Name Occurs Before Title
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16 Jun 1978
Chicago premiere: 15 Jun 1978 at the State-Lake Theatre; New York and Los Angeles openings: 16 Jun 1978
27 Jun--14 Sep 1977 in Los Angeles, CA
Duration (in mins):
110 or 112
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Special guest appearances:
(Johnny Casino & The Gamblers)
Dennis C. Stewart
John Robert Garrett
As teenagers Danny and Sandy frolic on the beach, Sandy laments that they may not see each other again when the summer holiday ends and she returns to Australia, but Danny insists that their romance is just beginning. Sometime later, on the first day back to class at Rydell High School, Danny brags about his beach lover to his friends in the “T-Bird” gang of boys, also known as “greasers.” However, Danny is unaware that Sandy has not gone back to Australia, after all, and he does not see her as she arrives for her first day of class at Rydell. Meanwhile, a group of tough girls called the “Pink Ladies” rejoice at their newfound authority as high school seniors. At lunch, Sandy’s friend, Frenchy, introduces Sandy to the Pink Ladies: Rizzo, Jan, and Marty. Sandy describes her virtuous summer romance to the girls while Danny, on the other side of campus, recounts his lusty conquest to the greasers. When Sandy reveals the name of her suitor, the girls giggle and Rizzo, who once dated Danny, declares that Sandy may discover her “Prince Charming” where she least expects him. Later, at a pep rally for Rydell’s failing football team, Sandy performs with the cheerleading squad and flirts with football player Tom Chisum. Meanwhile, T-Bird greasers Doody, Sonny, and Putzie inspect a jalopy that the gang’s leader, Kenickie, purchased with earnings from his summer job. Kenickie insists that with a little work, the car will be a perfect place to seduce young women. The Pink Ladies plot a surprise reunion between Sandy and Danny, then lead their Australian friend to Kenickie’s car. Although the couple is initially delighted to reconnect, Danny realizes that his friends disapprove of his chivalrous banter and assumes a disaffected tone to shrug her off. Confused and hurt, Sandy calls Danny a “fake” and runs away in tears. Frenchy consoles Sandy by inviting her to a Pink Lady slumber party. There, Sandy tries in vain to smoke cigarettes, drink wine, and have her ears pierced to fit in with the girls, but the girls mock Sandy’s prudery. Frenchy announces that she is dropping out of Rydell to attend beauty school. When the T-Birds arrive in search of Sandy, Rizzo climbs out the window and seduces Kenickie. Frustrated by breaking with Sandy, Danny storms away as Kenickie and Rizzo drive off in the jalopy. Back at the slumber party, Sandy mourns the loss of Danny and reflects that she is “hopelessly devoted” to him. Meanwhile, at a lovers’ lookout, Kenickie realizes the condom he bought in 7th grade is broken and Rizzo, in the heat of passion, decides to make love anyway. The couple is interrupted by Leo, the leader of the Scorpions, a rival gang, and his girl friend, Cha Cha, who back into the jalopy and leave another dent. Back at Rydell, the T-Birds convene at shop class with Kenickie’s car and Danny tells his friends how they can transform the vehicle into “greased lightning.” Sometime later at Frosty Palace, a local diner, Danny is upset at seeing Sandy sharing an ice cream sundae with Tom Chisum, the football player. When Sandy goes to the jukebox, Danny apologizes for his behavior and makes fun of Tom, but Sandy accuses him of jealousy and criticizes his poor athleticism. Back at Rydell, Danny seeks physical education from Coach Calhoun, but the boy is unable to conform to game rules and, as a last resort, Calhoun puts Danny on the track team. Sometime later, Sandy sees Danny trip over a track hurdle and consoles him; the couple rekindles their romance and plan to go to the upcoming dance contest. On a date at Frosty Palace, Danny is eager to conceal their relationship but the T-Birds and Pink Ladies congregate at their table. As Rizzo and Kenickie fight, the diner closes and the friends disperse. Lingering behind, Frenchy confesses to Vi, the waitress, that she dropped out of beauty school. She fantasizes about a teen angel, who encourages her to go back to Rydell. Later, at school, Rizzo makes Kenickie jealous by seducing his rival, Leo, and then arriving at the nationally televised dance contest as Leo’s date. In response, Kenickie partners with Leo’s girl friend and Danny’s former lover, Cha Cha. After Principal McGee and Coach Calhoun explain the rules of the contest, National Bandstand host Vince Fontaine launches the dance-off and begins eliminating contestants. With Sandy and Danny in the lead, Cha Cha breaks into their routine. Sandy runs away in tears as Danny and Cha Cha are declared champions and sway to “Blue Moon.” Sandy and Danny later reunite at a drive-in movie theater, even though she is still upset about Cha Cha. Her mood improves when Danny gives her a ring to symbolize his loyalty. Meanwhile, in the bathroom, Rizzo tells Pink Lady Marty that she might be pregnant and the rumor spreads throughout the drive-in. Kenickie assumes he is responsible, so he offers to help Rizzo, but she claims the baby belongs to another boy and Kenickie is hurt by her infidelity. In Danny’s car, Sandy is dismayed by his attempts to kiss her and runs away after tossing his ring into the car. Danny laments their split and hopes they will one day stay together forever. Sometime later, shop class teacher Mrs. Murdock admires Kenickie’s refurbished car and wishes the T-Bird boys well in their race against Leo and the Scorpions at Thunder Road. In a dry concrete riverbed, Leo announces that the winner of the race will be awarded ownership of their rival’s vehicle. When Kenickie is momentarily knocked unconscious by the car door, Danny takes over as driver. Sandy watches from afar as Danny wins the race and is celebrated as a hero. She wishes to fit into Danny’s crowd and asks Frenchy to help her transform her uptight image. At a carnival on the last day of school, Rizzo tells Kenickie that she is not pregnant after all, and they make up. Danny arrives in a letterman sweater that he earned on the track team, hoping his new look will impress Sandy. He tells the T-Birds that he will stop at nothing to win Sandy back. Just then, Sandy shows up in a skin tight, black ensemble. Electrified by Sandy’s new appearance, Danny peels off his sweater and falls at her feet, where she stamps out her cigarette and warns him that he “better shape up.” The T-Birds and Pink Ladies worry they might not remain friends after graduation, but Danny insists they will always be together.
Allan Carr Enterprises, Inc.
Stigwood Group, Ltd.
Paramount Pictures presents
A Robert Stigwood/Allan Carr production
Paramount Pictures Corporation
(Gulf & Western Industries, Inc.)
Neil A. Machlis
(Unit prod mgr)
(2d asst dir)
(2d asst dir)
(Prod mgr [Studio features])
Neil A. Machlis
(Dir of photog)
Alvin Dutch Presley
John F. Burnett
(Asst film ed)
(Asst prop master)
Louis St. Louis
(Creative mus consultant and adapt)
David J. Holman
(Mus eng consultant)
(Sd eff ed)
(Elec vis eff)
(Main titles anim)
Modern Film Effects
(End title des)
(Dances & mus seqs staged & choreog)
(Prod on the Broadway stage)
(Prod on the Broadway stage)
(In assoc with, Prod on the Broadway stage)
Alan B. Curtiss
(Secy to the prod)
Freeman Packard, Jr.
John C. Reade
(Transportation coord )
Wallace Dwight Crowder
"Grease," music and lyric by Barry Gibb, sung by Frankie Valli; "Sandy," music by Louis St. Louis, lyric by Scott J. Simon; "You're The One That I Want," music and lyrics by John Farrar; "Hopelessly Devoted To You," music and lyrics by John Farrar; "Summer Nights," by Jim Jacobs & Warren Casey, sung by John Travolta & Olivia Newton-John, published by Edwin H. Morris & Company; "Look At Me, I'm Sandra Dee," by Jim Jacobs & Warren Casey, sung by Stockard Channing, published by Edwin H. Morris & Company; "Freddy My Love," by Jim Jacobs & Warren Casey, sung by Cindy Bullens, published by Edwin H. Morris & Company; "Greased Lightning," by Jim Jacobs & Warren Casey, sung by John Travolta & Jeff Conaway, published by Edwin H. Morris & Company; "Beauty School Dropout," by Jim Jacobs & Warren Casey, sung by Frankie Avalon, published by Edwin H. Morris & Company; "Rock 'N' Roll Party Queen," by Jim Jacobs & Warren Casey, sung by Louis St. Louis, published by Edwin H. Morris & Company; "It's Raining On Prom Night," by Jim Jacobs & Warren Casey, sung by Cindy Bullens, published by Edwin H. Morris & Company; "Those Magic Changes," by Jim Jacobs & Warren Casey, sung by Sha-Na-Na, published by Edwin H. Morris & Company; "Born To Hand-Jive," by Jim Jacobs & Warren Casey, sung by Sha-Na-Na, published by Edwin H. Morris & Company; "Mooning," by Jim Jacobs & Warren Casey, sung by Louis St. Louis & Cindy Bullens, published by Edwin H. Morris & Company; "There Are Worse Things I Could Do," by Jim Jacobs & Warren Casey, sung by Stockard Channing, published by Edwin H. Morris & Company; "Alma Matter," by Jim Jacobs & Warren Casey, sung by Cast, published by Edwin H. Morris & Company; "We Go Together," by Jim Jacobs & Warren Casey, sung by John Travolta, Olivia Newton-John & Cast, published by Edwin H. Morris & Company; "Love Is A Many Splendored Thing," written by Sammy Fain and Paul Francis Webster; "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On," written by D. Williams & S. David, sung by Jerry Lee Lewis, courtesy of Sun International Corporation; "Rock 'N' Roll Is Here To Stay," written by D. White, sung by Sha-Na-Na; "Tears On My Pillow," written by S. Bradford & A. Lewis, sung by Sha-Na-Na; "Hound Dog," written by Jerry Leiber & Mike Stoller, sung by Sha-Na-Na; "La Bamba," written and sung by Ritchie Valens, courtesy of IRA Records; "Blue Moon," written by Richard Rogers & Lorenz Hart, sung by Sha-Na-Na.
Paul Francis Webster
Scott J. Simon
Louis St. Louis
Based on the musical
, book, music and lyrics by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey, produced on the Broadway stage by Kenneth Waissman and Maxine Fox, in association with Anthony D'Amato (New York, 14 Feb 1972).
Paramount Pictures Corp.
Filmed in Panavision®
High school students
Cosmetology and cosmetologists
Track and field athletics
End credits include the following written statement: “Made in Hollywood, U.S.A.”
While opening credits list actress Didi Conn’s character as “Frenchy,” end credits spell the character name “Frenchie.”
On 30 Jan 1974,
reported that producer Steve Krantz and animator Ralph Bakshi were in the process of acquiring film rights for the Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey musical
with the intention of adapting it into an animated feature. The stage production, which opened modestly in 1972 at a “converted trolley barn” in Chicago, IL, became “the longest-running show in Broadway history” to that time within seven years, as announced in a 18 Nov 1979
article. Upon the stage production's 14 Feb 1972 New York City opening at the off-Broadway Eden Theater, the musical received mixed reviews, with critics complaining that “Sandy’s” capitulation to peer-pressure was dishonorable. The production was further challenged when it was deemed ineligible for Tony Award consideration because it was not playing on Broadway. According to
producers Kenneth Waissman and Maxine Fox filed a lawsuit against ABC-television “to enjoin them [ABC] from showing the Tonys.” Although Waissman and Fox knew the case was impossible to win, it proved to be sufficiently threatening to ABC, and
was approved for Tony eligibility with nominations in seven categories. The publicity resulting from the lawsuit and the ensuing nominations led to increased ticket sales. As noted in
the producers endeavored to maintain the popularity of
by casting high-caliber actors as replacements for the original performers, including Richard Gere, Treat Williams, and John Travolta. Travolta had played the supporting roles of “Doody” and “Sonny” in the stage production. According to a 26 Mar—1 Apr 1998
article, the Krantz-Bakshi option lapsed after two years, allowing producers Robert Stigwood and Allan Carr to purchase the musical’s film rights in 1976. Carr paid the amount of $200,000 with his personal funds in monthly installments, per his agreement with Waissman and Fox.
According to various sources, including Stephen Tropiano’s 2011 book
Carr’s adaptation of the musical transferred the action from urban Chicago to a generic representation of U.S. suburbs, reflecting the personal experience of a wider audience. In a 15 Mar 1998
article, published upon the rerelease of
director Randal Kleiser stated that he and choreographer Patricia Birch, who had also choreographed the original theatrical production, worked together to envision the musical numbers for the screen. The car race at the climax of the picture was originally written to evoke the chariot scene in
(1959, see entry), with vehicles speeding around a high school track like gladiators. However, the scene was rewritten to utilize the cement enclosure of the Los Angeles, CA, riverbed due to budget constraints.
Other changes from the stage show included the addition of several songs, including “Sandy,” with music by Louis St. Louis, and lyrics by Scott J. Simon, who was also known as “Screamin’” Scott Simon from the music group Sha-Na-Na. The band appeared in the film as “Johnny Casino & The Gamblers” and performed many of the picture’s previously released hit songs for the soundtrack. Olivia Newton-John’s music producer and songwriter, John Farrar, wrote “You’re The One That I Want” and “Hopelessly Devoted To You,” which became hit singles upon the film’s release. According to Kleiser, “Hopelessly Devoted To You” was written during the middle of production and added to the film because Newton-John was contractually entitled to a solo and song approval. The scene in which “Sandy” wanders through the backyard singing “Hopelessly Devoted To You” was one of the last sequences shot during production, and it was filmed in a single take.
Also new to the film version of
was Barry Gibb’s theme song, “Grease.” Kleiser noted that he was initially troubled by the lyrics and tune of the song, which he found dark and inconsistent with the optimistic theme of 1950s teenagers. In addition, the opening credits were animated to the rhythm of a different song titled “Grease” by Bradford Craig. When Kleiser asked Gibb to change the lyrics to something more upbeat, Gibb suggested Kleiser shoot a serious scene for the movie, to reflect the mood of the song. Gibb’s “Grease,” performed by Frankie Valli, was used in its original form and became a number one hit single in the U.S.
marked Kleiser’s feature film directorial debut. His previous experience with musical productions consisted of uncredited background acting work on films including
(1967, see entry) and
(1969, see entry) while he was studying filmmaking at the University of Southern California (USC). Kleiser had previously directed John Travolta in the 1976 ABC television movie,
The Boy in the Plastic Bubble.
When Travolta was cast in
as “Danny,” a role initially offered to Henry Winkler, according to the 19 Jun 1978
he had recently become famous for his role on the television series
Welcome Back, Kotter
(ABC, 9 Sep 1975—10 Aug 1979) and had starred in the yet unreleased
Saturday Night Fever
(1977, see entry). As stated in the 13 Jun 1977 edition of
article, Travolta’s girl friend at the time, Diana Hyland, who he met on the set of
The Boy in the Plastic Bubble,
died from cancer shortly before production for
was set to begin. Kleiser noted that the cast and crew tried to keep the set upbeat to help Travolta recover from his loss.
Although the Mar 1998 edition of
stated that the role of “Sandy” was originally offered to Susan Dey, and a 29 Jan 1979
news item reported that Marie Osmond turned down the part “on moral grounds,” various sources, including the 15 Mar 1998
listed Olivia Newton-John as Carr’s first choice. However, she was set to turn twenty-nine years old during production, and was reticent to play the role of a teenager for her U.S. feature film debut. She agreed to accept the part on condition she approved her screen test.
An 8 Aug 1977
news item announced that Lorenzo Lamas, the son of actors Fernando Lamas and Arlene Dahl, had replaced Steven Ford, the son of President Gerald Ford, in the role of “Tom Chisum.”
Casting also included a nation-wide contest in which forty-two teenagers were treated to a Los Angeles working vacation, according to a 31 Aug 1977
announcement. The youths performed as background actors in a scene filmed on 30 Aug 1977 at Venice High School. According to production notes in AMPAS library files, principal photography began one month earlier, on 27 Jun 1977, at Paramount Pictures studios and locations in and around Los Angeles, including Venice High School, which provided the exteriors of the film’s Rydell High School. Interior classroom scenes were filmed at Huntington High School, and the carnival finale was shot at John Marshall High School. All of the fantasy sequences and production numbers were filmed on Paramount soundstages. Kleiser’s
article added the Pickwick Drive-In Theatre in Burbank, CA, as a location. On 14 Sep 1977,
announced that filming was set to conclude that day on the Paramount lot. In a 20 Mar 1998
article, Carr reported the budget as $6 million, and noted that the cost was half the amount of average Hollywood feature films at the time. He stated that due to the budget, every scene was planned carefully, and “everything we shot” remained in the final print; no songs or dance numbers were removed in post-production.
A 16 Nov 1977
brief announced that Paramount was booking the film at theaters in preparation for a 10 May 1978 release with “steep terms,” including an eleven-week minimum engagement and a $100,000 “upfront guarantee for each house.” According to a 22 Mar 1978
article, Paramount provided theaters with a fifteen-minute musical short about the rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd, “presented” by Pepsi Cola, to run as a trailer for
Although Paramount was engaged in a $2.5 million “promotional tie-in” advertising campaign with Pepsi at that time, studio vice-president Frank Mancuso argued that Paramount was not using the featurette to promote Pepsi, and was against “screen advertising in any form.” However, the 18 Nov 1979
stated that Paramount had agreed to screen a thirty-second commercial for the stage version of
at the end of the picture as part of the “movie deal” with stage producers Waissman and Fox.
On 31 May 1978,
announced that Travolta’s recent success in
Saturday Night Fever
caused Paramount to reconsider its release plan for
which was originally scheduled for a twelve-week test run at four theaters in Chicago, IL, starting in May 1978. The studio reportedly pushed back the opening of another Paramount release, Warren Beatty’s
Heaven Can Wait
(1978, see entry), so that it would not compete with
As noted in a 21 Jun 1978
premiered 15 Jun 1978 at Chicago’s State-Lake Theatre, where Olivia Newton-John sustained bruised ribs while trying to pass through a crowd of nearly 3,000 onlookers.
The film opened to widespread critical acclaim and box-office success on 16 Jun 1978. Over the next year,
grossed approximately $200 million, making it second only to
(1977, see entry) as the highest earning film in motion picture history to that time, according to the 18 Nov 1979
Upon its Mar 1998 rerelease, the picture had earned “$360 million worldwide, making it the highest grossing movie musical ever,” as noted in the 20 Mar 1998
Additionally, the soundtrack had sold over twenty-two million copies and the video releases simultaneously ranked number one, for the “20th anniversary edition” and number three, for the original 1978 version, on the U.S. video sales chart, as announced in the 22 Jul 1998
According to a 30 Mar 1998
grossed $13 million in the first week of its reissue, marking the highest earnings for any rerelease except for the three pictures in the
trilogy (1977, 1980, and 1983, see entries). Kleiser’s 15 Mar 1998
article noted that when the rerelease was approved, the 35mm music masters were discovered, but were in a nearly destroyed condition in the Paramount archives; the tracks could not be unwound or played. The studio’s vice-president of post-production sound, Cecelia Hall, had recently learned of method “to temporarily bind the brown oxide to the clear Mylar film, at least long enough to make a transfer, by heating them.” She baked the masters in her kitchen oven and “saved the tracks, allowing the Dolby six-track mix to be done.” Kleiser also noted that he added handclaps and backup singers to the surround sound reissue mix, hoping to “encourage audience participation.” He was inspired by the picture’s transformation into an interactive sing-along event akin to
The Rocky Horror Picture Show
(1975, see entry), where audiences would dress as characters, recite dialogue, talk back to the screen, and perform musical numbers. Twelve years after
twentieth anniversary reissue, the 6 Jun 2010
announced that “sing-along screenings” of the film would take place in cities across the nation including New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago. As of Oct 2013, the “Grease Sing-A-Long” has become a summer tradition at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, as well as a nationwide event at select theaters.
The film was followed by a sequel,
(1982, see entry), which marked the directorial debut of choreographer Patricia Birch. It was also developed into an ice skating show called
Grease – On Ice,
as announced in the 11 Jun 1998
On 18 Apr 2000,
The Times (London)
reported speculation that Britney Spears had agreed to star in a third film in the
series, “focusing on the lives of the children of the characters originally played by Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta.” As of Jan 2014, this third
feature film remains unproduced.
was nominated for one Academy Award in the category Music (Original Song) for John Farrar’s “Hopelessly Devoted To You.” It also ranked #20 on AFI’s list of “The 25 Greatest Musicals of All Time.”
26 Mar--1 Apr 1998
5 Aug 1977.
6 Jun 1978
30 Mar 1998
p. 1, 25.
22 Jul 1998.
6 Jul 2010.
6 Jun 1978
19 Jun 1978.
20 Mar 1998
11 Jun 1998.
Los Angeles Times
16 Jun 1978
Section IV, p. 30.
Los Angeles Times
29 Jan 1979.
Los Angeles Times
15 Mar 1998
Los Angeles Herald Examiner
16 Jun 1978
Section B, p. 1, 9.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
28 Jun 1978
New York Times
16 Jun 1978.
26 Jun 1978
12 Jun 1978
13 Jun 1977
8 Aug 1977.
19 Jun 1978
The Times (London)
18 Apr 2000
30 Jan 1974.
14 Sep 1977.
16 Nov 1977.
22 Mar 1978.
31 May 1978.
7 Jun 1978
21 Jun 1978.
Display Movie Summary
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AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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