Toys (1992)

PG-13 | 123 mins | Comedy, Fantasy | 18 December 1992

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HISTORY

Toys was scheduled to be the directorial debut for screenwriter Barry Levinson, who developed the story in the late 1970s with his co-writer and then wife, Valerie Curtin, after reading a newspaper article stating that Russian naval intelligence had gained secret information about American nuclear submarines by studying model submarine kits. According to the 13 Dec 1992 NYT, the couple initially found the idea absurd, but the notion stuck. They wrote their screenplay about children’s toys being used as military weapons on “spec,” and sold the idea to Twentieth Century Fox.
       The 14 Jan 1980 DV announced an Apr 1980 start date for the $6-$7 million production, which had a ten-week shooting schedule in Northern California and Los Angeles, CA. Levinson was to direct, and an Easter 1981 release was planned. Six weeks before filming was set to start, however, the Fox team that approved Toys Paula Weinstein, Lucy Fisher, and Sandy Lieberson – were fired as new management took over. Sherry Lansing, the new studio head, did not want to take a chance on an unproven director and cancelled the production.
       Levinson moved on to make his directorial debut with the critically acclaimed Diner (1982, see entry), but took Toys to other studios. In Jan 1982, CBS Theatrical Films announced that Toys was one of thirty-nine films it planned to produce in the next several years, the 23 Jan 1982 Screen International reported.
       Still, the project remained in limbo as Levinson built his career throughout the 1980s. On 3 Apr 1987, HR announced that that Toys ... More Less

Toys was scheduled to be the directorial debut for screenwriter Barry Levinson, who developed the story in the late 1970s with his co-writer and then wife, Valerie Curtin, after reading a newspaper article stating that Russian naval intelligence had gained secret information about American nuclear submarines by studying model submarine kits. According to the 13 Dec 1992 NYT, the couple initially found the idea absurd, but the notion stuck. They wrote their screenplay about children’s toys being used as military weapons on “spec,” and sold the idea to Twentieth Century Fox.
       The 14 Jan 1980 DV announced an Apr 1980 start date for the $6-$7 million production, which had a ten-week shooting schedule in Northern California and Los Angeles, CA. Levinson was to direct, and an Easter 1981 release was planned. Six weeks before filming was set to start, however, the Fox team that approved Toys Paula Weinstein, Lucy Fisher, and Sandy Lieberson – were fired as new management took over. Sherry Lansing, the new studio head, did not want to take a chance on an unproven director and cancelled the production.
       Levinson moved on to make his directorial debut with the critically acclaimed Diner (1982, see entry), but took Toys to other studios. In Jan 1982, CBS Theatrical Films announced that Toys was one of thirty-nine films it planned to produce in the next several years, the 23 Jan 1982 Screen International reported.
       Still, the project remained in limbo as Levinson built his career throughout the 1980s. On 3 Apr 1987, HR announced that that Toys was one of twenty-five movies Columbia Pictures planned to produce in the coming year under the recently installed studio chief, David Puttnam. However, Fox's then president, Leonard Goldberg, refused to give up the rights to Toys when he learned of Columbia’s interest.
       While Levinson directed Robin Williams in Good Morning, Vietnam (1987, see entry), the actor became interested in playing the lead, the 6 Jan 1988 Long Beach Press Telegram reported. With a star attached, Fox considered making the film with a $20 million budget. The studio finally approved the project in 1990, once Joe Roth replaced Barry Diller as the studio head. Levinson told the 13 Mar 1992 NYT that he had planned to make Toys before directing Bugsy (1991, see entry), but pre-production delays forced him to move ahead with Bugsy.
       Principal photography began on 25 Feb 1992, according to a 20 Mar 1992 DV production chart, and ended in late Jun 1992, according to the 13 Dec 1992 LAT. The film had fifty to sixty sets on five sound stages on the Fox lot in Los Angeles, and the set was closed throughout filming, the 14 Apr 1992 DV reported. Location shooting took place in the Palouse River Valley in southeastern Washington. While he 13 Dec 1992 NYT listed a $40 million budget, the 17 Mar 1992 DV said the final cost was reduced to $30 million when Levinson, Williams, and producer Mark Johnson agreed to defer their salaries.
       Toys opened on 1,272 screens on 18 Dec 1992, grossing $4.8 million its opening weekend, according to a 22 Dec 1992 DV box office report.
       Reviews were mixed, but tended to be negative. The 18 Dec 1992 NYT called it a “magnificent mess,” while the 18 Dec 1992 LAT commented that it was “an earnest attempt to create an enduring fable [that] ends up a monument to tedium, the kind of soggy marshmallow that could make a Scrooge out of anyone.” The 18 Dec 1992 DV said, “only a filmmaker with Barry Levinson’s clout would have been so indulged to create such a sprawling, seemingly unsupervised mess as Toys.” However, the 18 Dec 1992 HR praised the film saying, “Toys will undoubtedly confound those seriosos who mistakenly equate hypertensive narrative with deep complexity. Yet, if you want to get serious about it, it’s Levinson’s version of Brazil; A minimalist contraption about a factory of happy innocents who must fend off a military mindset. Best about Toys, you don’t have to have your thinking cap on to appreciate the depth of all the screwy stuff that spills out.”
       The 31 Jan 1992 Screen International reported that actors Tracy Ullman and Jonathan Winters were part of the cast, but neither appeared onscreen.
       Despite its poor critical reception, Toys received Academy Award nominations for Best Costume Design and Best Art Direction.
       End credits state: “Fortunato Depero Artwork courtesy of Museo D’Arte Moderna e Contemporoneo di Trento e Rovereto, Italy/VAGA, New York/SIAE, Rome; MTV: Music Television Logo used courtesy of MTV Network © 1992 MTV Networks, All rights reserved; ‘Tank Gunner’ video game footage created by Absolute Entertainment, Inc."; and, "The Producers with to thank: Madame Alexander Dolls and Hildegard Gunzel Dolls; Steiff USA, L. P.; Marx Toys." More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
Jan 1993
pp. 12-13.
Daily Variety
14 Jan 1980
p. 1, 41.
Daily Variety
17 Mar 1992.
---
Daily Variety
20 Mar 1992.
---
Daily Variety
14 Apr 1992.
---
Daily Variety
18 Dec 1992
p. 4, 68.
Daily Variety
22 Dec 1992.
---
Hollywood Drama-Logue
14-20 Jan 1993
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Apr 1987
p.1, 8.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Dec 1992
p. 6, 53.
Long Beach Press-Telegram
6 Jan 1988
Section C, p. 4.
Los Angeles Times
20 Mar 1992.
---
Los Angeles Times
13 Dec 1992.
---
Los Angeles Times
18 Dec 1992
p. 1.
New York Times
13 Mar 1992.
---
New York Times
13 Dec 1992
Section H, p. 11, 21.
New York Times
18 Dec 1992
Section C, p. 1.
Screen International
23 Jan 1982
p. 8.
Screen International
31 Jan 1992.
---
Variety
21 Dec 1992
p. 60.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Twentieth Century Fox presents
A Baltimore Pictures production
A Barry Levinson Film
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
Addl 1st asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
DGA trainee
PRODUCERS
Co-prod
Co-prod
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Cam op
1st asst cam
1st asst cam
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
2d asst cam
Still photog
Gaffer
Best boy elec
Best boy elec
Key grip
Best boy grip
Best boy grip
Video playback
Video and graphic displays by
Video Image
Video Image
Video Image
Video Image
Video Image coord
Video Image crew
Video Image crew
Video Image crew
Video Image crew
Video Image crew
Video Image crew
Video Image crew
Video Image crew
Video Image crew
Video Image crew
Grip equip supplied by
Cam equip supplied by
Cranes and dollies by
ART DIRECTORS
Asst art dir
Asst art dir
Art dept coord
Illustrator
FILM EDITORS
Assoc ed
Asst ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Leadman
Prop master
Prop master
Asst prop master
Asst prop master
Set des
Set des
Set des
Set des
Set des
Set des
Scenic artist
Scenic artist
Scenic artist
Scenic artist
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Const coord
Const gen foreman
Gen foreman
Gen foreman
Propmaker foreman
Propmaker foreman
Propmaker foreman
Propmaker foreman
Propmaker foreman
Plaster supv
Plaster foreman
Paint supv
Paint foreman
Paint foreman
Paint foreman
Labor gen foreman
Labor foreman
Labor foreman
Labor foreman
Greensman
Mill foreman
Mill gang boss
Medic, Const
Manhattan Detroit lead
Sea swine lead
Lead painter
Miniature zero mansion lead
Sculptor
Sculptor
Prop/Model maker
Prop/Model maker
Prop/Model maker
COSTUMES
Cost des
Asst cost des
Men's cost supv
Women's cost supv
Men's set cost
Women's set cost
Costumer for Mr. Williams
MUSIC
Mus comp & arr
Mus comp & arr
Mus supv
Asst mus ed
Mus contractor
Orch conducted by
Addl mus
Addl mus
Score rec and mixed by
Orch rec by
Sounds by
Featured vocalist
Addl vocals
Addl vocals
Solo guitar by
Uillean pipes by
Score wrangler
Asst to composers
Mus playback
Playback op
Pageant coord
SOUND
Sd des
Mixer
Boom op
Post prod sd services
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Supv sd ed
Sd effects ed
Sd effects ed
Dial ed
Dial ed
ADR ed
Foley ed
Foley ed
Asst sd des
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Foley artist
Foley artist
Foley rec
This film mixed and rec in a
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff coord
Spec eff foreman
Spec eff foreman
Spec eff foreman
Spec eff foreman
Medic, Spec eff
Visual eff and post prod supv
Digital visual eff & anim
Digital eff supv, Pacific Data Images
Digital eff prod, Pacific Data Images
Digital eff prod, Pacific Data Images
Exec prod, Pacific Data Images
Exec prod, Pacific Data Images
Tech dir, Pacific Data Images
Performance anim
Anim, Pacific Data Images
Anim, Pacific Data Images
Anim, Pacific Data Images
Anim, Pacific Data Images
Anim, Pacific Data Images
Compositing, Pacific Data Images
Prod mgr, Pacific Data Images
Lineup, Pacific Data Images
Software development, Pacific Data Images
Spec visual eff by
Visual eff supv, DQI
Visual eff prod, DQI
Visual eff exec prod, DQI
DQ post prod supv
Opt supv, DQI
Digital supv, DQI
Digital coord, DQI
Rotoscope supv, DQI
Pyrotechnics, DQI
Prod coord, DQI
Addl toys and miniature eff provided by
Addl toys and miniature eff provided by, Stetson V
Addl toys and miniature eff provided by, Stetson V
Crew chief, Stetson Visual Services
Mechanical anim lead, Stetson Visual Services
Manhattan detail lead, Stetson Visual Services
Sea Swine lead, Stetson Visual Services
Lead painter, Stetson Visual Services
Miniature Zevo mansion lead, Stetson Visual Servic
Mechanical anim, Stetson Visual Services
Mechanical anim, Stetson Visual Services
Mechanical anim, Stetson Visual Services
Mechanical anim, Stetson Visual Services
Mechanical anim, Stetson Visual Services
Mechanical anim, Stetson Visual Services
Mechanical anim, Stetson Visual Services
Mechanical anim, Stetson Visual Services
Sculptor, Stetson Visual Services
Sculptor, Stetson Visual Services
Prop/Model maker, Stetson Visual Services
Prop/Model maker, Stetson Visual Services
Prop/Model maker, Stetson Visual Services
Spec "Alsatia" character eff by
Rob Bottin prod crew
Rob Bottin prod crew
Rob Bottin prod crew
Rob Bottin prod crew
Rob Bottin prod crew
Rob Bottin prod crew
Opt/Digital eff by
Opt/Digital eff by
Opt/Digital eff by
Opt/Digital eff by
Opt/Digital eff by
Opt/Digital eff by
Opt/Digital eff by
Opt/Digital eff by
Opt/Digital eff by
Opt/Digital eff by
Opt/Digital eff by
Matte paintings by
Titles and opticals
DANCE
Choreog
MAKEUP
Key makeup
Makeup artist
Old age makeup for Mr. Warden
Key hair
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Scr supv
Prod accountant
Prod coord
Asst prod coord
Asst to Mr. Johnson
Asst to Mr. Levinson
Asst to Mr. Williams
Prod secy
Staff shop supv
Asst loc mgr
Toy consultant
Toy consultant
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Transportation capt
1st asst prod accountant
Asst prod accountant
Asst prod accountant
Casting assoc
Extras casting
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Craft service
Set, Medic
ANIMATION
Performance anim
Anim coord
Anim cam
Mechanical anim lead
Mechanical anim
Mechanical anim
Mechanical anim
Mechanical anim
Mechanical anim
Mechanical anim
Mechanical anim
Mechanical anim
COLOR PERSONNEL
Process compositing by
Col by
SOURCES
SONGS
“Winter Reveries,” excerpt from Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 1, arranged and edited by Trevor Horn
“The Closing Of The Year,” written by Trevor Horn and Hans Zimmer, produced by Trevor Horn, performed by The Musical Cast of Toys featuring Wendy & Lisa, Wendy & Lisa appear courtesy of ZIT Records
“Ebudae,” written by Enya and Roma Ryan, produced by Nicky Ryan, performed by Enya, courtesy of Warner Music U.K. Ltd.
+
SONGS
“Winter Reveries,” excerpt from Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 1, arranged and edited by Trevor Horn
“The Closing Of The Year,” written by Trevor Horn and Hans Zimmer, produced by Trevor Horn, performed by The Musical Cast of Toys featuring Wendy & Lisa, Wendy & Lisa appear courtesy of ZIT Records
“Ebudae,” written by Enya and Roma Ryan, produced by Nicky Ryan, performed by Enya, courtesy of Warner Music U.K. Ltd.
“The Happy Worker,” written by Trevor Horn and Bruce Woolley, produced by Trevor Horn, performed by Tori Amos, courtesy of Atlantic Recording Corporation
“Workers,” written by Trevor Horn and Bruce Woolley, produced by Trevor Horn, performed by The Musical Cast of Toys
“Let Joy And Innocence Prevail,” written by Trevor Horn and Hans Zimmer, produced by Trevor Horn and Pat Metheny, performed by Pat Metheny, courtesy of Geffen Records
“The Mirror Song,” written by Trevor Horn, Bruce Woolley and Thomas Dolby, produced by Trevor Horn, performed by Robin Williams and Joan Cusack as “Steve and Yolanda” featuring Thomas Dolby, Thomas Dolby appears courtesy of Giant Records
“Welcome To The Pleasure Dome (Into Battle Mix),” written by Gill/Johnson/Nash/O’Toole, produced by Trevor Horn, Into Bottle Mix by Trevor Horn, Robin Hancock and Tim Weidner, performed by Frankie Goes To Hollywood, courtesy of ZTT Records
“In The Still Of The Night,” written by Fred Parris, “Nessun Dorma” from “Turandot,” written by Giacomo Puccini
“Once In A Lifetime,” written by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
18 December 1992
Premiere Information:
New York and Los Angeles openings: 18 December 1992
Production Date:
25 February--late June 1992
Copyright Claimant:
Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Copyright Date:
15 December 1992
Copyright Number:
PA593117
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Sound
This film mixed and recorded in a THX Sound System Theater
Color
Prints
Prints by DeLuxe®
Duration(in mins):
123
MPAA Rating:
PG-13
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
25932
SYNOPSIS

Near death, Zevo Toys founder Kenneth Zevo summons his brother, Leland Zevo, a three-star military general, to take over as president of the company. Kenneth explains that neither his son, Leslie, nor his daughter, Alsatia, are ready to take charge, but he hopes Leslie will be prepared once Leland retires. Privately, Kenneth tells his assistant, Owen Owens, that putting Leland in charge will force Leslie to grow up and learn to take responsibility. Leland is initially unwilling to leave his beloved military post, but when Kenneth dies, he has no other option but to run the company. After the funeral, Leland tours the factory where staff show off the company’s whimsical toys and novelty items. However, Leland is unimpressed, chiding the inefficient production and eccentric staff, especially his niece, Alsatia, and nephew, Leslie. When Leland learns that industrial espionage is common, he calls in his son, Patrick Zevo, who works in military covert operations, to take over security. Patrick introduces heavy protocols, which make the employees uncomfortable. Leland announces the company will start a line of military toys and deemphasize the existing product. However, he is unhappy with the war toy prototypes. Patrick reminds him that other companies have had years to develop their military toys, so it will take the Zevo designers time to catch up. When Leslie argues that military toys represent a philosophical contradiction with the company’s traditions, Leland agrees to cancel the new line, but says he needs restricted space to work on projects of his own. Leland and his son, Patrick, go a video arcade and see children playing combat video games. Leland dreams of creating remote controlled, toy-sized planes with deadly fighting capability. ... +


Near death, Zevo Toys founder Kenneth Zevo summons his brother, Leland Zevo, a three-star military general, to take over as president of the company. Kenneth explains that neither his son, Leslie, nor his daughter, Alsatia, are ready to take charge, but he hopes Leslie will be prepared once Leland retires. Privately, Kenneth tells his assistant, Owen Owens, that putting Leland in charge will force Leslie to grow up and learn to take responsibility. Leland is initially unwilling to leave his beloved military post, but when Kenneth dies, he has no other option but to run the company. After the funeral, Leland tours the factory where staff show off the company’s whimsical toys and novelty items. However, Leland is unimpressed, chiding the inefficient production and eccentric staff, especially his niece, Alsatia, and nephew, Leslie. When Leland learns that industrial espionage is common, he calls in his son, Patrick Zevo, who works in military covert operations, to take over security. Patrick introduces heavy protocols, which make the employees uncomfortable. Leland announces the company will start a line of military toys and deemphasize the existing product. However, he is unhappy with the war toy prototypes. Patrick reminds him that other companies have had years to develop their military toys, so it will take the Zevo designers time to catch up. When Leslie argues that military toys represent a philosophical contradiction with the company’s traditions, Leland agrees to cancel the new line, but says he needs restricted space to work on projects of his own. Leland and his son, Patrick, go a video arcade and see children playing combat video games. Leland dreams of creating remote controlled, toy-sized planes with deadly fighting capability. He speculates they could decrease the cost of a fighter plane from $450 million per plane to $5,000 by reducing the size, thereby creating a million planes for the cost of one human-sized aircraft. The remote controlled planes could be operated by children on video panels, just like at arcade games. In the following weeks, Leland appropriates more space within the factory until other divisions are shut down entirely, and many toy designers quit. Meanwhile, Owen Owens observes that buses deliver school children to the factory each day, all of whom go to the restricted area where Leland is working on his secret project. Leslie meets Gwen Tyler, who was hired by Kenneth Zevo just before his death to work in the copy room. They flirt, and soon go on dates to the few remaining whimsical areas of the toy factory. Leslie confronts Leland about his restricted space, but the general refuses to give him any answers, and denies that he has hired school children to work in the factory. Leslie steals a security pass to get into Leland’s domain, where he discovers youth at video game stations, doing battle in various war scenarios. Security guards discover Leslie and he runs away, but falls into a water tank where a mechanical toy “sea swine” attacks. Leslie escapes unharmed, but Leland dismisses the monster, saying it is just a new “water toy” he is testing. Military officials from Washington, D.C., tour Leland’s restricted area and are impressed, believing they can get money appropriated to fund the general’s military-style toy planes. Patrick Zevo visits his girl friend, Nurse Debbie, who inadvertently reveals she has also been having an affair with his father, Leland. Debbie also reveals that Patrick’s mother did not die of appendicitis, but was killed while on an undercover mission for Leland to Vietnam, disguised as anti-war sympathizer, actress Jane Fonda. Devastated, Patrick tells his cousins, Leslie and Alsatia, that his father has been making a “deadly war machine.” Leland’s next phase will be to establish daycare centers in poor neighborhoods. There, children will be trained to use computers and lock on military targets. Eventually the youths will fly remote controlled planes on real combat missions, navigating from computers. The cousins and Owen Owens go to the restricted area while Leland monitors them on security cameras. The general sends in small toys, outfitted with real guns and bombs, to attack. The group escapes to a warehouse where the old, whimsical toys Zevo used to produce are stored. The old toys become active and release them to confuse their military counterparts. A battle among the toys ensues, and Leland’s toy tanks break into the warehouse, followed by model helicopters equipped with miniature missiles. Leslie escapes and goes to Leland’s office, where he destroys the main computer, causing the electricity throughout the factory to shut down. Leslie and Leland fight, while the backup generator comes on, activating the mechanical “sea swine.” The monster shoots Alsatia, who turns out to be a robot which Kenneth Zevo created when a young Leslie wanted a sister. The sea swine also attacks Leland, knocking him unconscious. When he comes to, the general is crippled and bedridden. Leslie takes control of the factory, shuts down the military operation, and Zevo Toys resumes manufacturing its signature toys. Patrick returns to the military, while Leslie rebuilds Alsatia. Leslie, Gwen, and Alsatia go Kenneth Zevo’s grave to tell him the company is in good hands now that Leslie is in charge. +

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

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