After 30 years, GREASE is still the word!
UPDATED 6/16 with verranth1 post below:
The movie version of “Grease” was released exactly 30 years ago today, June 16, 1978. It was based on Jim Jacobs' and Warren Casey’s original 1972 Broadway musical. It is widely considered the most popular movie musical of all time. For myself, I saw it six (6) times in the theater upon its release. Generally, I don’t like musicals, but I still love “Grease”.
Some film facts that may interest you:
- It was the highest-grossing movie in the U.S. in 1978.
- It was filmed at Venice High School in Venice, California.
- Henry Winkler and Marie Osmond were originally considered for the roles of Danny and Sandy.
- Danny’s blue windbreaker at the film’s open is an homage to “Rebel Without a Cause”
- Olivia Newton-John had to be sewn into her black spandex during the film’s final sequence.
- Director Randal Kleiser has previously stated that he hated two of the film’s most popular songs, “Grease” and “You’re The One That I Want”.
Some theatrical 30th anniversary screenings of the film this weekend would certainly make sense. Unfortunately, I am unaware of any. So, pull out your DVD and celebrate 30 years of GREASE!
From member verranth1:
There was always something a bit odd about going to the movies in Central New Jersey . Maybe, that’s just because Central Jersey was odd itself. A location without the beach and sand of the shore nor the tumult and decay of a Newark nor the skyline views of a Fort Lee, it was an area that lacked a distinct hook or a gimmick to label it. Stuck dead in the middle of the state, we were close enough to New York City to get there in under an hour but far enough from most noise, dangers and pollution to live a bucolic existence.
I was raised in Green Brook, NJ – a town so small it was rarely on the maps of New Jersey made at the time. In terms of movie going we had the dreaded Dunellen Theater (a very old theatre that was originally used for vaudeville (and smelled like it hadn’t been cleaned since the Orpheum circuit) and B movies that was never an ideal spot. We had the Middlesex Mall Theatres which were charmless and airless black boxes run by United Artists (although I did see “American Graffiti” there. Why a 7 year old was allowed to see “American Graffiti” still amazes me).
Most of my movie going experiences took place at the Blue Star in Watchung, New Jersey. Blue Star was a General Cinemas owned theater and was typical in design and approach to most GC theaters. Two story glass windows, a small lounge area with plants, shadowboxed screens lit a mellow blue, good sound systems and clean bathrooms made the place an oasis to us.. I recently made a list of all the films I had seen at that cinema between the ages of 10 and 18 and the list is a prodigious one. From “Reds” to “Mommie Dearest” to “Pennies from Heaven” to the opening day of “Tootsie.” Some of those movie going experiences have been etched in my memory forever and here is one, in honor of it’s 30th anniversary.
Grease: By June 16, 1978, my parents had learned to dread the words “Grease” and “John Travolta”. I was not a kid swayed by a lot of Sci-Fi so the whole “Star Wars thing was over my head. I did love music and musicals and was waiting daily to get to Blue Star to see the most hyped movie of the year.
So, on June 17, 1978, my father, step-mother, little brother Joe and new best friend TJ, piled into seats in Cinema number 1 at the much loved Blue Star and waited.
The theatre was packed for a 2:00 pm matinee. It had been a long time since a musical had captured America’s interest, never mind, its hearts.
I remember distinctly sensing this was going to be huge the final 10 seconds of “Summer nights”, the moment Travolta hits that high note on the word “nights”– well – all hell broke loose in the auditorium – cheering and applauding. I remember my father saying “It’s a movie? Who are they applauding? No one can hear them!”.
Nothing I had experienced in my then 13 years of age had prepared me for that kind of visceral reaction from a crowd watching a movie. It is that very reaction and the hope of feeling it again which makes me go to the movies, some times, twice a week to this day. I developed almost an insane hero worship for Travolta that summer and a hopelessly devoted crush on Olivia Newton-John.
Here’s some more memories; as we left the theatre, another crowd was waiting to get in. They could sense from our reaction leaving what was waiting for them inside and the began to react to our reaction. I also vividly remember a man who must have been a cinema manager smiling – ear to ear – anticipating full houses for months. I also remember the rush to Korvettes to buy the soundtrack – and waiting on line to along with about 25 other kids who had been at that matinee.
Stockard Channing (who played “Rizzo”) once said that no matter what she may do – nor what she may achieve – the headline on her obituary in the New York Times will probably read, “Stockard Channing Dead: Played "Rizzo” in “Grease”. Miss. Channing is probably right. “Grease” lives on – in the memories of those lucky enough to see it in 1978 – in the kids who watch it for the first time today – its impact still lingers. 30 years later.
“Grease” ran at Blue Star Cinemas till late August 1978. It grossed $98 million dollars in the United States and tens of millions overseas making it the highest grossing film of 1978 – worldwide. In today’s money, box office wise, the equivalent of a “Spiderman” or a “Shrek”. (bear in mind – a 2:00 pm matinee cost $1.50 in 1978 and the evening shows were $4.50). The soundtrack went on to become, and remains today, one of the most financially successful recordings ever made.