The rights for Annie (1982) were sold in 1978 for $9.5 million (approximately $30 million in 2006 dollars), a record that still stands, breaking the record set when Warner Bros. paid $5.5 million for the screen rights to My Fair Lady (1964). Paramount Pictures was also involved in the bidding war, and they made Popeye (1980) to make up for being outbid.
John Huston's only musical as a director, although he had been asked to direct Doctor Dolittle (1967) but turned it down. At one point, he was considered for the role of Daddy Warbucks but was turned down because he was too old.
Carol Burnett got a chin implant after principal filming was completed, believing her work on the film was done. After the surgery, the cast was called back to do re-shoots of certain scenes, and the work done can be seen in the final film.
A more elaborate sequence for the song "Easy Street" was planned and shot, involving Miss Hannigan and Rooster's fantasies of a privileged life, but it was replaced with the less elaborate version set entirely in the orphanage, as seen in the film. In the sequence of the PBS-TV making-of documentary Lights, Camera, Annie! (1982) which details its conception, production, and scrapping, it is revealed that the first verse of the song was recorded and presumably filmed, but cut from the final version to keep the running time down. The documentary also reveals a new verse to the final reprise of "Maybe" that is in no other version but was ultimately cut.
The original stage play "Annie" premiered at the Alvin Theatre in April 1977, ran for 2,377 performances, and closed January 2, 1983. It won 7 Tony Awards, including Best Musical and Best Book of a Musical, on which the screenplay was based.
The studio believed only parents with small children would see a G-rated live-action movie, so the lines "Goddamn it!" (from Miss Hannigan) and "Come back here ya Goddamned kid!" (from Rooster) were included specifically to receive a PG rating.
Daddy Warbucks' mansion was built in 1929 by Hubert Parson, the president of F.W. Woolworth. He called it Shadow Lawn. Now it is Woodrow Wilson Hall, owned by Monmouth University at West Long Branch, NJ.
Production designer Dale Hennesy died in the middle of production and Gene Callahan was asked to finish out the film. Callahan accepted but refused to have his name listed in the credits, giving the credit to the late Dale Hennesy.
Daddy Warbucks was originally intended to have made his fortune through the sale of weapons and ammunition during the Great War. He was originally a temporary character, but he was so popular that Harold Gray brought him back as a recurring character.
Annie was created by Chicago Tribune cartoonist Harold Gray. She was originally intended to be a boy, Little Orphan Otto, but her gender was changed at the request of Gray's editor, Captain Joseph Medill Patterson, to create a reference to the 1885 James Whitcomb Riley poem "Little Orphan Annie".
The top three candidates for the title role of Annie were Aileen Quinn, who won the role, Robin Ignico, who played Duffy in the film, and Angela Lee, who was told she looked too much like Aileen Quinn to play a lead orphan, but was offered a smaller role. In the Hard-Knock Life number, Angela is a sleeping orphan.
Amanda Peterson made the top seven, for the coveted role of Annie, but was cut and offered a smaller role. She stood out in the film when she belted a solo in the reprise of "Dumb Dog", singing the lyrics; "Rover, why not think it over."
The story for the musical 'Annie' is an original one, as nothing from the original comic strip could have been used in the musical. The story written for the musical caused some confusion as to what Annie's origin in the original comic strip was, as the storybooks that came out at the time of the movie's premiere are all sequels to the plot of the film.
The woman who ran Annie's orphanage in the original strip was called Miss Asthma. This name was initially used in the musical for the woman who runs Annie's orphanage, but it was changed to Miss Hannigan (leading to the popular assumption that "Miss Hannigan" was the name used in the original strip).
The song "We Got Annie" was included in an early draft of the stage musical, but it was dropped as several revisions were made before the show ever reached the stage. "We Got Annie" was meant to be sung by the downtrodden customers at a local coffee shop where Annie worked cleaning tables.
Steve Martin was offered the role of Rooster, but when he heard he would be working alongside Bernadette Peters he turned the role down. They were breaking up at the time, and Steve felt it would be too painful to work with her for several months.
The scene featuring the "Maybe" song was the last one to be shot; it replaced the original opening sequence, which was too long and had to be deleted. However the reprise later on by the orphans was left in the film.
David Begelman was originally intended to be the producer of the film; it was he who brought the property's attention to Columbia Pictures. However, due to the scandal from his forgery of 'Cliff Robertson (I)''s signature on a check, the creators of the stage show refused to sell the rights to the studio if Begelman was producer. Ray Stark took the job despite his dislike of the original Broadway show.
The songs "Dumb Dog," "Sandy," "Let's Go To The Movies," "We Got Annie," and "Sign" were written expressly for the film. The songs from the original play that were dropped were "N.Y.C.", "Something Was Missing," "We'd Like To Thank You, Herbert Hoover", "You Won't Be An Orphan For Long," "Annie," and "A New Deal For Christmas". The last four songs are not in either the film or TV adaptations.
Kristin Chenoweth auditioned for Annie and got to the final stages of the audition process but was turned down because her Southern accent was too thick. She later went on to play Lilly St. Regis in Annie (1999).
The talent quest to cast Annie covered a period of two years, traveled to twenty-two cities, and auditioned seventy actresses from eight thousand interviewed young Annie wannabees. The number of finalists in the final round of auditions totaled nine.
The address of the Warbucks mansion is given as 987 Fifth Avenue. There is no such address in New York City today, but should it exist, it would be at the corner of 80th Street and Fifth Avenue. Across the street at 1000 Fifth Avenue is the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Other than Annie, Daddy Warbucks and Sandy, the only characters in the film that were in the "Little Orphan Annie" strip were Punjab and the Asp, who were not in the play or the TV version. When Martin Charnin began work on the musical, the characters were the first to go because he wanted no fantasy or magic in it. This movie reinstated them in order to incorporate more elements from the strip.
The stage production of Annie ends at Christmas, but it was changed to the 4th of July for the film as it was shot during the summer and obtaining enough fake snow required to cover the grounds of the New York mansion was deemed cost prohibitive.
Additional/alternate scenes from many of the film's musical numbers (including "Easy Street," "Let's Go to the Movies," "I Don't Need Anything But You" and the final reprise of "Maybe") were featured in the making-of TV special Lights, Camera, Annie! (1982).
Before Ray Stark became producer, stage librettist Thomas Meehan wrote an early draft of the screenplay for the film, and stage choreographer Peter Gennaro was to have recreated his Broadway choreography for the film. It was Stark's idea to hire Carol Sobieski to restructure the film's plot.
Even though Charles Strouse and Martin Charnin were hired to write new songs, they and Thomas Meehan were not allowed on set or to talk to any of the cast members until they threatened to tell the New York Times about this.
In the play, it was Grace Farrell who brought the adoption papers to the orphanage. After the film script had Warbucks do this, Carol Burnett and Albert Finney lobbied the songwriters for a song to sing together and to flesh out the only meeting between Warbucks and Miss Hannigan. Their duet, "Sign," was written in two days.
When Miss Hannigan says, "Wrap it up, I'm listening to Helen Trent," she is referring to "The Romance of Helen Trent," a radio soap opera about a middle-aged woman seeking romance. It ran from 1933 to 1960.
In 2003, while on the NPR program "Fresh Air," Carol Burnett told interviewer Terry Gross that after she thought her filming on Annie was all done, she had a plastic surgery procedure on her chin that significantly changed the appearance of her lower face from what it had been during shooting. But after the surgery, the producer Ray Stark called her back in for a re-shoot of part of the "Easy Street" number. Burnett joked to Gross that her Miss Hannigan went into a closet in her office with one chin and emerged, two months later, with a different one.
Ray Stark said of the film, "This is the film I want on my tombstone," to which Time Magazine's Richard Corliss responded, "Funeral services are being held at a theater near you" in his negative review of the film. In an ironic coincidence, Stark died four days after Sony Pictures Home Entertainment released a pan-and-scan DVD of the film in Region 1, although they had released a widescreen version in 2000.