Clash of the Titans (1981)

PG | 118 mins | Adventure, Fantasy | 12 June 1981

Director:

Desmond Davis

Writer:

Beverley Cross

Cinematographer:

Ted Moore

Editor:

Timothy Gee

Production Designer:

Frank White

Production Company:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
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HISTORY

Referring to the picture by its working title, Perseus and the Gorgon’s Head, a 19 Jan 1977 HR article announced that producer Charles H. Schneer had secured a financing deal with the British National Film Development Fund (BFDF), which agreed to support two to three years of pre-production. Although the BFDF was established six months earlier to promote filmmaking in England, the American filmmaking team of Charles H. Schneer and Ray Harryhausen was not required to produce the picture in the U.K. However, both men had been working in England since 1959. As of Jan 1977, Schneer and Harryhausen had a thirty-five year relationship with distributor Columbia Pictures, which was set to release the upcoming Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger (1977, see entry), and the studio was planning to back Perseus and the Gorgon’s Head.
       Nearly two years later, however, a 15 Dec 1978 DV article stated that Metro-Goldwn-Mayer (MGM) had lured Schneer and Harryhausen from Columbia to produce the film, now titled Clash of the Titans. MGM agreed to triple Columbia’s $3.5 million budget, and production was scheduled to begin in spring 1979, on location in Spain, Italy, and Malta. On 17 Jan 1979, DV reported that the $10 million picture was set to be the first BFDF-backed feature film to go into production, and shooting had been pushed back to a May 1979 start date. By 28 Mar 1979, the budget had increased to approximately $15 million, according to a Var column published that day. The higher cost was attributed to ... More Less

Referring to the picture by its working title, Perseus and the Gorgon’s Head, a 19 Jan 1977 HR article announced that producer Charles H. Schneer had secured a financing deal with the British National Film Development Fund (BFDF), which agreed to support two to three years of pre-production. Although the BFDF was established six months earlier to promote filmmaking in England, the American filmmaking team of Charles H. Schneer and Ray Harryhausen was not required to produce the picture in the U.K. However, both men had been working in England since 1959. As of Jan 1977, Schneer and Harryhausen had a thirty-five year relationship with distributor Columbia Pictures, which was set to release the upcoming Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger (1977, see entry), and the studio was planning to back Perseus and the Gorgon’s Head.
       Nearly two years later, however, a 15 Dec 1978 DV article stated that Metro-Goldwn-Mayer (MGM) had lured Schneer and Harryhausen from Columbia to produce the film, now titled Clash of the Titans. MGM agreed to triple Columbia’s $3.5 million budget, and production was scheduled to begin in spring 1979, on location in Spain, Italy, and Malta. On 17 Jan 1979, DV reported that the $10 million picture was set to be the first BFDF-backed feature film to go into production, and shooting had been pushed back to a May 1979 start date. By 28 Mar 1979, the budget had increased to approximately $15 million, according to a Var column published that day. The higher cost was attributed to the recent casting of celebrity actors, including Laurence Olivier and Burgess Meredith, the extensive location shooting, and the use of Harryhausen’s “Dynarama” special effects, which required at least one year of post-production. Noting that Scheer and Harryhausen still owed Columbia four movies to fulfill their twelve-picture deal with the studio, Var stated that MGM agreed to give the BFDF a fifty percent return on its $25,000 investment in Clash of the Titans, and promised to keep England as the production base, thereby infusing at least $12 million into the economy.
       According to a 14 May 1979 MGM press release in AMPAS library files, principal photography began that day at Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire, England. Other locations included Southern Italy, where filming took place in the ancient city of Paestum, the seaside town of Palinuro, and the amphitheatre of Ostia Antica. On 15 Aug 1979, Var reported that filming was completed in Italy and the production was moving to Malta. Shooting also occurred in Gaudix and Antequerra, Spain.
       Due to the merger of MGM and United Artists (UA) in 1981, the film was ultimately released by UA on 12 Jun 1981, but the studio logo does not appear onscreen. An 18 Jun 1981 UA press release announced that the picture grossed $6,565,347 in its first three days of opening in 1,126 theaters, and a 24 Jun 1981 follow-up report listed a one-week total of $9.5 million. By 23 Jul 1981, earnings reached $25,935,667, according to a UA press release published that day. Nearly one year later, a 1 Apr 1982 MGM press release announced that Clash of the Titans was one of the top-grossing films of 1981, bringing in $70 million worldwide. The studio planned to reissue the picture in Apr 1982 in over 900 theaters in the U.S. and Canada.
       On 16 Apr 2007, HR stated that Warner Bros. had acquired rights to the the picture, and Lawrence Kasdan had been hired to write a remake, but Kasdan did not remain with the project. The remake was released on 2 Apr 2010 (see entry).
       Clash of the Titans marked Ray Harryhausen’s final feature film as a producer and special effects creator.
       Cast credits divide the film’s characters into three categories: “The Immortals,” “The Mortals,” and, “The Mythologicals.” “The Mythologicals” represent the picture’s special effects-generated creatures and are listed “as themselves,” in alphabetical order: Bubo, Charon, Dioskilos, Kraken, Medusa, Pegasus, Scorpions, [and] Vulture.
       Boom operator Terry Sharratt is credited as Terry “Sharrat.”
       End credits state: “Filmed at Pinewood Studios, London, England, and on location in Spain, Italy and in Malta in cooperation with Mediterranean Film Facilities.”
More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
15 Dec 1978
p. 1, 48.
Daily Variety
17 Jan 1979.
---
Hollywood Reporter
19 Jan 1977.
---
Hollywood Reporter
16 Apr 2007.
---
New York Times
12 Jun 1981
p. 6.
Variety
28 Mar 1979
p. 5, 37.
Variety
15 Aug 1979.
---
Variety
10 Jun 1981
p. 18.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer presents
A Charles H. Schneer production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Focus puller
Clapper loader
Underwater and aerial cam
Still photog
Chief elec
Cam grip
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
SET DECORATORS
Set dresser
Const mgr
Const mgr
Model maker
Model maker
Prod buyer
COSTUMES
Cost des
Ward supv
Ward mistress
SOUND
Sd mixer
Boom op
Sd eff ed
Chief dubbing mixer
Dubbing mixer
Dubbing mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Creator of spec vis eff
Spec opticals
Spec opticals
Spec miniatures
Blue screen tech
Floor/Phys eff
MAKEUP
Makeup
Makeup
Masks
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Loc mgr
Prod asst
Italian prod supv
Spanish prod supv
Asst to Ray Harryhausen
Asst to Ray Harryhausen
Casting
Casting
Casting
Unit pub
Prod accountant
STAND INS
Stunt coord
COLOR PERSONNEL
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Perseus and the Gorgon’s Head
Release Date:
12 June 1981
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 12 June 1981
Production Date:
began 14 May 1979
Copyright Claimant:
Titan Productions
Copyright Date:
22 June 1981
Copyright Number:
PA105816
Physical Properties:
Sound
Recorded in Dolby Stereo™
Color
Prints
Prints in Metrocolor®
Duration(in mins):
118
MPAA Rating:
PG
Countries:
United Kingdom, United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
25716
SYNOPSIS

In the mythological land of Argos, King Acrisius is enraged by the pregnancy of his unwed daughter, Danae. He punishes the young woman and her newborn son, Perseus, by confining them in a coffin and sending the casket out to sea. Meanwhile, on Mount Olympus, Zeus is incensed by Acrisius’s hubris and orders Poseidon to unleash a sea monster called the Kraken to destroy Argos. When the gods are perplexed by Zeus’s mercilessness until they learn that Perseus is Zeus’s son. The boy grows into adulthood on the island of Serifos, enjoying a life of ease and privilege, and the goddess Thetis warily compares him to her mortal son, Calibos, who lives in the town of Joppa. Since Thetis is the patron saint of the city, Calibos has been chosen by Queen Cassiopeia as the future husband of her beautiful daughter, Andromeda. As such, Calibos delights that he will soon rule the kingdom and flaunts his power, killing Zeus’s magical winged horses with the exception of one, Pegasus. Despite Thetis’s protests, Zeus punishes the boy, transforming him into a crippled ogre. When Calibos is banished from Joppa, Thetis orders her disciples to prevent Andromeda from marrying another man and places a curse of despair on the townspeople. The goddess is resentful that Perseus has enjoyed a charmed life under the protection of his father, Zeus, and magically transports the boy to Joppa so he will endure the anguish of its inhabitants. There, Perseus awakens in an amphitheater and meets a poet named Ammon. The old man warns the boy to return to Serifos, but Perseus is eager for ... +


In the mythological land of Argos, King Acrisius is enraged by the pregnancy of his unwed daughter, Danae. He punishes the young woman and her newborn son, Perseus, by confining them in a coffin and sending the casket out to sea. Meanwhile, on Mount Olympus, Zeus is incensed by Acrisius’s hubris and orders Poseidon to unleash a sea monster called the Kraken to destroy Argos. When the gods are perplexed by Zeus’s mercilessness until they learn that Perseus is Zeus’s son. The boy grows into adulthood on the island of Serifos, enjoying a life of ease and privilege, and the goddess Thetis warily compares him to her mortal son, Calibos, who lives in the town of Joppa. Since Thetis is the patron saint of the city, Calibos has been chosen by Queen Cassiopeia as the future husband of her beautiful daughter, Andromeda. As such, Calibos delights that he will soon rule the kingdom and flaunts his power, killing Zeus’s magical winged horses with the exception of one, Pegasus. Despite Thetis’s protests, Zeus punishes the boy, transforming him into a crippled ogre. When Calibos is banished from Joppa, Thetis orders her disciples to prevent Andromeda from marrying another man and places a curse of despair on the townspeople. The goddess is resentful that Perseus has enjoyed a charmed life under the protection of his father, Zeus, and magically transports the boy to Joppa so he will endure the anguish of its inhabitants. There, Perseus awakens in an amphitheater and meets a poet named Ammon. The old man warns the boy to return to Serifos, but Perseus is eager for adventure and believes his unexpected relocation is an opportunity to achieve his life-long goal, to gain sovereignty over the kingdom. Since Perseus and his mother were wrongfully banished from Argos, the boy believes he is entitled to rule the land, and his conquest of Joppa will avenge his grandfather’s misdeed. Back on Mount Olympus, Zeus orders the deities to protect his son with weapons, and the boy soon discovers “gifts” from the gods – a sword, shield, and a helmet that renders him invisible. In Joppa, Perseus inquires about a man who was recently burned at a stake, and a soldier explains that suitors risk their lives to win Andromeda’s hand in marriage. In the wake of Thetis’s curse, men must solve a cryptic puzzle to wed the princess, and their failure to do so results in death. Perseus realizes he will inherit the kingdom if he marries Andromeda and dons his helmet of invisibility to sneak into the girl’s bedroom at night. When he sees Andromeda’s spirit step into a golden cage and be carried away by a giant vulture, Perseus assumes she being escorted to Calibos and captures Zeus’s last winged horse, Pegasus, to fly to the recluse’s outpost. There, he overhears Calibos dictate a riddle for Andromeda’s next suitor. As the princess leaves, Perseus fights Calibos and cuts off his hand, but he agrees to spare the ogre’s life on condition that the curse of Thetis is lifted from Joppa. Losing his helmet of invisibility, Perseus returns to Joppa in time for Andromeda to welcome a new suitor and announce the riddle. Wielding Calibos’s severed hand, Perseus declares that the ogre’s pearl ring is the correct answer to the riddle and embraces his bride-to-be. As the townspeople celebrate their newfound liberation, Calibos prays to his mother, Thetis, begging her to punish the people of Joppa by unleashing the Kraken. Although Thetis initially refuses, she changes her mind during Perseus and Andromeda’s wedding ceremony, when Queen Cassiopeia proclaims her daughter is more beautiful than Thetis. The insulted goddess suspends the wedding and declares that Andromeda must be sacrificed to the Kraken in thirty days, or the monster will destroy Joppa. Perseus vows to kill the sea creature to protect his princess, but the poet Ammon warns him it is impossible. However, there are three blind witches who know a way to overcome the Kraken, and Perseus searches for the winged horse Pegasus to escort him on the perilous journey to find the crones. Unable to locate his companion, Perseus embarks on the quest alone, but Andromeda insists on joining her lover, and brings along her army. Meanwhile, on Mount Olympus, the goddess Athena builds Perseus a robotic owl named Bubo. The bird leads Perseus to the witches’ shrine and steals their one, shared eye. Desperate to regain their vision, the witches grudgingly tell Perseus about the sorceress Medusa, whose gaze turns men into stone. Perseus pitches the witches’ eye into the dirt and begins his journey to find the serpent-haired Medusa, leaving Andromeda behind. Using his magic sword and shield, Perseus deflects Medusa’s gaze, beheads the creature, and carries the head back to camp in a bag. There, Calibos makes a surprise attack with an army of giant scorpions, but Perseus and his soldiers fight them off, and Perseus kills Calibos. With all of his guards dead, and no time to spare before Andromeda’s sacrifice to the Kraken, Perseus knows his only hope is to find Pegasus and fly back to Joppa. Perseus orders his mechanical owl, Bubo, to find Pegasus, and the bird releases the horse from a cage, where it has been imprisoned by hunters. Back in Joppa, Andromeda is restrained on the beach and the Kraken rises from the waves, but Bubo distracts the beast and Perseus appears overhead, on Pegasus. As Perseus fights the Kraken, the monster knocks Pegasus into the ocean, and the bag containing Medusa’s head plummets into the water. However, Bubo retrieves the parcel and Perseus wields Medusa’s head just in time, turning the Kraken into stone. As the Kraken crumbles, Perseus hurls Medusa’s head into the sea and Pegasus resurfaces. Perseus reunites with his bride and the townspeople cheer, knowing their hero has brought peace and order back to the kingdom. On Mount Olympus, Zeus gloats about his son’s triumph, but the gods are concerned the boy has set a precedent. Future mortals might replicate Perseus’s independence, creativity, and courage, and see themselves as free agents who do not need the gods for inspiration. Zeus placates the assembly and forbids the deities from exacting revenge. Noting that stars never fade, Zeus commemorates the heroes of Perseus’s quest by naming constellations in their honor. Zeus declares that people will always remember the luster of the gods when they look into the night sky. +

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

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