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What are some mind blowing facts about Steven Spielberg movies?

Oh, where do I start?  How about from the beginning…

Note:  Not all of these are mind-blowing facts.  They are interesting though for sure…

 

  • This was Spielberg’s first film and first collaboration with musical composer John Williams.  Since then, Williams has scored EVERY Steven Spielberg movie except The Color Purple and Twilight Zone: The Movie.

 

 

  • The now classic line “You’re gonna need a bigger boat” was not in the script.  Roy Scheider improvised the line on set.
  • When John Williams first played the eventual score for Steven Spielberg, Spielberg laughed, thinking that Williams was joking.  In the end, Spielberg used it and now it is of course an iconic musical score.
  • Charleton Heston was the original actor in the running for the role that eventually went to Roy Scheider.
  • Robert Shaw (Quint) was in trouble with the IRS and had to flee the country to Canada when his scenes were done filming.  It’s also rumored that he couldn’t take a fee for the film either.
  • Lee Marvin was Spielberg’s first choice for the role of Quint.  Marvin turned it down.
  • The production was originally budgeted to last for 55 days.  The production scheduled ballooned to 159 days (give or take a few) and Spielberg was nearly fired.

 

 

  • The situation on U.S. Navy Flight 19, from which the airplanes that appear in the Mexican desert came from, disappeared off Fort Lauderdale, Fla., in December 1945. No trace has ever been found of “the Lost Flight 19” which left the Naval Air Station near there in 1945.
  • The film opened in the same week that Star Wars overtook Jaws as the biggest moneymaker of all time.
  • Francois Truffaut’s only acting role in a film that he did not direct.
  • The John Williams score was written before the movie was produced. Spielberg edited the film to match the music.   Usually it’s the other way around.
  • The film holds the record for most cinematographers on a production (11, counting the Special Edition).
  • The UFO landing site built for the movie was 27 m high, 137 m long, and 76 m wide, making it the largest indoor film set ever constructed.
  • George Lucas and Steven Spielberg traded their profit points (2.5%) for their films Star Wars and this.  While Close Encounters was a huge hit, Spielberg obviously came out the winner and is still collecting checks today.

 

 

  • Dan Akroyd’s American feature film debut.
  • Mickey Rourke’s feature film debut.
  • Steven Spielberg almost made this film a musical.
  • John Wayne was Spielberg’s first choice to play Major General Stilwell. Wayne refused and even told Spielberg not to make this movie because it was un-American.

 

 

  • Jeff Bridges turned down the role of Indiana Jones.
  • Tom Selleck was originally cast, but couldn’t get out of his Magnum P.I. contract.
  • Indiana Jones never loses his hat as an homage to the classic serials of the 1940s.
  • Most of the body blows you hear were created by hitting a pile of leather jackets with a baseball bat.
  • Harrison Ford was cast less than three weeks before principal photography began.
  • Michael Bay worked on the film with the storyboards.
  • Frank Welker (Of animation voice work fame) provided the monkey’s sounds, uncredited.

 

 

  • The filmmakers had requested that M&M’s be used to lure E.T., instead of Reese’s Pieces. The Mars company had denied their request and so Reese’s Pieces were used instead. As a direct result, Reese’s Pieces sales skyrocketed. Because of this, more and more companies began requesting that their products be used in movies. Thus, product placement was born.
  • With the exception of Elliot’s mom, no adults’ faces are shown until the last half of the film.
  • Steven Spielberg shot the film in chronological order to invoke a real response from the actors (mainly the children) when E.T. departed at the end. All emotional responses from that last scene are real.
  • Drew Barrymore is Steven Spielberg’s God Daughter.

 

 

  • Amrish Puri shaved his head for the role of Mola Ram, creating such an impression that he kept it shaved and became one of India’s most popular film villains.
  • For the bug chamber sequence, Kate Capshaw was covered with over 2,000 bugs.
  • Harrison Ford herniated his back in the scene where he is attacked in his bedroom by a Thuggee assassin. Production had to shut down for Ford to be flown to Los Angeles to have an operation. A huge majority of Ford’s work in the fights and chases in the Temple of Doom are actually stuntman Vic Armstrong.
  • 14 dummies fall off the bridge when it is cut. Batteries inside them operate their leg and arm movements to make it look like they’re really kicking and flailing.
  • Sharon Stone was seriously considered for the role of Willie until Kate Capshaw auditioned.
  • Short Round’s actual name is Su Wa Mu. Shorty reveals this during the scene when the Shaman first tells Indy about the “evil that started at Pankot”, as he taps Indy on the shoulder and whispers “See? Bad news. You listen to Su Wa Mu, you live longer.”  Although in the film’s novelization, Short Round’s real name is said to be Wan Li.

 

 

  • Jointly holds the record (with 1977’s The Turning Point) for the film with most Oscar nominations without a single win (11). And despite those 11 nominations, Spielberg was not nominated for Best Director.

 

 

  • Ben Stiller had a role in this film and he went on record saying that he came up with the concept of his eventual film Tropic Thunder on this set.
  • David Lean was originally approached to direct.

 

 

  • This is Steven Spielberg’s favorite Indiana Jones movie.
  • George Lucas originally wanted the third Indiana Jones film to be set in a Haunted Mansion.  Spielberg had already done Poltergeist.  The Holy Grail was then decided upon.
  • Harrison Ford cut his chin in a car accident in Northern California when he was about 20.  In the film, it is shown that Indiana Jones cut his chin with his own whip.
  • Sean Connery is only 12 years older than Harrison Ford.
  • This was the first Indiana Jones film to receive a PG-13 rating.  This is contrary to popular belief that Temple of Doom was.  In fact, Doom instigated the discussion of a PG-13 rating.  Doom was PG.
  • River Phoenix was asked to reprise his role as Young Indy in Lucas’ The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles.  Phoenix didn’t want to return to television so he turned down the role.

 

 

  • Gwyneth Paltrow appeared in the film as the young Wendy.  She is Steven Spielberg’s God Daughter.
  • Tom Hanks was considered for the role of Peter Pan.
  • Kevin Kline was cast as Peter Pan but had to drop out due to scheduling conflicts with Soapdish.
  • The pirate shut in the chest with the scorpion was played by Glenn Close.

 

 

  • Steven Spielberg considers this his unofficial sequel to Jaws… on land.
  • The Tyrannosaurus’ roars were a combination of dog, penguin, tiger, alligator, and elephant sounds.
  • Harrison Ford turned down the role of Dr. Alan Grant.
  • Sean Connery was offered the role of John Hammond.
  • There are only 15 minutes of actual dinosaur footage in the film: 9 minutes are Stan Winston’s animatronics, 6 minutes of it is ILM’s CGI.
  • Steven Spielberg received $250,000,000 from the film’s gross and profit participations.

 

 

  • Steven Spielberg accepted to compensation for the film.
  • Spielberg didn’t want to direct the film initially.  He offered it to Roman Polanski.  Polanski turned it down saying that he had his own Holocaust film.  He would later direct The Pianist.
  • About 40% of the film was shot using a handheld camera.
  • The most expensive black & white film ever made to date.
  • Steven Spielberg’s first R-rated film.
  • Spielberg directed this film while also working post-production on Jurassic Park.

 

 

  • The Japanese tourists running from the rampaging T-Rex in the San Diego scene (an obvious homage to “Godzilla” movies) are saying in Japanese: “I left Japan to get away from this?!”
  • The man that is eaten by the T-Rex next to the video store (in San Diego) is David Koepp, one of the writers of the film.

 

 

  • The film was shot in just 31 days.

 

 

  • Tom Sizemore was battling drug addiction during production.
  • All of the principal actors had to undergo boot camp.  All except for Matt Damon.  This was done to create that separation of the group.
  • The film was blocked by the Censor Board of India for too much violence. Spielberg refused to edit it.  When it was screened, India officials saw its worth and let it through.
  • The Omaha Beach scene cost $11 million to shoot and involved up to 1000 extras, some of whom were members of the Irish Army Reserve. Of those extras, 20-30 of them were amputees issued with prosthetic limbs to simulate soldiers having their limbs blown off.
  • Edward Norton was offered the role of Private Ryan, but turned it down.
  • This is the last film edited on a non-digital editing system to win an Academy Award for editing.
  • The battle of Normandy at the start and the battle to defend Ramelle at the end both run to about 25 minutes in length, comprising nearly an hour of the film.
  • One of the very last films to be released on laserdisc in November 1999. Laserdiscs ceased being manufactured at the end of that year.
  • As the German soldier stabs Mellish to death, he says: “Gib’ auf, du hast keine Chance! Lass’ es uns beenden! Es ist einfacher für dich, viel einfacher. Du wirst sehen, es ist gleich vorbei.” This translates: “Give up, you don’t stand a chance! Let’s end this here! It will be easier for you, much easier. You’ll see it will be over quickly.” The words are spoken in accent-free German.
  • Spielberg did not storyboard the film.  Not even the opening battle.  He made up each and every shot on the spot, day of.

 

 

  • Stanley Kubrick worked on the project for 12 years before his death, but along the way decided to let Steven Spielberg direct, saying it was “closer to his sensibilities”. The two collaborated for years, resulting in Kubrick giving Spielberg a complete treatment and lots of conceptual art for the film prior to his death.
  • The World Trade Center is seen in the New York scenes of the film, set many years into the future after 2001. Less than three months after the film’s release, they were destroyed in the September 11 terrorist attacks.
  • Robin Williams actually recorded his dialog for the film with Stanley Kubrick directing the recording session, a long time before Spielberg was attached to direct.

 

 

  • The “PreCogs” were all named after famous mystery writers. Dashiell Hammett, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Agatha Christie.
  • Spielberg assembled a team of sixteen future experts in Santa Monica to brainstorm out the year 2054 for him, three years before the film went into production.
  • The adaptation of this Philip K. Dick short story was originally set to be the sequel to Total Recall.

 

 

  • According to the real Frank Abagnale Jr. approximately 80 percent of the movie is true.
  • Johnny Depp was Spielberg’s original choice before DiCaprio nabbed the role.
  • The real Frank W. Abagnale Jr arrests DiCaprio in France, he is the man in the coat and hat who pins Leonardo against the police car.

 

 

  • The terminal set was a near-full-size replica built in a former hangar, with three working sets of escalators, and populated by many familiar stores (e.g. Burger King, Mrs. Fields, W.H. Smith).

 

 

  • Spielberg owns one of the last copies of the Orson Welles radio script, which he purchased at an auction.
  • Due to Spielberg’s last minute post-production work, he had to drop out of a scheduled appearance with Tom Cruise to promote the film on The Oprah Winfrey Show. This was the episode of Cruise’s highly publicized “couch jumping” incident.
  • This film reunited Tom Cruise and his Top Gun co-star Tim Robbins.
  • The crew started filming only seven months prior to its release. In order to finish all 500+ CGI effects, Spielberg did all the big action scenes in the early stages of shooting.

 

  • The time span between the start of production to the release date in December of 2005 was less than six months.

 

  • The only Indiana Jones film to not receive any Oscar nominations. The first three movies in the series had won at least one Oscar each. Okay, that’s not so mind-blowing…
  • Despite being panned by many critics and especially most fans of the franchise, the film still garnered $786 million worldwide.

 

 

  • The film made just $77 million domestic, but $296 million internationally.
  • Spielberg is the first Oscar-winning director to direct a Nickelodeon film.

 

 

  • Spielberg stated that the only digital effects used in the movie were three shots that lasted three seconds, and was done to ensure the safety of the horse involved. Spielberg was quoted as saying “That’s the thing I’m most proud of. Everything you see on screen really happened.”
  • Spielberg’s first film to be edited digitally.

 

  • Spielberg approached Daniel Day-Lewis many times to take on this role, however, he always declined.  He even wrote this letter to Spielberg.”Dear Steven. It was a real pleasure just to sit and talk with you. I listened very carefully to what you had to say about this compelling history, and I’ve since read the script and found it – in all the detail of which it describes these monumental events and in the compassionate portraits of all the principle characters – both powerful and moving. I can’t account for how at any given moment I feel the need to explore one life as opposed to another. But I do know that I can only do this work if I feel almost as if there’s no choice; that a subject coincides inexplicably with a very personal need and a very specific moment in time. In this case, as fascinated as I was by ‘Abe,’ it was the fascination of a grateful spectator who longed to see a story told rather than that of a participant. That’s how I feel now in spite of myself, and though I can’t be sure this won’t change, I couldn’t dream of encouraging you to keep it open on a mere possibility. I do hope this makes sense Steven. I’m glad you’re making the film. I wish you the strength for it and I send both my very best wishes and my sincere gratitude to you for having considered me. Daniel.”
  • By winning the Academy Award for Best Actor for the film, Day-Lewis became the first actor or actress to win an acting Oscar of any kind for a movie directed by Steven Spielberg.
  • Liam Neeson was attached to Spielberg’s Lincoln film for at least a decade.


Sources:  Steven Spielberg, Steven Spielberg: A Retrospective, etc.