Bowfinger (1999)

PG-13 | 97 mins | Comedy, Satire | 13 August 1999

THIS TITLE IS OUTSIDE THE AFI CATALOG OF FEATURE FILMS (1893-1993)
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Director:

Frank Oz

Writer:

Steve Martin

Producer:

Brian Grazer

Cinematographer:

Ueli Steiger

Editor:

Richard Pearson

Production Designer:

Jackson DeGovia
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HISTORY

End credits include “Special thanks” to: “Robin Oz & C.G.O., C.M.O., H.J.O, H.B.F.O., The State of California Film Office – Pam Lockhart, The City of Los Angeles, The City of West Hollywood, The City of Long Beach, Pacific Design Center – June Butler, Entertainment Industry Development Corporation, The Los Angeles Lakers – Buck Martin, NBA – Rick Buchanon.” Acknowledgments also state: “The Major League Baseball Trademarks depicted in this motion picture were licensed by Major League Baseball Properties, Inc.”; “The People’s Choice Awards statue used under license from Procter & Gamble Productions, Inc. All rights reserved.”; “Beverly Hills Sign™ ©1998 under license authorized by CMG Worldwide, Inc. Indianapolis, IN 46256, USA.”; and, “American Humane Association was on set to monitor the animal action. No animal was harmed in the making of the film. AHA90115-1.”
       Various contemporary sources referred to the film by the working titles, Bofinger, Bofinger’s Big Thing, and Bowfinger’s Big Thing. According to a 10 Sep 1999 Screen International brief, writer-actor Steve Martin derived the eponymous character’s surname from a restaurant in Paris, France, called Bofinger, which he thought “sounded very ugly” when spoken in English.
       On 12 Jun 1997, DV announced that Martin was set to star alongside Eddie Murphy in Bofinger, which would reunite him with Little Shop of Horrors (1986), Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988), and Housesitter (1992, see entries) director Frank Oz. According to production notes in AMPAS library files and a 2 Sep 1999 Rolling Stone article, Martin originally wrote the role of “Kit Ramsey” for a white actor such as Keanu Reeves, ... More Less

End credits include “Special thanks” to: “Robin Oz & C.G.O., C.M.O., H.J.O, H.B.F.O., The State of California Film Office – Pam Lockhart, The City of Los Angeles, The City of West Hollywood, The City of Long Beach, Pacific Design Center – June Butler, Entertainment Industry Development Corporation, The Los Angeles Lakers – Buck Martin, NBA – Rick Buchanon.” Acknowledgments also state: “The Major League Baseball Trademarks depicted in this motion picture were licensed by Major League Baseball Properties, Inc.”; “The People’s Choice Awards statue used under license from Procter & Gamble Productions, Inc. All rights reserved.”; “Beverly Hills Sign™ ©1998 under license authorized by CMG Worldwide, Inc. Indianapolis, IN 46256, USA.”; and, “American Humane Association was on set to monitor the animal action. No animal was harmed in the making of the film. AHA90115-1.”
       Various contemporary sources referred to the film by the working titles, Bofinger, Bofinger’s Big Thing, and Bowfinger’s Big Thing. According to a 10 Sep 1999 Screen International brief, writer-actor Steve Martin derived the eponymous character’s surname from a restaurant in Paris, France, called Bofinger, which he thought “sounded very ugly” when spoken in English.
       On 12 Jun 1997, DV announced that Martin was set to star alongside Eddie Murphy in Bofinger, which would reunite him with Little Shop of Horrors (1986), Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988), and Housesitter (1992, see entries) director Frank Oz. According to production notes in AMPAS library files and a 2 Sep 1999 Rolling Stone article, Martin originally wrote the role of “Kit Ramsey” for a white actor such as Keanu Reeves, but approved producer Brian Grazer’s suggestion to cast Eddie Murphy. Martin reportedly included several of Murphy’s contributions, such as making his character an action film star. Murphy was scheduled to work four to five weeks once production began in May 1998, directly following completion of Imagine Entertainment's Nutty Professor II: The Klumps (2000, see entry).
       Although the 3 Feb 1998 HR listed a revised start date of 1 Jun 1998, a 30 Jun 1998 HR production chart confirmed that principal photography began two weeks later, on 15 Jun 1998. In addition to locations in Los Angeles and West Hollywood, CA, articles in the 14, 24 and 30 Jul 1998 issues of the Long Beach Press-Telegram noted that shooting took place in Long Beach, CA, on 16, 17, and 20 Jul 1998, with additional weekdays scheduled through 31 Aug 1998. Several Pine Avenue business exteriors between Ocean Boulevard and Broadway were temporarily decorated to resemble establishments in Beverly Hills, CA. The Aug 1999 Us magazine stated Murphy filmed a scene running across the busy Glendale Freeway, which took several months to be approved by “wary” Los Angeles highway officials, who were concerned for Murphy’s safety even though most of the cars were digitally added in post-production.
       A 26 May 1999 DV article announced that Universal Pictures decided to postpone Bowfinger’s 30 Jul 1999 opening until 27 Aug 1999, to avoid competition with the studio’s other comedies, Mystery Men, and American Pie, as well as Paramount Pictures’ Runaway Bride and Deep Blue Sea (see entries), all scheduled for release around the same time. The 12 Aug 1999 DV stated that the Los Angeles premiere took place 10 Aug 1999 at the Universal Amphitheater. The national release date was eventually moved to 13 Aug 1999.
       The film was generally well received by critics, and a 26 Aug 1999 HR news item stated that Bowfinger earned $18 million during its first weekend in release. While several reviews compared the film’s “MindHead” organization to Scientology, Us reported that Martin claimed the fictional religion was intended to represent “a blend of all those [quasi-religious] groups you find in Hollywood.” More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
12 Jun 1997
p. 1, 68.
Daily Variety
26 May 1999
p. 5, 31.
Daily Variety
12 Aug 1999
p. 23.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Feb 1998.
---
Hollywood Reporter
30 Jun 1998.
---
Hollywood Reporter
9 Aug 1999
p. 5, 12.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Aug 1999.
---
Long Beach Press-Telegram
14 Jul 1998.
---
Long Beach Press-Telegram
24 Jul 1998.
---
Long Beach Press-Telegram
30 Jul 1998.
---
Los Angeles Times
28 Aug 1998.
---
Los Angeles Times
11 Jul 1999.
---
Los Angeles Times
13 Aug 1999
Section F, p. 1, 21.
New York Times
13 Aug 1999
Section E, p. 18.
Rolling Stone
2 Sep 1999
pp. 88-95.
Screen International
10 Sep 1999.
---
Us
Aug 1999
p. 71.
Variety
9 Aug 1999
p. 40.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Universal Pictures and Imagine Entertainment Present
A Brian Grazer Production
A Frank Oz Film
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Dir
Unit prod mgr
2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
Addl 2d asst dir
DGA trainee
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
1st asst "A" cam
2d asst "A" cam
2d asst "A" cam
"B" cam/Steadicam op
Addl "B" cam op
1st asst "B" cam
2d asst "B" cam
1st asst Bowfinger cam
Cam loader
Still photog
Video asst
Chief lighting tech
Asst lighting tech
Elec
Rigging gaffer
Rigging gaffer
Best boy rigging elec
Best boy rigging elec
Rigging elec
Rigging elec
Rigging elec
Rigging elec
Universal best boy
Best boy grip
Dolly grip
Addl dolly grip
Crane op
Grip
Rigging key grip
Best boy rigging grip
Rigging grip
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Storyboard artist
Art dir
Asst art dir
Graphic des
Asst graphic artist
Art dept coord
Art dept asst
FILM EDITORS
1st asst ed
AVID asst
AVID asst
Asst ed
Asst ed
Apprentice ed
Negative cutter
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set des/Model maker
Set des
Set des
Lead person
Set dec coord
On set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Prop master
Asst props
Asst props
Const coord
Const foreman
Labor foreman
Labor foreman
Paint foreman
Standby painter
Greens person
Greens foreman
Standby greens
Standby greens
COSTUMES
Cost des
Asst cost des
Cost supv
Set costumer
Costumer for Mr. Martin
Costumer for Mr. Murphy
MUSIC
Mus supv
Mus ed
Asst mus ed - LA
Asst mus ed - NY
Scoring mixer
Music coord
Mus contractor
Score consultant
Programmer
Re-rec asst
Electric bass
Guitar
Keyboard
Keyboard
Latin percussion
SOUND
Boom op
Boom op
Sd utility tech
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Supv sd ed
Sd eff ed
Supv ADR ed
ADR ed
Supv Foley ed
Foley ed
Foley ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Apprentice sd ed
ADR eng
ADR eng
Foley eng
Foley artist
Foley artist
Loop group
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff coord
Spec eff foreman
Main and end titles des by
Opticals & Chubby Rain titles
Visual eff by
Visual eff by, Illusion Arts, Inc.
Visual eff by, Illusion Arts, Inc.
Digital supv, Illusion Arts, Inc.
Lead compositor, Illusion Arts, Inc.
Senior matte artist, Illusion Arts, Inc.
Matte artist, Illusion Arts, Inc.
Matte artist, Illusion Arts, Inc.
Illusion Arts prod, Illusion Arts, Inc.
Anim, Illusion Arts, Inc.
Cam op, Illusion Arts, Inc.
Ed, Illusion Arts, Inc.
Rigging, Illusion Arts, Inc.
Digital asst, Illusion Arts, Inc.
MAKEUP
Key makeup artist
Makeup artist
Key hairstylist
Asst hairstylist
Asst hairstylist
Spec eff makeup
Prosthetic dental tech
Makeup artist for Mr. Martin
Hairstylist for Mr. Martin
Makeup artist for Mr. Murphy
Hairstylist for Mr. Murphy
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Scr supv
Key loc mgr
Prod coord
Asst prod coord
Prod secy
Prod accountant
1st asst accountant
2d asst accountant
Payroll accountant
Const accountant
Post prod accountant
Accounting clerk
Asst loc mgr
Asst loc mgr
Asst loc mgr
Loc prod asst
Projectionist
Unit pub
Casting assoc
Extras casting
Extras casting
Asst to Mr. Oz
Asst to Mr. Williams
Exec asst to Mr. Martin
Asst to Mr. Martin
Exec asst to Mr. Murphy
Asst to Mr. Murphy
Asst to Mr. Murphy
Asst to Mr. Murphy
Asst to Mr. Grazer
Asst to Mr. Grazer
Asst to Mr. Grazer
Asst to Ms. Kehela
Set prod asst
Set prod asst
Set prod asst
Set prod asst
Set prod asst
Office prod asst
Office prod asst
Office prod asst
Office prod asst
Intern
Intern
Intern
Post prod supv
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Transportation co-capt
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Animals supplied by
Head animal trainer
Animal trainer
Helicopter pilot
Helicopter pilot
Helicopter pilot
Catering by
Catering by
Catering by
Craft service
Craft service
Supv medic
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Photo double for Mr. Murphy
Stand-in
Stand-in
Stand-in
Stand-in
Stand-in
Stand-in
Stand-in
Stand-in
Stand-in
Stand-in
Stand-in
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
Col by
SOURCES
SONGS
"There Is Always More Time," written by Kenneth W. Hirsch, Doc Pomus, performed by Johnny Adams, courtesy of Rounder Records, by arrangement with Ocean Park Music Group
"You're A Wonderful One," written by Lamont Dozier, Brian Holland & Edward Holland, Jr., performed by Marvin Gaye, courtesy of Motown Records, by arrangement with Universal Music Special Markets
"After Hours," written by Daniel May, performed by Daniel May, courtesy of Marc Ferrari/Master Source
+
SONGS
"There Is Always More Time," written by Kenneth W. Hirsch, Doc Pomus, performed by Johnny Adams, courtesy of Rounder Records, by arrangement with Ocean Park Music Group
"You're A Wonderful One," written by Lamont Dozier, Brian Holland & Edward Holland, Jr., performed by Marvin Gaye, courtesy of Motown Records, by arrangement with Universal Music Special Markets
"After Hours," written by Daniel May, performed by Daniel May, courtesy of Marc Ferrari/Master Source
"The Eau Zone," composed and performed by Jimmy Kaleth, courtesy of Promusic, Inc., by arrangement with Ocean Park Music Group
"Legend Of A Cowgirl," written by Imani Coppola, Michael Mangini, Donovan Leitch, performed by Imani Coppola, courtesy of Columbia Records, by arrangement with Sony Music Licensing
"El Burro Polillos," performed by Mariachi Reyes Del Aserradero, courtesy of Corason Records, by arrangement with Rounder Records and Ocean Park Music
"Maximum Beat," written by Victor "X-Man" Taylor, performed by Victor "X-Man" Taylor, by arrangement with 88/X Unit
"Wake Up," written by Geoff Levin and Chris Many, performed by Geoff Levin and Chris Many, courtesy of FirstCom Music, by arrangement with Zomba Screen Music
"Super Smooth," written by E. Callins, C. Minucci, performed by E. Callins, C. Minucci, courtesy of FirstCom Music, by arrangement with Zomba Screen Music
"Fourth Floor Ladies Shoes," written by Daniel May, performed by Daniel May, courtesy of Marc Ferrari/Master Source
"And I Love You So," written by Don McLean, performed by Perry Como, courtesy of RCA Records, label of BMG Entertainment
"Setembro (Brazilian Wedding Song)," written by Ivan Lins, Zitor Martins, performed by Quincy Jones, courtesy of Qwest Records, by arrangement with Warner Special Products
"Mambo UK," written by Jesús Alemañy, performed by ¡Cubanismo!, courtesy of Hannibal Records, a Rykodisc Label, by arrangement with Ocean Park Music Group
"Super Bad, Super Slick," written by James Brown, performed by James Brown, courtesy of PolyGram Records, by arrangement with Universal Music Special Markets
"Fifth of Beethoven," written by Walter Murphy, performed by Walter Murphy, courtesy of RFT Music Publishing Corporation, by arrangement with RFT Music Publishing Corporation
"When You Go Deep," written by Michael McGregor, performed by Michael McGregor, courtesy of Marc Ferrari/Master Source
"Secret Agent Man," written by Steve Barri, P.S. Sloan, performed by Johnny Rivers, courtesy of Capitol Records, by arrangement with EMI Music Special Products
"Pick Up The Pieces," written by Roger Ball, Alan Gorrie, Robbie McIntosh, Malcolm Duncan, Hamish Stuart and Owen McIntyre, performed by Average White Band, courtesy of Atlantic Record Corp., by arrangement with Warner Special Products and Bug Music, Inc.
"Kung Fu Fighting," written by Carl Douglas, performed by Bus Stop, featuring Carl Douglas, courtesy of The Total Record Company Limited, by arrangement with Universal Music Special Markets and Castle Communications.
+
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Bofinger
Bofinger's Big Thing
Bowfinger's Big Thing
Release Date:
13 August 1999
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 13 August 1999
New York opening: week of 13 August 1999
Production Date:
began 15 June 1998
Copyright Claimant:
Universal City Studios, Inc.
Copyright Date:
11 August 1999
Copyright Number:
PA948123
Physical Properties:
Sound
Digital DTS Sound in selected theaters
Sound
SDDS Sony Dynamic Digital Sound in selected theatres
Sound
Dolby® Digital in selected theatres
Color
Prints
Eastman Color Film
Duration(in mins):
97
MPAA Rating:
PG-13
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
36611
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

After reading a promising screenplay by an accountant named Afrim, “one lung” film producer Robert “Bobby” Bowfinger rallies his friends and associates for a meeting at his decrepit office. The following morning, Afrim explains the concept for his science-fiction alien invasion story, Chubby Rain, to actors Carol and Slater, who are desperate for work and accept Bowfinger’s promise that production will move ahead. Later, Bowfinger stops by a swanky Beverly Hills, California, restaurant and feigns a mobile phone conversation to attract the interest of major studio producer Jerry Renfro, who is seated nearby. Renfro glances at the Chubby Rain script and promises Bowfinger a deal if he can sign internationally-renowned action star, Kit Ramsey. Screenplay in hand, Bowfinger sneaks into Kit’s estate and pretends to be a fellow member of a religious organization called MindHead, but Kit realizes he is an imposter and throws him out. Back at his production office, Bowfinger tells Carol, Slater, and Afrim that Kit Ramsey has agreed to do the project. He confesses his lie to his cameraman friend, Dave, but reveals he has devised a plan to include Kit in the picture by filming him without his knowledge. Insisting he can shoot Chubby Rain on his life savings of $2,184, Bowfinger begins casting. At Slater’s insistence, he hires Daisy, a naive aspiring actress recently arrived from Ohio. With illegal Mexican immigrants working as the crew, Dave borrows camera equipment from his job at a film studio, and uses it to film Daisy chasing ... +


After reading a promising screenplay by an accountant named Afrim, “one lung” film producer Robert “Bobby” Bowfinger rallies his friends and associates for a meeting at his decrepit office. The following morning, Afrim explains the concept for his science-fiction alien invasion story, Chubby Rain, to actors Carol and Slater, who are desperate for work and accept Bowfinger’s promise that production will move ahead. Later, Bowfinger stops by a swanky Beverly Hills, California, restaurant and feigns a mobile phone conversation to attract the interest of major studio producer Jerry Renfro, who is seated nearby. Renfro glances at the Chubby Rain script and promises Bowfinger a deal if he can sign internationally-renowned action star, Kit Ramsey. Screenplay in hand, Bowfinger sneaks into Kit’s estate and pretends to be a fellow member of a religious organization called MindHead, but Kit realizes he is an imposter and throws him out. Back at his production office, Bowfinger tells Carol, Slater, and Afrim that Kit Ramsey has agreed to do the project. He confesses his lie to his cameraman friend, Dave, but reveals he has devised a plan to include Kit in the picture by filming him without his knowledge. Insisting he can shoot Chubby Rain on his life savings of $2,184, Bowfinger begins casting. At Slater’s insistence, he hires Daisy, a naive aspiring actress recently arrived from Ohio. With illegal Mexican immigrants working as the crew, Dave borrows camera equipment from his job at a film studio, and uses it to film Daisy chasing Kit’s limousine as he leaves his house. Bowfinger maintains the charade by telling the other actors that Kit is a “Method” performer who wishes to remain in character by keeping the camera out of sight. When Carol shouts her lines at Kit on a restaurant patio, the actor becomes fearful that he is being stalked by aliens and goes to see his MindHead mentor, Terry Stricter, for counseling. Bowfinger and his crew secretly record Kit leaving the parking garage and create the illusion he is being followed, causing Kit to flee in panic. Later, Bowfinger constructs a chase scene by editing Kit’s reactions with separately-shot footage of Carol. When Carol independently approaches Kit to congratulate him on the scene, Kit has a nervous breakdown and agrees to spend a few days at MindHead’s celebrity retreat. Unable to locate their star, Bowfinger hires a nerdy look-alike named Jiffrinson to serve as Kit’s double and run errands for the crew. After cutting his hair like Kit’s, “Jiff” films a dangerous scene running across a busy freeway. Desperate for more screen time, Daisy has Afrim write added love scenes between her and Kit, then asks Bowfinger if they can meet to discuss them. When Bowfinger invites her over for dinner, Daisy seduces him. Bowfinger steals her credit card to buy professional equipment, and Dave "borrows" Jerry Renfro’s valuable vintage car to use in the film. Following a tip from Carol, Bowfinger tracks Kit’s location to a Beverly Hills boutique and resumes production. Slater and Daisy approach Kit and act out a scene featuring dialogue about an alien attack. His fears renewed, Kit escapes. While the crew eats lunch, Jiff casually mentions he resembles Kit because they are brothers. He earnestly thanks his co-workers for not exploiting him, leaving Bowfinger feeling guilty. When Bowfinger learns that Daisy had sex with Jiff in the production van, he tries to end his relationship with her, but she convinces him to reconsider. Meanwhile, a studio security guard notices Dave returning unauthorized equipment marked with Kit’s name and alerts MindHead that something is amiss. Following Kit’s car, the film crew shoots a high-speed chase sequence. Afrim and another actor arrive dressed as police officers, and Afrim uses special effects makeup to appear as if his body is melting. Daisy drives onto the scene in Renfro’s stolen car, and convinces Kit to get in and play along. The crew rush ahead of them and set up their equipment in the security office of the Griffith Park Observatory. Pointing the camera at the wall of security monitors, Bowfinger records Daisy and Kit’s actions as they run to the roof and encounter Carol. Daisy stages the murder of Carol’s alien character, which Kit believes to be real, and leads him to the top of the dome. There, she urges Kit to shout the film’s tagline, “Gotcha suckers!” but Kit’s MindHead mentor, Terry Stricter, arrives by helicopter and shuts down the production. Sometime later, the disappointed cast and crew review the footage they collected, which includes a shot of Kit exposing himself to the cheerleaders of the Los Angeles Lakers basketball team. Using the tape as blackmail, they gain Terry Stricter’s permission to release the film. Following the surprisingly successful premiere of Chubby Rain, Bowfinger receives an offer to direct a picture in Taiwan featuring Jiff Ramsey. There, the crew reunites to produce a Kung-Fu picture titled, Fake Purse Ninjas, in which Bowfinger also has a starring role. +

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Name Occurs Before Title
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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.