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Xanadu (1980) Poster

(1980)

Trivia

The soundtrack was an enormous success. The song "Magic" went to #1 on the U.S. pop singles chart. In the UK, the soundtrack album peaked at number two, and the single "Xanadu" was #1 for two weeks in July 1980.
Jump to: Cameo (7)
Gene Kelly's final feature film.
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.
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 filmed after filming had finished. Gene Kelly choreographed it. His conditions included a closed stage with only himself, Newton-John, a cameraman, a choreographer he had befriended, and two others.
According to Olivia Newton-John, the script was written during filming.
Since fantasy is Xanadu's main theme, certain mattes, including some time-lapsed 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.
The choreography in the Gene Kelly-choreographed "Whenever You're Away From Me" is nearly identical to the choreography in the titular song from For Me and My Gal (1942), in which starred Kelly starred with Judy Garland.
Danny McGuire jokes "they used to have wrestling here." In real life, the Pan Pacific Auditorium used to stage wrestling matches.
The Pan Pacific Auditorium, on Beverly Boulevard, in Hollywood, near CBS's 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 4 curved deco spires.
Gene Kelly took the part of Danny McGuire because filming was a short drive from his Beverly Hills home.
Olivia Newton-John turned down a role in Can't Stop the Music (1980) to star in this movie.
John Travolta turned down the role of Sonny Malone.
Olivia Newton-John fractured her coccyx while filming the dance sequence "Suddenly".
Olympic skater Peggy Fleming helped plan the skating scenes.
"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.
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The Xanadu Roller Disco scene included 60 Xanadu Dancers.
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Olivia Newton-John met Matt Lattanzi, who had a minor role, during filming. Afterward, Lattanzi accompanied Newton-John to Australia on a promotional visit for Xanadu (1980), and met her parents. They married in 1984, had one child, Chloe Lattanzi, and divorced in 1995.
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The movie was heavily promoted in the months leading up to its release. In May 1980, Cliff Richard and Gene Kelley 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," 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.
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Famously received the one sentence review: "In a word, Xana-don't".
Because Xanadu is an earthbound fantasy, many of the elaborate matting effects had to be successfully 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 Xanadu's effects were much harder than his his most impressive effects in space.
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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.
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".
The set of the Xanadu club cost $1,000,000 to build.
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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 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 Joel Silver back on the project.
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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 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, California.
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The title comes from the Samuel Taylor Coleridge poem "Kubla Khan."
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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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Gene Kelly's character Danny McGuire has the same name as his character in Cover Girl (1944).
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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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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 the "Making Xanadu" TV special.
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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.
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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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Robert Greenwald's directorial debut.
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In May 1980, MCA held a 2 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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Though the film originally flopped, it has since achieved "cult" status, and is quite popular with gay audiences.
Variety's review of this film called Olivia Newton-John's character "a rollerskating lightbulb."
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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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Michael Beck doesn't sing in this movie. Beck was dubbed by Cliff Richard.
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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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The word Xanadu is spoken 21 times in the last song.
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According to the DVD Special Features, this movie was originally conceived as a low-budget roller disco movie.
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When Danny McGuire (Gene Kelly) in the movie jokes that "they used to have wrestling here" he was actually making a true statement as the the Pan Pacific Auditorium used to stage wrestling matches.
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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 satirical of the film, and was therefore praised for its humor. The musical 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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Despite this film being G rated, Sonny says "shit" as he drives the motorcycle straight into the water. However, this wasn't edited out.
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Olivia Newton-John and Matt Lattanzi met whilst shooting this movie, Lattanzi only having a minor role in the picture. The two formed a relationship and Lattanzi accompanied Newton-John to Australia on a promotional visit for Xanadu (1980) where he met her parents. The two were married in 1984 and had one child, Chloe Lattanzi. They were divorced in 1995.
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Directorial debut of a theatrical feature for producer-director Robert Greenwald.
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Amazingly, this was Olivia Newton-John's final big screen theatrical musical for many many years until Score: A Hockey Musical (2010), a staggering gap of thirty years. The movie Two of a Kind (1983) Newton-John made with John Travolta was not a musical, though she did sing songs for that movie's soundtrack.
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Cameo 

Coral Browne: As Heavenly Voice #2.
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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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Matt Lattanzi: The then unknown actor and partner of Olivia Newton-John (1980-1995) as the young Danny McGuire and one of the Xanadu Dancers.
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Sandahl Bergman: As Muse No. #1.
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Wilfrid Hyde-White: As Heavenly Voice #1.
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Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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