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“Grease” is Still the Word
The 30th + 1 Anniversary

Read more at
in70mm.com
The 70mm Newsletter
Compiled by: Michael Coate, Hollywood, USADate: 04.04.2010
A quick-reference tribute to the most-popular movie musical ever made…

CAST:
Danny – John Travolta
Sandy – Olivia Newton-John
Rizzo – Stockard Channing
Kenickie – Jeff Conaway
Doody – Barry Pearl
Sonny – Michael Tucci
Putzie – Kelly Ward
Frenchy – Didi Conn
Jan – Jamie Donnelly
Marty – Dinah Manoff
Principal McGee – Eve Arden
Teen Angel – Frankie Avalon
Vi – Joan Blondell
Vince Fontaine – Edd Byrnes
Coach Calhoun – Sid Caesar
Mrs. Murdock – Alice Ghostley
Blanche – Dody Goodman
Johnny Casino & The Gamblers – Sha-Na-Na

DIRECTOR: Randal Kleiser

SCREENPLAY: Bronte Woodard (Screenplay), Allan Carr (Adaptation), Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey (Original Musical)

RELEASE DATE: Friday, 16 June 1978
 
More in 70mm reading:


Internet link:

 
PROMOTIONAL SLOGAN: “Grease Is The Word”

PRODUCTION BUDGET: $6 million

OPENING-WEEK BOOKINGS: 862

OPENING-WEEKEND BOXOFFICE GROSS: $8.9 million

CUMULATIVE DOMESTIC BOXOFFICE GROSS OF ORIGINAL 1978 RUN: $132.5 million

RANK ON TOP-GROSSING FILMS OF 1978: 1

RANK ON ALL-TIME BOXOFFICE LIST AT CLOSE OF ORIGINAL RUN: 4

CUMULATIVE DOMESTIC BOXOFFICE GROSS INCLUDING RE-RELEASES: $188.3 million
 
 

Memorable Song Lyrics

 
I got chills / They’re multiplyin’ / And I’m losin’ control / ’Cause the power you’re supplyin’ / It’s electrifyin’ — “You're The One That I Want” written by John Farrar

With a four-speed on the floor / They’ll be waitin’ at the door / You know that ain’t no shit / We'll be getting lotsa tit in Greased Lightning — “Greased Lightning” written by Jim Jacobs & Warren Casey

We start believing now that we can be who we are / Grease is the word — “Grease” written by Barry Gibb

Summer lovin’ / Had me a blast / Summer lovin’ / Happened so fast / I met a girl crazy for me / Met a boy cute as can be / Summer days drifting away / To uh oh those summer nights — “Summer Nights” written by Jim Jacobs & Warren Casey
 
 

Memorable Dialogue

 
“If you can’t be an athlete, be an athletic supporter.” — Principal McGee

“This car could be systematic! Hydromatic! Ultramatic! Why, this car could be Greased Lightning!” — Danny

“Tell me about it, stud.” — Sandy

“Hey, Rizzo’s got a bun in the oven.” — Sonny

“You think I’m gonna stay here with you in this…sin wagon?” — Sandy

“Sandy, you just can’t walk out of a drive-in!” — Danny
 
 

What the Critcs Said

 
“The best movie musical we’ve had in years! ‘Grease’ is terrific fun!” — Vincent Canby, The New York Times

“‘Grease’ is exciting only when John Travolta is on the screen. None of the other characters is worth caring about; only Olivia Newton-John and a host of familiar ’50s faces are worth looking at. Fortunately, there are plenty of moments when ‘Grease’ loses itself in fantasy. Four of its musical numbers are genuine showstoppers that should bring applause.” — Gene Siskel, Chicago Tribune

“The Dolby sound is terrific. This is a film that exhibitors might well play at higher sound levels for greater audience involvement.” — A.D. Murphy, Variety

“‘Grease is the word,’ say the ads. Now that the film version has opened, the word that springs immediately to mind is ‘excruciating.’ If it is true that ‘Grease’ reflects producer Allan Carr’s fondest dreams of what a movie musical should look and feel like, he should be put away. I’ve never seen an uglier large-scale musical. I mean ugly in spirit as well as visually unattractive and melodically impoverished.” — Gary Arnold, The Washington Post

“‘Grease’ is all benedict and no eggs. It lacks anything resembling the intelligence of ‘American Graffiti,’ the good fun of ‘FM’ or the integrity of ‘The Buddy Holly Story.’ The screenplay is pre-pubescent shambles, the direction is acne out of disposable douches, the dubbing and looping of the songs is painfully obvious, the characterizations are generally repulsive and the whole thing is utterly without style. Miss Newton-John can’t act and Mr. Travolta, who can, is not so requested.” — John L. Wasserman, San Francisco Chronicle

“The film ‘Grease’ is like a beautifully wrapped gag gift. When you open it up, you just find a succession of empty boxes. Undoubtedly, the packaging is slick, the all-star cast trimmings impressive, but the contents are totally hollow.” — Donna Chernin, The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer

“This was the ’50s? This sleazy and cynical piece of work? You’ve got to be kidding. I was there, and only the tail-fins look familiar. I didn't see ‘Grease’ on stage, but on testimony of this strident, cluttered, uninvolving and unattractive movie, it is the ’50s—maybe the last innocent decade allowed to us—played back through a grotesquely distorting ’70s consciousness.” — Charles Champlin, Los Angeles Times

“The movie version is everything the play was not. In an enterprise that seems to be all mistakes, the basic one may just be that Director Randal Kleiser, who is 30, doesn’t seem to know what he is talking about.” — Richard Schickel, Time

“If you think that ‘Saturday Night Fever’ has everything, wait until you see ‘Grease.’ This superabundant production, based on the long-running musical, throbs with the rhythms of the ’50s, but it has the feel of now.” — Arthur Knight, The Hollywood Reporter
 
 

Awards

 
Favorite Musical Motion Picture (People’s Choice Awards), Favorite Overall Motion Picture (People’s Choice Awards)
 
 

Release Dates (day.month.year)

 
16.06.1978 … Canada
16.06.1978 … United States
02.08.1978 … Australia
03.08.1978 … New Zealand
09.09.1978 … Europe (Deauville Film Festival)
13.09.1978 … United Kingdom
15.09.1978 … Denmark
22.09.1978 … Spain
25.09.1978 … Sweden
28.09.1978 … West Germany
29.09.1978 … Italy
03.10.1978 … France
12.10.1978 … Netherlands
20.10.1978 … Norway
02.11.1978 … Mexico
14.11.1978 … Philippines
23.11.1978 … Hong Kong
08.12.1978 … Finland
16.12.1978 … Japan

RE-RELEASES: 1979, 1980, 1998

HOME VIDEO RELEASE: 1980

NETWORK TELEVISION PREMIERE: 8 November 1981 (ABC)
 
 

Trivia, Tidbits & Factoids

 
Henry Winkler and Marie Osmond turned down the lead roles.

The first public screening of “Grease” was held in Honolulu, Hawaii. The screening, a test to gauge audience reaction, was held at the Royal Theatre on 10 March 1978.

The world premiere event was held on 4 June 1978 at Mann’s Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles.

“Grease” has been re-released four times. Its second re-release was a double feature with a PG re-rated “Saturday Night Fever”.

The movie was shot at locations throughout Southern California, including Venice High School (high school exteriors); Huntington Park High School (classroom interiors and dance contest); John Marshall High School (carnival); Pickwick Drive-In, Burbank (drive-in sequence); El Matador Beach, Malibu (opening sequence); the Los Angeles River Basin (race sequence); and at Paramount Studios. There is no filming locations credit in the film. Filming commenced 27 June 1977.

“Grease” was nominated for an Academy Award (Best Song, “Hopelessly Devoted To You”) and five Golden Globes.

The film’s soundtrack album, which sold over 14 million copies, included four singles: “Grease,” “Summer Nights,” “Hopelessly Devoted To You,” and “You’re The One That I Want”.

“Vaselina” was the translated title in Latin American countries.

The film’s $8.9 million opening-weekend boxoffice gross was the industry’s second highest ever. The record, at the time, was the $9.9 million amassed by “Jaws 2” which, incidentally, opened the same 16-18 June 1978 weekend as “Grease”.

“Grease” took 66 days to top $100 million in North America, fastest in history. Previous record was “Star Wars” (81 days).

At close of original 1978 theatrical run, “Grease” was Paramount Pictures’ second-highest-grossing film. During its first re-release in 1979, “Grease” surpassed “The Godfather” to become the company’s most successful release and the industry’s third most successful release behind “Star Wars” and “Jaws”. “Grease” was Paramount’s most-successful film until topped in 1981 by “Raiders of the Lost Ark”. To this day, the film remains the industry’s top-grossing movie musical.

Paramount’s original distribution strategy was to open “Grease” on 19 May 1978 in twelve exclusive, select-market bookings, all presented in 70mm Six-Track Dolby Stereo, and then releasing nation-wide in 35mm one month later. Post-production complications motivated Paramount to scrap the exclusive 70mm plan and instead go with a nation-wide, 35mm saturation release on 16 June. Following the completion and release of the film, however, Paramount approved the preparation of a few of the expensive 70mm prints, and they began circulating in August 1978. The American cinemas that presented the 70mm version during the original run were the Uptown (Washington, DC), Village (Los Angeles) and Ziegfeld (New York City).

The film was among the earliest titles released on the now-defunct SelectaVision and LaserVision videodisc formats.

“Grease” has been released twice on DVD in Region 1. The first was issued in 2002, and the second, the “Rockin’ Rydell Edition”, was issued in 2006. The film was released on Blu-ray Disc in 2009.

“Grease” is among a number of musicals available theatrically in a sing-a-long edition. (You can create your own sing-a-long presentation at home by switching on your DVD's subtitle track.)
 
 

Sources/References

 
Thanks to Miguel Carrara.

Boxofficemojo, Chicago Tribune, “Grease” (1978, Paramount Pictures), The Hollywood Reporter, The Honolulu Advertiser, Internet Movie Database, Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer, San Francisco Chronicle, Time Magazine, Variety, The Washington Post.
 
 
 
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Updated 22-12-16