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HISTORY

According to articles in the 25 Nov 1984 and 12 Jun 1985 LAT, producer Lili Fini Zanuck came across the idea for Cocoon in 1980, when agent Melinda Jason gave her David Saperstein’s unpublished manuscript of the same name. At the time, Lili Zanuck had been working for the Zanuck/Brown Company, fostering relationships with smaller talent agencies that could provide fresh material from less established screenwriters. Her husband and partner, Richard D. Zanuck, agreed to purchase a twelve-month option for roughly $7,500, but the project was quickly sidelined as he and fellow producer David Brown entered production on The Verdict (1982, see entry). When the first draft of Cocoon was completed in late 1981, Twentieth Century Fox president Sherry Lansing was reluctant to proceed, prompting Lili Zanuck to order a rewrite from screenwriter Tom Benedek.
       At the end of 1982, however, Zanuck and Brown terminated their nearly four-year partnership with Fox due to personal conflict with then-chairman Alan Hirschfield. A 20 Apr 1983 Var article indicated that Brown and Zanuck had long been vocal about their limited productivity at Fox, where they each produced an average of just one film per year. Shortly after the Zanuck/Brown Company relocated to Warner Bros. Pictures, Joe Wizan took over as president of Fox and hoped to approve Benedek’s new draft. Despite his enthusiasm, the 19 Oct 1983 Var reported that the studio could not proceed with Cocoon without Brown and Zanuck, who co-owned rights to the property. As a result, the duo postponed their deal with Warner Bros. and returned to Fox to develop the picture under Wizan.
       ... More Less

According to articles in the 25 Nov 1984 and 12 Jun 1985 LAT, producer Lili Fini Zanuck came across the idea for Cocoon in 1980, when agent Melinda Jason gave her David Saperstein’s unpublished manuscript of the same name. At the time, Lili Zanuck had been working for the Zanuck/Brown Company, fostering relationships with smaller talent agencies that could provide fresh material from less established screenwriters. Her husband and partner, Richard D. Zanuck, agreed to purchase a twelve-month option for roughly $7,500, but the project was quickly sidelined as he and fellow producer David Brown entered production on The Verdict (1982, see entry). When the first draft of Cocoon was completed in late 1981, Twentieth Century Fox president Sherry Lansing was reluctant to proceed, prompting Lili Zanuck to order a rewrite from screenwriter Tom Benedek.
       At the end of 1982, however, Zanuck and Brown terminated their nearly four-year partnership with Fox due to personal conflict with then-chairman Alan Hirschfield. A 20 Apr 1983 Var article indicated that Brown and Zanuck had long been vocal about their limited productivity at Fox, where they each produced an average of just one film per year. Shortly after the Zanuck/Brown Company relocated to Warner Bros. Pictures, Joe Wizan took over as president of Fox and hoped to approve Benedek’s new draft. Despite his enthusiasm, the 19 Oct 1983 Var reported that the studio could not proceed with Cocoon without Brown and Zanuck, who co-owned rights to the property. As a result, the duo postponed their deal with Warner Bros. and returned to Fox to develop the picture under Wizan.
       At the time, Robert Zemeckis was attached to direct, but he lost favor with Fox amid disputes over an early cut of Romancing the Stone (1984, see entry). Although the film went on to become the studio’s biggest hit of 1984, Zanuck was forced to fire Zemeckis if he wanted Cocoon to be made. On 14 Mar 1984, Var announced that Ron Howard, fresh off the critical and commercial success of Splash (1984, see entry), had been hired as his replacement, allowing production to finally move ahead. According to production notes in AMPAS library files, Howard made “extensive revisions” to the script to emphasize the relationships between the “Antarean” aliens and the human characters, but he does not receive onscreen credit for this role. In Jul 1984, Wizan was replaced by Larry Gordon, joined by Barry Diller, who championed the film’s prospects.
       Principal photography began 20 Aug 1984 in St. Petersburg, FL. In addition to the city streets and parks, locations included two retirement communities, a forty-acre bayside estate, The Coliseum ballroom, and Confetti’s nightclub. A 9 Nov 1984 Back Stage news item indicated that filming continued in Florida until 29 Oct 1984, when the crew relocated to the Bahamas for the remainder of production. Although several early reports estimated a $13 million budget, the 12 Jun 1985 LAT listed a final cost of $17.5 million. Howard received $1 million to direct, in addition to a share of the film’s gross profits.
       On 26 Dec 1984, Var reported that Fox had decided to move up the scheduled Christmas 1985 release date to 19 Jul 1985, believing that Cocoon would perform better without the competition of other holiday films, which included the studio’s own Enemy Mine and The Jewel of the Nile (see entries). The opening was later brought forward nearly a month, to 21 Jun 1985.
       The 26 Apr 1985 Beverly Hills Courier stated that the premiere was scheduled to take place 21 Jun 1985, at the AMPAS Samuel Goldwyn Theater. Proceeds were donated to the Institute for Cancer and Blood Research in Beverly Hills, CA. Conflicting reports in the 4 Jun 1985 DV and 16 Jun 1985 Boston Globe indicated that the film opened in anywhere from 800--1,000 theaters, 150 of which screened 70mm prints. However, a 26 Jun 1985 box-office report in Toronto, Canada’s The Globe and Mail listed opening weekend earnings of $7.9 million from 1,140 theaters across North America.
       The film received Academy Awards for Visual Effects and Actor in a Supporting Role (Don Ameche).
       In 1988, Fox and the Zanuck/Brown Company collaborated once again for Cocoon: The Return (see entry). Although the entirety of the principal cast reprised their roles, the sequel was unable to achieve the critical acclaim and financial success of its predecessor.
       End credit acknowldgments state: “The Producers wish to thank the government of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas for its cooperation in the filming of this motion picture.”; and, “Do It Debbie’s Way video clip courtesy of Debbie Reynolds.” More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Back Stage
9 Nov 1984
p. 52.
Beverly Hills Courier
26 Apr 1985.
---
Boston Globe
16 Jun 1985
Section A, p. 1.
Daily Variety
28 Sep 1984
p. 6, 16.
Daily Variety
4 Jun 1985.
---
Hollywood Reporter
13 Jun 1985
p. 3, 32.
Los Angeles Times
25 Nov 1984
Calendar, p. 20.
Los Angeles Times
12 Jun 1985
Section VI, p. 1, 6.
Los Angeles Times
21 Jun 1985
p. 1, 13.
New York Times
21 Jun 1985
p. 5.
The Globe and Mail
26 Jun 1985
Section S, p. 10.
Variety
20 Apr 1983
p. 5, 22.
Variety
19 Oct 1983
p. 18.
Variety
14 Mar 1984
p. 4.
Variety
26 Dec 1984
p. 4.
Variety
19 Jun 1985
p. 24.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
A Zanuck/Brown Production
A Ron Howard Film
Produced by Fox-Zanuck/Brown Productions
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
Addl 2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Asst cam
Still photog
Key grip
Gaffer
Cam-Chicago
Best boy-Elec
Asst cam, ILM crew
Asst cam, ILM crew
Asst cam, ILM crew
Matte photog, ILM crew
Still photog, ILM crew
Underwater cam, Nassau unit
Underwater cam asst, Nassau unit
Gaffer
Local 40
Dolly grip - Fox
ART DIRECTOR
Prod des
FILM EDITORS
Asst ed
Apprentice ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Leadman
Prop master
Const coord
Matte painting supv, ILM crew
Matte artist, ILM crew
Propmaker foreman
Propmaker foreman
Paint foreman
Paint foreman
Asst prop master
Propmaker foreman
Propmaker
Propmaker
Propmaker
Propmaker
Propmaker
Propmaker
Propmaker
Propmaker
Propmaker
Propmaker
Propmaker
Propmaker
Propmaker
Propmaker
Propmaker
Propmaker
Propmaker
Propmaker
Propmaker
Propmaker
Propmaker
Plasterer
Plasterer
Set painter
Swing gang
Greensman
COSTUMES
Cost supv
Women's costumer
Men's costumer
Seamstress
Seamstress
MUSIC
Mus comp
Scoring mixer
SOUND
Sd mixer
Boom man
Cable man
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Dial ed
Spec sd des by
Spec sd des by
Spec sd des by
Addl dolphin voices
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
ILM visual eff supv
Visual eff prod supv
Conceptual artist
Cocoons and dolphin eff created by
Spec alien creatures and eff by
Spec creature consultant
Spec eff coord
Visual eff art dir, ILM crew
Visual eff cam, ILM crew
Opt supv, ILM crew
Supv modelmaker, ILM crew
Visual eff ed, ILM crew
Opt cam op, ILM crew
Opt cam op, ILM crew
Opt cam op, ILM crew
Opt lineup, ILM crew
Opt lineup, ILM crew
Opt lineup, ILM crew
Asst eff ed, ILM crew
Asst eff ed, ILM crew
Cannom creature eff crew, Robert Short Productions
Cannom creature eff crew, Robert Short Productions
Cannom creature eff crew, Robert Short Productions
Cannom creature eff crew, Robert Short Productions
Cannom creature eff crew, Robert Short Productions
Cannom creature eff crew, Robert Short Productions
Cannom creature eff crew, Robert Short Productions
Titles by
Spec eff
DANCE
Spec mus and dance coord
Alien movement choreog
Dance consultant
Dance consultant
MAKEUP
Hairstylist
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Marine coord
Loc mgr
Transportation coord
Transportation coord
Prod coord
Asst auditor
Asst to Mr. Howard
Casting-Florida
Public relations by
Unit pub
Voice casting
Gen mgr, ILM
Prod coord, ILM crew
Stage mgr, ILM crew
Supv stage tech, ILM crew
Cloud tank tech, ILM crew
Equip eng supv, ILM crew
Const supv, Robert Short Productions
Underwater consultant, Nassau unit
Dolphin trainer, Nassau unit
Dolphin trainer, Nassau unit
Diving services, Nassau unit
Diving services, Nassau unit
Transportation coord, Nassau unit
Secy to Richard D. Zanuck
Secy to Richard D. Zanuck
Secy to David Brown
Secy to Lili Fini Zanuck
Casting asst
Transportation capt
First aid
Caterer - Michelson's
Caterer's helper
Prod asst
American Film Institute intern
Prod liaison
Craft service
Transportation capt
Transportation cocapt
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
STAND INS
Stunt coord
ANIMATION
Anim supv, ILM crew
Stop motion supv, ILM crew
Rotoscope artist, ILM crew
Rotoscope artist, ILM crew
Rotoscope artist, ILM crew
Modelmaker, ILM crew
Modelmaker, ILM crew
Modelmaker, ILM crew
Modelmaker, ILM crew
Stop motion tech, ILM crew
Stop motion tech, ILM crew
Stop motion tech, ILM crew
Stop motion tech, ILM crew
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col by
SOURCES
SONGS
"Gravity," performed by Michael Sembello, courtesy of A&M Records, produced by Richard Rudolph and Michael Sembello, Dance Track composed by James Horner, arranged and produced by Jay Gruska.
PERFORMER
COMPOSER
DETAILS
Release Date:
21 June 1985
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles premiere: 21 June 1985
Los Angeles and New York openings: 21 June 1985
Production Date:
began 20 August 1984
Copyright Claimant:
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Copyright Date:
18 July 1985
Copyright Number:
PA254160
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Lenses/Prints
Lenses and Panaflex® Cameras by Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
117
MPAA Rating:
PG-13
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
27429
SYNOPSIS

Following the appearance of a mysterious blue light off the coast of Florida, a group of strangers arrive in the city of St. Petersburg and charter a boat belonging to struggling fishing captain Jack Bonner. Led by a man named Walter, the strangers dive to the ocean floor and retrieve several large chunks of rock, which they store in the swimming pool of an abandoned house. Their peculiar behavior rouses the interest of Art Selwyn, Ben Luckett, and Joe Finley—members of the Sunny Shores retirement community who frequently trespass on the property to swim. Ignoring the rocks, the ailing men discover the water contains a rejuvenating “life force” that gives them incredible energy, and eventually pushes Art’s cancer into remission. As they embrace their renewed vitality, Art becomes romantically involved with Bess McCarthy, the Sunny Shores dance instructor, while Ben and Joe rekindle passion in their respective marriages. Meanwhile, Jack becomes curious about the nature of Walter’s underwater excavations and develops an infatuation with Kitty, a young member of their group. While spying on her undressing in her cabin, Jack is appalled to see Kitty peel back her skin like a suit, revealing a glowing, alien body. As Jack reels in shock, Walter explains that he and the other divers are from a planet called Antarea, which established an outpost on Earth that later became known to humans as the mythical city of Atlantis. When the settlement sank, twenty members of the “ground crew” were left behind amid the chaos of mass evacuation. The Antareans have since returned to retrieve their friends, who are encased in protective, rock-like cocoons. Although frightened, Jack agrees to help them find the remainder ... +


Following the appearance of a mysterious blue light off the coast of Florida, a group of strangers arrive in the city of St. Petersburg and charter a boat belonging to struggling fishing captain Jack Bonner. Led by a man named Walter, the strangers dive to the ocean floor and retrieve several large chunks of rock, which they store in the swimming pool of an abandoned house. Their peculiar behavior rouses the interest of Art Selwyn, Ben Luckett, and Joe Finley—members of the Sunny Shores retirement community who frequently trespass on the property to swim. Ignoring the rocks, the ailing men discover the water contains a rejuvenating “life force” that gives them incredible energy, and eventually pushes Art’s cancer into remission. As they embrace their renewed vitality, Art becomes romantically involved with Bess McCarthy, the Sunny Shores dance instructor, while Ben and Joe rekindle passion in their respective marriages. Meanwhile, Jack becomes curious about the nature of Walter’s underwater excavations and develops an infatuation with Kitty, a young member of their group. While spying on her undressing in her cabin, Jack is appalled to see Kitty peel back her skin like a suit, revealing a glowing, alien body. As Jack reels in shock, Walter explains that he and the other divers are from a planet called Antarea, which established an outpost on Earth that later became known to humans as the mythical city of Atlantis. When the settlement sank, twenty members of the “ground crew” were left behind amid the chaos of mass evacuation. The Antareans have since returned to retrieve their friends, who are encased in protective, rock-like cocoons. Although frightened, Jack agrees to help them find the remainder of the aliens. The next morning, the Antareans catch Ben, Art, and Joe swimming in the pool and shed their human skins, frightening them away. After a few days, the old men notice the rejuvenating effects of the water are wearing away, since they have not returned to the pool. Ben confronts Walter and gains permission to continue swimming, on condition they keep the aliens a secret among their close friends. While many of the seniors use their newfound energy to strengthen their relationships, Joe begins to stray outside his marriage, prompting his wife, Alma, to leave him. Over time, all the other residents of Sunny Shores learn about the water’s rejuvenating powers and stampede toward the pool. Their presence drains the remaining life force from the cocoons, causing two of the submerged Antareans to die. Walter is dismayed that Ben has betrayed his trust, and reveals that the rest of his people will not survive the trip back to Antarea. Ben rallies a group of friends to return the cocoons to their original resting place at the bottom of the ocean so they can regain strength. As a gesture of gratitude, Walter offers to take them and thirty other seniors to Antarea, where they will live eternally as students of the universe. Before departing, Art marries Bess, and Joe reconciles with Alma. Ben confides in his grandson, David, who is later forced to tell his mother of his grandparents’ whereabouts. Upon realizing that nearly all the residents have left, the Sunny Shores desk clerk alerts police. David tracks down Jack’s boat and grabs onto the railing, unknowingly attracting the attention of the U.S. Coast Guard. After bidding his grandparents farewell, the boy jumps into the water, which allows the Antareans sufficient time to escape. Once far enough out to sea, Jack kisses Kitty goodbye and collects his earnings from Walter, who thanks him for the boat. When the Antarean mothership approaches, Jack dives overboard and watches from an inflatable lifeboat as the seniors ascend to the sky. Sometime later, a funeral is held for the missing residents on the grounds of Sunny Shores. Although friends and family presume they died in a shipwreck, David looks knowingly at the clouds and smiles. +

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

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