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Trivia / Can't Stop the Music

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  • Box Office Bomb: Budget, $20 million. Box office, $2 million.
  • Creator Backlash:
    • After the movie's theatrical release, David Hodo (the Village People's construction worker character) said as much.
      When I first read the script, I threw it across the room. I though it was a piece of crap. It read like one of those stupid old Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney pictures. We didn't believe in the movie, but no one would listen to us! You can only go on for so long being a joke.
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    • Caitlyn Jenner was also dismissive of the movie. Jenner was once quoted as saying:
      What Can't Stop the Music proved is that you can stop the music.
  • Creator Killer:
    • The film contributed to this happening to two studios. While in both cases there were other factors, Can't Stop the Music cannot have helped matters any:
      • Some have suggested that Can't Stop the Music ended up killing music label EMI's film studio, but Honky Tonk Freeway, released just a year later, was, in reality, the bigger perpetrator. Much like Can't Stop the Music, it got scathing reviews from critics (in its case for its stereotyping of American culture), but added to that was the revelation that the film was financed by executive producer Roy Tucker through tax dodging schemes with assistance from a banking cartel (which prompted EMI to sell the film rights to investors to clean their hands of the matter), which led to audiences staying away from the movie in theaters and was taken out of the screens after only a week. As a result, Honky Tonk Freeway flopped instantly, and EMI Films spent its final five years producing or financing a string of moderately to poorly successful films before EMI sold the studio to businessman Alan Bond (who would end up becoming the target of press controversy for scandals that same decade), who in turn sold the assets to The Cannon Group.
      • Meanwhile, Lord Lew Grade, head of Britain's ITC Entertainment (producers of cult shows, including many Gerry Anderson series and The Muppet Show), had film aspirations, which led him to team up with EMI for the American joint venture Associated Film Distribution. At first, it seemed like good things were in store, with The Muppet Movie performing very well. Then Can't Stop the Music happened. Another blow against him occurred with one of the ITC/AFD films he sold, The Legend of the Lone Ranger, caused controversy when ITC tried to force the old Lone Ranger actor, Clayton Moore, to stop making public appearances as the character like he'd been doing for years. This caused extremely negative publicity for the film and the studio, particularly in the United States, where Moore was considered to be a national treasure. The general public overwhelmingly took Moore's side and stayed away from the movie; as a result, it significantly underperformed at the box office. Another bomb occurred with Grade's adaptation of Raise the Titanic!, which was so messy, Grade himself commented "It would've been cheaper to lower the Atlantic." Grade realized that this wasn't working and cut a deal with Universal to release the remaining ITC/AFD backlog. ITC never really recovered from these, and thanks to the loss of their sister ATV (which had been semi-replaced in the ITV network by Central), they went into freefall, with Grade kicked out in 1982 by corporate raider Robert Holmes a Court; the next few years saw asset-stripping and ITC withering on the vine, their nadir probably being the distribution house for the infamous 1990 revival of Tic-Tac-Dough. They were briefly owned by PolyGram Filmed Entertainment in the mid-90s, and Grade himself briefly came back, but it wasn't enough. Grade died in 1998, and ITC was essentially shut down, with the library passed between multiple owners.
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    • Publicity for the theatrical release stated that Nancy Walker was the first woman to direct a multi-million dollar musical, and had been signed to a three-picture contract, which was rescinded when the film tanked. She maintained a steady television career until her 1992 death.
    • Producer Allan Carr never recovered from it, though he still managed to mastermind the infamous opening number to the 1989 Oscars with Snow White and Rob Lowe; this event was ripped into pieces and bits by critics and brought Snow White supremo Disney down on the Academy and Carr like a load of bricks, destroying his career for good.
    • Combined with the nosediving popularity of disco and their attempt two years later to reinvent themselves as a new wave group, this movie also spelled the end of the Village People's popularity.
  • Dueling Works:
    • With Xanadu, another disco musical released in 1980 that involves alumni of the 1978 blockbuster Grease (producer Allan Carr and screenwriter Bronte Woodard with Can't Stop the Music, and lead actress Olivia Newton-John with Xanadu. Carr even wanted Newton-John for the female lead in Can't Stop, but it didn't work out) which doubles as Non Actor Vehicles (Can't Stop for the Village People and Caitlyn Jenner, Xanadu for Newton-John).
    • The film also opened the same day as another, far more successful musical — The Blues Brothers.
  • Gay Panic: The film not only downplays the gay subculture that influenced The Village People, but actually makes the group appear straight.
  • Genre-Killer: This film and Xanadu effectively killed the non-Disney musical, which was already crippled during the 1970s and by then was only kept afloat by the now-extinct disco craze. While the genre is not completely dead, as Moulin Rouge! (2001) and Chicago (2002) sparked renewed interest in musicals, and the genre seems to be making a comeback with the combined critical and commercial successes of Into the Woods (2014) and La La Land (2016), musicals are not considered particularly standard.
  • Hostility on the Set: Tensions between Valerie Perrine and director Nancy Walker rose on the set to the point that Walker would not be present for scenes featuring Perrine, leaving director of photography Bill Butler to direct in her place
  • Star-Derailing Role:
  • What Could Have Been: The role of Samantha was originally offered to Olivia Newton-John, who turned it down to do Xanadu. Raquel Welch was considered but was vetoed by the Village People because David Hodo, who had a musical theater background, apparently heard "horror stories" about her. Jacqueline Bisset and Cher were also considered.
  • Working Title: Discoland: Where the Music Never Ends.

Can't Stop the Music is the inaugural winner of the Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Picture, and it was a double feature of this and Xanadu that inspired its founder John "J. B." Wilson to start the awards.