Epic Shoots: The Longest Movie Productions in History

A Journey Through The World of Long Movie Productions

While most movies take a few months to a year to film, there are a select few that have taken much, much longer. From meticulous directors, to budget issues, to cast changes, there are a myriad of reasons why some films take years, or even decades, to complete. This blog post will delve into some of the longest movie productions in history, providing an insight into the epic shoots that have gone down in cinematic history.

The Unexpected Journey of 'The Hobbit'

Peter Jackson's 'The Hobbit' trilogy is infamous for its long production period. Initially, Guillermo del Toro was set to direct the film, and spent two years working on it before leaving due to production delays. Peter Jackson then took over, and the film spent another two years in pre-production before filming even began. The actual shoot then took 266 days, spread out over a year and a half, making the total production time around six years.

The Marathon of 'Apocalypse Now'

Francis Ford Coppola's 'Apocalypse Now' is a masterpiece of modern cinema, but its production was anything but smooth. The film was plagued by a series of disasters, including a typhoon that destroyed several sets, leading man Martin Sheen having a heart attack, and constant script rewrites. As a result, the film took over a year to shoot, and then spent another two years in post-production. All in all, 'Apocalypse Now' took over three years to make, and nearly bankrupted Coppola in the process.

The Decades-Long Process of 'Boyhood'

Richard Linklater's 'Boyhood' is perhaps the most unique entry on this list, as its long production time was entirely intentional. 'Boyhood' was filmed over the course of 12 years, with the cast gathering once a year to film scenes. This allowed for the film's protagonist to age naturally on screen, creating a truly unique cinematic experience. While it was a long and challenging process, 'Boyhood' was a critical success, earning six Oscar nominations and a win for Patricia Arquette.

The Neverending Production of 'The Thief and the Cobbler'

'The Thief and the Cobbler' holds the record for the longest movie production in history, taking a staggering 31 years to complete. The film was the passion project of animator Richard Williams, who began work on it in 1964. Unfortunately, funding issues and production delays plagued the film, and Williams was eventually fired from his own project. The film was completed by other animators and finally released in 1995, but it was a far cry from Williams' original vision.

The Long Haul of 'Justice League'

The 2017 'Justice League' movie took an unusually long time to make due to a combination of production issues and reshoots. Originally, Zack Snyder was set to direct the film but had to step down due to a family tragedy. Joss Whedon took over and extensively reshoot scenes, changing the tone and storyline of the film. Fans were disappointed with the final product, leading to a campaign for the release of the 'Snyder Cut'. After much anticipation, the four-hour-long 'Snyder Cut' was finally released in 2021.

The world of movie production can be a long and arduous one, filled with unexpected challenges and setbacks. However, as these films prove, sometimes the longest shoots can result in the most memorable movies. Whether it's the epic sweep of 'Apocalypse Now', the unique time-spanning narrative of 'Boyhood', or the painstaking animation of 'The Thief and the Cobbler', these films all stand as testament to the resilience, dedication, and passion of filmmakers.