Christopher Atkins had never sung professionally and underwent extensive vocal coaching. Although he was credited in the film and on the soundtrack/singles, his singing voice was dubbed by screenwriter Trevor Farrant - though no one in the production bothered to inform Atkins. In a 2001 interview with The Pirate Movie Page, Atkins remarked, " I don't sing well in the shower! Thank God for machines. The can make a dog sing!"
Ken Annakin was not the first choice for directing. He was brought in after production had already begun. The original director, Richard Franklin, left over creative differences regarding the film's script.
Joseph Papp's Broadway revival of the Gilbert & Sullivan operetta 'The Pirates Of Penzance' was an enormous success in 1981. When Universal Pictures announced plans to faithfully adapt the show as a film utilizing the Broadway cast, Fox hurriedly pushed the send-up that they had been developing into production in a successful attempt to beat Universal to the screen. Fox's "The Pirate Movie" was theatrically issued six months before Universal's The Pirates of Penzance (1983) was released. Both films were considered theatrical flops, but each went on to garner loyal cult followings due to heavy exposure on television and home video.
This movie is one of few filmed adaptations of Gilbert & Sullivan's 'The Pirates Of Penzance' musical not to be known by that title, 'The Pirates Of Penzance'. Others include The Parson's Pirates (2004) and Die Piraten (1968).
According to Nathan Rabin in 'The Onion A.V. Club', Director Ken Annakin " . . . blames the film's commercial and critical failure on the presence / popularity of an infinitely more faithful TV version of The Pirates Of Penzance. He also blames writer Trevor Farrant, who spoke out against the film after it deviated from his script."
Garry McDonald plays two characters in this movie, the Sergeant of Police and the Inspector. The Sergeant character is from the 'The Pirates Of Penzance' stage musical by Gilbert and Sullivan; his Inspector character was not so much a spoof or parody of Inspector Clouseau but virtually a mimic of Peter Sellers' characterization of Clouseau.
The soundtrack album was released in 1982 by Polydor Records on both cassette and as a two-record vinyl LP set. Most versions boast the poster artwork with Mabel and Frederic wrapped in a flag; the German edition features alternate poster art of Frederic brandishing a flaccid sword. 7" and 12" vinyl singles were released for "First Love"/"Come Friends Who Plough the Sea" and "How Can I Live Without Her"/"I Am a Pirate King." The soundtrack has never been officially reissued. CDs adorned with Rhino Records and Lightning Music logos frequently pop up for sale online, but these are cleverly designed bootlegs which were "digitally remastered" from a vinyl source.
Interiors and exteriors of the Major General's home were shot at the Werribee Park Mansion, which was constructed in the 1870's and is actually an hour's drive away from the sea. From the 1920s to '70s, it functioned as a Catholic seminary, and a new wing erected during this era is now utilized as a hotel.
The movie's main movie poster shows Christopher Atkins and Kristy McNichol wrapped-up together in a large black sack marked with the traditional pirates skull and crossbones emblem. Atkins is clearly not wearing a top and there is a suggestion that McNichol is completely topless behind the black sack, this imagery evoking the nudity and scant clothing of The Blue Lagoon (1980), Atkins' earlier box-office hit movie he appeared in with Brooke Shields.
The soundtrack album includes an additional verse in "First Love," an unused lyrical segment in "The Modern Major General's Song" (while Mabel briefly converses with her father) and complete versions of all of the other fragmented songs.
The pirate ship is the Polly Woodside, which had its first voyage in 1885 and made regular treks from Australia as a cargo vessel until 1922, when it downgraded to being used as a coal refueling barge until the late '60s. It ultimately became a popular tourist attraction at the Melbourne Maritime Museum.
This movie is one of few filmed adaptations of Gilbert & Sullivan's The Pirates Of Penzance musical not to be known by that title, The Pirates Of Penzance. Others include The Parson's Pirates (2004) and Die Piraten (1968).
According to Nathan Rabin in The Onion A.V. Club, Director Ken Annakin " . . . blames the film's commercial and critical failure on the presence / popularity of an infinitely more faithful TV version of The Pirates Of Penzance. He also blames writer Trevor Farrant, who spoke out against the film after it deviated from his script."