Explorers (1985)

PG | 109 mins | Adventure, Science fiction | 12 July 1985

Director:

Joe Dante

Writer:

Eric Luke

Cinematographer:

John Hora

Editor:

Tina Hirsch

Production Designer:

Robert Boyle
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HISTORY

End credits include the following: “The third dream sequence is lovingly dedicated to the memory of Edward Peter Hirsh,” and “Special thanks to Mary Kay Place.” Other acknowledgements include: “ I Love Lucy film clips courtesy of Viacom Enterprises; Special thanks to Frank and Caroline Mouris for the use of Frank Film ”; and, “The producers wish to thank the Sonoma County Film/Video Commission and the people of Petaluma, California, for their hospitality and cooperation.”
       According to a 20 Jul 1984 DV news item, Joe Dante was hired to direct Explorers, and announced forthcoming casting calls for the picture’s three leads. The 18 Aug 1984 Screen International reported an open casting call at Paramount Studios for boys ages twelve to fourteen. Production notes in AMPAS library files noted that filmmakers tested over 4,000 boys during a three-month period. The 9 Nov 1984 DV announced that newcomers Ethan Hawke, River Phoenix, and Jason Presson had been hired for the lead roles.
       Principal photography began in Petaluma, CA, on 15 Oct 1984, according to production notes. Filming also occurred in San Rafael, CA, on the Industrial Light and Magic sound stages, before moving to locations in Los Angeles, CA, which included Paramount Studios. Production was complete in Feb 1985.
       The 13 Feb 1985 Var reported Wolfgang Petersen was originally scheduled to direct the picture, but when Petersen requested the production move to his native Germany, Paramount Pictures chose to hire Joe Dante for the $24 million project.
       Following the release of his film, Gremlins (1984, see entry), Dante had planned a ... More Less

End credits include the following: “The third dream sequence is lovingly dedicated to the memory of Edward Peter Hirsh,” and “Special thanks to Mary Kay Place.” Other acknowledgements include: “ I Love Lucy film clips courtesy of Viacom Enterprises; Special thanks to Frank and Caroline Mouris for the use of Frank Film ”; and, “The producers wish to thank the Sonoma County Film/Video Commission and the people of Petaluma, California, for their hospitality and cooperation.”
       According to a 20 Jul 1984 DV news item, Joe Dante was hired to direct Explorers, and announced forthcoming casting calls for the picture’s three leads. The 18 Aug 1984 Screen International reported an open casting call at Paramount Studios for boys ages twelve to fourteen. Production notes in AMPAS library files noted that filmmakers tested over 4,000 boys during a three-month period. The 9 Nov 1984 DV announced that newcomers Ethan Hawke, River Phoenix, and Jason Presson had been hired for the lead roles.
       Principal photography began in Petaluma, CA, on 15 Oct 1984, according to production notes. Filming also occurred in San Rafael, CA, on the Industrial Light and Magic sound stages, before moving to locations in Los Angeles, CA, which included Paramount Studios. Production was complete in Feb 1985.
       The 13 Feb 1985 Var reported Wolfgang Petersen was originally scheduled to direct the picture, but when Petersen requested the production move to his native Germany, Paramount Pictures chose to hire Joe Dante for the $24 million project.
       Following the release of his film, Gremlins (1984, see entry), Dante had planned a short break, but Var reported that he was pursued for six weeks by Paramount executive, Jeffrey Katzenberg. Production notes reported that Dante was won over by Eric Luke’s script, but he faced the challenges of working with minors, as strict State of California Child Labor Laws were enforced. In addition to three hours of mandatory classroom time, children under the age of eighteen could work no more than four hours per day. Filming was often interrupted when the four-hour time was reached.
       According to the 18 Jul 1985 DV, Paramount rushed the film during post-production to release the picture in time for the summer. Dante was reportedly forced to forego color timing in the final cut, in addition to some “could-be-better” shots.
       Explorers was met with mixed reviews, with some deeming the film “refreshing” and others noting a lack of on-screen excitement, despite the adventurous premise. The Sep 1985 Box reported earnings of $3.6 million following the pictures’ release in 1,750 theaters.
       The 13 Mar 2014 HR announced a remake of the 1985 picture was underway at Paramount Pictures, under its low-budget division, Insurge. Producers Josh Appelbaum and Andre Nemec were reported to be attached to the project, and Geoff Moore and Dave Posamentier were named scriptwriters for the upcoming picture; otherwise details about the production were being kept secret. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
Sep 1985.
---
Daily Variety
20 Jul 1984.
---
Daily Variety
19 Oct 1984
p. 6.
Daily Variety
9 Nov 1984.
---
Daily Variety
6 Mar 1985.
---
Daily Variety
18 Jul 1985.
---
Hollywood Reporter
16 Oct 1984.
---
Hollywood Reporter
10 Jul 1985
p. 3, 16.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Mar 2014.
---
LA Weekly
12 Jul 1985.
---
Los Angeles Times
13 Jan 1985.
---
Los Angeles Times
12 Jul 1985
p. 1, 18.
New York Times
12 Jul 1985
p. 10.
Screen International
18 Aug 1984.
---
Variety
13 Feb 1985
p. 7.
Variety
10 Jul 1985
p. 20.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Paramount Pictures presents
An Edward S. Feldman production
Co-produced by Industrial Light & Magic
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Dir
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d unit dir
2d 2d asst dir
2d unit asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Exec prod
WRITER
Wrt
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
2d unit dir of photog
Addl photog
Cam op
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Still photog
Still photog
Chief lighting tech
Asst chief lighting tech
Asst chief lighting tech
Key grip
Grip best boys
Grip best boys
Dolly grip
2d asst cam
2d elec
"B" cam op
2d unit cam asst
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Prod illustrator
FILM EDITORS
Asst ed
Asst ed
Apprentice ed
Apprentice ed
Negative cutting
SET DECORATORS
Const coord
Const foreman
Set des
Set des
Set des
Prop master
Asst prop master
Leadman
Paint foreman
Standby painter
Greensman foreman
Greensman foreman
Prop maker
Swing gang
COSTUMES
Cost des
Women's costumer
Men's costumer
MUSIC
Mus ed
Mus rec mixer
SOUND
Sd eff
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
A.D.R. ed
A.D.R. ed
Prod sd mixer
Boom man
Cable man
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec recordist
Sd eff asst ed
Sd eff asst ed
Sd eff asst ed
Sd eff asst ed
Sd eff rec
Foley by
VISUAL EFFECTS
Visual eff supv
Visual eff coord
Alien spaceship sequence ed by
Spec eff coord
Spec eff foreman
"Starkiller" visual eff
Dir of visual eff photog, ILM
Visual eff art dir, ILM
Matte painting supv, ILM
Model shop supv, ILM
Anim supv, ILM
Supv stage tech, ILM
Visual eff ed, ILM
Prod coord, ILM
General mgr, ILM
Visual eff cam, ILM
Visual eff cam, ILM
Visual eff cam, ILM
Asst cam, ILM
Asst cam, ILM
Asst cam, ILM
Asst cam, ILM
Asst art dir, ILM
Opt cam op, ILM
Opt cam op, ILM
Opt cam op, ILM
Opt cam op, ILM
Opt line-up, ILM
Opt line-up, ILM
Opt line-up, ILM
Opt line-up, ILM
Modelmaker, ILM
Modelmaker, ILM
Modelmaker, ILM
Modelmaker, ILM
Modelmaker, ILM
Modelmaker, ILM
Modelmaker, ILM
Modelmaker, ILM
Asst matte artist, ILM
Matte cam supv, ILM
Matte photog, ILM
Matte photog, ILM
Visual eff anim, ILM
Visual eff anim, ILM
Visual eff anim, ILM
Visual eff anim, ILM
Visual eff anim, ILM
Asst ed, ILM
Asst ed, ILM
Stage coord, ILM
Stage tech, ILM
Stage tech, ILM
Stage tech, ILM
Stage tech, ILM
Stage tech, ILM
Stage tech, ILM
Stage tech, ILM
Stage tech, ILM
Stage tech, ILM
Stage tech, ILM
Character miniature supv, ILM
Character miniature crew, ILM
Character miniature crew, ILM
Equip supv, ILM
Alien characters by
Project coord, Rob Bottin Productions
Head sculptor, Rob Bottin Productions
Lead spec makeup artist, Rob Bottin Productions
Staff shop supv, Rob Bottin Productions
Mechanical eff supv, Rob Bottin Productions
Spec makeup artist, Rob Bottin Productions
Prod asst, Rob Bottin Productions
Lab tech supv, Rob Bottin Productions
Lab cosmetic supv, Rob Bottin Productions
Crew, Rob Bottin Productions
Crew, Rob Bottin Productions
Crew, Rob Bottin Productions
Crew, Rob Bottin Productions
Crew, Rob Bottin Productions
Crew, Rob Bottin Productions
Crew, Rob Bottin Productions
Crew, Rob Bottin Productions
Crew, Rob Bottin Productions
Crew, Rob Bottin Productions
Crew, Rob Bottin Productions
Crew, Rob Bottin Productions
Crew, Rob Bottin Productions
Crew, Rob Bottin Productions
Crew, Rob Bottin Productions
Crew, Rob Bottin Productions
Crew, Rob Bottin Productions
Crew, Rob Bottin Productions
Crew, Rob Bottin Productions
Crew, Rob Bottin Productions
Crew, Rob Bottin Productions
Crew, Rob Bottin Productions
Crew, Rob Bottin Productions
Computer graphic dream simulations and visual disp
[Omnibus Computer Graphics Center, Inc.]
[Omnibus Computer Graphics Center, Inc.]
[Omnibus Computer Graphics Center, Inc.]
[Omnibus Computer Graphics Center, Inc.]
[Omnibus Computer Graphics Center, Inc.]
[Omnibus Computer Graphics Center, Inc.]
[Omnibus Computer Graphics Center, Inc.]
Spec vocal eff
Spec vocal eff
Spec vocal eff
Spec vocal eff
Spec vocal eff
Spec vocal eff
Spec vocal eff
Spec vocal eff
Spec vocal eff
Spec vocal eff
Spec vocal eff
Spec vocal eff
Spec eff tech
Spec eff tech
Spec eff foreman
MAKEUP
Spec make-up eff by
Makeup supv
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Scr supv
Loc mgr
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Animal coord
Animal handler
Asst to Messrs. Dante, Finnell & Winter
Asst to Mr. Jacobson
Office asst
Prod accountant
Asst accountant
Unit pub
Research asst
Casting assoc
Casting assoc
Casting asst
Welfare teachers
Welfare teachers
Video supv
Video tech
Process supv
Process coord
Digital keyboards by
Asst to prod
Asst to prod
Craft service
First aid
Caterers
Caterers, G&G Caterers
Animal handler
Animal handler
Loc projectionist
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stunt pilot
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
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col by
SOURCES
MUSIC
Additional compositions by Leo Robin & Ralph Rainger, Jay Livingston & Ray Evans, Winston Sharples, and Leith Stevens.
SONGS
"All Around the World," by R. Blackwell and M. Millet, performed by Little Richard, courtesy of Specialty Records
"This Boy Needs To Rock," by Jack Blades and Brad Gillis, performed by Night Ranger, courtesy of Camel/MCA Records, Inc.
"Less Than Perfect," by Gene Stashuk and Michael Becker, performed by Red 7, courtesy of MCA Records, Inc.
DETAILS
Release Date:
12 July 1985
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 12 July 1985
Production Date:
15 October 1984--February 1985 in Petaluma and Los Angeles, CA
Copyright Claimant:
Paramount Pictures Corporation
Copyright Date:
12 August 1985
Copyright Number:
PA264745
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Lenses
Camera and lenses by Panavision ®
Duration(in mins):
109
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
27780
SYNOPSIS

Adolescent Ben Crandall awakens from a dream and draws the design of a rocket ship. After, he radios his friend, Wolfgang Müeller, and tells him his dream of flying. The next day, on his way to junior high school, nerdy Wolfgang is bullied by a group of boys, led by Steve Jackson. When Ben steps in and insults Steve, he, too, is targeted by the bully. After school, Steve punches Ben in the face, and a boy named Darren Woods comes to the rescue. Ben follows Darren home to thank him, and learns that Darren’s mother died when he was a child. Ben invites his new friend along to visit Wolfgang, and they are met by the boy’s eccentric family. In Wolfgang’s basement laboratory, the boys share their experiments with Darren, and Ben explains his fascination with outer space. When Wolfgang inputs the information from Ben’s dream into his computer, a strange force shoots out of the monitor, destroying a shelf of books, and the boys vow to keep their unknown experiment a secret. Later, Wolfgang invites Ben back to the lab and tells him they created an invisible force that can destroy anything. Wolfgang makes the force field visible and in the shape of an orb, explaining they can manipulate its shape and size. When Wolfgang’s cat jumps onto the computer keyboard, the orb travels into the neighborhood, causing destruction. Soon, Darren arrives, as Wolfgang frantically tries to control the orb. The mysterious force returns to the lab and smashes into a circuit box. The boys later move their experiment outdoors to a hill, ... +


Adolescent Ben Crandall awakens from a dream and draws the design of a rocket ship. After, he radios his friend, Wolfgang Müeller, and tells him his dream of flying. The next day, on his way to junior high school, nerdy Wolfgang is bullied by a group of boys, led by Steve Jackson. When Ben steps in and insults Steve, he, too, is targeted by the bully. After school, Steve punches Ben in the face, and a boy named Darren Woods comes to the rescue. Ben follows Darren home to thank him, and learns that Darren’s mother died when he was a child. Ben invites his new friend along to visit Wolfgang, and they are met by the boy’s eccentric family. In Wolfgang’s basement laboratory, the boys share their experiments with Darren, and Ben explains his fascination with outer space. When Wolfgang inputs the information from Ben’s dream into his computer, a strange force shoots out of the monitor, destroying a shelf of books, and the boys vow to keep their unknown experiment a secret. Later, Wolfgang invites Ben back to the lab and tells him they created an invisible force that can destroy anything. Wolfgang makes the force field visible and in the shape of an orb, explaining they can manipulate its shape and size. When Wolfgang’s cat jumps onto the computer keyboard, the orb travels into the neighborhood, causing destruction. Soon, Darren arrives, as Wolfgang frantically tries to control the orb. The mysterious force returns to the lab and smashes into a circuit box. The boys later move their experiment outdoors to a hill, out of the way of the neighborhood. When Wolfgang steps away from the controls, Ben commandeers his computer, and accidentally traps Wolfgang inside the orb. Ben fails to control the force field, and it flies across the valley with his friend inside, before it tunnels underground and reemerges in the sky. Ben removes the power cord from the computer’s mobile charger, and Wolfgang falls, laughing, onto a treetop, telling his friends the orb has no inertia inside, so he did not feel the acceleration or the impact. Darren proclaims that with seats, they could fly inside together. Ben suggests a trial run, and takes the orb to the home of his love interest, Lori Swenson. With Wolfgang at the controls, Ben is lifted to her second story window where he watches her talk on the telephone. When Lori hears a noise, Ben is sent crashing to the ground. After she calls out to him, Ben tells the girl he is rescuing a cat. Later, Darren takes his friends to a junkyard, and they acquire an old carnival ride seat, large enough for all three. While rolling the seat home, it crashes in a ravine, but they decide to return there to work on it over the next several nights. Darren steals a beer to christen the ship, The Thunder Road, and they climb inside for their maiden voyage. The ship holds together as they soar above town. However, Wolfgang loses control while hovering over a drive-in movie theater, and the ship crashes into a concession stand before launching back into the sky. Soon, they are sighted by a police helicopter, and ordered to land. When pilot, Charlie Drake, sees the boys wearing oxygen masks, the distortion makes them appear to be aliens. The boys escape at warp speed, before the computer malfunctions again, and Wolfgang declares it is controlling itself and pulling the ship into outer space. Acting quickly, he unplugs the power controls, and returns his friends safely to the ground. Ben excitedly plans their next voyage, but Wolfgang refuses another trip until he can determine where the computer commands are coming from. The next day, the boys discover that police are investigating the unidentified flying object sightings at the drive-in. Charlie Drake is haunted by what he saw, and tells co-pilot, Gordon Miller, about the strange dreams he has been having, which remind him of the dreams he had as a boy. That night, Ben, Wolfgang, and Darren share the same dream, and upon waking, Wolfgang draws a diagram of something he saw. The boys conclude the dream is a message sent from outer space. Charlie later discovers the spacecraft he saw from his helicopter in the ravine, and finds Ben’s jacket inside, with his address written on the collar. Elsewhere, Ben prepares for his next voyage, and says goodbye to his mother. Leaving home, Ben is confronted by Charlie, who reveals his jacket and asks about the spaceship. The boy runs away to meet his friends, and they quickly board the ship. Charlie follows, and as the ship takes flight, he watches with admiration, remembering his own childhood dreams of flight. Soon, the boys travel to outer space and encounter a giant alien spacecraft, which pulls their tiny ship aboard. Ben is filled with excitement, while Darren and Wolfgang express concern. Once inside, the boys explore the alien craft, waiting to meet their hosts. Darren is separated from his friends, and elsewhere, Ben and Wolfgang are examined by a metal, insect-looking device, before they, too, become separated. Wandering around the craft, Ben finds Darren and awakens him from a trancelike state. The boys explore and, at last, encounter an alien, but the slimy creature hides from them. When Ben attempts to communicate, he is surprised when the alien responds with familiar lines from television shows. Elsewhere, Wolfgang bonds with a female alien named Neek, and he introduces the flirtatious creature to Ben and Darren, who arrive with their alien friend, Wak. The boys are amused when Wak reenacts television shows, although Ben is disappointed that this is the extent of their earthling knowledge. Wak and Neek explain they have never visited Earth because of the germs, and how they would be treated if captured. They admit to sending Ben messages through his dreams so they could encounter a real human. As a larger space ship arrives and pulls their spacecraft inside, Wak and Neek usher the boys to their ship and encourage them to leave, although the boys do not understand the hasty send off. Suddenly, a much larger alien appears, and the boys learn he is the father of Wak and Neek. Ben then realizes the alien siblings are youths, like he and his friends. Before departing, the aliens give Ben a trinket, telling him it is, “The stuff that dreams are made of,” and bid the boys farewell. Arriving back home, the force field inexplicably shuts off, and they crash into a lake. Elsewhere, Ben’s love interest, Lori, awakens from a dream and races to the dock. She watches from the bushes as the boys emerge from the water, and their space ship sinks beneath the surface. Later, in class, Lori passes a note to Ben, asking about his voyage. Ben’s trinket begins to glow, and, later, in a dream, he flies above the clouds without a ship, joined by Wolfgang and Darren. Lori then appears, taking Ben’s hand and kissing him while in flight. Ben and Wolfgang wonder aloud what will happen when they awaken from their dream. +

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

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