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October Sky (1999)

PG  |   |  Biography, Drama, Family  |  19 February 1999 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.8/10 from 60,106 users   Metascore: 71/100
Reviews: 332 user | 106 critic | 23 from

The true story of Homer Hickam, a coal miner's son who was inspired by the first Sputnik launch to take up rocketry against his father's wishes.



(book), (screenplay)
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Natalie Canerday ...
Scott Thomas ...
Jim Hickam (as Scott Miles)
Randy Stripling ...
Dorothy Platt (as Courtney Fendley)


In a 1950's mining town called Coalwood, Homer Hickam is a kid with only one future in sight, to work in the local coal mine like his father. However in October 1957, everything changes when the first artificial satellite, Sputnik goes into orbit. With that event, Homer becomes inspired to learn how to build rockets. With his friends and the local nerd, Homer sets to do just that by trial and a lot of error. Unfortunately, most of the town and especially Homer's father thinks that they are wasting their time. Only one teacher in the high school understands their efforts and lets them know that they could become contenders in the national science fair with college scholarships being the prize. Now the gang must learn to perfect their craft and overcome the many problems facing them as they shoot for the stars. Written by Kenneth Chisholm <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

rocket | coal | sputnik | mining | mine | See All (140) »


Based On An Extraordinary True Story See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for language, brief teen sensuality and alcohol use, and for some thematic elements | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

19 February 1999 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Rocket Boys  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$25,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$5,905,250 (USA) (19 February 1999)


$32,481,825 (USA) (23 July 1999)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Although known as Virginia Tech since the early 1990's, at the time the movie takes place, the university was known as VPI. See more »


When the phonograph record is changed during the dance at the Dugout, the records are 45 rpm, but the turntables are rotating at 78 rpm. See more »


HomerRoy LeeO'Dell: [after lighting their first rocket] Ten, nine, eight...
Roy Lee: Should we get behind something?
[it blows up and they fly back]
See more »

Crazy Credits

The real life people portrayed in the movie are shown during the end credits. See more »


References The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957) See more »


Why Do Fools Fall in Love
Written by Frankie Lymon, Morris Levy
Performed by Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

I've Been There and It's Real
21 February 1999 | by (Chicago) – See all my reviews

I have yet to read "The Rocket Boys", the book upon which this film is based, but this situation will not continue! I did read a short story by Hickam which was apparently the seed that started him on the novel. It grabbed me even then.

I am one of those fortunate enough to have lived adjacent to Cape Canaveral during the Mercury program, where my father worked, and this childhood situation no doubt fostered my lifelong interests and hobbies. I also met Werner von Braun, and one of the other German rocket scientists repaired a rubber band driven model plane I had (I WISH I still had that plane!) I mention this because I went into the movie with serious expectations and very much desired to see a film with authentic treatments for the nostalgia and emotions of the period.

I was not disappointed. While there were superficial flaws here and there, the movie came together like so few Hollywood films do. Good storytelling, authentic emotions and period atmosphere. As others have experienced at this excellent film, I was choked up at the end and had to wipe away the tears. The father of the family next to me asked to borrow my spare paper napkin to wipe his tears. About half the audience applauded at the end, and most everyone stayed through the credits. It's just one of those films.

Not the greatest movie ever made, but one of the best family movies in a long time.

53 of 60 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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