One reason I like movie trivia is because I come across little nuggets such as this and I begin thinking about how a certain movie franchise could have ended up being different. I try to vary the films I post for the my fun facts, but this was too good not to share.
Warner Brothers bought the film rights to JK Rowling’s first four Harry Potter books in 1998 for $2 million (£1 million). When looking for a director for Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, WB approached Steven Spielberg and DreamWorks studio. After Spielberg accepted the offer, negotiations began immediately about the story and look of the films. Spielberg wanted to make the movies animated since they were going to be very special effects heavy anyway. He also wanted to combine several books into one movie. Alan Horn, who was recently appointed president at WB at the time, eventually declined the partnership, stating:
“I did think it would be worthwhile for Steven Spielberg to direct. We offered it to him. But one of the notions of DreamWork’s and Steven’s was, ‘Let’s combine a couple of the books, let’s make it animated,’ and that was because of the [visual effects and] Pixar had demonstrated that animated movies could be extremely successful. Because of the wizardry involved, they were very effects-laden. So I don’t blame them. But I did not want to combine the movie and I wanted it to be live action.”
As much as I like Spielberg, I’m glad Horn didn’t go in that direction. It’s hard to imagine not growing up with Daniel Radcliff, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson as Harry, Ron and Hermione. Although combining books would have moved the narrative along, it would not have been able to build the characters and relationships very well.
The post-credits scene of The Avengers where the team is eating shawarma was added after the day after its Hollywood premier. The idea for this scene came about after Robert Downey, Jr. improved one of his lines. When he crashes to the ground after falling back through the portal, he was originally supposed to say “What’s next?” Downey felt the line could be more interesting, so he added the lines about going to get shawarma after they had defeated the Chitauri.
It was reported that shawarma sales received a boost shortly after the movie was released. Talk about free press!
While watching Pixar’s Brave, did you have a difficult time understanding young MacGuffin’s muttering? That’s ok, most people did. However, this incomprehensible mumbling is actually an authentic Scottish dialect called Doric. Kevin McKidd, the Scottish actor behind the voice of both Lord and Young MacGuffin, was given his lines in plain English, and called his mother before recording so she could help translate them into Doric.
Have you heard of a little movie called Frozen? I wouldn’t be surprised if you haven’t, it flew under the radar. Just kidding, of course you know what Frozen is! It was a massive hit, becoming the highest grossing animated film and sixth highest grossing film of all time. “Let it Go,” written by the song writing couple of Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez, is easily the most popular song from the soundtrack, even winning an Oscar for best original song. And I’m not above admitting even I was obsessed with it for a while (don’t judge!). However, there is more to this song than its popularity: it changed the course of the entire film.
“The cold never bothered me anyway.”
In the original script, Elsa was meant to be the protagonist of Frozen (watch this clip for an example). In the recent TV special The Story of Frozen: Making a Disney Animated Classic, the producers revealed that when Lopez and Anderson-Lopez presented the song “Let it Go,” they felt the song’s themes of personal empowerment and self-acceptance fundamentally changed the character of Elsa. This lead them to rewrite most of the script around their new understanding of the character. Here’s the clip of the couple explaining the song’s inception.
Imagine what it would be like to meet a Tyrannosaurus Rex face-to-face. Pretty scary right? Well luckily that can’t happen, but for Joseph Mazzello and Ariana Richards they got to enjoy that lovely experience. During the scene in Jurassic Park when Tim and Lex Murphy (Mazzello and Richards respectively) were in the truck and the T-Rex went through the roof, the glass was not supposed to break. Their screams of fear were genuine.
That’s not the only time the T-Rex animatronic caused problems on set. Occasionally, the rain would cause the T-Rex to malfunction. Kathleen Kennedy, the producer, said “The T. rex went into the heebie-jeebies sometimes. Scared the crap out of us. We’d be, like, eating lunch, and all of a sudden a T. rex would come alive. At first we didn’t know what was happening, and then we realized it was the rain. You’d hear people start screaming.”
Do you remember John Williams’ iconic Jaws them? Duuuunnn duuunnn. Duuunnn duuunnn. Duunn duunn. Duunn. Duunn duunn. Dun dun. Dun dun. Dun. (You know you sang it it your head). Today, it’s arguably one of the most recognized and memorable pieces of film music (ranking #6 on AFI’s 25 Greatest Film Scores of All Time). Steven Spielberg initially needed some convincing about how awesome it is. Williams said in an interview that the first thing he demonstrated to Spielberg was the simple theme. When he finished, “Spielberg laughed at first.” After some playing around, Spielberg gave him the go ahead. When the score was finished, “Steven loved it,” according to Williams. It’s hard to image what would have happened to Jaws had Spielberg not enjoyed the score.
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Read John Williams’ full interview here.