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Trivia / Howard the Duck

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The comic book


The movie

  • Big Name Fan: Seth Rogen has mentioned that Howard was one of his favorite movies as a kid, albeit in a chiefly ironic way.
  • Box Office Bomb: Budget, $37 million. Box office, $38 million.note 
  • Creator Killer:
    • Before the release of the movie, Willard Huyck had directed three movies, and he and wife Gloria Katz (who co-wrote Howard the Duck) had collaborated with George Lucas on many projects like American Graffiti, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and even A New Hope. Since the failure of Howard, they haven't worked on a single theatrical release, with their only subsequent credit being Radioland Murders — and even then they only got credit based on a draft of the screenplay dating back to 1974.
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    • The film also caused Frank Price to resign as the head of Universal Pictures (the movie's production allegedly led to a fight between him and MCA boss Sid Sheinberg, which the two men denied happened). Variety reported it with the headline "'Duck' Cooks Price's Goose". Price would reappear at Columbia Pictures a few years later.
    • This film, Labyrinth the same year, and an acrimonious divorce resulted in George Lucas agreeing to sell his Pixar division to Steve Jobs for $10 million; Lucasfilm and Pixar wouldn't be united under one roof again fully until 2012. The whole matter didn't help Lucas's career out a whole lot, but he remained in business.
  • Franchise Killer: The negative fallout from this movie's creation and bombing, along with the newly christened Walt Disney Company complaining about Howard looking like Donald Duck, resulted in Marvel Comics pushing Howard onto the backburner of their comic book lineup for decades, until Disney actually purchased them under Bob Iger's orders in 2009.
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  • Keep Circulating the Tapes: Due to its less-than-glorious reputation, it was only officially released on DVD in 2009.note  To everyone's shock, it actually got a Blu-ray release for the 30th anniversary, subverting the trope for now.
  • Money, Dear Boy: George Lucas pushed for this film's wide release to pay off the debts for his divorce and the expansive Skywalker Ranch he had just had built. Its failure forced him to sell off many of his assets, one of which being his computer graphics division (Marvel, Lucasfilm, and said division would all be reunited under Disney's banner by 2012).
  • The Mountains of Illinois: The film is pointedly set in Cleveland, as is the original comic, but shot in Southern California, as evidenced by the palm trees in the background of some shots. Savvy viewers will also notice a few scenes shot in San Francisco, including the museum exteriors. Additionally, while Cleveland does have both a natural history museum and an aquarium, they are on opposite ends of town, not in the same building.
  • Old Shame: Everyone involved except Lea Thompson, who said, "If I did it, I own it. It’s just really fun to see people having fun celebrating Howard the Duck in all its great silliness and blemishes."
  • Recursive Adaptation: This film adaptation of a comic book was given its own comic book adaptation as a three-issue miniseries.
  • Unintentional Period Piece: A lot of the classic styles, fashions, hairstyles, and trends of the 1980s are shown in all their laughable glory here.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • The DVD featurettes of the film mention that the writers were talking about the film being worked out as an animated film. The featurettes also mention that the idea to make the film animated was scrapped because the studio wanted the film to be released in the summer of 1986, and there wasn't enough time to produce an animated film. One can wonder what would have happened if we had gotten an animated feature of Howard the Duck. The closest thing we can get is this fanmade animation of Howard.
    • Rob Paulsen and Townsend Coleman of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987) fame had both auditioned for the voice of Howard, as did Martin Short, John Cusack and Jason Alexander.
    • Paula Abdul, Kim Basinger, Jodi Benson, Sarah Jessica Parker, Lori Singer, Tori Amos, and Phoebe Cates were all considered for the role of Beverly.
    • John Landis was originally slated to direct the film, but after reading the script turned down the opportunity due to the police car crashes in the finale. He felt this was too similar to his previous film, The Blues Brothers.
  • This film managed to tie Under the Cherry Moon to co-win the Worst Picture of 1986 Golden Raspberry Award. Howard the Duck is technically the first of three comic book–based films to win the Worst Picture Razzie, being followed by two superhero comic book movies in the 21st Century: Catwoman in 2004, and Fantastic Four in 2015.


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