The Cat from Outer Space (1978)

G | 103 mins | Children's works | 30 June 1978

Director:

Norman Tokar

Writer:

Ted Key

Producer:

Ron Miller

Cinematographer:

Charles F. Wheeler

Production Designers:

John Mansbridge, Preston Ames

Production Company:

Walt Disney Productions
Full page view
HISTORY

The Cat From Outer Space was the first project for Norman Tokar under his exclusive producer-director contract with Disney Studios, according to a 24 Dec 1975 HR news item. Ron Miller, the film’s producer, signed Tokar.
       Miller purchased the screenplay from cartoonist Ted Key, best known for his daily newspaper cartoon Hazel. Cat was the third story Disney purchased from Key, the others being Gus (1976, see entry) and The Million Dollar Duck (1971, see entry), according to a 17 Feb 1976 HR news item.
       Principal photography began 16 May 1977 at Disney Studios according to a 4 May 1977 DV news item.
       The producers screen tested multiple breeds of cats for the title role and settled upon the Abyssinian due to the breed's ease of training and for its appealing appearance. For the role, several “look-alike” cats were trained, according to a 9 May 1977 Publisher’s Weekly article. The budget was estimated to be around $3.5 to $4 million. Publisher Pocket Books negotiated a deal to distribute a paperback novelization to coincide with the film’s release.
       In 1979, a copyright infringement suit was filed in federal court against Walt Disney Productions by Frank G. Nordstrom in Denver, CO. Nordstrom claimed The Cat from Outer Space had infringed upon his own works. On 4 Aug 1980, Judge Richard P. Matsch ruled in favor of Disney concluding Nordstrom’s allegations were unfounded, according to a 21 Aug 1980 HR news ... More Less

The Cat From Outer Space was the first project for Norman Tokar under his exclusive producer-director contract with Disney Studios, according to a 24 Dec 1975 HR news item. Ron Miller, the film’s producer, signed Tokar.
       Miller purchased the screenplay from cartoonist Ted Key, best known for his daily newspaper cartoon Hazel. Cat was the third story Disney purchased from Key, the others being Gus (1976, see entry) and The Million Dollar Duck (1971, see entry), according to a 17 Feb 1976 HR news item.
       Principal photography began 16 May 1977 at Disney Studios according to a 4 May 1977 DV news item.
       The producers screen tested multiple breeds of cats for the title role and settled upon the Abyssinian due to the breed's ease of training and for its appealing appearance. For the role, several “look-alike” cats were trained, according to a 9 May 1977 Publisher’s Weekly article. The budget was estimated to be around $3.5 to $4 million. Publisher Pocket Books negotiated a deal to distribute a paperback novelization to coincide with the film’s release.
       In 1979, a copyright infringement suit was filed in federal court against Walt Disney Productions by Frank G. Nordstrom in Denver, CO. Nordstrom claimed The Cat from Outer Space had infringed upon his own works. On 4 Aug 1980, Judge Richard P. Matsch ruled in favor of Disney concluding Nordstrom’s allegations were unfounded, according to a 21 Aug 1980 HR news item. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
21 Mar 1977.
---
Box Office
21 Jun 1977.
---
Daily Variety
22 Dec 1975.
---
Daily Variety
26 Apr 1977.
---
Daily Variety
2 May 1977.
---
Daily Variety
4 May 1977.
---
Daily Variety
20 May 1977.
---
Daily Variety
24 May 1977.
---
Daily Variety
27 May 1977.
---
Daily Variety
31 May 1977.
---
Daily Variety
3 Jun 1977.
---
Daily Variety
8 Jun 1977.
---
Hollywood Reporter
24 Dec 1975.
---
Hollywood Reporter
17 Feb 1976.
---
Hollywood Reporter
7 Mar 1977.
---
Hollywood Reporter
24 May 1977.
---
Hollywood Reporter
1 Jun 1977.
---
Hollywood Reporter
7 Jun 1977.
---
Hollywood Reporter
10 Jun 1977.
---
Hollywood Reporter
30 Jun 1977.
---
Hollywood Reporter
7 Jul 1977.
---
Hollywood Reporter
25 Apr 1978.
---
Hollywood Reporter
16 Jun 1978
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Aug 1980.
---
Los Angeles Herald Express
12 Jan 1976.
---
Los Angeles Times
16 Mar 1977.
---
Los Angeles Times
12 Jul 1978
Pt. IV p. G9.
New York Times
30 Jun 1978
p. 10.
Publisher's Weekly
9 May 1977.
---
Variety
4 May 1977.
---
Variety
15 Jun 1977.
---
Variety
21 Jun 1978
p. 18.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
Walt Disney Productions Presents
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
Unit prod mgr
Asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Prod
Co-prod
Assoc prod
WRITER
Wrt
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
2d unit photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
MUSIC
Orch
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Matte artist
MAKEUP
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Animal trainer
Animal trainer
STAND INS
Stunt players, Coord
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
DETAILS
Release Date:
30 June 1978
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 30 June 1978
Los Angeles opening: 12 July 1978
Production Date:
began 16 May 1977 at Disney Studios.
Copyright Claimant:
Walt Disney Productions
Copyright Date:
1 August 1979
Copyright Number:
PA39779
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Photophone Sound Recording
Color
Color by Technicolor®
Duration(in mins):
103
MPAA Rating:
G
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

A spaceship, making an emergency landing on Earth, is piloted by an alien cat named Zunar J-5/9 Donc-4-7 who calls the mother ship requesting rescue. In response, the mother ship orders the cat to repair his spacecraft and meet them at a specified rendezvous point in sixty-nine hours. However, Zunar J5 leaves the ship just as a team of military officials, headed by General Stilton, confiscates the spacecraft. Determining the ship is an unidentified flying object, Stilton brings its power source to the Energy Research Laboratory (E.R.L.) for analysis where Zunar J5 listens to a top secret gathering of E.R.L.’s best scientists, including Dr. Liz Bartlett, Dr. Frank Wilson and Dr. Norman Link. While the other scientists mock Frank’s theory, it peaks the interest of Zunar J5. Unbeknown to the scientists, the Head of Procurement and Supplies, Mr. Stallwood, is also spying on the meeting. Sometime later, Zunar J5 tracks Frank down at his office; and Frank nicknames the cat, “Jake.” Although Liz chastises Frank for the theories he proposed in the meeting, they flirt and Frank asks her to dinner. When Liz leaves, Frank is shocked when Jake speaks to him in English. Jake explains that his special collar allows him to amplify his brainpower, speak through “thought transference,” and move objects through telekinesis. Despite Frank being mocked by his colleagues, Jake assures the scientist that he is on the right track with his theories. Jake also asks for help in repairing his ship. Frank takes Jake to his apartment and they plan to break into the military base that holds Jake’s spacecraft, but they are interrupted by Link, who wants ... +


A spaceship, making an emergency landing on Earth, is piloted by an alien cat named Zunar J-5/9 Donc-4-7 who calls the mother ship requesting rescue. In response, the mother ship orders the cat to repair his spacecraft and meet them at a specified rendezvous point in sixty-nine hours. However, Zunar J5 leaves the ship just as a team of military officials, headed by General Stilton, confiscates the spacecraft. Determining the ship is an unidentified flying object, Stilton brings its power source to the Energy Research Laboratory (E.R.L.) for analysis where Zunar J5 listens to a top secret gathering of E.R.L.’s best scientists, including Dr. Liz Bartlett, Dr. Frank Wilson and Dr. Norman Link. While the other scientists mock Frank’s theory, it peaks the interest of Zunar J5. Unbeknown to the scientists, the Head of Procurement and Supplies, Mr. Stallwood, is also spying on the meeting. Sometime later, Zunar J5 tracks Frank down at his office; and Frank nicknames the cat, “Jake.” Although Liz chastises Frank for the theories he proposed in the meeting, they flirt and Frank asks her to dinner. When Liz leaves, Frank is shocked when Jake speaks to him in English. Jake explains that his special collar allows him to amplify his brainpower, speak through “thought transference,” and move objects through telekinesis. Despite Frank being mocked by his colleagues, Jake assures the scientist that he is on the right track with his theories. Jake also asks for help in repairing his ship. Frank takes Jake to his apartment and they plan to break into the military base that holds Jake’s spacecraft, but they are interrupted by Link, who wants to watch a television broadcast of a game he bet on, and Liz, who shows up for her date with Frank. However, Jake feigns illness to get rid of Liz. Later, at the base, Jakes teaches Frank how to levitate using the collar. As Frank hovers over the spaceship and conducts repairs, Stallwood watches in secret, shocked by what he sees. Jake explains that he needs a material called “Org 12” to repair his engine and when he indicates the atomic weight of the element, Frank realizes “Org 12” is actually gold. Just then, suspecting an intruder, a soldier triggers the alarm, and Frank and Jake narrowly escape by levitating a motorcycle over the gates. The next day at his apartment, Frank estimates that they need $120,000 worth of gold to fix the ship. Link arrives to watch a horse race on television. After Jake rigs the race with his telekinetic powers so Link can win his bet, he suggests that they gamble for the money. Jake and Frank inform Link about their situation and Jake demonstrates his powers, while Stallwood secretly videotapes them through the window. When Link calls Earnest Ernie’s Sporting Club to place a parlay bet on three football games, Jake rigs the matches in their favor. During the final game, Liz arrives with a veterinarian for Jake, whom she still believes is ill. Jake becomes agitated when the veterinarian takes off his collar, so the veterinarian sedates him into unconsciousness, rendering him unable to rig the game. In response, Frank and Link grab Jake and rush to Earnest Ernie’s to pull their bet. Liz accompanies the two men, demanding to know what is going on. Meanwhile, back at the base, the military collect fingerprints and hair from the ship, which they trace to Frank. The general thinks Frank is part of a larger conspiracy and orders his troops to follow the scientist. Meanwhile, after informing Liz about the situation, the friends arrive at Ernie’s to cancel the bet but they are too late. Desperate to raise $120,000, Frank challenges a pool hustler, Sarasota Slim, to a game. Frank uses Jake’s collar but loses the game as well as all of his friend’s cash. When Jake comes to, they talk Slim into another game and increase the odds by having Liz play blindfolded. Jake rigs the game and they win $120,000. Elsewhere, at the covert hideout of Mr. Olympus, Stallwood reveals the videotape. Olympus realizes the power of Jake’s collar and demands access to it so he can achieve world domination. Back at the base, military officials continue to analyze the spaceship and are shocked to conclude that the pilot is a cat. When an officer informs the general that Frank, Link and Liz purchased a large quantity of gold, the general and his troops break into Frank’s apartment to arrest Frank and Jake, but Jake uses his powers to freeze them. Dressed in the general’s uniform, Frank, and Jake, sneak past the military personnel who have arrived at his building. Just then, Olympus’ men convene at the apartment and kidnap Liz to use her as collateral for the collar. When Link rushes to the base to tell Frank and Jake about Olympus’ demands, Jake sends his spacecraft back to the mother ship unpiloted. Jake meets Olympus at a local airfield with Frank and Link. Olympus, Stallwood and Liz wait in a helicopter, but the military police also arrive and Olympus’ helicopter takes off as Jake and Frank give chase in a propeller airplane. When Jake and Frank rescue Liz, the general arranges for Jake to stay in America as a “representative of a friendly power” and grants him citizenship. +

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

TOP SEARCHES

CASABLANCA

During World War II, Casablanca, Morocco is a waiting point for throngs of desperate refugees fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe. Exit visas, which are necessary to leave the country, are at ... >>

CITIZEN KANE

Seventy-year-old newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane dies in his palatial Florida home, Xanadu, after uttering the single word “Rosebud.” While watching a newsreel summarizing the years during which Kane ... >>

REAR WINDOW

Laid up with a broken leg during the height of summer, renowned New York magazine photographer L. B. “Jeff” Jeffries enters his last week of home confinement, bored and ... >>

RAGING BULL

In 1941, at a boxing match in Cleveland, Ohio, pandemonium breaks out when Jake La Motta, an up-and-coming young boxer, loses a decision to Jimmy Reeves, suffering his first ... >>

CITY LIGHTS

At an outdoor dedication ceremony, a tramp is discovered sleeping in the arms of a statue as it is being unveiled before a crowd. He is chased into ... >>

The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.