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The Aviator (2004)

PG-13  |   |  Biography, Drama  |  25 December 2004 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 241,396 users   Metascore: 77/100
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A biopic depicting the early years of legendary director and aviator Howard Hughes' career, from the late 1920s to the mid-1940s.



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Won 5 Oscars. Another 78 wins & 90 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:


The script begins as a young Hughes directs one of Scorsese's favorite films, Hell's Angels. Hughes was so obsessed with perfection in the aerial sequences that he waits forever for perfect conditions, right down to cloud formations. The Aviator ends in 1946, when Hughes was still a dashing young man and romancing actresses like Ava Gardner and Katharine Hepburn. Written by Ryan McIntosh <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Leonardo DiCaprio as Howard Hughes the man who became a legend. See more »


Biography | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for thematic elements, sexual content, nudity, language and a crash sequence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:

| |  »




Release Date:

25 December 2004 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El aviador  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$110,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$858,021 (USA) (17 December 2004)


$102,608,827 (USA) (27 May 2005)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The film's winning of the Best Cinematography Oscar has been attributed to the unique use of period color palette. The two and three-strip palette that is seen in the film was accomplished by the use of the LUT - 3D Look Up Table - graphics processor. It was designed by Joshua Pines, R&D VP of Technicolor Digital Intermediates. The processor was slipped into the digital projector and thus allowed filtering and applying the two / three color look into the negative. See more »


The handkerchief folds in the breast pocket of Trippe's dress jacket as he talks to Howard Hughes at the Cocoanut Grove. See more »


[first lines]
Allene Hughes: Q-u-a-r-a-n-t-i-n-e.
Young Howard Hughes: Quarantine. Q-u-a-r-a-n-t-i-n-e. Quarantine.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The Miramax Films logo is also shown in 2-color Technicolor at the beginning of the movie, but before the Warner Bros. Pictures logo. See more »


Referenced in Saturday Night Live: Jonah Hill/Bastille (2014) See more »


I'll Be Seeing You
Music by Sammy Fain
Lyrics by Irving Kahal
Performed by Martha Wainwright
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Insightful and well done
18 January 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Scorsese does it again with this period piece detailing the life of the eccentric millionaire Howard Hughes (Leonardo DiCaprio). The film opens with Howard directing his 1930 war epic, "Hell's Angels." Which took 3 years and 4 million dollars to make (not a small chunk of change back then, not even that small now). The movie moves to his meeting and subsequent courting of Katharine Hepburn, played exceptionally well by Cate Blanchett. It also depicts him moving on to the likes of Ava Gardner and Faith Domergue. "The Aviator" shows us the many aspects of Hughes' being, both good and bad. He is a dreamer, sparing no expense to make his movies or build his aviation empire, despite the financial trouble it causes the company which he inherited from his family that is based in Houston (the name of the company escapes me. We also see his obsessive compulsive nature, afraid of contracting germs and constantly trying to stay as clean as possible. When Errol Flynn grabs a pea off of Hughes' plat with a nice cut of meat on it, Hughes pushes it aside with only one bite gone. Also, Hughes is contracted by the government to make fighter planes and an "air-boat," a giant airplane that can transport the troops, their equipment, and transportation across the Atlantic so that German u-boats will stop taking down U.S. submarines and ships. He call's it "The Hercules." The project takes too long, and it isn't completed in time to help in the war. Well, Hughes' new airline TWA doesn't amuse the big wigs at Pan Am Airlines, so their owner uses his personnel senator (Leon Brewster of Maine) to get a bill before Congress to put a monopoly on international aviation travel. Hughes takes on Brewster and his hearing and wins, then he takes the maiden voyage of his "Spruce Goose," as Brewster called it, and retires the vessel forever. If you didn't know who Hughes was before this movie, then it will give you a great foundation on which to build knowledge of this quite intelligent, quite intriguing man. DeCaprio turns in a superb performance, further distancing himself from his teeny-bopper early years. He has definitely changed my opinion of him with his last three movies (Gangs of New York, Catch Me If You Can, and The Aviator). I realize he might have been good in earlier movies (though don't you dare say "Basketball Diaries," which sucked), but I haven't seen them all.

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