the time was much needed as it allowed focus on the screenplay development as well as the vital element of the Na’vi language that was built and developed by linguists from scratch.

Set over 100 years into the future, Avatar follows a team of scientists on a mission to understand the atmosphere of Pandora, since the energy resources on Earth have been exhausted. The beautiful planet is inhabited by equally beautiful three-metre-tall, blue creatures that live peacefully in nature. As Pandora’s atmosphere is toxic to humans, an Avatar program was launched, allowing well trained professionals to mentally take control of a man-made Na’vi creature model.

One of such operators is Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) who is sent on the mission. As the story progresses, betrayal threatens the whole operation, while Sully’s developed closeness to the creatures becomes both a threat and an advantage. One thing is for sure, Cameron was right to wait for technology, as Avatar would not be the same without the captivating and mesmerising graphics.


7. The Thin Red Line (Terrence Malick) – 10 Years

The Thin Red Line

If anyone loves attention to detail, it’s Terrence Malick, and by detail it is all of the little plants, leaves and insects that potentially enter the frame of his carefully planned and constructed shot. This is why the unusual war drama adapted from a novel of the same name, The Thin Red Line took a whole decade to finally finish.

After baffling his producers due to his most unusual requests of research material including various information books on wildlife and insects while filming a movie about war, it is only when the shooting began that it became obvious as to why Malick had some strange requests. Every other shot slowly manoeuvres its way from the war action to a piece of grass, or a small creature on the ground emphasising the connection of nature to humans, a theme quite common in the Malick genre.

The movie follows the Guadalcanal battle during the second World War. After the retreat of the exhausted Marines, a group of soldiers is brought in to defend and take the island from the Japanese forces.

The experience turns out to be horrendous and only highlights the uselessness of war. The only positive element to come out of the battle is the strong bond between the small group of soldiers that are faced not only with the weapons of their rivals but with the more simple difficulty of basic survival.


6. Vegas in Space (Philip R. Ford) – 10 Years

Vegas in Space (1991)

Doris Fish was one of the most widely known Drag Queens of San Francisco who left behind not only a huge legacy, but also an unforgettable and wild movie directed by Philip R. Ford. The reason for the decade of waiting is of course due to the fact that Fish and Ford spent 8 years simply trying to raise enough funds. This is no wonder considering the movie revolves around a planet called “Clitoris” and sex change.

The comedic science fiction film follows three male captains who travel from Earth to planet Clitoris, a land of pleasure, gambling and of course shopping, to investigate the theft of “Girlinium” – rare gems that in fact help the planet to stick to its orbit around the sun. Hired by the Empress the detectives are forced to go under cover as female lounge singers as not to arise suspicion, considering the planet has entrance-to-females-only regulation.

Disguised as lounge singers for the Empress, the travellers from Earth embark on their secret and dangerous mission to return the Girlinium stones back to their rightful owner and save the Planet from being destroyed by an earthquake due to its instability.



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  • Timothy McKenzie

    In addition to all the aforementioned movies that took a extremely long time to make that you had just mentioned, I would also like to mention Richard Williams’ ill-fated 28-year work on what became his unfinished masterpiece of animation, The Thief and the Cobbler.

    A rigorously hand drawn, adult oriented yet mostly wordless epic, it’s basically the greatest animated movie that nobody have ever, ever, EVER seen or heard of, and the story behind its making is obviously one of the saddest stories in cinematic history.

    Williams’ original vision for the film delights in intricate details, Echer-inspired patterns, as well as optical illusions and crazy perspective to trick the eyes and create impossible but fascinating rooms within a seemingly limitless palace. There is very little dialogue in the workprint of the movie, and there’s no script either; just a movie where the Thief character spends a lot of his screen time doing these sort of Road Runner/Wile E. Coyote-inspired which are funny and amazing on their very own and have really no place in a Disney-style Aladdin movie; just pure animation.

    The painstaking work on WIlliams’ original lost vision for the Thief and the Cobbler movie for 28 years really shines through. And some of the film’s more breathtaking scenes may be completely hand drawn, but it can also move in three dimensions almost like a CGI animation.

    Richard Williams, who is universally best known for winning three Oscars — one for a 1971 animated adaptation of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dcikens; the other two for the still-un-toppable mix of live action and animated cartoons in Who Framed Roger Rabbit in 1988 — had intended The Thief movie to be his epic masterpiece of 2D animation on a never-before-seen scale.

    While it actually began in 1964 with a different plot and a different title to boot — Nasruddin! — at least it still has a loose, dialogue-lite narrative as it neared completion in 1992.

    WIlliams was tinkering with working on that movie for 28 years between 1964 and 1992 in between commercial assignments as well as assignments for movie titles such as those for the Return of the Pink Panther and the Pink Panther Strikes Again, respectively.

    The Thief and the Cobbler did not attract financial backing until after the success of Roger Rabbit, when Williams made a deal with Warner Bros. to finance the Thief movie and full production commenced from 1989 to 1992.

    However, Richard Williams lost control of the movie when Warner Bros. bailed out of the project when WIlliams failed to make a commerical movie out of his life’s work. A completion bond company handed over the project — which had at this point only 15 minutes of animation that had yet to be done — to TV animator Fred Calvert to cheaply complete it, insert songs, and restructure the movie to tell a more traditional story. Disney bought the movie through Miramax FIlms in 1994, edited it even more than ever before, wrote new dialogue, and brought in a new voice cast to create Arabian Knight in 1995.

    But all is not lost, however.

    There is also a great fan edit of the Thief and the Cobbler by filmmaker Gilbert Gilchrist, essentially called The Recobbled Cut, that most everybody are very thankful for.

    The Recobbled fan edit of The Thief and the Cobbler uses the original audio, bits and pieces of unfinished animation, rediscovered footage, unfinished animatics, and even rough storyboard sketches to flesh out the runtime in an very ambitious attempt at a very close approximation of what Richard Williams’ original vision for the Thief and the Cobbler movie would have been like.

    The Recobbled Cut of Richard Williams’ Thief and the Cobbler movie is basically one of the great fan edits imaginable.

    To fully appreciate RIchard Willaims’ complete original vision for his lost animated epic, I would like to recommend for all of you to watch either the 1992 workprint (or especially the high quality workprint shown at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 2013, as well as at New York City’s Museum of Modern Art, or MOMA, for short, three years later) or perhaps MARK IV of the Recobbled version of the Thief and the Cobbler Movie.

    Apologies for the very long comment, and sure, you don’t have to read all of it if you want to, but it is just my suggestion.

  • Ali Dante

    Once Upon a time in America

  • samnang eng

    From many sources I have read especially this one below, Silence (2016) was filmed entirely in Taiwan and not in Thailand unlike what you wrote ”head off to the burning heat of Thailand with his cast and crew to set his masterpiece into


  • AmazingAmy

    Silence has to wait for 28 years and barely acknowledged by awards season…..
    Boyhood has to lost to birdman……

  • sailor monsoon

    John Carter-100 years

  • Otto T. Goat

    Eraserhead is considerably autobiographical. It’s post-apocalyptic setting is based on the neighborhood in Philly where he lived.

  • Exit Exit Quit

    Dau. 11 years and still in post production.

  • Ted Wolf

    I remember Huston saying he had been trying to make the man who would be king for years with gable and Bogart before settling on Connery and caine

  • G Jones

    Silence also happens to be very boring as well. LOL

  • louis

    The Thief and the Cobbler took 31 years to make.

  • Leozappa

    Hard to be a God

  • Please TasteOfCinema, hire an English editor to fix all the typos!