The Incredible Shrinking Woman (1981)

PG | 88 mins | Comedy, Science fiction | 30 January 1981

Director:

Joel Schumacher

Writer:

Jane Wagner

Producer:

Hank Moonjean

Cinematographer:

Bruce Logan

Production Designer:

Raymond A. Brandt

Production Companies:

Lija Productions, Universal Pictures
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HISTORY

Articles in the 3 Jan 1977 Var and the 6 Feb 1979 DV reported that Ron Clark initially wrote a screenplay for a remake of The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957, see entry) and Universal Pictures planned to approach Jack Nicholson or Chevy Chase to star in the film. However, as tracked in the 15 Aug 1977 LAT, the 3 Nov 1978 HR, and the 7 Nov 1978 DV, Lily Tomlin signed with Universal to executive produce and star in The Incredible Shrinking Woman, to be written and produced by Tomlin’s long-time partner, Jane Wagner. Tomlin’s attorney, Michael Tannen, was also brought onto the project as a producer, and John Landis was hired to direct. Principal photography was planned for Feb or Mar 1979 and according to the 25 Oct 1978 DV, the film was budgeted at $10 million.
       Articles in the 6 Feb 1979 DV and the 7 Feb 1979 LAT announced that Universal had suspended production on the film, citing budgetary concerns that the planned special effects were escalating the cost to $12 million. Reportedly, Universal still had doubts regarding Tomlin’s box-office marketability after the “ill-fated Universal release,” Moment by Moment (1978, see entry). The Incredible Shrinking Woman was delayed so Wagner could rework the script, and it was unknown if Tomlin or Landis would be available when the production started again.
       The 7 Aug 1979 DV reported that Joel Schumacher would make his feature film directorial debut on The Incredible Shrinking Woman, ...

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Articles in the 3 Jan 1977 Var and the 6 Feb 1979 DV reported that Ron Clark initially wrote a screenplay for a remake of The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957, see entry) and Universal Pictures planned to approach Jack Nicholson or Chevy Chase to star in the film. However, as tracked in the 15 Aug 1977 LAT, the 3 Nov 1978 HR, and the 7 Nov 1978 DV, Lily Tomlin signed with Universal to executive produce and star in The Incredible Shrinking Woman, to be written and produced by Tomlin’s long-time partner, Jane Wagner. Tomlin’s attorney, Michael Tannen, was also brought onto the project as a producer, and John Landis was hired to direct. Principal photography was planned for Feb or Mar 1979 and according to the 25 Oct 1978 DV, the film was budgeted at $10 million.
       Articles in the 6 Feb 1979 DV and the 7 Feb 1979 LAT announced that Universal had suspended production on the film, citing budgetary concerns that the planned special effects were escalating the cost to $12 million. Reportedly, Universal still had doubts regarding Tomlin’s box-office marketability after the “ill-fated Universal release,” Moment by Moment (1978, see entry). The Incredible Shrinking Woman was delayed so Wagner could rework the script, and it was unknown if Tomlin or Landis would be available when the production started again.
       The 7 Aug 1979 DV reported that Joel Schumacher would make his feature film directorial debut on The Incredible Shrinking Woman, with executive producer Jane Wagner, and producer Hank Moonjean. Principal photography was set to begin 13 Aug 1979. The 25 Jun 1979 DV announced that Lawrence Pressman would play “Vance Kramer” in the film, however, the role was ultimately cast with Charles Grodin. An item in the 5 Oct 1979 DV noted that Frank Pendle was cast in the film, and the 29 Nov 1979 HR reported that Taylor Negron would play a “Peeping Tom,” but neither actor is credited onscreen.
       According to the 21 Nov 1980 Publishers Weekly, Jove Books published a tie-in novel, adapted from Wagner’s screenplay, by author Jody Sibert. In addition to the story, the book featured photographs from the film and a section on the movie’s special effects.
       The 11 Mar 1980 HR speculated that Universal might release The Incredible Shrinking Woman during the 1980 Christmas season, but the 16 Apr 1980 HR noted Universal would not debut the film in Dec 1980. Citing delays due to complicated special effects, a Universal spokesperson noted the film would probably be distributed in spring 1981. Articles in the 12 Jun 1980 Village Voice and the 24 Nov 1980 People reported that Universal was delaying the release of The Incredible Shrinking Woman until after the Dec 1980 premiere of Nine to Five (1980, see entry), also starring Lily Tomlin. Universal hoped that Nine to Five, produced by Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp., would bolster Tomlin’s commercial reputation. HR announced the national release of The Incredible Shrinking Woman on 30 Jan 1981.
       The 6 Feb 1981 DV stated the film grossed $4,133,186 in its first three days at 755 theaters. The 11 Feb 1981 DV reported the ten day box office gross was $8,332,414.
       According to production notes in AMPAS library files, the movie marked the feature film debut for actors Justin Dana and Mark Blankfield, and the 1 Oct 1979 DV reported that actor Randolph Powell made his feature film debut in The Incredible Shrinking Woman.

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SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
25 Oct 1978
---
Daily Variety
7 Nov 1978
---
Daily Variety
6 Feb 1979
p. 1, 22
Daily Variety
25 Jun 1979
---
Daily Variety
7 Aug 1979
---
Daily Variety
11 Sep 1979
---
Daily Variety
1 Oct 1979
---
Daily Variety
5 Oct 1979
---
Daily Variety
6 Feb 1981
---
Daily Variety
11 Feb 1981
---
Hollywood Reporter
3 Nov 1978
---
Hollywood Reporter
29 Nov 1979
---
Hollywood Reporter
11 Mar 1980
---
Hollywood Reporter
16 Apr 1980
---
Hollywood Reporter
30 Jan 1981
---
Los Angeles Times
15 Aug 1977
---
Los Angeles Times
7 Feb 1979
---
Los Angeles Times
30 Jan 1981
p. 1
New York Times
30 Jan 1981
p. 12
People
24 Nov 1980
---
Publishers Weekly
21 Nov 1980
---
Variety
3 Jan 1977
---
Variety
28 Jan 1981
p. 18
Village Voice
12 Jun 1980
p. 4
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Neighbors:
Guards:
Newscasters:
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
DGA trainee
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Assoc prod
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Asst cam
2d asst cam
Process coord
Key grip
Grip
Gaffer
Best boy
1st asst cam
Dolly grip
ART DIRECTORS
Prod illustrator
Asst art dir
Art consultant
Sketch artist
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Film ed
Addl film ed
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Const coord
Prop master
Prop master
Prop master
Standby painter
Greensman
Lead person
COSTUMES
Cost des
Cost supv
Cost supv
Cost supv
Cost supv
MUSIC
Mus ed
SOUND
Sd re-rec
Sd eff ed
Loop dial ed
Boom man
VISUAL EFFECTS
Supv of spec visual eff
Graphics by
Title des by
Opt eff
Moldmaker
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hairstylist
Hairstylist
Wig maker
Wig maker
Sidney created and des by
Makeup artist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Scr supv
Asst to prod
Asst to Rick Baker
Transportation capt
Transportation capt
Prod asst
Secy to exec prod
Prod secy
Exec asst to Lily Tomlin
Scr supv
Crafts services
Spec video coord
Animal handler
Casting secy
Film librarian
Jim Notaro
Driver
Driver
Driver
Loc man
Secy to Lily Tomlin
STAND INS
Stunt adv
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col by
SOURCES
LITERARY
Suggested by the novel The Shrinking Man by Richard Matheson (Boston, 1956).
LITERARY SOURCE AUTHOR
SONGS
"Galaxy Glue," lyrics by Billy Davis, music by Suzanne Ciani, vocals by Linda November; "Little Things Mean A Lot," performed by Mike Douglas; "Don't Tell Me Why," performed by The Brainiacs, courtesy of Mental Health Records.
SONGWRITER/COMPOSER
DETAILS
Release Date:
30 January 1981
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 30 Jan 1981
Production Date:
began 13 Aug 1979
Copyright Info
Claimant
Date
Copyright Number
Universal City Studios, Inc.
12 March 1981
PA96936
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Lenses
Panaflex® camera and lenses by Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
88
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

Homemaker Pat Kramer and her children, Beth and Jeff, return from the grocery store with bags of chemical-filled consumer products. As Pat and her maid, Concepcion, put away the groceries, next door neighbor, Judith Beasley, visits to demonstrate her latest cosmetic product line. Later, Pat’s husband, Vance Kramer, returns from a business trip and reveals that if his new products succeed, he could receive a partnership at work. Vance shows Pat a new perfume, and accidentally spills the liquid on her blouse. As she changes clothes, Pat suggests the perfume should be named “Sexpot.” While the couple makes love, the wet blouse sizzles. The next day, the blouse has disappeared and Pat telephones Vance to see if he took it to the cleaners, but he did not. Vance’s boss, Dan Beame, likes the “Sexpot” idea, and infers the promotion is available if Vance is equally successful with a new “Galaxy Glue” account. That evening, the Kramers host a neighborhood block meeting. When a guest breaks a vase, Vance tries the new glue, and it fixes the vase but also adheres to everything and everyone. The next morning at breakfast, Pat’s bracelet falls off her arm into Vance’s cereal, and they realize she has shrunk. Her doctor confirms that she is two inches shorter and still shrinking. He sends Pat to consult with Dr. Eugene Nortz and Dr. Ruth Ruth at the Kleinman Institute for the Study of Unexplained Phenomena. Their tests reveal Pat’s condition is caused by a mix of tap water, a flu shot, constant use of chemical products, and a unique imbalance in her ...

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Homemaker Pat Kramer and her children, Beth and Jeff, return from the grocery store with bags of chemical-filled consumer products. As Pat and her maid, Concepcion, put away the groceries, next door neighbor, Judith Beasley, visits to demonstrate her latest cosmetic product line. Later, Pat’s husband, Vance Kramer, returns from a business trip and reveals that if his new products succeed, he could receive a partnership at work. Vance shows Pat a new perfume, and accidentally spills the liquid on her blouse. As she changes clothes, Pat suggests the perfume should be named “Sexpot.” While the couple makes love, the wet blouse sizzles. The next day, the blouse has disappeared and Pat telephones Vance to see if he took it to the cleaners, but he did not. Vance’s boss, Dan Beame, likes the “Sexpot” idea, and infers the promotion is available if Vance is equally successful with a new “Galaxy Glue” account. That evening, the Kramers host a neighborhood block meeting. When a guest breaks a vase, Vance tries the new glue, and it fixes the vase but also adheres to everything and everyone. The next morning at breakfast, Pat’s bracelet falls off her arm into Vance’s cereal, and they realize she has shrunk. Her doctor confirms that she is two inches shorter and still shrinking. He sends Pat to consult with Dr. Eugene Nortz and Dr. Ruth Ruth at the Kleinman Institute for the Study of Unexplained Phenomena. Their tests reveal Pat’s condition is caused by a mix of tap water, a flu shot, constant use of chemical products, and a unique imbalance in her system. Nortz and Ruth promise to find an antidote and send Pat home. As weeks pass, Pat continues to shrink. Her situation becomes a major news story, and she is reluctant to leave the house, but Judith Beasley convinces her to go grocery shopping. As Pat rides inside the cart, crowds gather. Pat wants to leave inconspicuously, but when Judith tries to sneak Pat out in a grocery bag, the manager stops her for shoplifting and is embarrassed to find the shrinking woman inside the sack. Pat attempts to live a normal life, but it becomes more difficult as she shrinks to doll size. Judith insists that Pat share the truth on television, and sets up an interview on the Mike Douglas talk show. Prior to the show, Vance confides to Dan that he fears Pat will disappear and wonders if the various products are dangerous. Dan counters that it is dangerous to destroy Americans’ faith in consumer products, and insists Pat must focus on the antidote, which Dan and Vance can advertise. During the interview, to Vance’s relief and Judith’s disappointment, Pat claims they do not know what causes her condition. Dan meets with Tom Keller and the members of Keller’s Organization for World Management as Dr. Nortz and Dr. Ruth reveal that a shrink serum could be developed from Pat’s blood. Keller learns that a few drops in a country’s water system would shrink masses of people, and he decides to shrink the rest of the world. At Christmas, Pat receives a dollhouse and moves into it to write her memoirs. Later, Pat is pushed by a mechanical robot into a closet, where she battles other mechanical toys and is soaked by a “Betsy Wetsy” doll. As Pat escapes the closet, Vance and Dan arrive with Keller, who poses as president of Paxton Toys. Dan and Keller want to market a Pat Kramer doll and insist she could make a fortune, but Pat refuses. As they leave, Keller and Dan plan another course of action. The next morning, Vance asks Pat to reconsider the offer because they need the money, but she is sick of products and advertising. Vance feels she is disparaging his work, and leaves. She climbs onto the window to stop him, but falls off the curtain and into the garbage disposal. Pat yells for Concepcion’s assistance, but the maid turns on loud music and does not hear Pat. Concepcion is about to turn on the disposal when the doorbell rings. As Keller’s henchman distracts Concepcion at the front door, someone else sneaks to the back door. Pat crawls out of the garbage disposal, but loses a sneaker in the sink as she is kidnapped. When Concepcion returns to the kitchen, she sees the sneaker, and assumes Pat died in the garbage disposal. Everyone mourns Pat’s death and they bury her shoe in a tiny grave. Meanwhile, Pat is locked in a hamster cage in a laboratory which also imprisons an ape named Sidney, who understands sign language and communicates his affection for Pat. Dr. Ruth arrives and questions the lab technician, Rob, about the monitors, and Rob blames Sidney for tampering with them. Pat learns that Keller, Nortz and Ruth are conspiring, and want Pat’s blood before she disappears. After Ruth leaves, Pat begs Rob to call Vance, but he refuses to get involved. As Rob wanders away, he knocks Pat’s file to the floor. Sidney retrieves the file for Pat, and she reads about Keller’s plan to shrink the rest of the world. When Rob returns, she shows him the evidence, and he agrees to help her. They telephone Vance, but while they talk, the line goes dead. As alarms blare, Pat insists Rob save himself. He promises to return, but Pat and Sidney hear gunfire in the hallway as guards arrive. By afternoon, Pat is too small to be contained by the hamster cage and is placed in a glass container. As Sidney tries to help her escape, Rob crawls inside the room. Though the guards believe he was killed, Rob hid until it was safe to return. Meanwhile, Vance announces on television that his wife is alive and has been kidnapped, but police do not believe him, and a representative from the Organization for World Management denies involvement, insisting Vance is crazy with grief. Keller decides they must kill Pat, but alarms go off again as Pat, Sidney, and Rob escape the laboratory, with the incriminating file. A chase ensues as the three escape through an elevator hatch, and emerge in a restaurant at the shopping center. Pat, Sidney, and Rob run outside, and see Judith outside the grocery store, carrying consumer awareness placards opposite a product demonstration table. Pat is shrinking fast, so Sidney places her on the table and Judith demands everyone listen, including a television reporter. Pat asks Rob to disseminate the evidence, and tells Sidney to take care of Rob. Vance and her children arrive, and Pat says she loves them. She claims to be part of everything and everyone, then shrinks again and disappears. As the crowd disperses, Pat’s tiny dress lands in a pile of spilled products and something bubbles. Later, as Judith leads a candlelight vigil outside the Kramer home, a police car arrives with Pat, who is now normal size. She landed on chemicals and swallowed something that made her grow again. Pat reunites with her family and Vance slides the wedding ring on her finger again, but it will not fit. Her finger is too big, and Pat smiles as her feet grow.

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

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