The Lawnmower Man (1992)

R | 108 mins | Horror, Science fiction | 6 March 1992

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HISTORY

The Lawnmower Man takes its name from a ten-page Stephen King short story about a lawnmower that attacks and kills a man. The story was first published in the May 1975 issue of Cavalier magazine and was included in King’s 1978 short story collection Night Shift.
       In 1978, Sword & Sorcery Productions, which had recently been formed by producers Milton Subotsky and Andrew Donally, announced a slate of eleven movies. The 25 May 1978 HR reported that Sword & Sorcery had optioned six of the twenty stories included in the Night Shift collection and intended to make horror anthology feature films. One of those anthologies would have the theme of machines turning against man and was scheduled to include “The Lawnmower Man,” along with “The Mangler,” and “Trucks.” However, nothing became of the project.
       In 1984, producer Dino De Laurentiis announced he had purchased the rights to those three King stories from Milton Subotsky, and intended to make a horror anthology feature film. The 14 Jul 1984 Screen International reported that De Laurentiis would use the screenplay Edward and Valerie Abraham had written for Subotsky, and that Subotsky would receive a co-producer credit and consult on the production. At the time of the announcement, De Laurentiis was filming Cat’s Eye (1985, see entry), another horror anthology movie based on Stephen King short stories.
       By the late 1980s, Allied Vision had acquired film rights to “The Lawnmower Man,” but found they were unable to expand the story into a feature-length film. The 28 Feb 1992 Screen International reported that Allied decided to merge ... More Less

The Lawnmower Man takes its name from a ten-page Stephen King short story about a lawnmower that attacks and kills a man. The story was first published in the May 1975 issue of Cavalier magazine and was included in King’s 1978 short story collection Night Shift.
       In 1978, Sword & Sorcery Productions, which had recently been formed by producers Milton Subotsky and Andrew Donally, announced a slate of eleven movies. The 25 May 1978 HR reported that Sword & Sorcery had optioned six of the twenty stories included in the Night Shift collection and intended to make horror anthology feature films. One of those anthologies would have the theme of machines turning against man and was scheduled to include “The Lawnmower Man,” along with “The Mangler,” and “Trucks.” However, nothing became of the project.
       In 1984, producer Dino De Laurentiis announced he had purchased the rights to those three King stories from Milton Subotsky, and intended to make a horror anthology feature film. The 14 Jul 1984 Screen International reported that De Laurentiis would use the screenplay Edward and Valerie Abraham had written for Subotsky, and that Subotsky would receive a co-producer credit and consult on the production. At the time of the announcement, De Laurentiis was filming Cat’s Eye (1985, see entry), another horror anthology movie based on Stephen King short stories.
       By the late 1980s, Allied Vision had acquired film rights to “The Lawnmower Man,” but found they were unable to expand the story into a feature-length film. The 28 Feb 1992 Screen International reported that Allied decided to merge elements of the story with another virtual reality-themed screenplay they owned, titled Cyber God, written by Brett Leonard and Gimel Everett, thus changing the original context of the Steven King story.
       Principal photography began on 28 May 1991 in Los Angeles, CA, according to the 4 Jun 1991 HR production chart. The 21 Jun 1991 DV reported a $10 million budget, and that New Line Cinema had acquired distribution rights.
       New Line opened The Lawnmower Man in test markets in Jacksonville, FL; Providence, RI; and Fresno, CA, on 14 Feb 1992, as reported in the 11 Mar 1992 HR. After a strong reception, New Line released the picture on 6 Mar 1992 on 1,276 screens, where it earned $7.7 million in opening weekend sales receipts, according to the 10 Mar 1992 DV. Film advertisements frequently referred to the picture as Stephen King’s The Lawnmower Man. The 1 Jun 1992 HR announced film grosses of more than $30 million in its first two months of release.
       According to the 1 Jun 1992 HR, the 7 Jul 1992 WSJ, and the 20 Jul 1992 LAT, King filed a lawsuit in May 1992 against Allied Vision Ltd. and New Line Cinema Corp., claiming the film "bore no meaningful resemblance" to his short story, aside from the title and a brief, two-minute-long scene in which the lawnmower attacks and kills the abusive “Harold Parkette,” and insisted that his name be removed from advertisements and from the film's credits. A federal judge ordered The Lawnmower Man filmmakers to grant his request, which, as reported in the 8 Jul 1992 DV, was the first time a writer had successfully sued to have his name removed from a film since 1922, when James Oliver Curwood sued to have his name taken off I Am The Law (see entry). However, Allied Vision and New Line felt the judge’s ruling was too broad and might force them to remove prints already in circulation, essentially stopping distribution of the film throughout the world. They appealed, and a three-judge panel issued a stay of the injunction until the appeal was settled, according to the 20 Jul 1992 LAT. On 7 Oct 1992, HR announced the ruling that required New Line to cease using King’s name in advertising, but did not have to remove a “based upon” onscreen credit. The 24 May 1993 Var reported that New Line and Stephen King had reached a $2.5 million settlement. However, New Line continued to use King’s name in advertising for the movie, violating their agreement. In 1994, a federal judge found New Line in contempt of court for failure to remove King’s name from videocassette packaging and posters, according to the 30 Mar 1994 DV. The judge gave New Line thirty days to comply or face a $10,000 a day penalty. No further information about this lawsuit could be found.
       The film opens with the following prologue: “By the turn of the millennium a technology known as VIRTUAL REALITY will be in widespread use. It will allow you to enter computer generated artificial words as unlimited as the imagination itself. Its creators foresee millions of positive uses – while others fear it as a new form of mind control . . .”
       End credits state: “Special Thanks: Jaron Lanier; Mondo 2000; Lyn Vau; Videomedia; Alan Lundell; Brian Rogers; Tim Blake; Scott Kim; A. E. Bunker; Visionarts; Eric Powers; Pioneer Communications; Sid Leonard; Dan McLaughlin; Roger Davis; Charles Gunn; Gary Ruble; Quotron Systems; Ken Musgrave; Alice Spivak; ALP Video; Digital Media; Danielle Witz.” Also acknowledged: "This film is dedicated to the memory of our co-producer Milton Subotsky." More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
21 Jun 1991.
---
Daily Variety
20 Feb 1992
p. 2, 35.
Daily Variety
10 Mar 1992.
---
Daily Variety
8 Jul 1992
p. 1, 10.
Daily Variety
30 Mar 1994
p. 1, 17.
Hollywood Reporter
25 May 1978
---
Hollywood Reporter
4 Jun 1991.
---
Hollywood Reporter
6 Mar 1992
p. 12, 16.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Mar 1992.
---
Hollywood Reporter
1 Jun 1992.
---
Hollywood Reporter
7 Oct 1992
p. 4, 16.
Los Angeles Times
6 Mar 1992
p. 18.
Los Angeles Times
20 Jul 1992.
---
New York Times
7 Mar 1992
p. 20.
Screen International
14 Jul 1984
---
Screen International
28 Feb 1992
p. 13-14, 16, 18.
The Wall Street Journal
7 Jul 1992.
---
Variety
24 Feb 1992
p. 249.
Variety
24 May 1993.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
New Line Cinema Presents
An Allied Vision Lane Pringle Production
In Association with Fuji Eight Co. Ltd.
A Brett Leonard Film
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
Dir, 2d unit
Unit mgr, 2d unit
1st asst dir, 2d unit
1st asst dir, 2d unit
2d asst dir, 2d unit
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Assoc prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Loader
Steadicam op
Steadicam 1st asst cam
Still photog
Best boy grip
Company grip
Company grip
Gaffer
Best boy elec
Elec
Video playback
Video playback
Dir of photog, 2d unit
1st asst cam, 2d unit
2d asst cam, 2d unit
2d asst cam, 2d unit
Gaffer, 2d unit
Best boy, 2d unit
Elec, 2d unit
Key grip, 2d unit
Best boy grip, 2d unit
Company grip, 2d unit
UV lighting
Arriflex cam and lenses provided by
Lighting and grip equip supplied by
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Storyboards
Art dir
Asst art dir
Art dept coord
Art asst
Art asst
Spec des and illustrator
Conceptual storyboards
FILM EDITORS
Assoc ed
1st asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Negative cutter
Negative cutter
Negative cutter
Negative cutter
Negative cutter
SET DECORATORS
Prop master
Asst prop master
Asst set dec
Leadman
Set dresser
Set dresser/Greensman
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
On-set dresser
Swing gang
Swing gang
Swing gang
Swing gang
Swing gang
Const coord
Asst to const coord
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter/Welder
Welder
Lead scenic
Scenic/Sign painter
Scenics
Scenics
On-set dresser, 2d unit
Spec props, Prod support
Spec props, Prod support
COSTUMES
Cost des
Ward supv
Asst cost des
MUSIC
Mus
Mus score realization
Mus score prod at
SOUND
Sd mixer
Boom op
Cable person
Rec & assoc mixing
Rec asst
Post-prod sd
Audio post prod supv
Digital sd eff ed
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Digital dial ed
Digital dial ed
Digital dial ed
Asst dial ed
Asst eng
Asst eng
Apprentice sd ed
Spec vocalizations
ADR mixer
Foley mixer
Foley artist
Dolby consultant
Audio digital ed systems
Audio digital ed systems
Audio systems support
Digital systems support
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff key
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec visual eff conceived and supv
Spec visual eff conceived and supv
Virtual reality simulation seq and digital live ac
Virtual reality simulation seq and digital live ac
Anim dir, Angel Studios
Anim dir, Angel Studios
Simulation dir, Angel Studios
Creative des, Angel Studios
Anim/Modeller, Angel Studios
Anim/Modeller, Angel Studios
Prod coord, Angel Studios
Prod asst, Angel Studios
Programmer, Angel Studios
Exec support, Angel Studios
Des/Anim, Xaos, Inc.
Des/Anim, Xaos, Inc.
Des/Anim, Xaos, Inc.
Des/Anim, Xaos, Inc.
Des/Anim, Xaos, Inc.
Des/Anim, Xaos, Inc.
Art dir/ Project coord, Xaos, Inc.
Software support, Xaos, Inc.
Exec prod, Xaos, Inc.
Exec support, Xaos, Inc.
Exec support, Xaos, Inc.
Xaos pub, Xaos, Inc.
Digital compositing and helmet displays
VP/Dir of vis eff, Western Images
Harry artist, Western Images
Miniature eff created by
Supv, David Stipes Productions, Inc.
Const asst, David Stipes Productions, Inc.
Const asst, David Stipes Productions, Inc.
Const asst, David Stipes Productions, Inc.
Const asst, David Stipes Productions, Inc.
Const asst, David Stipes Productions, Inc.
Photog asst, David Stipes Productions, Inc.
Photog asst, David Stipes Productions, Inc.
Photog asst, David Stipes Productions, Inc.
Photog asst, David Stipes Productions, Inc.
Photog asst, David Stipes Productions, Inc.
Pyrotechnician, David Stipes Productions, Inc.
Gyrospheres and cybersuits by
Coord, Reel EFX, Inc.
Key, Reel EFX, Inc.
Asst, Reel EFX, Inc.
Asst, Reel EFX, Inc.
Asst, Reel EFX, Inc.
Asst, Reel EFX, Inc.
Asst, Reel EFX, Inc.
Asst, Reel EFX, Inc.
Asst, Reel EFX, Inc.
Asst, Reel EFX, Inc.
Asst, Reel EFX, Inc.
Asst, Reel EFX, Inc.
Asst, Reel EFX, Inc.
Asst, Reel EFX, Inc.
Asst, Reel EFX, Inc.
Asst, Reel EFX, Inc.
Asst, Reel EFX, Inc.
Computer graphic fire eff created by
Tech dir, Homer and Associates
Prod, Homer and Associates
Prod, Homer and Associates
Motion capture, Homer and Associates
Motion capture, Homer and Associates
Project des leader, The Lawnmower Man MacIntosh De
Centerpoint Communicatiosn Group, prod, The Lawnmo
Anim, The Lawnmower Man MacIntosh Development Team
Anim, The Lawnmower Man MacIntosh Development Team
VSI logo and computer screen graphics
Creative dir, The Gosney Company
Art dir/Anim, The Gosney Company
Main title des
Titles and opticals
DANCE
Prod mgr, Magical Media Industries, Inc.
MAKEUP
Key makeup/Hair
Makeup/Hair
Asst makeup/Hair
Des/Prod, Magical Media Industries, Inc.
Prod mgr, Magical Media Industries, Inc.
Prod controller, Magical Media Industries, Inc.
Sculptor, Magical Media Industries, Inc.
Stop-motion makeup, Magical Media Industries, Inc.
Lab tech, Magical Media Industries, Inc.
Lab tech, Magical Media Industries, Inc.
Lab tech, Magical Media Industries, Inc.
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Casting
Helicopter pilot
Prod coord
Asst prod coord
Asst to prod and dir
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Scr supv
Loc mgr
Asst loc mgr
Prod accountant
Asst prod accountant
Post-prod supv
Post-prod coord
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Transportation co-capt
Prod van driver
Honeywagon driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Scr supv, 2d unit
Prod asst, 2d unit
Sacred geometry consultant
Gemini transfer
Asst to Mr. Serafine
Head trainer, Brian McMillan's Animal Rentals Unli
Trainer, Brian McMillan's Animal Rentals Unlimited
Trainer, Brian McMillan's Animal Rentals Unlimited
Craft service
Craft service
Casting asst
Studio teacher
Extras casting
Extras casting
Extras casting
Asst to Mr. Fahey
Insurance
Completion bond
Completion bond
Completion bond
Legal services
Pros asst, London office
Financial controller, London office
Legal services, London office
Data-gloves & eye-phones, Prod support
3-D images, Prod support
3-D images, Prod support
Relaxation chair, Prod support
3-d stereoscopic viewer, Prod support
Tactile gloves, Prod support
Pen point computer, Prod support
Videophone, Prod support
Unmouse, Prod support
Work screens, Prod support
Hard drives, Prod support
Print ads, Prod support
VR demonstration, Prod support
Networking and research, Prod support
Spec services, Prod support
Flying mouse, Prod support
VGX computer unit loan, Prod support
Mathematica anim, Prod support
Peripheral products division, Prod support
MacIntosh support, Prod support
MacIntosh support, Prod support
MacIntosh support, Prod support
MacIntosh support, Prod support
Product placement
Product placement
Product placement
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stand-in
Stand-in
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
Col by
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the short story "Lawnmower Man" by Stephen King (May 1975 issue of Cavalier magazine and also included in King's 1978 short story collection Night Shift. ).
AUTHOR
SONGS
“Jobe’s Fury,” written and performed by Sterling
“Game Of Hearts,” written by Gregg Leonard and Joel Hazard, performed by Creative Rite, courtesy of Reality Buffers Music
“Man Wants,” written by Gregg Leonard, Joel Hazard and Elizabeth Presley, performed by Creative Rite, courtesy of Reality Buffers Music
+
SONGS
“Jobe’s Fury,” written and performed by Sterling
“Game Of Hearts,” written by Gregg Leonard and Joel Hazard, performed by Creative Rite, courtesy of Reality Buffers Music
“Man Wants,” written by Gregg Leonard, Joel Hazard and Elizabeth Presley, performed by Creative Rite, courtesy of Reality Buffers Music
“State Of Shock,” written by John Hayes and Lyn Vaus, performed by Carnal Garage, courtesy of Scraping by Music.
+
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Stephen King's The Lawnmower Man
Release Date:
6 March 1992
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 6 Mar 1992; New York opening: 6 Mar 1992
Production Date:
began 28 May 1991
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo Spectral Recording™ in selected theatres
Color
Duration(in mins):
108
MPAA Rating:
R
Countries:
United Kingdom, United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
31632
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Dr. Lawrence “Larry” Angelo works for Virtual Space Industries (VSI) conducting experiments to increase the intelligence of chimpanzees through the use drugs and virtual reality. When one of the chimpanzees escapes using the warfare techniques in which he was trained, the chimp is killed. Larry is angry that five years of his research has been destroyed. Larry’s boss, Sebastian Timms, suggests he take some time to regroup before resuming his research, known as “Project Five.” Larry is obsessed with his research, saying that virtual reality holds the key to the next step in human evolution. He starts drinking heavily to combat his depression over not being able to continue his research. When Larry refuses to carry on a normal life during his hiatus, his wife, Caroline, leaves him. Before the chimp was killed, Larry was ready to begin experiments on human subjects and decides to continue them in his home laboratory. He notices simple-minded Jobe Smith, the gardener’s assistant, and befriends him. Larry teaches Jobe how to play video games. When Jobe begins to master them, Larry moves him up to virtual reality (VR) games. Soon, Jobe and Peter Parkette, the boy who lives next door with his parents, Carla and Harold Parkette, are playing VR games together, under Larry’s supervision. Larry begins injecting Jobe with neurotropic drugs to stimulate brain activity. Jobe responds better than any of Larry’s animal subjects ever did, and within a month his synaptic activity increases 400 percent. The increased brain activity effects Jobe’s personality and behavior. Although he previously lacked self-awareness and had unkempt hair and clothes, Jobe gets a stylish haircut and fashionable new clothes. He also stands up for himself, ... +


Dr. Lawrence “Larry” Angelo works for Virtual Space Industries (VSI) conducting experiments to increase the intelligence of chimpanzees through the use drugs and virtual reality. When one of the chimpanzees escapes using the warfare techniques in which he was trained, the chimp is killed. Larry is angry that five years of his research has been destroyed. Larry’s boss, Sebastian Timms, suggests he take some time to regroup before resuming his research, known as “Project Five.” Larry is obsessed with his research, saying that virtual reality holds the key to the next step in human evolution. He starts drinking heavily to combat his depression over not being able to continue his research. When Larry refuses to carry on a normal life during his hiatus, his wife, Caroline, leaves him. Before the chimp was killed, Larry was ready to begin experiments on human subjects and decides to continue them in his home laboratory. He notices simple-minded Jobe Smith, the gardener’s assistant, and befriends him. Larry teaches Jobe how to play video games. When Jobe begins to master them, Larry moves him up to virtual reality (VR) games. Soon, Jobe and Peter Parkette, the boy who lives next door with his parents, Carla and Harold Parkette, are playing VR games together, under Larry’s supervision. Larry begins injecting Jobe with neurotropic drugs to stimulate brain activity. Jobe responds better than any of Larry’s animal subjects ever did, and within a month his synaptic activity increases 400 percent. The increased brain activity effects Jobe’s personality and behavior. Although he previously lacked self-awareness and had unkempt hair and clothes, Jobe gets a stylish haircut and fashionable new clothes. He also stands up for himself, refusing to any longer allow Father Francis McKeen, the priest who owns the garden shed where he lives, to whip him with a belt as punishment for his perceived sins. Jobe becomes attracted to women, and notices Marnie Burke, a rich, young, flirtatious widow, who takes him to bed. Larry shows his research to his boss, Sebastian Timms, who gives permission to continue the work with Jobe at the VSI laboratory. After witnessing Jobe’s phenomenal progress, including learning Latin in just two hours, Timms reports to the VSI director, who demands they begin injecting Jobe with the original Project Five neurotropic drug. The substance contains chemicals which stimulate aggression, a trait needed to train subjects for warfare. Knowing Larry is a pacifist, Timms substitutes the drug without his knowledge. After a VR experiment, Jobe reports that he “touched God.” Soon, Jobe develops psychic abilities and is able to read people’s minds. Shortly after, Jobe develops telekinetic abilities and is able to move objects with his mind. However, he also begins hallucinating. Jobe reports he has surpassed Larry’s intelligence and demonstrates his telekinetic abilities. Larry is frightened by what he sees and warns that Jobe’s progress must be balanced with wisdom. In time, Jobe takes Marnie Burke to the VSI lab and straps her into the VR equipment, intending to make love to her in cyberspace. However, while in virtual reality, the aggression drug kicks in and Jobe rapes Marnie. As a result, she has a nervous breakdown. At a debriefing in Washington, D.C., Larry has a fit upon learning Sebastian Timms substituted the original Project Five drug. Larry reminds him how aggressive the chimps became who received the drug: two of them killing each other. When Larry returns to the lab to shut down the experiment, VSI security tries to stop him, but Larry eludes them. Meanwhile, Jobe breaks into the VSI lab and injects himself with multiple doses of the neurotropic formula. As Jobe’s abilities increase, he seeks revenge against those who taunted and teased him when they believed he was “dumb.” Jobe uses his mind to set Father McKeen on fire and sends a lawnmower to attack and kill Harold Parkette, Peter's abusive father. Police begin an investigation, but after Jobe controls their minds, they dismiss the killings as bizarre accidents. Upon his return, Larry finds Jobe at his house using his virtual reality equipment. Jobe plans to transfer his consciousness into the mainframe of the VSI computer and then connect to every other computer in the world, until he exists everywhere and is a “Cyber Christ.” Larry tries to stop him, but Jobe ties him up. When the director of VSI sends two men to capture him, Jobe turns them into molecules and destroys them. After Peter Parkette finds Larry and unties him, Larry remotely accesses the VSI computer and infects it with a virus, cutting off access to all other computers. Jobe goes to VSI, transfers his consciousness into the mainframe computer, and his physical body dies. Meanwhile, Larry sets explosives to go off all around the VSI building. Jobe tries to prevent the bomb from detonating, but he lost his power over the physical world when he transferred into the computer mainframe. Jobe desperately tries to transfer onto another computer system, but is denied access. However, just before the explosives destroy the VSI computer, Jobe gains access to another computer system and transfers out. Fearing his research will fall into the wrong hands, Larry announces he is going underground until he can perfect it. Larry intends to form a family with Carla Parkette and her son, Peter. However, just before they embark on their new life, telephones around the world ring simultaneously, indicating that Jobe is alive and firmly in control. +

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

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