This year marks the 40th anniversary of the release of Grease, which remains as iconic a film today as it did when it was first released in 1978
Originally released to North American theatres on 16th June 1978, Grease was an immediate box office success. In its opening weekend, the film grossed $8,941,717 in the United States and Canada, ranking No. 2, behind Jaws 2 at the box office for the weekend and with the all-time opening weekend records. Despite losing the weekend, Grease set a record gross in its first 19 days with $40,272,000.
The UK release came on 14th September 1978 and it tells the story of the friendships, romances and adventures of a group of high school kids in the 1950s, with wholesome exchange student, Sandy (Olivia Newton-John) and a leather-clad Danny (John Travolta) having a summer romance. But what happens when they meet again at Rydell High School? We’re sure everyone knows the story well and how it ends, such is its iconic status!
But did you know that Grease cost just £3.6m to make, while earning almost £290m at the box office in 1978? It has earned that sum again in re-runs and video and DVD sales.
The music soundtrack was a smash too, turning the relatively unknown Olivia Newton-John into a global star with her first major movie role. And globally, it was the highest-grossing musical ever, eclipsing the 13-year-old record held by The Sound of Music. However, this has since been overtaken by Les Misérables, Mamma Mia! and the 2017 release of Beauty and the Beast, making Grease now the fourth highest-grossing live action musical.
To celebrate the 40th anniversary, cinemas around the country premiered a re-mastered and improved version of the film. But what of the main stars, Sandy and Danny? Olivia is currently battling her second bout of breast cancer. She beat the condition in 1992, but insists she is “feeling good”. Even though she was born in Cambridge, England, Olivia grew up in Australia and is seen by fans as an Aussie – and she played a native Aussie in her famous role as Sandy Olsen in Grease!
Olivia’s career has spanned five decades and has seen her sell over 100 million albums. “It’s the 40 year anniversary of Grease, which I can’t believe,” says Olivia. “Time goes so fast. It is so exciting.”
Meanwhile, after Grease John Travolta continued to make films, with the Hollywood star featuring in hits such as Pulp Fiction, Look Who’s Talking and Face Off.
The Hollywood star says he is shocked that the movie will be four decades old in June. “Can you believe it? The movie that lasts forever! I’m celebrating it.”
Did you know?
– A sequel, Grease 2, was released in 1982, with Maxwell Caulfield and Michelle Pfeiffer in lead roles. However, few of the original cast members reprised their roles.
– ‘Hopelessly Devoted To You’ was added to the film after filming ended as the producers wanted Sandy to have a solo ballad. Ironically, it went on to be the only song nominated for an Oscar!
– Grease had a product placement agreement with Coca-Cola. However, it fell through too late in the production process. Therefore, any products that would have appeared were blurred out.
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