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Learn About the Little Known Disney Movie the Rocketeer

The Rocketeer Movie Poster

The Rocketeer is a period superhero film that was released by Walt Disney Pictures in 1991. It was directed by Joe Johnston and produced by Lawrence Gordon, Charles Gordon, and Lloyd Levin. The movie stars Paul Sorvino, Alan Arkin, Bill Campbell, Tiny Ron Taylor, Timothy Dalton, and Jennifer Connelly. The film was first developed in 1983, but it was not released until 1991. The Rocketeer received positive reviews from critics. However, it did not perform well at the box office. It only grossed $46 million on a budget of $35 million. In this article, we are going to find out more about The Rocketeer.

What is The Rocketeer About?

The Rocketeer is about a pilot named Cliff Secord who crashed his airplane after he got hit in the air in a shoot-out between the FBI agents and the gangsters. Cliff’s plane got broken entirely; that is why he decided to let his best friend and mechanic, A. Peabody, try to raise some money in an exhibition show so that they can fix the old plane. However, when Cliff and Peabody were on the exhibition show, Cliff saw a package that was hidden by a gangster. It turns out that it was a rocket that belonged to the Nazis who wants to use it as a weapon. Cliff discovered that the rocket had belts that give anyone an ability to fly. Cliff then puts on the rocket, and a flashy helmet appeared. He became the high-flying hero everyone called “The Rocketeer.” However, the rocket means that Cliff will have to face a new challenge where he should have an alter ego as a hero.

However, Cliff’s identity was exposed when he helped a mechanic named Malcolm when an accident happened during a flight exhibition. Cliff uses the rocket to save him, and that is where more people started to recognize him as “The Rocketeer.” His picture got into the front page of newspapers. That is why Cliff was traced and chased by the FBI, gangsters, and as well as German spies who tried to kidnap Cliff’s girlfriend, Jenny.

Who Starred in the Movie?

  • Billy Campbell, who played Cliff Secord/The Rocketeer.
  • Jennifer Connelly, who portrayed Jenny Blake, Cliff’s girlfriend.
  • Alan Arkin played the role of Cliff’s best friend named A. “Peevy” Peabody.
  • Timothy Dalton as the antagonist of the movie, Neville Sinclair.
  • Terry O’Quinn played the role of Howard Hughes.
  • Paul Sorvino portrayed Eddie Valentine.
  • Jon Polito played the role of Otis Bigelow.

Interesting Facts About The Rocketeer

  • The film is set before World War II – According to the theater posters for the movie, it says that the film was set “Three years before the United States declares war.”
  • You can hear more than one language in the film – Some of the scenes in The Rocketeer involved German spies who spoke in German. The director of the film and the producers wanted the settings to be much more realistic, that is why they opt to present it in both German and English dialogue.
  • Chewing gum has a role in The Rocketeer – When Cliff’s jetpack got pinched by a bullet, Peevy decided to seal the leak with the use of chewing gum. And Cliff likes to put gum on the side of his planes because he believes that it is for good luck. The chewing gum also plays an essential part in the Rocketeer’s climax scene, when Cliff removed the chewing gum patch that Peevy put so that the fuel will leak in the rocket’s exhaust. This prevented the bad guys form taking off with the rocket.
  • The Rocketeer’s storyline was originally based on a comic book – Artist Dave Stevens created a comic book entitled “The Rocketeer” in 1982. The comic book was inspired by series and pulp characters from the 1930s to the 1950s.
  • Several major studios turned down the movie – Today, movies that are based on comic books were considered as de rigueur. But back in 1983, when The Rocketeer was first thought to be a comic-book-story-to-the-silver-screen sort of thing was not really that interesting. That is why, since then, no studio wanted to produce the movie. According to Dave Stevens, Disney was the last studio on their list, and they agreed to produce the film the moment they saw the merchandising opportunity.
  • Disney originally wanted Johnny Depp to play the lead role – Disney cast Bill Campbell to play Cliff Secord after Johnny Depp turned down the offer.
  • Billy Campbell is afraid of flying – The actor who played The Rocketeer was afraid of flying in planes. Still, he is perfectly acceptable when it is at home in a hang glider. He said that he just does not want to be strapped to an engine while he was in the air.
  • There were different types of rocket packs – One rocket pack was called the hero, and it is made of real metal that shot fire from the bottom. The other one was made of fiberglass, which as a metal coating that is lighter and more suitable for wearing, especially for scenes where the pack was not active.

Sadly, The Rocketeer ended up flopping – The movie had a production budget of $35 million. However, it just made $ 46 million at the box office. Despite that, The Rocketeer still gained a cult following. But what made them flop in 1991? It is because when The Rocketeer was released, it had pretty stiff competition in the market. Movies such as Terminator 2, City Slickers, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and Point Break was just some of the competition that Rocketeer had during its box office run.

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