Making a movie is hard to do — it's even harder to make a great one. Getting a feature film out on time and on budget is something worth celebrating, especially when a film happens to be one for the ages. Star Wars wasn't made in a day and neither were any of the amazing films we see today. Filmmaking is hardly an effortless art and it should always be cause for celebration when a movie hits the big time.
Here are 10 movies that beat the odds and won our hearts.
1. 'The LEGO Movie'
The LEGO Movie may be many things, but it definitely wasn't made overnight. The laugh-out-loud family film took no less than six years to bring to completion thanks to the difficulties mastering its stop-motion animation. Directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller were so dedicated to the movie's authenticity that they even spent months putting their own LEGO pieces under a microscope to recreate each of their cracks and seams. Now that's what I'd call building a masterpiece.
2. 'Batman Begins'
The years that followed Batman And Robin were a dark time indeed for DC's Dark Knight, but there was no shortage of ideas about where to take him next. Eventually, we got the film we deserved and maybe even the one we needed. At one point, the canceled Batman Triumphant would have seen George Clooney's Batman taking on the Scarecrow and Harley Quinn, who would have been the Joker's daughter. After turning down everything from a Joel Schumacher-directed sequel to a Batman Beyond movie, Warner Bros. settled on Darren Aronofsky's Batman: Year One — a film that might've shaken up the superhero genre's PG-13 sensibilities.
An even grittier take on Frank Miller's original comic, the grim 1999 reboot would have seen an orphaned, streetwise Bruce Wayne fighting crime without a billion-dollar budget, after being taken in by a mechanic named Big Al. According to Aronofsky, the movie's brutal violence would've been "Death Wish or The French Connection meets Batman." Alas, the film was deemed too edgy by Warner Bros. and it was permanently shelved. It was six years later that Christopher Nolan directed his own take on Year One with Batman Begins. Dark, dramatic, but never hopeless, Batman Begins was definitely the origin story fans needed, if not the one they deserved.
3. 'The Shining'
We all know that all work and no play can drive you crazy, and it nearly did for the cast of Stanley Kubrick's The Shining. An adaptation of Stephen King's novel of the same name, the 1980 horror classic devoted three days and 60 doors just to filming its iconic "Here's Johnny!" scene. Script changes were so frequent that its lead star, Jack Nicholson, reportedly threw out every script he received and memorized his lines on the fly, knowing that they would only be changed thereafter. During its grueling year-long shoot, supporting actress Shelly Duvall became physically ill from the film's demanding hours. A fire even required the crew to rebuild the movie's entire set from scratch.
Despite its massive critical acclaim today, the film garnered two Razzie nominations for Worst Director and Worst Supporting Actress, which went to Kubrick and Duvall, respectively. Practice makes perfect as they say, even if it pays off 40 years later.
4. 'The Evil Dead'
Years before he directed Spider-Man, Sam Raimi was the man behind The Evil Dead, which went through its own share of production scares. Produced for just $100,000, the original 1981 horror classic was a dead movie walking for much of its filming. Injuries, prop malfunctions, and even getting lost in the woods tormented the movie's inexperienced cast and crew — whenever Raimi wasn't tormenting them; he allegedly loved poking Bruce Campbell's injured leg with a stick during The Evil Dead's filming, saying that "if everyone was in extreme pain and misery, that would translate into a horror." It apparently didn't phase Campbell, based on his performance in Ash vs. The Evil Dead. Way to chin up, Ash!
If at first you don't succeed, try, try again — especially if you're Ryan Reynolds. With a resumé that includes Blade 3: Trinity, Green Lantern, R.I.P.D., and X-Men Origins: Wolverine, you could say that "God's sexiest idiot" had nothing left to lose by the time 2016 rolled around. Maybe that's why Deadpool felt so unapologetically outrageous, so unafraid to be different.
A pet project of Reynolds' since 2005, a proper Deadpool movie would take just over 11 years to make it to theaters, as part of an alleged favor to Reynolds by 20th Century Fox for starring in X-Men: Origins. The superhero origin story went through several drafts — even a PG-13 one — before being greenlit in all its R-rated glory. And holy chimichangas, are we glad that Reynolds put on the spandex again. Is Deadpool 2 out yet?
It often seems that James Cameron's films speak their own language, and it just so happens that Avatar really does. Announced mere months after Cameron's completion of Titanic, 2009's Avatar was but a glimmer in its director's eye when it was revealed to the pre-Internet world of 1998. It would take years to develop the 3D motion-capture that the film required, and years more to realize the movie's vast universe. Cameron would invent a real-life language for the film's fictional Na'vi with Dr. Paul Frommer, composed of 1,000 unique words. He even came up with 30 words himself. Seventeen years later, Avatar was cautiously greenlit for a whopping $310 million, as the most expensive movie ever made to date.
Sometimes the worst hells are the ones of our own choosing, and that was exactly the case for Richard Linklater's Boyhood. A moving look at the early life of fictional 6-year-old Mason Evans Jr., the film followed the real-time growth of actor Ellar Coltrane and his cast mates over the film's 12-year production. Filming for only weeks at a time each year, the studio couldn't legally contract its cast for more than seven years of work.
As a result, each of its cast members acted for free, putting Boyhood in perpetual danger of losing its cast, should they ever decide to leave. Linklater even made plans for supporting actor Ethan Hawke to direct, should Linklater die during the filming. Thankfully, Boyhood was a rousing success, earning the film a number of Oscar nods, including Best Supporting Actress for Patricia Arquette.
8. 'Apocalypse Now'
Remembered as Hollywood's most provocative statement on the Vietnam War, Apocalypse Now happened only thanks to a hellish shoot worthy of its name. Coppola wrote at least 10 drafts for the film's script (or about a thousand pages), which took nearly 10 years to get greenlit. Conceived by The Godfather's Francis Coppola as a modern-day successor to Joseph Conrad's Heart Of Darkness, the film's two-year production had to handle everything from flash-flooding to hiding Marlon Brando's weight to reach completion in 1979. I think it's safe to say that Coppola has no love for the smell of napalm in the morning.
9. 'Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice'
Four years before Bryan Singer's Superman Returns and three years before Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins, DC was already dreaming up a fight between Batman and Superman. After multiple attempts by McG and J.J. Abrams to resurrect the then defunct Superman franchise, Batman And Robin's Akiva Goldsman drafted a script for what he called "Batman vs. Superman," which would see a retired Bruce Wayne facing off against a self-exiled Superman. The film never made it off the drawing board, but its logo survived as an Easter Egg in 2007's I Am Legend, also written by Goldsman.
Much like this year's Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice, the movie would have had Lex Luthor manipulating the two superheroes into destroying one another. It wasn't until Comic-Con 2014 that the world would see its two superheroes battling it out on the big screen — and as we all know, the rest will soon be cinematic history.
10. 'Mad Max: Fury Road'
It's not too often that filmmakers get to reboot their own film series, much less with the incredible quality of Mad Max: Fury Road. A project envisioned by series creator George Miller as early as 1998 while crossing an intersection in Los Angeles, Fury Road sat on the shelf for over a decade due to financial woes and even political controversy. In the years after the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, the film's premise proved too similar to the oil crisis continuing in the Middle East.
Through thick and thin, the film's production marched on even as the crew waited for the wildflowers of the Australian Outback to die out for filming's sake. Seventeen years and 10 Oscar nominations later, you could say that Miller and everyone else's patience paid off. It's hard to ask any more of Miller, but would saving his Justice League movie be too much?
Just remember: nothing is impossible when you put your mind to it. Fight like hell for your dreams and they just might come true.