Harry and the Hendersons (1987)

PG | 111 mins | Comedy, Fantasy, Adventure | 5 June 1987

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HISTORY

Harry and the Hendersons is a comedic look at a family trying to make a pet out of Bigfoot, the legendary giant man-ape creature purported to roam in the remote mountains of the Pacific Northwest. The 14 Jun 1987 LAT reported that writer-director William Dear worked on the screenplay for two years along with the writing team of William E. Martin and Ezra D. Rappaport.
       In 1985, William Dear directed an episode of the science-fiction, horror, and fantasy anthology television series, Amazing Stories (NBC, 29 Sep 1985--10 Apr 1987). Promotional material in AMPAS library files indicated that creator Steven Spielberg was impressed by Dear’s work and asked if he had any upcoming projects. Dear showed him a portion of the script for Harry and the Hendersons, and a drawing of what he imagined the Bigfoot character, “Harry,” should look like.
       Impressed, Spielberg agreed to develop the project for his company, Amblin Entertainment. However, shortly before filming began, Amblin turned production responsibility over to Universal Pictures, the 25 Apr 1986 HR announced. The 17 Jul 1987 LA Weekly suggested that Spielberg removed his name from the film and transferred it to Universal because Dear opted not to follow some of his suggestions.
       Principal photography began on 28 May 1986, according to the 17 Jun 1986 HR production chart. The film shot on location in the Seattle, WA, area for six weeks, with a budget of $10 million. Locations included downtown Seattle, several surrounding neighborhoods, as well as the Cascade Mountains east of Seattle, the town of Index, the Wenatche National Forrest, and North Bend ... More Less

Harry and the Hendersons is a comedic look at a family trying to make a pet out of Bigfoot, the legendary giant man-ape creature purported to roam in the remote mountains of the Pacific Northwest. The 14 Jun 1987 LAT reported that writer-director William Dear worked on the screenplay for two years along with the writing team of William E. Martin and Ezra D. Rappaport.
       In 1985, William Dear directed an episode of the science-fiction, horror, and fantasy anthology television series, Amazing Stories (NBC, 29 Sep 1985--10 Apr 1987). Promotional material in AMPAS library files indicated that creator Steven Spielberg was impressed by Dear’s work and asked if he had any upcoming projects. Dear showed him a portion of the script for Harry and the Hendersons, and a drawing of what he imagined the Bigfoot character, “Harry,” should look like.
       Impressed, Spielberg agreed to develop the project for his company, Amblin Entertainment. However, shortly before filming began, Amblin turned production responsibility over to Universal Pictures, the 25 Apr 1986 HR announced. The 17 Jul 1987 LA Weekly suggested that Spielberg removed his name from the film and transferred it to Universal because Dear opted not to follow some of his suggestions.
       Principal photography began on 28 May 1986, according to the 17 Jun 1986 HR production chart. The film shot on location in the Seattle, WA, area for six weeks, with a budget of $10 million. Locations included downtown Seattle, several surrounding neighborhoods, as well as the Cascade Mountains east of Seattle, the town of Index, the Wenatche National Forrest, and North Bend of the middle fork of the Snoqualmie River.
       Although the 28 Apr 1986 DV reported the film planned to use soundstages at the newly opened Pacific Northwest Studios in Seattle, when exterior filming was completed in Washington, the production moved to Los Angeles, CA, to film interiors on soundstages at Universal Studios. The film wrapped in late Sep 1986, as reported by the 30 Sep 1986 DV.
       Sneak previews of Harry and the Hendersons were held on 350 screens 29-30 May 1987, a week before its opening. The 2 Jun 1987 HR claimed that the previews were so well received that Universal Studios planned to hold additional advance screenings on 1,400 screens Wednesday and Thursday, 3-4 Jun 1987.
       Harry and the Hendersons opened on 1,418 screens on 5 Jun 1987, taking in $4.2 million its first three days of release, according to the 19 Jun 1987 HR. While that was a respectable amount, it was below what many people expected from a film associated with Steven Spielberg and Amblin Entertainment. As a result, Universal changed its advertising campaign. The original print ads, which featured a closeup of the titular character, lead some people to believe it was a horror film. Consequently, a new print campaign was used featuring the Henderson family and a lovable looking Harry riding in the family station wagon to convey the idea it was a comedy.
       However, five weeks after its release, the film had grossed only $22.8 million. Amblin's other science fiction comedy, Innerspace (1987, see entry), was released on 1 Jul 1987, and also performed below expectations. A 17 Jul 1987 LA Weekly analysis suggested that the public may have lost its appetite for science fiction and fantasy big-screen movies since they could see similar material every week on Amazing Stories. The article also mused that the genre had temporarily run out of good stories to tell, and that having Spielberg’s name associated with a movie no longer guaranteed quality.
       In Jan 1991, a syndicated half-hour Harry and the Hendersons television comedy series debuted and ran for seventy-two episodes over three seasons. Kevin Peter Hall returned as Harry for the television series, playing the role for sixteen of the first season’s eighteen episodes, until his death from AIDS-related pneumonia.
       In 1991, screenwriting team William E. Martin and Ezra D. Rappaport sued Universal Studios for $10 million for copyright infringement for staging a live “Harry and the Hendersons” show at the Universal theme parks in Los Angeles and Orlando, FL and for having someone dressed as “Harry” mingling among the crowds at the theme parks. The 2 Aug 1991 DV reported that Martin and Rappaport had sold the film and television rights to William Dear’s Dearfilm Inc. in 1986, but retained the rights to any live performances with the characters. Universal bought the rights from Dearfilm shortly before the movie was released. No further information was found about this lawsuit.
       End credits state: “‘The Addams Family’ fotage provided courtesy of Orion Television Inc. and Worldwide Enterprises Inc.”; and, "Special Thanks: The Riot Act; Alaska Airlines; Pacific Northwest Studios, Inc.; U.S. Forest Service, Washington State; Washington State Department of Transportation; City of Seattle; Washington State Film Office; Doug Howard; Dana Middleton; Flosi Siguardsson; Peter Herald; and of course, Bigfoot." More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
28 Apr 1986.
---
Daily Variety
30 Sep 1986.
---
Daily Variety
28 May 1987.
---
Daily Variety
2 Aug 1991.
---
Hollywood Reporter
25 Apr 1986.
---
Hollywood Reporter
17 Jun 1986.
---
Hollywood Reporter
2 Jun 1987
p. 3, 8.
Hollywood Reporter
28 May 1987
p. 3, 18.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Jun 1987.
---
LA Weekly
17 Jul 1987.
---
Los Angeles Times
5 Jun 1987
p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
14 Jun 1987.
---
New York Times
5 Jun 1987
p. 14.
Variety
27 May 1987
p. 10.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
A Universal/Amblin Entertainment production
A William Dear film
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
DGA trainee
Dir, 2d unit
Unit prod mgr, 2d unit
1st asst dir, 2d unit
PRODUCERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Steadicam op
1st asst cam
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
2d asst cam
2d asst cam
Still photog
Chief lighting tech
Asst chief lighting tech
Asst chief lighting tech
Key grip
Dolly grip
Crane grip
Company grip
Addl photog, 2d unit
Cam op, 2d unit
1st asst cam, 2d unit
2d asst cam, 2d unit
Gaffer, 2d unit
Key grip, 2d unit
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
Prod illustrator
FILM EDITORS
Addl ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
TV news montage
Negative cutter
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Lead person
Prop master
Const coord
Const foreman (Seattle)
Const foreman (L.A.)
Paint foreman
Stand-by painter
Greensman
Greensman
COSTUMES
Cost supv
Men's costumer
Ward asst
MUSIC
Mus ed
Band arrangements
Scoring mixer
Scoring crew
Scoring crew
Scoring crew
SOUND
Sd mixer
Boom op
Utility sd tech
Supv sd ed
Supv re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Apprentice sd ed
ADR ed
ADR mixer
Foley
Foley ed
Foley mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
'Harry' des by
Spec eff supv
Spec eff foreman
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Opticals by
Addl visual eff, Magic Lantern Productions
Addl visual eff
Puppeteer, "Harry" crew
Puppeteer, "Harry" crew
Puppeteer, "Harry" crew
Head mold maker, "Harry" crew
Asst, "Harry" crew
Asst, "Harry" crew
Asst, "Harry" crew
Asst, "Harry" crew
Head hair dept, "Harry" crew
Asst, "Harry" crew
Asst, "Harry" crew
Asst, "Harry" crew
Head tailor, "Harry" crew
Asst, "Harry" crew
Asst, "Harry" crew
Head mechanic, "Harry" crew
Asst, "Harry" crew
Sculoptor, "Harry" crew
Sculoptor, "Harry" crew
Painter, "Harry" crew
Painter, "Harry" crew
Hair puncher, "Harry" crew
Hair puncher, "Harry" crew
Latex foam tech, "Harry" crew
Shop asst, "Harry" crew
Gen mgr, "Harry" crew
Locomotrix choreog, "Harry" crew
Animal movement coord, "Harry" crew
Physical trainer, "Harry" crew
Prod, End credit anim seq
Art dir, End credit anim seq
Illustrator, End credit anim seq
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Casting
Casting
Mr. Dear's staff
Mr. Dear's staff
Loc mgr (Seattle)
Asst loc mgr
Loc asst
Loc mgr (L.A.)
Loc mgr (L.A.)
Loc mgr (L.A.)
Craft service
Craft service
Unit pub
Studio teacher
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Transportation co-capt
Insert car driver
Prod auditor
Loc auditor
Prod coord
Asst to Mr. Vane
Asst to Mr. Vane
Prod secy
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Animal trainer
Animal trainer (Seattle)
Caterer
Scr supv, 2d unit
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stunt coord
Voice & vocal eff
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
COLOR PERSONNEL
Film processed by
Film processed by
Col timer
Col by
SOURCES
SONGS
“Love Lives On,” music by Barry Mann and Bruce Broughton, lyrics by Cynthia Weil and Will Jennings, performed by Joe Cocker, produced by Dan Hartman and Charlie Midnight, Joe Cocker appears courtesy of Capitol Records, coordinator for Mann/Weil Steve Tyrell
“Your Feet’s Too Big,” written by Ada Benson and Fred Fisher
“Short People,” written and performed by Randy Newman, courtesy of Warner Bros. Records, Inc., by arrangement with Warner Special Products
+
SONGS
“Love Lives On,” music by Barry Mann and Bruce Broughton, lyrics by Cynthia Weil and Will Jennings, performed by Joe Cocker, produced by Dan Hartman and Charlie Midnight, Joe Cocker appears courtesy of Capitol Records, coordinator for Mann/Weil Steve Tyrell
“Your Feet’s Too Big,” written by Ada Benson and Fred Fisher
“Short People,” written and performed by Randy Newman, courtesy of Warner Bros. Records, Inc., by arrangement with Warner Special Products
“I’m Just Wild About Harry,” written by Eubie Blake and Noble Sissle.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
5 June 1987
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 5 June 1987
Production Date:
28 May--late September 1986
Copyright Claimant:
Universal City Studios, Inc., and U-Drive, Inc. (U-Drive Productions, Inc.)
Copyright Date:
26 June 1987
Copyright Number:
PA334848
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Lenses
Panaflex® Camera and Lenses by Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
111
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

Returning from a camping trip in the mountains fifty miles east of Seattle, Washington, the Henderson family hits a tall, hairy ape-like creature walking on two feet with their station wagon. Father George Henderson determines that they killed the beast, while young son Ernie Henderson suggests it may be the legendary Bigfoot. Mother Nancy Henderson worries they have killed the last of the species, so the family hoists the creature on top of the station wagon to take home, believing they have a major scientific discovery, even if it is dead. Once home in Seattle, the family goes to sleep, but is awakened by the creature, which is still alive, plundering their kitchen for food. Scared, the family runs outside, while the creature destroys many things in their house. George gets a rifle from the garage, but looking through the telescopic lens into the creature’s eyes, he cannot bring himself to shoot it. As the creature continues to wreak havoc, George telephones police reporting Bigfoot is in his house, but they think it is a prank call. When busybody neighbor, Irene Moffitt, drops by to return their dog which she watched while they were away, the family lures the creature to the basement to hide it. Once she leaves, the creature calms down and is friendly. Nancy tends to its wounds and the family wonders if they can exploit the monster for money. Over time, the Hendersons treat the creature like a pet and teach him tricks, but eventually decide the best place for the creature is in the woods. George throws some fast food into the family station wagon in attempt to lure the creature into the ... +


Returning from a camping trip in the mountains fifty miles east of Seattle, Washington, the Henderson family hits a tall, hairy ape-like creature walking on two feet with their station wagon. Father George Henderson determines that they killed the beast, while young son Ernie Henderson suggests it may be the legendary Bigfoot. Mother Nancy Henderson worries they have killed the last of the species, so the family hoists the creature on top of the station wagon to take home, believing they have a major scientific discovery, even if it is dead. Once home in Seattle, the family goes to sleep, but is awakened by the creature, which is still alive, plundering their kitchen for food. Scared, the family runs outside, while the creature destroys many things in their house. George gets a rifle from the garage, but looking through the telescopic lens into the creature’s eyes, he cannot bring himself to shoot it. As the creature continues to wreak havoc, George telephones police reporting Bigfoot is in his house, but they think it is a prank call. When busybody neighbor, Irene Moffitt, drops by to return their dog which she watched while they were away, the family lures the creature to the basement to hide it. Once she leaves, the creature calms down and is friendly. Nancy tends to its wounds and the family wonders if they can exploit the monster for money. Over time, the Hendersons treat the creature like a pet and teach him tricks, but eventually decide the best place for the creature is in the woods. George throws some fast food into the family station wagon in attempt to lure the creature into the car. Little Ernie gets upset that the creature is leaving. George tries to calm Ernie by naming the creature “Harry,” and explains that he is safer in the woods than in the city. However, while George is comforting Ernie, Harry gets out of the car and wanders into the city. Harry breaks into someone else’s house looking for food. The next morning, a television talk show discusses the recent Bigfoot sighting in the city. George wants to scour the city looking for Harry, but Nancy sends her husband to work. At Henderson & Son, an outdoor sporting goods store owned by George’s father, George Henderson, Sr., French hunter Jacques Lafleur comes in to buy ammunition. George Sr. tells his son that Lafleur is determined to kill Bigfoot and comes to buy bullets whenever there is a reported sighting. George Sr. comments that Lafleur was a Class A hunter before he became obsessed with Bigfoot. George checks out books about Bigfoot from the local library. He is distressed that the books all make Bigfoot out to be some kind of monster, except for one academic journal article written by anthropologist Wallace Wrightwood, which treats him with some respect. George visits Wrightwood at his Bigfoot Museum and gift shop in the mountains, posing as someone who is interested in his research. George asks, hypothetically, if it would be possible to have Bigfoot for a pet. Wrightwood replies that Bigfoot may be a primitive ancestor of modern man, but he is still very much an animal. Wanting his store to become a headquarters for all Bigfoot related information, George Henderson, Sr., puts up a map of all the recent sightings and many people come in to buy guns and ammunition to protect themselves. As the television news interviews the latest person to spot Bigfoot, George goes to confront him, suggesting that Bigfoot was likely scared. That night, as Harry wanders through the city, he stops at an appliance store that has televisions playing in the window. When Harry sees George on the television news, he breaks the store window to get to George and becomes frustrated when George is not there. After police cordon off the area, Jacques Lafleur searches for Harry and finds him hiding in a trash dumpster, but George comes to his rescue before Lafleur can shoot. George brings Harry home and the family gives him a bath in Irene Moffitt’s swimming pool. The Hendersons are happy to have Harry back, but realize they must get him to a safe place. George invites Dr. Wallace Wrightwood to dinner and introduces him to Harry. Wrightwood is delighted to finally meet Bigfoot in person and says he knows of a secluded wilderness area that will be good for Harry. As the family loads Harry into Wrightwood’s truck, Jacques Lafleur arrives trying to kill him. They subdue Lafleur and escape safely with Harry, but the hunter follows them. In the mountains, the Hendersons send Harry back into the woods, but Lafleur is close behind. The family makes lots of Bigfoot footprints in the snow to fool Lafleur, but he finds Harry nonetheless. Harry breaks all of Lafleur’s guns and terrifies the hunter. George grabs Lafleur and repeatedly shoves him against the car, saying he will not allow the hunter to kill Harry. Harry intervenes, cradling Lafleur to indicate they are now friends. Lafleur decides that meeting Harry has diminished his obsession with killing him. Wrightwood and Lafleur believe this has been one of the most exciting moments in their lives. The Hendersons say their goodbyes to Harry. When George says, “Take care of yourself now, OK?” Harry replies, “OK,” and everyone is stunned that Harry has language skills. Harry wanders into the forest and several similar creatures emerge from the trees to greet him. +

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

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