Dennis the Menace (1993)

PG | 96 mins | Comedy | 25 August 1993

Writer:

John Hughes

Cinematographer:

Thomas Ackerman

Editor:

Alan Heim

Production Designer:

James Bissell

Production Companies:

Warner Bros. Family Entertainment, John Hughes Entertainment
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HISTORY

End credits are accompanied by a scene in which “Dennis Mitchell” terrorizes his mother’s snooty co-worker by catching her blouse inside a copy machine.
       End credits include “Special Thanks to: Mayor’s Office, Chicago Film Office, Illinois Film Office, City & People of Evanston, Evanston Police, E. J. and E. Railroad, Cook County Forest Preserve.”
       According to a 16 Jun 1993 Los Angeles Daily News story, interest in a feature film adaptation of Hank Ketcham’s “Dennis the Menace” comic strip began after the success of John Hughes’s Home Alone (1990, see entry). Although the material had been produced as a live-action television series (CBS Television Network, 4 Oct 1959—22 Sep 1963) and a Saturday morning animated cartoon (CBS, 22 Sep 1986—26 Mar 1988), the 18 Jun 1993 HR stated Ketcham disliked the CBS adaptation because Dennis was depicted as too old. The 21 Jun 1993 HR indicated that in early 1992, Twentieth Century Fox was interested in the property, but Ketcham’s long-time friend Ernest Chambers, who also served as the film’s executive producer, felt the studio’s offer would conflict with the rights to a Dennis the Menace stage musical concurrently in development. Chambers also met with Walt Disney Pictures, and nearly accepted a deal with Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy to produce the film through their company, Amblin’ Entertainment, at Universal Pictures. However, Chambers reconnected with former acquaintance John Schimmel, now an executive at Warner Bros. Pictures. Chambers rejected Production President Terry Semel’s suggestion that Tim Burton direct, but decided to hire John Hughes as writer-producer, since he had an existing contract with the studio. A 14 Jun 1991 ... More Less

End credits are accompanied by a scene in which “Dennis Mitchell” terrorizes his mother’s snooty co-worker by catching her blouse inside a copy machine.
       End credits include “Special Thanks to: Mayor’s Office, Chicago Film Office, Illinois Film Office, City & People of Evanston, Evanston Police, E. J. and E. Railroad, Cook County Forest Preserve.”
       According to a 16 Jun 1993 Los Angeles Daily News story, interest in a feature film adaptation of Hank Ketcham’s “Dennis the Menace” comic strip began after the success of John Hughes’s Home Alone (1990, see entry). Although the material had been produced as a live-action television series (CBS Television Network, 4 Oct 1959—22 Sep 1963) and a Saturday morning animated cartoon (CBS, 22 Sep 1986—26 Mar 1988), the 18 Jun 1993 HR stated Ketcham disliked the CBS adaptation because Dennis was depicted as too old. The 21 Jun 1993 HR indicated that in early 1992, Twentieth Century Fox was interested in the property, but Ketcham’s long-time friend Ernest Chambers, who also served as the film’s executive producer, felt the studio’s offer would conflict with the rights to a Dennis the Menace stage musical concurrently in development. Chambers also met with Walt Disney Pictures, and nearly accepted a deal with Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy to produce the film through their company, Amblin’ Entertainment, at Universal Pictures. However, Chambers reconnected with former acquaintance John Schimmel, now an executive at Warner Bros. Pictures. Chambers rejected Production President Terry Semel’s suggestion that Tim Burton direct, but decided to hire John Hughes as writer-producer, since he had an existing contract with the studio. A 14 Jun 1991 DV article stated that Warner Bros. agreed to pay $100,000 against $1.6 million for the rights to option the property, with $250,000 to Ketcham once the film entered production.
       According to production notes in AMPAS library files, Hughes spent forty days in the spring of 1992 evaluating more than 20,000 video submissions from five and six-year-old boys in a nationwide casting call. Ten finalists were invited to Chicago, IL, to audition opposite Walter Matthau, who had already been cast as “Mr. Wilson.” Dennis the Menace was Mason Gamble’s feature film debut.
       On 1 Jun 1992, DV reported that Hughes had originally chosen Patrick Reed Johnson to direct after seeing his 1990 film, Space Invaders (see entry), but Johnson left the project due to creative differences with Hughes. The next day, DV announced Johnson’s replacement by Nick Castle, who was among the original contenders for the job.
       Although the 9 Jun 1992 HR indicated that production was originally scheduled to begin in Jul 1992, an 18 Aug 1992 HR chart listed a principal photography start date of 3 Aug 1992. Exterior daytime filming took place in the Chicago suburbs of Evanston, Wilmette, Hinsdale, and Elgin, IL, as well as the Cook County forest preserves. The backyards and interiors of the Mitchell and Wilson homes were re-created at an old indoor tennis court, which had been repurposed as a sound stage for Hughes’ Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992, see entry). The train trestle sequence required a set measuring 10,000 square feet and took two months to construct. 150 tons of real swamp grass were transported from Elgin, then fireproofed and painted green. The “river” water was colored brown with a non-toxic paint.
       According to the 21 Dec 1992 HR, Warner Bros. hired Intralink Film Graphic Design President Anthony Goldschmidt to develop a marketing campaign for the still unfinished film, including a computer-generated teaser trailer by Visual Concept Engineering (VCE). The footage played before screenings of Aladdin (1992, see entry) and Home Alone 2: Lost In New York in Nov 1992.
       The 22 Jun 1993 DV reported that the Los Angeles, CA, premiere took place 19 Jun 1993 at Mann’s Chinese Theater, followed by a gala at the Warner Bros. studio. Critical reception was mixed. Dennis the Menace was the first picture released under the Warner Bros. Family Entertainment production division.
       Prior to the film’s opening, the 10 Sep 1992 DV claimed that Matthau had already been signed for a sequel. The following year, Los Angeles Daily News confirmed that Gamble had also agreed to reprise his role onscreen, and various contemporary sources reported the ongoing development of the stage musical for Broadway for a fall 1993 opening. However, neither project was produced. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
14 Jun 1991
p. 1, 48.
Daily Variety
1 Jun 1992
p. 1, 12.
Daily Variety
2 Jun 1992.
---
Daily Variety
10 Sep 1992.
---
Daily Variety
22 Jun 1993.
---
Hollywood Reporter
9 Jun 1992.
---
Hollywood Reporter
18 Aug 1992.
---
Hollywood Reporter
21 Dec 1992.
---
Hollywood Reporter
18 Jun 1993
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Jun 1993
p. 6, 24.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Jun 1993
p. 12.
Los Angeles Daily News
16 Jun 1993
p. 14.
Los Angeles Times
25 Jun 1993
Section F, p. 1, 16.
New York Times
25 Jun 1993
p. 12.
Variety
28 Jun 1993
pp. 22-23.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Warner Bros. presents
a John Hughes production
a Nick Castle film
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
Dir, 2d unit
1st asst dir, 2d unit
1st asst dir, 2d unit
2d asst dir, 2d unit
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
1st asst cam
"B" cam op
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Video playback
Chief lighting tech
Chief lighting tech
Chicago gaffer
Asst chief lighting tech
Rigging gaffer
Key grip
Best boy
Dolly grip
Still photog
Dir of photog, 2d unit
Dir of photog, 2d unit
Dir of photog, 2d unit
1st asst cam, 2d unit
2d asst cam, 2d unit
Gaffer, 2d unit
Gaffer, 2d unit
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
Art dir
Asst art dir
Asst art dir
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Assoc ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Negative cutter
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Leadman
Set des
Swing gang
Swing gang
Prop master
Asst prop master
Const coord
Chicago coord
Const foreman
Standby painter
Garden des consultant
Greens coord
Props, 2d unit
COSTUMES
Cost des
Cost des
Set costumer
MUSIC
Mus comp and cond by
Supv mus ed
Mus ed
Mus scoring mixer
SOUND
Sd mixer
Boom op
Supv sd ed
Supv sd ed
Supv ADR ed
ADR ed
Supv foley ed
Foley ed
Dial ed
Dial ed
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Foley artist
Foley artist
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff coord
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Titles & opticals
Visual eff & anim by
Visual eff supv, Pacific Data Images
Visual eff prod, Pacific Data Images
Exec prod, Pacific Data Images
Anim, Pacific Data Images
Asst anim, Pacific Data Images
Asst anim, Pacific Data Images
Asst anim, Pacific Data Images
Digital scanning tech, Pacific Data Images
Visual eff ed, Pacific Data Images
Matte paintings by
Matte paintings by
Matte paintings by
Spec eff, 2d unit
MAKEUP
Spec makeup
Key makeup
Asst makeup
Key hairstylist
Asst hairstylist
Asst hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Loc mgr
Asst loc mgr
Scr supv
Animals supplied by
Animal coord
Animal trainer
Post prod coord
Research
Prod accountant
Asst accountant
Prod secy
Asst prod secy
Asst prod secy
Asst prod secy
Asst to John Hughes
Asst to Nick Castle
Asst to Richard Vane
Asst to Richard Vane
First aid
Craft service
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Transportation co-capt
Unit pub
Casting asst
Extras casting
Staff asst
Staff asst
Staff asst
Prod aide
Prod aide
Prod aide
Scr supv, 2d unit
STAND INS
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
Col by
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on characters created by Hank Ketcham.
AUTHOR
SONGS
"Whatcha Know Joe," written by James Oliver Young, performed by Jo Stafford, courtesy of Rod McKuen/Stanyan Records
"A String Of Pearls," written by Jerry Gray, performed by Glenn Miller and His Orchestra, courtesy of the RCA/Bluebird Records Labels of BMG Music
"Don't Hang Up," written by Kal Mann and Dave Appell, performed by The Orions, by arrangement with Abkco Records.
DETAILS
Release Date:
25 August 1993
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles premiere: 19 June 1993
Los Angeles and New York opening: 25 June 1993
Production Date:
began 3 August 1992
Copyright Claimant:
Warner Brothers, a division of Time Warner Entertainment Company, LP
Copyright Date:
18 August 1993
Copyright Number:
PA659531
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo® in selected theateres
Color
Lenses
Lenses and Panaflex® camera by Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
96
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
32484
SYNOPSIS

While retrieving the newspaper, George Wilson’s quiet morning is disturbed by the oncoming clanking of his rambunctious neighbor child, five-year-old Dennis Mitchell, riding his tricycle. As the boy wanders into his house, Mr. Wilson hides by jumping into bed and pretending to be asleep. Assuming he is ill, Dennis shoots an aspirin tablet into his mouth with a slingshot, causing him to choke. Frightened, Dennis returns home to his parents, Henry and Alice, who telephone Mr. Wilson to apologize. Despite his anger, Mr. Wilson insists he is not a “grump” for requesting the Mitchells reprimand their son. Later, Mr. Wilson goes to his backyard to admire the rare orchid he intends to show off at his garden club’s upcoming Summer Floraganza event. With Alice returning to work, Dennis is forced to spend his summer afternoons at the house of Margaret Wade, a “bossy” girl he greatly dislikes. Along with Dennis’s friend, Joey, the children pass time repairing a tree house in the forest. Meanwhile, a vagrant robber known as “Switchblade Sam” jumps off a train, looks over the town, and terrorizes several children. One afternoon, Dennis reaches for his confiscated slingshot in the garage and knocks a can of paint off a high shelf. Using a vacuum to clean the mess, Dennis accidentally reverses the suction and spits a blob of paint into Mr. Wilson’s barbeque grill. When his dinner tastes strangely, Mr. Wilson is convinced that Dennis is responsible and sneaks into the Mitchells’ garage to investigate. Inside, Dennis’s babysitters grow frustrated by the boy’s repeated doorbell pranks and booby-trap the front stoop, but inadvertently douse Mr. Wilson in water and baking flour when he approaches the house. ... +


While retrieving the newspaper, George Wilson’s quiet morning is disturbed by the oncoming clanking of his rambunctious neighbor child, five-year-old Dennis Mitchell, riding his tricycle. As the boy wanders into his house, Mr. Wilson hides by jumping into bed and pretending to be asleep. Assuming he is ill, Dennis shoots an aspirin tablet into his mouth with a slingshot, causing him to choke. Frightened, Dennis returns home to his parents, Henry and Alice, who telephone Mr. Wilson to apologize. Despite his anger, Mr. Wilson insists he is not a “grump” for requesting the Mitchells reprimand their son. Later, Mr. Wilson goes to his backyard to admire the rare orchid he intends to show off at his garden club’s upcoming Summer Floraganza event. With Alice returning to work, Dennis is forced to spend his summer afternoons at the house of Margaret Wade, a “bossy” girl he greatly dislikes. Along with Dennis’s friend, Joey, the children pass time repairing a tree house in the forest. Meanwhile, a vagrant robber known as “Switchblade Sam” jumps off a train, looks over the town, and terrorizes several children. One afternoon, Dennis reaches for his confiscated slingshot in the garage and knocks a can of paint off a high shelf. Using a vacuum to clean the mess, Dennis accidentally reverses the suction and spits a blob of paint into Mr. Wilson’s barbeque grill. When his dinner tastes strangely, Mr. Wilson is convinced that Dennis is responsible and sneaks into the Mitchells’ garage to investigate. Inside, Dennis’s babysitters grow frustrated by the boy’s repeated doorbell pranks and booby-trap the front stoop, but inadvertently douse Mr. Wilson in water and baking flour when he approaches the house. The next morning, Mr. Wilson prepares to have his photograph taken in his garden, but discovers Dennis has replaced the front teeth of his dentures with two pieces of Chiclets chewing gum. At the park, Switchblade Sam steals a woman’s purse. He is nearly caught by a police officer, who questions his grungy appearance and advises him to leave town. When Alice and Henry are required to take simultaneous business trips, the couple struggle to find a babysitter and resort to asking George and Martha Wilson. One rainy afternoon, Dennis pesters Mr. Wilson with questions about his rare coin collection, replaces his nasal spray with mouthwash, and substitutes the mouthwash with bathroom cleaner. As Mr. Wilson goes to bed, Martha expresses her regret about not having children, and is disappointed by her husband’s gruff lack of emotion. Deciding to apologize, Mr. Wilson goes downstairs and unknowingly kisses a dog Dennis let into the house instead of his wife. The morning of the Summer Floraganza, Martha prepares to send Dennis home, but learns that Alice’s flight has been canceled. When the event begins, Dennis charms the Wilsons’ guests, but accidentally upends the dessert table and is sent to his room. While the attendees await the singular moonlight blossoming of Mr. Wilson’s prized orchid, Switchblade Sam sneaks into the house and steals Mr. Wilson’s coin collection. Dennis announces the robbery, distracting the guests just as the flower opens. Infuriated, Mr. Wilson yells at Dennis, causing the boy to run away. When Alice returns home a few hours later, Mr. Wilson guiltily remembers all the times he scolded Dennis and leaves to find him. Meanwhile, Dennis is taken hostage by Switchblade Sam. They set up camp under a bridge along the river, but the criminal quickly grows frustrated with Dennis’s incessant talking. When Dennis accidentally shoots the robber in the head with his slingshot and sets his pants on fire, Switchblade Sam attempts to constrain the boy. Criticizing his knot-tying skills, Dennis offers to demonstrate, and successfully binds the criminal’s wrists and ankles. As Switchblade Sam struggles to cut himself free, he is knocked unconscious by Dennis, who drops a piece of firewood from the bridge. Dennis then covers the criminal with a blanket, which catches flame in the campfire. Upon recovering Mr. Wilson’s coins, Dennis drags Switchblade Sam home in his wagon. Overjoyed by Dennis’s return, Mr. Wilson embraces the boy, and Switchblade Sam is arrested. When Alice announces she intends to send her son to day care, Mr. Wilson has a change of heart and insists he and Martha watch over him. Just as he makes this declaration, however, Dennis tries to extinguish a roasted marshmallow, which flies across the yard and lands on Mr. Wilson’s forehead. +

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

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