I know that the three films in the Lord of the Rings film series were quite famously shot concurrently. The films were then edited and completed, before being released to the cinemas a year or so apart from each other.

To me, this appears to have some great benefits, such as:

  • No visible aging of cast members
  • No risk of cast members changing their salary demands after the first film's success and thus difficulty arising getting the cast member to come back.

Is there a name for this style of film creation? Did Lord of the Rings start this trend, or had it been done before (or has it been since)? And if the latter, can you provide some examples?

  • I'd imagine if it were used before it would be limited to movies where it was known up-front that there would be more than 1 film. Mar 13, 2014 at 18:02
  • 1
    I would expect so. It's a heck of a commitment for a film studio - but you could argue the same with LotR I suppose. That even if they wanted to make a trilogy, if the first film had tanked they would have pulled it. Mar 13, 2014 at 18:03
  • I'm just curious that they haven't done it with things like Spiderman, or Hunger Game, for example. Mar 13, 2014 at 18:04
  • @AndrewMartin - Hunger Games is on the list I linked to.
    – JohnP
    Mar 13, 2014 at 18:18
  • The Matrix 2 and 3 were shot concurrently. Understandably, both answers so far have forgotten these movies... ;) Mar 18, 2014 at 9:25

2 Answers 2


The Three Musketeers

When Alexander Salkind and his son Ilya produced The Three Musketeers in 1973 they shot so much footage that they decided to split it into two movies: The Four Musketeers (1974).

This had ramifications and resulted in the Salkind Clause:

For their daring, the Salkinds have gone down in legal history:

  • actors' agents and lawyers adopted the so-called 'Salkind clause', which prohibits producers from salvaging footage from the cutting room floor for a second movie without paying the cast accordingly.

This is also mentioned on the IMDb Trivia page:

As a result of the producers splitting the film into two parts, Screen Actors' Guild contracts now often feature what is called a "Salkind Clause," which requires producers to state up front how many films are being shot, and that the actors involved must be paid for each.


The Salkinds would later do something similiar with Superman (1978) and Superman II (1980), by shooting them back-to-back.

Although, for the sequel director Richard Donner was replaced by Richard Lester, who had previously directed the 'Musketeer' movies for the Salkinds.

From the Superman Wiki:

It was decided early in the process to shoot two films simultaneously.

During the production of 'The Three Musketeers' (1973), the Salkinds had realized that there was enough footage for two films and split the film in two, releasing 'The Four Musketeers' a year later.

The joint production of 'Superman' and 'Superman II' would mark the first time this process was used intentionally.

All actors' contracts have what is now known as the "Salkind clause", which stipulates how many films are being made.

All performers on 'Superman' were contractually obligated to 'Superman II' as well. However, in this case, most of the simultaneously-shot footage was reportedly scrapped when Richard Lester was brought in to finish 'Superman II'.

Kill Bill

Because of the Salkind clause new deals had to be negotiated with the actors when Kill Bill (2003) was split into two films in post-production.

In the case of a movie like "Kill Bill," which becomes two movies after the fact, SAG (Screen Actors Guild) requires a new round of bargaining for actors appearing in the second installment.

  • This is an absolutely brilliant answer. Thank you very much. I'd never heard of the Salkinds or this clause before. Your examples are fascinating and as the Musketeers appears to be the earliest example of this technique, the accepted answer is yours. Cheers! Mar 13, 2014 at 21:01
  • My impression is that much of the simultaneously-shot footage for Superman II focused on sets which were common to both films. It didn't cost a whole lot to shoot extra scenes on the already-built set, and using footage shot on an old set is a lot cheaper than building a new set. In cases where footage on the old set isn't sufficient, building a new set and reshooting every sequence that requires new footage is apt to be easier than trying to make footage shot on the new set match footage shot on the old one. If someone's desk has a different style of telephone in the second movie...
    – supercat
    Jan 29, 2015 at 22:52
  • ...that will be a lot less distracting than if their desk phone arbitrarily switches back and forth between two styles during the course of the picture.
    – supercat
    Jan 29, 2015 at 22:56

No, there have been several over the years, as detailed by a wikipedia entry on back to back filming.

Here's a short list, there are more in the wiki entry.

  1. Back to the Future II and III
  2. Kill Bill was filmed as one film and later split into two.
  3. Superman the movie and Superman II (Earliest on the list, 1978 timeframe)
  4. Deathly Hallows I and II were filmed together.
  • So it looks like Back to the Future started it all. How cool. Thanks! Mar 13, 2014 at 18:26
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    @AndrewMartin - Superman the movie and Superman II predated BTTF by about 8 years.
    – JohnP
    Mar 13, 2014 at 18:28
  • Whoops, didn't see it half way down the list. You should make that part very clear in your answer, since that perfectly answers my question. Thanks again. Mar 13, 2014 at 18:29
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    @MichaelItzoe - They are on the list. I didn't reproduce the entire wiki list, just some examples.
    – JohnP
    Mar 13, 2014 at 18:34
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    @AndrewMartin - Either way, but the first example (1973) is different. They didn't INTEND for it to be two movies when they started filming it. The Superman combo was MEANT to be two movies from the outset of filming.
    – JohnP
    Mar 13, 2014 at 21:08

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