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Trivia / Dark City

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  • Acclaimed Flop: Roger Ebert heaped praise on it, giving the movie four stars; but it barely broke even in terms of box office gross. It has since been Vindicated by History and is held up as a classic.
  • Actor-Inspired Element: After Richard O'Brien was cast as Mr Hand, the rest of the actors playing the Strangers were told to match his performance.
  • Box Office Bomb: Budget, $27 million. Box office, $14,378,331 (domestic), $27,200,316 (worldwide). Although Roger Ebert called this the best film of the year, most critics gave it OK reviews largely due to its Executive Meddling mandated cuts. It quickly became a Cult Classic and its subsequent director's cut allowed it to become Vindicated by History.
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  • California Doubling: Averted. The only real giveaway that the filming took place primarily in a studio near Sydney is the somewhat out of place Australian accent of a young police officer who talks to Detective Bumstead in one scene. Also, the director happens to be from Australia.
  • Cast the Runner-Up: William Hurt was initially asked to play Dr Schreber, but ended up cast as Inspector Bumstead. Dr. Schreber himself was conceived as being an older man, but Alex Proyas felt that making the character younger gave him more reason to try and rebel.
  • The Cast Showoff: Although her voice was, for whatever strange reason, dubbed by Anita Kelsey in the theatrical version, that's really Jennifer Connelly singing at the jazz club in the director's cut, and she's really quite good at it.
  • Dueling Movies: A four-way contest between The Matrix, The Thirteenth Floor and eXistenZ. Although The Matrix easily won that duel, Dark City wins second place for its cult following and for its influence on Sci-Fi.
  • Executive Meddling:
    • Viewers Are Morons, so we have to explain the plot in an Opening Narration so they don't get confused and scared. Thankfully excised in the Directors Cut (or just mute the sound for the first few minutes.)
    • The movie was given an R rating by the MPAA mostly because it had a "weird" concept (there were a few shots of topless women, but their collective duration is very short). At least that's what they'd have you believe: according to Matt Stone and the documentary This Film Is Not Yet Rated, the MPAA is extremely unkind to independent features and will rate them as anything, whether or not they see fit. Before they were bought by Warner Bros.., New Line Cinema couldn't even get the MPAA to return their phone calls.
  • Fake American: Rufus Sewell (British), Melissa George (Australian), Colin Friels (Scottish-born Australian) and Bruce Spence (New Zealand-Australian) all do very good American accents.
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  • Flip-Flop of God: There are two differing opinions between the director Alex Proyas and the co-writer David S Goyer. Proyas believes the humans are the inhabitants of an interstellar space ship that were abducted by the Strangers. Goyer on the other hand believes they're all actually dead and the city is a sort of purgatory for them.
  • Focus Group Ending: Test screening audiences were "troubled" by the notion that the entire city wasn't sucked out into space once the Shell City Wall was breached. Thus, a last minute SFX addition of Bumstead and a Stranger drifting through a force field was created.
  • Non-Singing Voice: Jennifer Connelly's singing is dubbed in the theatrical version, but her real voice is in the Director's Cut. If you listen to her voice in the director's cut, she sounds great, only slightly unpolished and without the vocal training of a proper pro singer. Which makes perfect sense; Emma Murdoch isn't a professional singer either, this is just the job the Strangers have most recently assigned her.
  • Prop Recycling: Several of the sets from this film were reused in The Matrix, most recognizably the corrugated rooftops seen during Trinity's run from the cops in the opening, and the staircase with the black-and-white tile floor from the SWAT raid and Morpheus' capture.
  • Playing Against Type: Jack Bauer as a creepy, limping, and cowardly German scientist.
  • Shrug of God: Alex Proyas says of those who suggest the Strangers parallel the Greek Gods manipulating mortals?
    "I do like Greek mythology and have read a little of it, so maybe some of it has crept into the work, though I don't completely agree with that point of view."
  • Unbuilt Casting Type: In one of his earlier roles, Rufus Sewell plays around with his later typecasting as villains - as it's left in doubt whether John Murdock is actually a serial killer. He's not and he's meant to be implanted with that persona.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • An early draft of the script would have had Dr. Schreber getting skinned alive during the climax. The Strangers were also going to win, making for a complete Downer Ending in the process.
    • Bumstead was the main character in the early draft - which revolved around a 1940s detective who goes insane trying to solve a case where the facts do not make sense. Alex Proyas felt it was better to set it from the perspective of the guy being chased instead.
    • The first draft of the script by Alex Proyas was vastly different from the finished film. It includes the appearance of the Strangers, the setting of a perennial Dark City, and the fact that John Murdoch is wanted for a series of murders that he does not recall committing. Notable aspects of the initial script include an evil robotic puppy accompanying the Strangers (which would attack savagely with its steel jaws) and a climactic trial for John Murdoch. The reanimated corpses of the victims would testify against Murdoch in the trial, and even John's wife would be a witness.
  • Word of God: On the DVD Commentary, David S. Goyer reveals two possible explanations for the origin of the inhabitants of Dark City. In his original story outline, Alex Proyas believed the humans to have been passengers aboard an interstellar spaceship which was captured by the Strangers. Goyer favors a more spiritual approach, supposing that the humans are in fact dead and that Dark City is a sort of purgatory made up of people the Strangers have selected or abducted from different eras in history.


  • Keep Circulating the Tapes: Not only is their first and only album hard to find, with the CD version going for rather high prices on auction sites, but their non-album singles are incredibly rare and only on LP, making them vulnerable to disc rot. In other words, good luck actually listening to this band.
  • Unintentional Period Piece: Even for a Synth-Pop band from smack dap in the middle of the 80's, they're pretty damn 80's. To the point that if you wanted to define Synth-Pop quickly & easily for someone, just play one of their songs, and they'd instantly understand what you mean.


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