Runaway (1984)

PG-13 | 99 mins | Science fiction | 14 December 1984

Director:

Michael Crichton

Producer:

Michael Rachmil

Cinematographer:

John Alonzo

Production Designer:

Douglas Higgins

Production Companies:

Yawanur, Inc., Tri-Star Pictures
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HISTORY

The project represented the feature film debut of Gene Simmons, lead singer of the rock band Kiss. As noted in a 13 Jun 1984 Var article, actor Tom Selleck had previously worked with director Michael Crichton on Coma (1978, see entry) before becoming the star of the hit television series, Magnum, P.I. (CBS, 11 Dec 1980-12 Sep 1988). Runaway marked the actor’s third-starring role in a feature film, following High Road to China (1983) and Lassiter (1984, see entries).
       Principal photography began on 28 May 1984 on location in Vancouver, B. C., Canada, as announced in the 29 May 1984 DV.
       According to production notes in AMPAS library files, the ten-week production schedule took place entirely in the Vancouver area, except for a two-day shoot at Moses Lake, WA, where the cornfield sequence was filmed. Director Michael Crichton stated that he wanted the robotics in Runaway to be “primitive” and “mechanical” rather than a demonstration of artificial intelligence, as seen in films such as Star Wars (1977), Blade Runner (1982) or The Terminator (1984, see entries), in which machines behave like humans. “Being primitive, they’re sort of stupid and they make mistakes, and this adds to the suspense in the film.”
       End credits include the following acknowledgments: “The producers wish to thank: The people and city of Vancouver B.C.; MAD Computers Inc.; America Standard Co.; Oratech; Toshiba Canada; Wentworth Laboratories; M.D.I.; M.D.S. Quantel ... More Less

The project represented the feature film debut of Gene Simmons, lead singer of the rock band Kiss. As noted in a 13 Jun 1984 Var article, actor Tom Selleck had previously worked with director Michael Crichton on Coma (1978, see entry) before becoming the star of the hit television series, Magnum, P.I. (CBS, 11 Dec 1980-12 Sep 1988). Runaway marked the actor’s third-starring role in a feature film, following High Road to China (1983) and Lassiter (1984, see entries).
       Principal photography began on 28 May 1984 on location in Vancouver, B. C., Canada, as announced in the 29 May 1984 DV.
       According to production notes in AMPAS library files, the ten-week production schedule took place entirely in the Vancouver area, except for a two-day shoot at Moses Lake, WA, where the cornfield sequence was filmed. Director Michael Crichton stated that he wanted the robotics in Runaway to be “primitive” and “mechanical” rather than a demonstration of artificial intelligence, as seen in films such as Star Wars (1977), Blade Runner (1982) or The Terminator (1984, see entries), in which machines behave like humans. “Being primitive, they’re sort of stupid and they make mistakes, and this adds to the suspense in the film.”
       End credits include the following acknowledgments: “The producers wish to thank: The people and city of Vancouver B.C.; MAD Computers Inc.; America Standard Co.; Oratech; Toshiba Canada; Wentworth Laboratories; M.D.I.; M.D.S. Quantel Corporation.” More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
29 May 1984.
---
Hollywood Reporter
10 Dec 1984
p. 4, 17.
Los Angeles Times
12 Dec 1984
Section L, p. 6.
New York Times
14 Dec 1984
p. 20.
Variety
13 Jun 1984.
---
Variety
12 Dec 1984
p. 16.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANIES
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Tri-Star Pictures Presents
From Tri-Star-Delphi III Productions
A Michael Crichton Film
A Tri-Star Release
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
1st asst dir
2d asst dir, Canada
3rd asst dir, Canada
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Video tech
Video tech
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
2d unit dir of photog
Best boy
Generator op
Lamp op
Key grip
Best boy
Dolly grip
Still photog
Lightflex [cam] by
Lighting and grip equip by
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
Draftsman
Draftsman
Storyboard artist
FILM EDITORS
1st asst ed
2d asst ed
Apprentice ed
Loc asst ed
Loc asst ed
Negative cutter
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Const coord
Prop master
Asst prop master
Asst prop
Asst set dec
Storesman
Set dresser
Set dresser
Draper
Const foreman
Head painter
Painter
COSTUMES
Cost des
Ward supv
Costumer
Ward for Mr. Selleck
MUSIC
Mus ed
Mus rec
Synthesizer programming
Mus rec at
Mus performed on
SOUND
Prod sd mixer
Boom man
Foley artist
Foley artist
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec rec
Supv sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
ADR ed
Asst ADR ed
Post prod sd rec
Post prod sd rec
VISUAL EFFECTS
Robot des
Spec robotic eff
Spec robotic eff
Robotic effectsman
Robotic effectsman
Spider op
Spider op
Spec eff coord
Spec effectsman
Spec effectsman
Vis eff coord
Titles and opt eff
MAKEUP
Makeup supv
Makeup for Tom Selleck
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Casting
Casting
Unit mgr, Canada
Scr supv
Craftservice/First aid
Prod coord
Asst prod coord
Asst to Mr. Crichton
Unit pub
Prod controller
Prod accountant
Asst accountant
Canadian casting by
Extra casting
Transportation coord
Driver capt
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stunt cop
Stuntman
Stuntman
Stuntman
Stuntman
Stuntwoman
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
DETAILS
Release Date:
14 December 1984
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 14 December 1984
Production Date:
28 May--early August 1984
Copyright Claimant:
Tri-Star Pictures
Copyright Date:
28 February 1985
Copyright Number:
PA241492
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Lenses
Filmed in Panavision®
Prints
Prints in Metrocolor®
Duration(in mins):
99
MPAA Rating:
PG-13
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
27300
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Sometime in the near future, robots have become widespread, assisting and replacing humans in everyday tasks. Police sergeant Jack Ramsay works in the Runaway Squad tracking down malfunctioning machines. After being introduced to his new partner, officer Karen Thompson, Ramsey takes her on a routine assignment to stop a defective pest-control robot. Arriving at a cornfield by helicopter, Karen realizes Ramsay is afraid of heights. Back at the police station, Karen remains curious about her partner’s background and learns from squad officer, James Marvin, that Ramsay quit the regular force after panicking at a high-rise construction site and letting a dangerous criminal escape. When the same criminal was later responsible for murdering an entire family, Ramsay blamed himself. That night, Ramsay and Karen are summoned to a residence where a household chore robot, known as “the 912,” has killed two people, and the officers must disarm the machine before it attacks the remaining human in the house, a ten-month-old baby. The owner of the residence, David Johnson, who is an electronics engineer for the Vectrocon Corporation, waits outside in shock. Wearing a special suit to deflect the robot’s electromagnetic radar, Ramsay defuses the 912 and saves the child. Afterward, Ramsay looks for Johnson, but the man has mysteriously disappeared. That evening, Ramsay brings Karen to his home and introduces her to his young son, Bobby. She also meets Lois, Ramsay’s domestic robot, who manages the house and babysits Bobby, since the death of Ramsay’s wife two years ago. Examining the defective 912, Officer James Marvin finds a non-standard microchip, and informs Ramsay that someone has re-programmed the ... +


Sometime in the near future, robots have become widespread, assisting and replacing humans in everyday tasks. Police sergeant Jack Ramsay works in the Runaway Squad tracking down malfunctioning machines. After being introduced to his new partner, officer Karen Thompson, Ramsey takes her on a routine assignment to stop a defective pest-control robot. Arriving at a cornfield by helicopter, Karen realizes Ramsay is afraid of heights. Back at the police station, Karen remains curious about her partner’s background and learns from squad officer, James Marvin, that Ramsay quit the regular force after panicking at a high-rise construction site and letting a dangerous criminal escape. When the same criminal was later responsible for murdering an entire family, Ramsay blamed himself. That night, Ramsay and Karen are summoned to a residence where a household chore robot, known as “the 912,” has killed two people, and the officers must disarm the machine before it attacks the remaining human in the house, a ten-month-old baby. The owner of the residence, David Johnson, who is an electronics engineer for the Vectrocon Corporation, waits outside in shock. Wearing a special suit to deflect the robot’s electromagnetic radar, Ramsay defuses the 912 and saves the child. Afterward, Ramsay looks for Johnson, but the man has mysteriously disappeared. That evening, Ramsay brings Karen to his home and introduces her to his young son, Bobby. She also meets Lois, Ramsay’s domestic robot, who manages the house and babysits Bobby, since the death of Ramsay’s wife two years ago. Examining the defective 912, Officer James Marvin finds a non-standard microchip, and informs Ramsay that someone has re-programmed the machine to commit murder. Ramsay returns to the Johnson residence where he finds security footage of a man, claiming to be from Acme Robot Repair, arriving at the house. Meanwhile, the same man, Dr. Charles Luther, meets with Harry, David Johnson’s colleague at Vectrocon, and prepares to pay for a batch of dangerous microchips that David Johnson and Harry have manufactured for him. However, Dr. Luther takes the microchips and leaves Harry with a briefcase of counterfeit money. Johnson arrives in time to see his colleague killed by one of Dr. Luther’s metallic spiders, which injects a poisonous acid into the victim. Fearing for his life, Johnson hides at hotel, until Ramsay and Karen arrive to arrest him. Ramsay escorts the engineer to a police car, but Johnson flees as soon as he sees Dr. Luther on the sidewalk. The nefarious doctor fires a special bullet, able to follow him through the alleyway and kill him. When Ramsay inquires about David Johnson’s work at Vectrocon, he is interrupted and called to rescue Jackie Rogers, who is trapped by a sentry robot. Once the threat is over, Ramsay discovers that Jackie is in possession of a pile of microchips. Panicking, she confesses to confiscating them for Dr. Luther, and confirms he is the one who killed David Johnson. She informs Ramsay that the criminal doctor is currently at the Ritz Hotel. There, Jack Ramsay and Karen Thompson surprise Dr. Luther during a meeting with two potential buyers. In the ensuing shootout, Karen is wounded and Dr. Luther escapes. Ramsay realizes the bullet in Karen’s arm is an unexploded micro-shell. Instead of allowing an unreliable robot to perform the job, Ramsay insists on removing and disarming the bullet himself. Karen cries in his arms after surviving the painful procedure. Ramsay invites her to dinner, but Karen is disappointed when he indicates the offer is more business than romantic, and she declines. At the police station, officer Marvin dissects one of Dr. Luther’s “smart bullets” and discovers it can be programmed to target a specific person. Marvin adds that the illegal microchip Dr. Luther ordered from Vectrocon can turn any robot into a killing machine, and somewhere there are templates to make more. Locked in a cell at the police station, Jackie Rogers is afraid that Dr. Luther will track her down and kill her for betraying him. When Sgt. Ramsay finds out Jackie Rogers has been concealing the microchip templates inside her purse, he uses her as bait to lure Dr. Luther out of hiding. The plan backfires when Dr. Luther fatally stabs Jackie and escapes with most of the templates. Ramsay, however, retains the few templates Jackie handed him before she died, and Dr. Luther is desperate to get them back. Disguised in a police uniform, Dr. Luther sneaks into the police station and accesses Jack Ramsay’s personal file, which includes information about the sergeant’s son. As soon as Ramsay realizes Dr. Luther has hacked his file, he rushes home to find Bobby missing and Lois disabled. Sometime later, Dr. Luther contacts Ramsay, instructing him to bring the remaining templates to a high-rise construction site, and to come alone if he wants his son back. After arriving, Ramsay can see Bobby and Dr. Luther on a video monitor on an upper level and takes the construction elevator there, in spite of his vertigo. Dr. Luther agrees to release Bobby, and Jack Ramsay orders his son, who wants to stay with his father, to leave immediately. As the boy takes the elevator down, Dr. Luther reveals that lethal metallic spiders on the ground level have been programmed to kill anyone getting off the platform. Ramsay yells at his son to stop the elevator, but the controls have been deactivated. Before the spiders reach the boy, however, Karen arrives to pull him to safety. Enraged, Dr. Luther tries to shoot Ramsay, but the sergeant evades the bullets using construction robots as a diversion. During the confrontation, Jack Ramsay must fend off another batch of metallic spiders while dangling from the high-rise structure and facing his fear of heights. As the two adversaries fight inside the moving elevator, Ramsay causes Dr. Luther to tumble off the building. The criminal survives his fall, but is unable to escape as the programmed spiders swarm his body and inject him with toxic acid. Once he has confirmed that Dr. Luther is dead, Ramsey embraces his son. Confident that he has conquered his fear of heights, the sergeant accepts Karen’s dinner invitation and kisses her. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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