Five Fast Facts About THE FRIGHTENERS - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

Home Top Ad

Post Top Ad

Five Fast Facts About THE FRIGHTENERS

When a man's jawbone drops off it's time to reassess the situation.

Released on July 19th 1996, co-written and directed by Peter Jackson and starring Michael J. Fox, The Frighteners tells the story of Frank Bannister (Fox), an architect who practices necromancy and develops psychic abilities allowing him to see, hear, and communicate with ghosts after his wife's murder. Although only a moderate success at the box office, The Frighteners was well received by critics and has gained a cult status over the years.

On the anniversary of its release, here are five fast facts about The Frighteners...

1. Peter Jackson and his partner/co-writer Fran Walsh conceived the idea for The Frighteners back in 1992, whilst they were writing the script for Heavenly Creatures. Together, they produced a three-page film treatment and sent it to their talent agent in Hollywood for distribution. Robert Zemeckis liked the treatment and purchased it with the intention of directing The Frighteners as a spin-off film of the television series, Tales from the Crypt (which he helped produce).

Eventually Zemeckis decided that The Frighteners would work better as a full-length feature and he taksed Jackson and Walsh to turn their treatment into a screenplay for a film. After completion of the screen-play, and a viewing of an early cut of Heavenly Cretures, Zemeckis was so impressed with both he stood aside, feeling The Frighteners would work better directed by Jackson (with Zemeckis executive producing).

2. Although Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh always envisioned The Frighteners as a low-budget film with unknown actors, Robert Zemeckis suggested casting his Back to the Future star Michael J. Fox in the lead role. No other actor was auditioned, as when Zemeckis made the call Fox agreed straightaway, having just left a screening of Heavenly Creatures at the Toronto Film Festival and excited to work with the film's director.

3. When Fran Walsh and Peter Jackson were writing the part of the Drill Sergeant in the graveyard, they wrote it as a spoof of R. Lee Ermey's Full Metal Jacket character, Gunnery Sergeant Hartman. After auditioning multiple actors, Jackson & Walsh felt none of them were right. Fully expecting him to say no, they ended up approaching Ermey to basically parody himself. To their surprise, he agreed.

4. Although he hadn't revealed it, Michael J. Fox had just been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease whilst filming The Frighteners. It's often believed that this diagnosis was the cause for his subsequent retirement from cinematic leading man roles in favour of TV, roles like Spin City, and voice acting work, like Stuart Little. But, as Fox revealed some years later to Empire Magazine, it was just as much to do with the six month shoot in New Zealand...
“It was the last feature I starred in mainly because I realized that I really couldn’t be away from [my family] for that long again. It was a really cathartic and seminal experience for me.”

5. The original intended release date for The Frighteners was October 1996, arriving just in time for the Halloween season. But Universal Pictures had a problem, one of their intended summer 1996 blockbuster movies, Sylvester Stallone’s disaster survival-action pic Daylight, was running behind schedule and would not be ready for it's proposed July 19th release date. After the studio executives viewed a rough cut of The Frighteners, they were impressed decided to move the release date to that summer blockbuster slot.

However, Peter Jackson wasn't so sure. Firstly, The Frighteners isn't exactly a summer blockbuster, date-night type of movie, it's tone is very hard to pigeon-hole and market for that time of year. Secondly it would be receiving a R rating, so the summer family outing to the theater was out. And thirdly, it would mean that The Frighteners would open on the same day the Atlanta Summer Olympics began! Although Jackson protested, his concerns fell on deaf ears.

To sweeten the deal, Universal offered Jackson the opportunity to make King Kong (which he did eventually get round to, after finishing his Lord Of The Rings trilogy), but he was ultimately proved right when The Frighteners opened at #5 at the U.S. box office, and barely made back its $25 million+ budget, eventually grossing a worldwide total of $29,359,216.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Post Top Ad