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HISTORY

Beethoven is credited to writers Edmond Dantes and Amy Holden Jones. The 3 Apr 1992 LAT review noted that the “mysterious” Edmond Dantes was using the name of the fictional title character in the book The Count of Monte Cristo, written by Alexandre Dumas. An article in the 17 May 1992 NYT reported that Edmond Dantes was the pseudonym of John Hughes. Reportedly, when Hughes ended his relationship with Universal Pictures, he left the script for Beethoven at Universal, on condition his identity would be concealed. However, it quickly became an “open secret” that Hughes was a writer on the film.
       According to a 14 May 1991 HR production brief, principal photography began in Los Angeles, CA, on 1 May 1991 under the direction of Steve Rash. On 21 May 1991, DV reported that due to “irreconcilable creative differences,” Rash left the project and was replaced by director Brian Levant. Rash noted that it became apparent halfway through the second week of filming that he and the producers did not agree on the direction the film should take.
       Production notes in AMPAS library files report that Southern California filming locations included Pasadena, Monrovia, Santa Monica, downtown Los Angeles, and Universal Studios. The film marked the theatrical feature film debut of actress Nicholle Tom and actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who appears in a minor role as "Student #1." Chris, the dog playing “Beethoven,” was a two-year-old pure-bred St. Bernard. In addition, eight dogs functioned as stunt doubles, understudies and stand-ins, while sixteen puppies of various sizes were used ... More Less

Beethoven is credited to writers Edmond Dantes and Amy Holden Jones. The 3 Apr 1992 LAT review noted that the “mysterious” Edmond Dantes was using the name of the fictional title character in the book The Count of Monte Cristo, written by Alexandre Dumas. An article in the 17 May 1992 NYT reported that Edmond Dantes was the pseudonym of John Hughes. Reportedly, when Hughes ended his relationship with Universal Pictures, he left the script for Beethoven at Universal, on condition his identity would be concealed. However, it quickly became an “open secret” that Hughes was a writer on the film.
       According to a 14 May 1991 HR production brief, principal photography began in Los Angeles, CA, on 1 May 1991 under the direction of Steve Rash. On 21 May 1991, DV reported that due to “irreconcilable creative differences,” Rash left the project and was replaced by director Brian Levant. Rash noted that it became apparent halfway through the second week of filming that he and the producers did not agree on the direction the film should take.
       Production notes in AMPAS library files report that Southern California filming locations included Pasadena, Monrovia, Santa Monica, downtown Los Angeles, and Universal Studios. The film marked the theatrical feature film debut of actress Nicholle Tom and actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who appears in a minor role as "Student #1." Chris, the dog playing “Beethoven,” was a two-year-old pure-bred St. Bernard. In addition, eight dogs functioned as stunt doubles, understudies and stand-ins, while sixteen puppies of various sizes were used to portray “Beethoven” from his first appearance as a tiny puppy through his growth.
       The 17 May 1992 NYT reported the film was a “surprise hit” and had been in third place at the box-office the previous week, more than a month after its release. An item in the 16 Jun 1992 HR claimed that some executives at Universal initially speculated the film would perform poorly, but were now projecting it might reach a box-office gross of $100 million. The 10 Aug 1992 DV noted the film’s worldwide box-office gross was $105,903,932, with a domestic gross of $55,071,355 and an international gross of $50,832,577.
       In 1993, the first sequel Beethoven’s 2nd (see entry), was released. The subsequent sequels were direct-to-video releases: Beethoven’s 3rd (2000), Beethoven’s 4th (2001), Beethoven’s 5th (2003), Beethoven’s Big Break (2008), Beethoven’s Christmas Adventure (2011), and Beethoven’s Treasure, also known as Beethoven’s Treasure Tail (2014). An animated television series aired from 10 Sep--3 Dec 1994 on the CBS television network.
       An article in the 19 May 1992 HR noted that the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) was disturbed that Beethoven received a PG rating from the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), believing that children might be upset by the film’s portrayal of a veterinarian as an evil killer using pets for research. The AVMA also claimed the film was irresponsible, given the “the climate of violence against biomedical researchers.” The association mailed letters of protest to the film’s executive producer and to Jack Valenti, president of the MPAA.
       The 27 Oct 1992 HR noted that Chaney Enterprises was suing Universal Studios for $100,000 over the use of Lon Chaney Jr.’s name and likeness in Beethoven without consent. The lawsuit contended that Chaney signed various agreements in the 1940s for the use of his name and photographs to advertise The Wolf Man (1941, see entry), but there was no agreement in connection with any other Universal film. The outcome of this lawsuit is undetermined.
       An item in the 29 Jul 1994 LAT reported that ITC Entertainment filed a lawsuit against Universal Studios for stealing their story, Dwayne, claiming it was submitted as a potential project, and Universal later released a similar movie, Beethoven. ITC estimated their losses to be $10 million, and sought to stop Universal from distributing the Beethoven films. The result of this lawsuit is undetermined.
       End credits include the following acknowledgment: “All animal action was monitored by The American Humane Association. No animals were harmed in the making of this film. Scenes depicting abuse were accomplished with the use of animatronic animals.” More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
21 May 1991.
---
Daily Variety
3 Apr 1992.
---
Daily Variety
10 Aug 1992.
---
Hollywood Reporter
14 May 1991.
---
Hollywood Reporter
27 Mar 1992
p. 6, 19.
Hollywood Reporter
19 May 1992.
---
Hollywood Reporter
16 Jun 1992.
---
Hollywood Reporter
27 Oct 1992.
---
Los Angeles Times
3 Apr 1992
Calendar, p. 8.
Los Angeles Times
29 Jul 1994.
---
New York Times
3 Apr 1992
Section C, p. 18.
New York Times
17 May 1992.
---
Variety
6 Apr 1992
p. 166.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Universal Pictures presents
an Ivan Reitman production
a Brian Levant film
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
Dir, 2d unit
Dir, 2d unit
1st asst dir, 2d unit
1st asst dir, 2d unit
2d asst dir, 2d unit
PRODUCERS
Co-prod
Assoc prod
Exec prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
1st asst cam
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
2d asst cam
Underwater photog
Still photog
Chief lighting tech
Rigging gaffer
Best boy elec
Key grip
Best boy grip
Dolly grip
Company grip
Company grip
Company grip
Dir of photog, 2d unit
Cam op, 2d unit
1st asst cam, 2d unit
2d asst cam, 2d unit
Chief lighting tech, 2d unit
Best boy elec, 2d unit
Key grip, 2d unit
Best boy grip, 2d unit
Dolly grip, 2d unit
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
Prod illustrator
FILM EDITORS
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
Apprentice ed
Apprentice ed
Negative cutter
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set des
Set des
Leadman
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Drapery foreman
Prop master
Asst propmaster
Asst propmaster
Const coord
Const foreman
Labor foreman
Labor foreman
Paint foreman
Stand-by painter
Greensman
Prop/Set dressing, 2d unit
Greensman, 2d unit
COSTUMES
Cost des
Cost supv
Costumer
Costumer
Costumer, 2d unit
MUSIC
Mus ed
Mus ed, Triad Music
Mus contractor
Mus scoring mixer
Orchestrator
SOUND
Prod sd mixer
Boom op
Cableman
Video playback
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
ADR group
Foley rec by
Supv sd ed
Supv sd ed
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Supv ADR ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Spec eff
Mechanical eff created by
Mechanical eff des by
Mechanical eff coord
Puppeteer
Puppeteer
Puppeteer
Puppeteer
Puppeteer
Puppeteer
Titles and opticals
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
Hairstylist
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Prod accountant
Asst prod accountant
Prod coord
Asst prod coord
Scr supv
Casting assoc
Dial coach
Studio teacher
Asst loc mgr
Unit pub
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Asst to Mr. Reitman
Asst to Mr. Medjuck
Asst to Mr. Gross
Asst to Mr. Levant
Asst to Mr. Grodin
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Extras casting
Craft service
Nurse
Catering
Chef
Animal action coord
Dog trainer
Dog trainer
Dog trainer
Dog trainer
Asst dog trainer
Asst dog trainer
Asst dog trainer
Asst dog trainer
Asst dog trainer
Asst dog trainer
Asst dog trainer
Asst dog trainer
Addl animals
Addl animals
Loc mgr, 2d unit
Script supv, 2d unit
Transportation coord, 2d unit
Craft service, 2d unit
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
Col by
SOURCES
SONGS
"Roll Over Beethoven," written by Chuck Berry, performed by Paul Shaffer and The World's Most Dangerous Band, produced by Paul Shaffer
"Lady Marmalade," written by Kenny Nolan, Bob Crewe, performed by Harry Garfield.
DETAILS
Series:
Alternate Title:
Beethoven: Story of a Dog
Release Date:
3 April 1992
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 3 April 1992
Production Date:
began 1 May 1991
Copyright Claimant:
Universal City Studios, Inc.
Copyright Date:
4 May 1992
Copyright Number:
PA565589
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Lenses
Filmed with Panavision® Cameras & Lenses
Duration(in mins):
87
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
31477
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Evil veterinarian Dr. Varnick orders his men, Vernon and Harvey, to get puppies for the doctor’s experiments. They break into a pet store and steal all the puppies, including a little St. Bernard. As the burglars speed away, their van hits a bump and a Jack Russell terrier escapes its cage and frees the St. Bernard. The two dogs jump out of the van and escape. When George Newton steps outside to get his morning newspaper, the St. Bernard puppy sneaks inside. The Newton children, Ryce, Ted, and Emily, love the puppy and want to keep it. George’s wife, Alice, agrees with the children, but George does not want a dog, as he is particularly vehement about the mess a St. Bernard will make as it grows. His family is persuasive, however, and George agrees to keep the dog at least until the real owners are found. He plasters flyers around town but to no avail. The dog barks happily when youngest daughter, Emily, plays a portion of Beethoven’s “Fifth Symphony” on the piano, so they name him Beethoven. As Beethoven grows, George is forced to deal with scratched woodwork, muddy paw prints throughout the house, and mounds of dog slobber. He builds a caged area around Beethoven’s dog house, but Beethoven digs a tunnel under the fence and routinely leaves the yard to socialize and visit the Newton children at school. When Ryce confides she has a crush on her classmate, Mark, Beethoven leads the boy over, and she is thrilled to speak with him. Beethoven also gives Ted the confidence to deal with ... +


Evil veterinarian Dr. Varnick orders his men, Vernon and Harvey, to get puppies for the doctor’s experiments. They break into a pet store and steal all the puppies, including a little St. Bernard. As the burglars speed away, their van hits a bump and a Jack Russell terrier escapes its cage and frees the St. Bernard. The two dogs jump out of the van and escape. When George Newton steps outside to get his morning newspaper, the St. Bernard puppy sneaks inside. The Newton children, Ryce, Ted, and Emily, love the puppy and want to keep it. George’s wife, Alice, agrees with the children, but George does not want a dog, as he is particularly vehement about the mess a St. Bernard will make as it grows. His family is persuasive, however, and George agrees to keep the dog at least until the real owners are found. He plasters flyers around town but to no avail. The dog barks happily when youngest daughter, Emily, plays a portion of Beethoven’s “Fifth Symphony” on the piano, so they name him Beethoven. As Beethoven grows, George is forced to deal with scratched woodwork, muddy paw prints throughout the house, and mounds of dog slobber. He builds a caged area around Beethoven’s dog house, but Beethoven digs a tunnel under the fence and routinely leaves the yard to socialize and visit the Newton children at school. When Ryce confides she has a crush on her classmate, Mark, Beethoven leads the boy over, and she is thrilled to speak with him. Beethoven also gives Ted the confidence to deal with the bullies harassing him on the school bus. Meanwhile, George is anxious to expand his air freshener business, and meets with potential investors Brad and Brie, who promise an answer within the week. George asks his wife to return to work at the company, but Alice wants to remain at home with the children. George convinces her, however, to hire a babysitter. When George discovers Beethoven in his bed, he drags the dog outside, sees the tunnel, and determines to block Beethoven’s escape route. Elsewhere, Harvey and Vernon catch the Jack Russell terrier that escaped with Beethoven, and cage the animal in Dr. Varnick’s warehouse laboratory. Dr. Varnick is offered a deal to test ammunition that explodes on contact. Large dogs are necessary for the experiment, but Dr. Varnick claims they are too difficult to obtain. However, a larger payment changes his mind, and he agrees to the deal. The next day, George and the children bring Beethoven to Dr. Varnick’s veterinary clinic for routine immunizations. Dr. Varnick privately warns George Newton that St. Bernards as a breed have recently developed serious issues, including a tendency to attack humans without provocation. Alice ignores the doctor’s concern, insisting Beethoven is loving. George, however, determines to keep his eye on Beethoven. Later, Alice agrees to work with her husband, and drops the children at the babysitter’s home. She and George meet with Brie and Brad, who are ready to invest in their business. Brie and Brad are eager to sign contracts that evening, so George and Alice invite them for dinner. Meanwhile, the children’s babysitter sings and plays piano for the children. Ryce and Ted listen while doing their homework, and no one notices Emily wander outside and fall into the swimming pool. At the Newton home, Beethoven senses something is wrong. His tunnel is blocked, but he escapes the enclosure, runs to the babysitter’s home, and rescues Emily. As Beethoven sneaks back home, Ryce sees her sister, soaking wet. The babysitter wants to keep it secret but Ryce calls her mother, who fires the babysitter. While they prepare dinner for their guests, Alice declares she is staying home with the children. Outside, Beethoven is tied up nearby as Brie and Brad laugh about their plans to take over George’s company within six months. When George and Alice Newton join them, Brad and Brie push George to sign the “standard” contract quickly. Alice wants to wait, so Brie distracts her by petting Beethoven and leading the dog to the table. As the couple pressures George, Beethoven winds his leash around their chairs. Bothered by Beethoven’s presence, Brad throws a ball. As Beethoven chases it, he drags the sneaky couple down the street in their chairs. George is upset at Beethoven, but Alice did not like the couple, and defends the dog. The next morning, the children get up early to groom and care for Beethoven. They make a special breakfast for their father and promise to handle all of Beethoven’s needs. Alice is surprised when Dr. Varnick makes a house call to perform a follow-up check on Beethoven. Left alone in Beethoven’s enclosure, the doctor rips his shirt and pours blood on his arm and Beethoven’s snout. Emily looks outside and sees the doctor hit Beethoven until the dog pushes him down. Dr. Varnick pretends to have been viciously attacked. Emily insists he attacked Beethoven, but Varnick demands George bring Beethoven to the clinic to be euthanized or face charges. Alice and the children are heartbroken when George leaves with the dog. As he drives to Dr. Varnick’s clinic, George confides that he never forgave his father for euthanizing their dog. George does not want to put down the dog, but hopes Beethoven understands. After George leaves Beethoven in a back cage, the receptionist informs him that the technician who administers lethal injections is gone for the day, and Beethoven will be put to sleep the following day. At home, the children refuse to talk to George. He wonders if he did the right thing, and Alice assures him that Beethoven never attacked anyone and they should believe Emily. Meanwhile, Harvey and Vernon take Beethoven from the clinic to the warehouse laboratory, where he is caged near his friend, the Jack Russell terrier. The clinic is closed when the Newtons return, and Dr. Varnick orders them to leave. Ryce pushes past him and Varnick grabs her. George pulls Dr. Varnick’s arm off Ryce and discovers the doctor’s “wound” is fake. Beethoven’s cage is empty, and Dr. Varnick claims the dog has already been euthanized. George knows he is lying and punches him. They call police from a nearby pay telephone, but receive no assistance. As Dr. Varnick drives away, the family follows him to the warehouse. Inside, Harvey and Vernon destroy files and prepare to kill the dogs. However, Dr. Varnick orders them to bring Beethoven for the ammunition test, and the Jack Russell terrier for a chemical test. As Harvey and Vernon grab the terrier, Beethoven breaks free from his cage and chases the two into the laboratory. Outside, Alice sees a nearby pay telephone and tells the children to wait in the car while she calls the police. George climbs the fire escape to a rooftop skylight and sees Harvey and Vernon grab Beethoven as Dr. Varnick aims his gun. George drops through the skylight, landing on the two thugs. Dr. Varnick aims at George and Beethoven, but the Jack Russell terrier bites his crotch. The doctor fires into the air as he falls to his knees. When the children hear the shot, Ted jumps into the front seat and drives into the building. The car hits Varnick’s tray of hypodermic needles, which fly into the doctor’s chest, knocking him unconscious. Harvey and Vernon run away, but the family frees the animals, who chase the thugs. They climb into a junkyard to escape the dogs and are attacked by the junkyard Dobermans. Dr. Varnick, Vernon, and Harvey are arrested on multiple counts of animal abuse. The Newtons are lauded for their actions, and adopt all the rescued dogs. +

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

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.