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Xanadu (1980) Poster

(1980)

Trivia

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Final film of Gene Kelly.
Andy Gibb was originally cast to play Sonny.
After Kira tells Sonny she is one of the Greek muses, she starts to say, "My real name is Terp" but Sonny shushes her and she never reveals her real name. She is there to help him open a dance club, and she is obviously a dancer, so her name is most likely Terpsichore, after the Greek muse of dance--although in the stage adaption of the film she was Clio, muse of history.
The choreography in the Gene Kelly-choreographed "Whenever You're Away From Me" is nearly identical to the choreography in the title number from For Me and My Gal (1942), in which starred Kelly with Judy Garland.
According to Olivia Newton-John, the script was written during filming.
According to the special features on a recently released DVD, the cartoon sequence was added because the filmmakers needed to include an extra song written for the movie. Having a cartoon made for the song was easier than trying to make it fit into the movie.
Gene Kelly and Olivia Newton-John's dance number was shot after filming had finished. Kelly choreographed it. His conditions included a closed stage with only himself, Newton-John, a cameraman, a choreographer he had befriended and two others.
Since fantasy is the movie's main theme, certain mattes, including some time-lapse cloud effects matted over one muse's departure along the highway, and another matted above Gene Kelly as he sits on a beach playing a clarinet, don't look 100% realistic. This was intentional, done with the hope that the sequences would look mythical and unreal rather than phony.
Danny McGuire jokes "they used to have wrestling here." In real life the Pan Pacific Auditorium used to feature wrestling matches.
The Pan Pacific Auditorium, on Beverly Boulevard in Hollywood near CBS' Television City, was used for exterior shots of the Xanadu Club. It was built in 1935 and destroyed by a fire in 1989. A community center now sits on the site, featuring a single version of the Pan Pacific's four curved art-deco spires.
The soundtrack was an enormous success. The song "Magic" went to #1 on the US pop singles chart. In the UK the soundtrack album peaked at #2, and the single "Xanadu" was #1 for two weeks in July 1980.
Olympic skater Peggy Fleming helped plan the skating scenes.
Gene Kelly took the part of Danny McGuire because filming was a short drive from his Beverly Hills home.
Olivia Newton-John fractured her coccyx while filming the dance sequence "Suddenly".
John Travolta turned down the role of Sonny Malone.
"Don't Walk Away", an animated sequence in the film, features scenes nearly identical to portions of Thumbelina (1994), namely a shot of a small girl walking behind a leaf. Both were directed by Don Bluth.
Olivia Newton-John met Matt Lattanzi, who had a minor role, during filming. Afterward Lattanzi accompanied her to Australia on a promotional visit for the film and met her parents. Lattanzi and John married in 1984, had one child, Chloe Lattanzi, and divorced in 1995.
In May 1980 Cliff Richard and Gene Kelly appeared on the TV special Olivia Newton-John: Hollywood Nights (1980). In August Newton-John, Richard and The Tubes appeared on The Midnight Special (1972). The same week Making Xanadu: The Musical Fantasy Movie (1980), a 30-minute "making-of" TV special, aired in syndication, and there were also tie-in radio specials on Newton-John and the Electric Light Orchestra.
The film was meant to launch Olivia Newton-John's career as a solo star. Due to its complete failure at the American box office, it became the one and only time she received top billing without a co-star in a theatrical release.
Olivia Newton-John turned down a role in Can't Stop the Music (1980) to star in this movie.
Because the film is an earthbound fantasy, many of the elaborate matting effects had to be worked into naturalistic settings and street scenes. For example, one muse exits as a live-action tapered streak from within the metal superstructure of a large building. Robert Greenwald said the film's effects were much harder than his effects in space.
The original budget was $4 million, but costs rose to $13 million. Universal head Ned Tanen fired Joel Silver, who immediately went to work for his friend and mentor Lawrence Gordon, who was also a producer on the film, and put Silver back on the project.
Famously received the one sentence review: "In a word, Xana-don't".
The title comes from the Samuel Taylor Coleridge poem "Kubla Khan."
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Joel Silver notoriously held one of his screenwriters to ransom for three days against his will. "The son of a bitch wouldn't deliver", he said, "so I locked him in".
Joel Silver, Robert Greenwald and Victor J. Kemper wanted more elaborate special effects, but that became impossible when Universal Pictures moved the release from Christmas 1980 to summer 1980.
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The mural in the film was created in post-production. A digital image was superimposed over a shop in an alleyway on Dudley Avenue and Ocean Front Walk in Santa Monica, CA.
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At the start of the movie, Sonny goes walking along the boardwalk looking for Kera. He stops to ask "Lou" if he has seen her. Lou replies no, and proceeds to show Sonny photos of his children. Lou was in real life the owner of Sound City Studios in L.A. He is featured heavily in Sound City (2013).
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The set of the Xanadu club cost $1,000,000 to build.
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The roller disco scene included 60 dancers.
Gene Kelly's character Danny McGuire has the same name as his character in Cover Girl (1944).
Olivia Newton-John's last big-screen musical until Score: A Hockey Musical (2010), 30 years later. Her next film, Two of a Kind (1983) was not a musical, though she sang songs for the soundtrack.
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Michael Beck didn't have to audition for the lead in this film.
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Michael Beck doesn't sing in this movie. He was dubbed by Cliff Richard.
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Despite this film being G-rated, Sonny says "shit" as he drives the motorcycle straight into the water. It wasn't edited out.
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This film, playing as a 99-cent double-feature with Can't Stop the Music (1980), inspired John Wilson to create the Golden Raspberry Awards (a.k.a. Razzies), honoring the worst achievements in film. Robert Greenwald later won the first Worst Director Razzie Award.
According to the two-page booklet included with the DVD, the film was originally conceived as a low-budget roller-disco movie. The imminent release of Skatetown, U.S.A. (1979) and Roller Boogie (1979) prompted many changes, like blending 1940s and 1980s styles.
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Originally after their sunset walk, Kira and Sonny went back to Xanadu on the eve of its opening, where she sang "Suspended in Time" to him. The scene then transitioned to Sonny's apartment, where the tune finished and Kira then revealed her true nature. This version of the song was shot and was featured in Making Xanadu: The Musical Fantasy Movie (1980).
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The Broadway stage version opened at the Helen Hayes Theater on July 10, 2007, and ran for 512 performances. It was nominated for the 2008 Tony Awards for Best Musical and Book.
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Listed among the Top Ten Best Bad Films ever made in John Wilson's book "The Official Razzie Movie Guide".
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Despite playing the muse of dance, Olivia Newton-John does very little dancing in the film. The main exception is her number with Gene Kelly.
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The film was adapted into a Broadway musical, which caused a lot of controversy due to the poor reception of the film. However, the musical was actually a satire of the film, and was therefore praised for its humor. It opened in 2007, starring Kerry Butler as Kira and Cheyenne Jackson as Sonny. The show ran for over 500 performances and was nominated for the Best Musical and Best Book Tony's.
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Though the film originally flopped, it has since achieved "cult" status, and is quite popular with gay audiences.
Directorial debut of Robert Greenwald.
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In May 1980 MCA held a two-day promotional convention, which included screenings of a 20-minute production reel. This reel features radically different versions of songs, different visual/sound effects, alternate shots/takes/dialogue, deleted scenes and an extended version of the tap-dance sequence that leads into "Fool."
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The word "Xanadu" is spoken 21 times in the last song.
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This film is one of three disco musicals released in 1980. The others were The Apple (1980) and Can't Stop the Music (1980).
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Variety's review of this film called Olivia Newton-John's character "a rollerskating lightbulb."
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During the "All Over The World" number 60's pop legend Brenda Lee appears for a brief second. At the time Brenda Lee was taping a Barbara Mandrell show. Brenda Lee's name also appears in the credits for dancers.
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According to the DVD Special Features, the film was originally conceived as a low-budget roller disco movie.
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Amazingly, this was Olivia Newton-John's final-big screen theatrical musical for 30 years until Score: A Hockey Musical (2010). The movie Two of a Kind (1983) she made with John Travolta was not a musical, though she did sing songs for its soundtrack.
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In the scene where Sonny is proud of the fact that he's the "fastest painter in town" in the background the painting of the bubbly candy lady pop art varies before and after the shot when he states it.
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Cameo 

Sandahl Bergman: Muse No. #1.
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Wilfrid Hyde-White: Heavenly Voice #1.
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Coral Browne: Heavenly Voice #2.
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See also

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

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