Water for Elephants (2011) Poster


In a deleted scene of Vanity Fair (2004), Reese Witherspoon plays Robert Pattinson's mother. In "Water for Elephants," they play lovers.
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Sara Gruen wrote the novel 'Water for Elephants' as part of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).
The owner of the circus at the beginning mentions the Hagenbeck-Wallace Wreck and the Hartford Fire. These are actual circus disasters.

On June 22 1918 a troop train crashed into the Hagenbeck-Wallace circus train because the driver fell asleep and did not see the warning signs about the stopped circus train. 86 people were killed and another 127 were injured.

On July 6 1944 the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey big top circus tent at Hartford caught fire and killed 169 people and injured over 700.
Hal Holbrook had been recently widowed in real life when he filmed his scenes.
Channing Tatum, Kyle Gallner, Anthony Fitzgerald, Andrew Garfield and Emile Hirsch all auditioned for the role of Jacob Jankowski.
Scarlett Johansson turned down the role of Marlena.
Sean Penn was cast as August but dropped out.
The screenplay for this film was featured in the 2009 Blacklist; a list of the "most liked" unmade scripts of the year.
Both Reese Witherspoon and Robert Pattinson have starred in different movies titled Twilight--ten years apart; Witherspoon in Twilight (1998) and Pattinson in Twilight (2008) and its sequels.
This is Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon's second film together. Reese played Robert's mother in Vanity Fair (2004). Unfortunately their scenes together were cut and are in the deleted scenes of the DVD.
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Almost all of the circus wagon carts that appeared in the movie were the original carts from the Ringling Brother's shows. During production, the Circus World Museum in Baraboo, Wisconsin shipped it's circus carts to California to be used for filming. As of late, they are all now back in their original display building.
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Received an "A-" CinemaScore.
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The trivia item below may give away important plot points.

The spike and chain is a method used to condition young elephants. Shackled to a short chain with the spike driven into the ground, the young elephant struggles until it breaks the skin around its shackled leg. That painful memory is used to control the full grown elephant, even though it could easily pull out the spike as an adult. Rosie accepts Jacob by giving him the spike and ultimately kills August with the same.

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