$1.4 million of the film's $15 million budget was spent on the creation of Number Five.
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As per the movie's attempt to portray a living robot in the "real world", every part of Johnny and his brethren was built to have a specific, logical purpose behind them. This was originally a source of contention between director John Badham and the robots designer Syd Mead, the latter of whom insisted on giving Johnny "eyes" to give the character a method of visually expressing emotion. As a result, Johnny's iconic "eyelids" were created, with the explanation that they were sun guards and camera coverings.
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Filmed in the same small Oregon town as "The Goonies" (1985) and "Kindergarten Cop" (1990).
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Many of the little tricks done by Johnny 5 on-screen (like flipping through book pages in a blink of the eye and tossing a washer into the air in a mimic of a scene from an old gangster movie he saw) were done using relatively simple, yet ingenious sleight-of-hand prop effects. For instance, the pages were flipped using an air hose, while the washer was flipped using a piece of string at both ends sideways. Not only did this save money for the producers for the actual robot and the screenplay, but they proved to be remarkably effective in getting just the right look needed for the scenes.
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The sound of Number 5's laser firing is the same effect as the Ghostbusters' Proton Packs powering up.
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Major confusion occurred in India among fans when this movie was released. Many people who had seen the film thought that Fisher Stevens (who played the part of an Indian) was actually Bollywood actor Javed Jaffrey. This was due to Javed being the spitting image of Fisher Stevens, with his beard and round eye glasses. Javed had just had his first release, Meri Jung (1985). In the film, he sported round eye glasses and a beard. When this movie released in India, many thought Javed had acted in a Hollywood movie. It was only after Javed confirmed in interviews that another actor starred in this movie, that people finally knew the truth.
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The house, used as Stephanie's house, still exists, and is located at 197 Hume Avenue, Astoria, Oregon. In November of 2019 it sold for $340,000.
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The coin flip is also aided by the use of reversing the footage. The trip up is the same as the trip down. You can tell if you watch the bushes in the background.
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One of the subtle ways in which the movie shows Number 5 becoming alive is his gradual transition from referring to himself in the third person to the first person, implying a development of self-awareness. This is particularly evident when he says "I am alive" to Crosby after repeatedly saying "Number five is alive" earlier in the movie.
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Three interchangeable radio-controlled heads were built for Number Five so facial expressions could be properly articulated according to the scene.
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In this film and "Short Circuit 2 (1988)," Johnny 5's voice was provided by puppeteer Tim Blaney. This casting decision was made due to the director's belief that real-time interaction with the robot prop would make the interaction seem more natural on-screen than if they edited Johnny's voice in during post-production.
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The script called for extensive stop-motion animation to be utilized, but Director John Badham opted to use practical effects.
In 2013, it was announced that a remake of the film was being developed and it was rumored and speculated that Fisher Stevens would return as Ben.
Any time you see Number 5's arm or hand doing something without the rest of him in the frame, its because the robot puppet was not capable of doing the action. Like rolling up the window, opening storage compartments, et cetera.
Number Five weighed two hundred fifty pounds (113.4 kilograms).
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John Badham hired visual effects expert Eric Allard on the merits of his work in Let's Go (1985), a short film about a boy and a robot named "Pal".
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DIRECTOR CAMEO: (John Badham): He played the news cameraman when the reporters arrive at Stephanie's doorstep.
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Stephanie and Number 5 dance to a scene from "Saturday Night Fever (1977)," which was also directed by John Badham.
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In a scene that was cut from the film, Number 5 encounters an Omnibot that attempts to give him a beverage. An Omnibot was a toy robot manufactured by Tomy in the mid 1980s. The deleted scene was seen during the end credits.
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At the point where Number 5 first hears the El DeBarge song "Who's Johnny" while driving the Nova van, the original choice of song for that section was the Dire Straits song "Money For Nothing", but unfortunately getting the rights to use that song was deemed to be too costly.
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Clips from several scenes not in the theatrical release can be seen during the closing credits, including an altercation between Number 5 and a toy robot, and Number 5 in an auto scrap yard.
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The Soviet T-72 tank destroyed by the robots during the testing ground demonstration at the beginning of the movie was a fiberglass mock-up built on the chassis of a U.S. M-41 Walker Bulldog tank. As the movie was made during the Cold War years, real Soviet equipment was not obtainable.
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Fisher Stevens plays a character called Ben Jabituya, who has an exaggerated Indian accent and mannerisms. However, he is not Indian. When asked where he is from, he responds Bakersfield, and that his ancestors are from Pittsburgh.
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The gangster movie featuring George Raft that Number 5 is watching, and later imitating (using Raft's famous "coin flipping") is Scarface (1932).
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For the scene in which Number Five is flipping a coin, the coin was manipulated on a wire.
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There was a script for a possible third Short Circuit movie written in 1989 and re-written in 1990, but it was found to be unsatisfactory by the producers, and the project was subsequently scrapped. According to Variety Magazine in April of 2008, Dimension Films had bought the rights to make a third Short Circuit movie, in which the plot would involve a boy from a broken family meeting and befriending Number 5. It remains unclear, however, if this movie will be a sequel to the first two movies, or a remake of this movie.
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Puppeteer Tim Blaney was selected to voice and operate Number 5 on set, after John Badham heard Blaney's robot voice and liked it. Blaney was originally intended to supply only a placeholder voice for Number 5 during filming, which was to be dubbed over later by another voice actor. After three months of filming, the crew got so used to hearing Blaney's voice as Number 5 that they could not imagine anyone else in the role, and so Blaney was officially cast.
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Number 5's full designation is "S.A.I.N.T. Number 5". The acronym S.A.I.N.T. stands for "Strategic Artificially Intelligent Nuclear Transport".
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When the dance sequence was filmed, John Badham danced with Ally Sheedy as they talked through and rehearsed the scene which Johnny 5 dances with Stephanie to "More Than a Woman" by The Bee Gees. The song was featured in Saturday Night Fever (1977), which was also directed by Badham.
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When Number Five commandeered Ben and the Nova guard's truck, he hums the U.S. Marines anthem.
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The Three Stooges short that Number 5 is watching is the end of Woman Haters (1934).
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Steve Guttenberg (Newton Crosby) and G.W. Bailey (Skroeder) appeared in "Police Academy (1984)" and "Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol (1987)."
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G.W. Bailey mentioned that the whole point of the writers naming his character Skroeder was so that they could include a joke about scrotums.
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John Badham and Ally Sheedy collaborated on "WarGames" (1983).
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From the first movie to the second, Ben's last name changes.
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The robots were designed very similar to the large fighting machines in the future battle scenes in "The Terminator (1984)."
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CASTLE THUNDER: Heard as the thunderstorm rolls in at the beginning of the film.
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At the beginning of the movie, you see a close-up of flowers on a green field, and then the tanks roll over them. This resembled James Cameron's style.
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In 2015, comedian Aziz Ansari had a discussion with Fisher Stevens about Stevens (who is Caucasian) playing the role of Indian American scientist Ben. Ansari said that he grew up strongly disliking both the role as a stereotype and Stevens for ever accepting it, but he felt Stevens was not a villain after talking to him, and simply an actor who needed a job at a time when cultural considerations were simply ignored in making movies. Stevens described how he did research to make Ben into a non-stereotype and that he regretted how the character made people of South Asian descent feel. In the end, Ansari and Stevens agreed that if SHORT CIRCUIT was either a new film or a remake in the present day, the role of Ben should and would be played by an actor with a South Asian background.
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In the scene when Stephanie finds Number 5 inside her truck, you can briefly see her address on her mailbox just beforehand. The mailbox reads "S. Speck, 3101 Misty Pines Ave".
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Newton "flips off" Ben (Fisher Stevens) with a mechanical hand. In "My Science Project (1985)" Vince (Stevens) did a similar gesture to a motorist tailgating him.
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When Frank slips over on the porch while chasing Johnny this was obviously a mistake; you can tell Ally Sheedy is struggling not to laugh in the scene.
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When this movie was released to Blu-ray, it was remastered in 1080i high definition, but Blu-ray quality is usually thought of as having full 1080p resolution.
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Marcella Detroit, who performed the end credit song "Come and Follow Me" with Max Carl, joined the Irish pop rock group Shakespeare's Sister.
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According to Fisher Stevens, the character Ben was originally intended to be Caucasian. The role was then re-written to be more of a comedic ethnic part, after Bronson Pinchot was in talks to play Ben. When the deal with Bronson fell through, Fisher was asked if he could make his accent more ethnic to make Ben's scripted lines funnier. Fisher spent five weeks living in India to prepare for the role. His performance convinced many viewers that he was Indian, but Fisher stated that he could never be able to play that role today.
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Almost the entire film is looped.
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The song playing in the background as the four S.A.I.NT. units were rolling in on display is "The Marine's Hymn." The first of two times the song appears in the movie.
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