Home Alone premiered on Nov. 10th 1990 in Chicago, and hit USA theaters nationwide on Nov. 16th - 30 years ago.
You didn't read that wrong, it has been 30 years since Home Alone hit theaters. Wow! How the time does fly. 30 years ago our household had barely gotten a VHS player, and now in 2020 all Blockbusters are gone save one in Australia. If you experienced the first Home Alone movie in theaters back in 1990 or 1991, kudos to you. You grew up, or aged, having the pop culture of this film be a part of your life. Home alone was a sleeper hit few people expected to do as well as it did, but it opened at No 1 at the box office and it's popularity took off from there as word of mouth spread (remember, there was no internet back then - how did we live?). It stayed in the No. 1 slot for twelve straight weeks through the first weekend of February 1991, well past the holiday season. It became the highest grossing live-action comedy film of all time until being dethroned by the Hangover 2 in 2011. In total it grossed $476.7 million between the USA, Canada, and international markets. That's a pretty large number for 1990. But not everyone was happy. I imagine an executive or two lost their jobs over at Warner Brothers because of the success, and rightfully so. Home Alone was originally being financed and distributed by Warner Brothers, and when the film went over budget by a few million dollars, they pulled the plug. Home Alone almost never got made.
Thankfully John Hughes had the foresight and networking capabilities to get this film made. He had concerns Warner Brothers might cancel the project if the budget exceeded the $10 million originally agreed to. Hughes worked a backroom deal over a lunch with 20th Century Fox to produce the movie should Warner Brother shut down things down. When the budget ballooned to $14.7 million and WB demanded $1.2 million be cut, Hughes and producers argued they couldn't cut anything more and still make a quality film. Warner Brothers shut down the project and had a representative walk around and fire everyone. They were followed by a representative from 20th Century Fox who walked around and rehired everyone. Production continued. The final budget totaled in at $18 million.
The stars aligned for the making of Home Alone. Everything from choosing actors and actresses, the acclaimed musical score by John Williams, the writing and producing, it all came together to make this movie the icon that it is. The role of Uncle Frank was originally written with Kelsey Grammer in mind for the part. Can you imagine how different this movie would be with Frasier from Cheers playing uncle Frank? How about the McCallister's scary neighbor Old Man Marley? The storyline Marley was not in the original script, but added later to give a depth of sentimentality. Marley helps teach Kevin the importance of family in a surrealistic and heartfelt church scene.
Home Alone has aged well. And like a fine wine it brings a smile to many faces in my family. We watch it every holiday season as an annual tradition. The producers prominently used red and green in almost every scene to ensure the films Christmas/holiday feel. Occasionally we'll watch Home Alone a few other times of the year, like this year (2020), when in mid March, due to Covid-19, it became a thing to put up Christmas lights. Our local radio station that plays Christmas and holiday music in December started playing Christmas music (in March) to try and lift people's spirits. Things sort of did have a Christmas feel, so we put on Home Alone. It was great to watch, and we found comfort in the hominess and predictability of the movie when the world seemed to be falling apart.
Three John's from Home Alone have passed away. Is there a Home Alone curse?
We've seen a lot of change in 2020 and over the past 30 years. The dad from Home Alone (John Heard) who looked so young and vibrant in 1990, passed away in 2017 at age 72. John Candy had a small but prominent role in the movie (Gus the traveling polka musician). He filmed for one day only, and appeared in the film as a favor to friend John Hughes. Candy was paid scale ($414) for his role and was allowed some leeway to improvise his lines. He passed away in 1994 at age 43. John Hughes himself who wrote and produced Home Alone along with countless other classics from the '80's and '90's passed away in 2009 at age 59. He was named person of the year in 2009 by Time magazine. It's very sad that three John's from this movie have passed away, and Roberts Blossom (Marley) is also deceased as of 2011.
Home Alone has become as much a part of American culture as apple pie. It spawned four sequel movies, but only the 2nd features most of the original cast including Macaulay Culkin as Kevin McCallister. Not bad for a small budget film that almost didn't get made. The Home Alone franchise has generated worldwide box office sales of approximately $1 billion, a number which does not include VHS, DVD, and digital sales.
- Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992)
- Home Alone 3 (1997)
- Home Alone 4: Taking Back the House (2002)
- Home Alone: The Holiday Heist (2012)
What does the future hold for Home Alone?
A lot has changed over the years. Macaulay Culkin turned 40, Canadian broadcasting networks cut Donald Trump scenes from Home Alone 2, and 20th Century Fox is now owned by Disney. In August 2019 Disney announced they have a new Home Alone film in the works, and it will premiere on their new streaming service, Disney Plus. This could be a huge win for Disney and Home Alone fans, if they do it right. Let's hope they do.
Take a trip down memory lane with these other notable events from 1990
- The Hubble Telescope is launched by Space Shuttle Discovery.
- The Dow Jones closes above 2,800 for the first time.
- The Exxon Valdez oil spill occurs in Alaska.
- Driving Miss Daisy wins Best Picture.
- The Simpsons on Fox is in Season 1.
- Microsoft releases Windows 3.0.
- Cheers, starring Ted Danson and Kirstie Alley, is in season 9 on NBC.
- Iraq invades Kuwait. President George Bush threatens military if they do not withdraw.
John Hughes wrote, directed, and produced many films throughout his career. Sometimes he did all 3 on the same film. He liked to film in his adopted home town of Chicago, and many of his movies are also set there. Here's a list of some of his more successful works:
- Mr. Mom
- National Lampoon's Vacation
- Sixteen Candles
- The Breakfast Club
- European Vacation
- Weird Science
- Pretty in Pink
- Ferris Bueller's Day Off
- Planes, Trains and Automobiles
- Christmas Vacation
- Home Alone
- Home Alone 2: Lost in New York
Home Alone | Soundtrack Suite (John Williams)
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