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The Black Hole (1979) Poster

Trivia

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To film the special effects, Disney originally wanted to rent the Dykstraflex camera system that was created for Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977) (the first computer-controlled camera) from Industrial Light & Magic. However, the price and rental terms were unacceptable so Disney created its own version instead. What resulted was Disney's A.C.E.S. (Automated Camera Effects System), which was radically superior to the Dykstraflex system; the Mattescan system, which enabled the camera to move on a matte painting (that was previously impossible); and a computer-controlled modeling stand.
Disney's first PG-rated movie.
At the time of its release, the movie featured the longest computer graphics sequence that had ever appeared in a film: the "green grid" sequence that appears under the opening titles.
It was popular around this time to release a 12-inch, 33 1/3 long-playing record containing a film's dialogue, sound effects, and score, with narration taking the listener from scene to scene. The record released of The Black Hole (1979) featured dialogue not present in the theatrical release of the film.
Neither Roddy McDowall nor Slim Pickens are credited for their voice work in the film in either the opening or closing sequences.
This film and Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979) (released the same year) were the last two Hollywood films to include an overture, once a common feature of "major" studio releases. This film's overture is usually cut from television broadcasts, although it is included in showings on Turner Classic Movies and the DVD release.
Dr. Reinhardt's ship was originally called the Centaurus. It was renamed Cygnus after the constellation where the first known black hole was discovered in 1964.
The laser pistols originally had light up tips that would activate when the actors pressed the trigger, thus giving the animators cues as to when someone was actually firing the guns. This proved to be a problem however because the actors would unconsciously press the triggers when they were not supposed to often times inadvertently shooting cast members.
This was regarded as the last big special effect production to be made under the "old studio system." All of the elaborate special effects were created within the Disney studio and not farmed out to outside special effects companies.
According to press at the time, the film's score was the world's first digitally recorded soundtrack.
The visual effect of the black hole itself was created by forming a whirlpool in a round Plexiglas water tank, and adding different colors of paint.
The character of V.I.N.CENT. was originally to have more elaborate electronic eyes (based on electronic stock ticker-type billboards), which would have given him a greater range of facial expressions. Unfortunately, the electro-mechanical eyes simply didn't work properly and the effect was abandoned at the beginning of principal photography.
Disney regarded the quality of the special effects to be so crucial that it called Peter Ellenshaw out of a 10-year retirement to work on the film.
The film was originally supposed to take place in a completely weightless environment. The technical difficulties prompted a re-write of the script so that when the Palomino ties up the Cygnus gravity returned.
The film contains over 550 visual effects shots, including over 150 matte paintings.
The Black Hole (1979) is one of the extremely rare instances in which John Barry has composed an Overture for a film.
Gary Nelson was not satisfied with the way the model shop made "BOB", stating that the robot did not look battered enough. He went to the clay model they were using for reference and proceeded to hit it several times with a baseball bat. They built a new robot based on this model.
A fixture in Disney's special effects department for more than 40 years, Eustace Lycett (then head of the Photographic Effects Department) retired after completing the composite work on this film.
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Almost all of the dialog in the film was re-recorded by the cast during post-production looping (ADR) - with the exception of only a couple of lines.
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The spaceship Cygnus was actually a 12-foot-long model weighing 175 pounds.
The helmets of robot sentinels had a very limited vision, making it difficult to direct and coordinate the actors, particularly when they were firing the lasers.
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As one of the many science-fiction productions from the late '70s made in the wake of the phenomenally successful "Star Wars" (which had generated a fortune in licensed merchandise, particularly with toys), "The Black Hole" was released with a great deal of its own tie-in merchandise. Unfortunately, like many of those other productions from which toys and other items were produced hoping to repeat the success of "Star Wars", the merchandise did not sell well. These days, however, vintage toys from "The Black Hole" are highly sought-after and often sell for huge amounts of money.
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"The Black Hole" was the first film produced by the Disney studios to be given a PG rating. At the time the film was being made, it was actually considered to be primarily for adults.
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Tom McLoughlin also coordinated for the mimes who play the sentinels and the humanoids. His wife doubled Yvette Mimieux for stunts.
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Considered for the role of Reinhardt were Harry Andrews, Peter Cushing, Herbert Lom, Curt Jurgens, Patrick Troughton, Christopher Lee, Donald Pleasence, Anton Diffring, Hardy Kruger, Max Von Sydow and Jeremy Kemp.
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Yvette Mimieux was given a short and curly hairstyle to make the scenes where she appeared weightless seem more convincing, since longer hair would have flowed about in zero-gravity.
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Some leftover sentry robot costumes from this film were later used in Steven Lisberger's test reel for TRON (1982).
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Whitman produced a comic book adaptation of the film, which was published in two parts as the first two issues of an ongoing comics series. The third and fourth issue, retitled "Beyond The Black Hole", continued the adventures of the characters past the events of the film, but was cancelled before the storyline was resolved. The first three issues (the two-part movie adaptation and the first "Beyond" story) were packaged and sold in a bagged set and are now relatively common on eBay. The fourth issue, however, is very difficult to find and highly collectable, especially in good condition.
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Gary Nelson hated the original script, titled "Space Probe-One", but he agreed to direct the film after seeing the concept renderings, which he thought were "magnificent".
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Alan Dean Foster, who wrote the novelization of the film, was so appalled by the bad science in the script that he provided a list of changes to the producers which he felt would improve the story. Upset by this, the Disney brass actually called a meeting to decide what to do.
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In addition to his uncredited work on "The Black Hole", Roddy McDowall provided the voice for Chuck the robot in an episode of "Mork & Mindy" called "Dr. Morkenstein", which aired October 14, 1979.
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Jennifer O'Neill was originally cast as Dr. Kate McCrae, but she was later replaced by Yvette Mimieux.
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Robert Forster was slightly hurt on the head during the storm in the greenhouse.
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Disney promoted "The Black Hole" on its Sunday evening program, "Disney's Wonderful World", in an episode called "Major Effects", which aired December 16, 1979. This lighthearted semidocumentary featured Joseph Bottoms (who played Lt. Charlie Pizer in the film) as the title character, Major Effects.
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The poster of the movie can be seen in Sam Flynn's bedroom in the opening scene of TRON: Legacy (2010).
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The film takes place in 2130.
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Top billed Maximilian Schell turns up 26 minutes in.
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John Hough was originally set to direct, but dropped out to direct another film.
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Spoilers 

The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

The trailer for the film gave away a major spoiler, showing the death scene of Anthony Perkins.
Reinhardt's robot was already called Maximilian before Maximilian Schell was chosen for the role of Reinhardt. Reinhardt would end the film merged with the robot, thus being ironically trapped in "Maximilian's Shell".
Dr. Reinhardt's dying words, "more light," were supposedly Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's final words as well.

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Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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