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Trivia / James and the Giant Peach

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  • Acclaimed Flop: Critics and audiences liked it (and still do) pretty well, but it failed to repeat the financial success of Disney's previous stop motion feature and they wouldn't make another one until the release of Frankenweenie 16 years later (deals between them and Henry Selick repeatedly fell through, even after he directed the non-Disney Coraline to great acclaim). Peach is one of at least four movies to come from a Roald Dahl story to turn into an Acclaimed Flop, with Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, Fantastic Mr. Fox and The BFG being the other three (the latter is another Disney project, but replaces Burton's role in the creation of the film with Steven Spielberg).
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  • Acting for Two: In addition to playing Aunt Sponge, Miriam Margolyes also voices the Glowworm.
  • Actor-Shared Background: In the film, the Centipede mentions that he's from Brooklyn. His voice actor, Richard Dreyfuss, actually hails from that area.
  • Box Office Bomb: Budget, $38 million. Box office, $37.7 million. This would not be the last Roald Dahl film to underperform, and it wasn't the first.
  • Celebrity Voice Actor: Most notably Richard Dreyfuss as Centipede and Susan Sarandon as Ms. Spider.
  • Creator Killer: The last of only two projects created by Skellington Productions, Disney's stop-motion division assembled for The Nightmare Before Christmas.
  • Executive Meddling: Dahl's widow Felicity liked Lane Smith's character designs so much, she asked him to create new illustrations for a new printing of Dahl's book. When Disney became aware, they told Smith to create new character designs for the book, because they owned his film designs. In Disney's defense, though, the way the bugs look in the film are a little different from how they're described in the original book (especially the Centipede), so Smith likely would have had to re-design the characters anyway to accommodate Dahl's original narrative.
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  • Fake Brit: American Steven Culp as James' father.
  • Non-Singing Voice: Jeff Bennett provides the singing for the Centipede. Sally Stevens as the Glowworm, albeit uncredited.
  • Prop Recycling: The Skeletal Pirate captain's head is recycled from Jack Skellington's puppet, from The Nightmare Before Christmas three years ago.
  • Playing Against Type: Mike Starr, who is known for playing foul-mouthed tough guys, has a cameo in the end as the caring beat cop who helps James when he arrives in New York.
  • Role Reprise: In a production sense—Lane Smith illustrated Dahl's book, and he returned for the film as a concept designer.
  • Saved from Development Hell: This film took twelve years to reach the screen. Roald Dahl himself was convinced that the property would never make a viable film.
  • She Also Did: Animator Josephine T. Huang is also the co-founder of stop-motion animation studio (W)Holesome Products, Inc., along with her husband Stephen Holman. There, she was the animation director for Life With Loopy and co-creator of Phantom Investigators.
  • What Could Have Been:
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    • Aside from the peach being a cherry in the original manuscript of the book, there was a deleted scene supposed to play after the credits in the film that revealed what happened to Spiker and Sponge: still wrapped up in their silk cocoon, they were put on display in the Central Park Zoo labeled as unknown species, and are shown bickering and demanding a separate cage.
    • Screenwriters Dennis Potter and Bruce Joel Rubin each wrote drafts for the film, which were both rejected by Disney and the Dahl estate for deviating too much from the original book.
      • Potter would have set the story during World War 2, have James mother die in the Blitzkrieg of London, and his father ( who was an RAF pilot in Potter's script) supposedly die from being shot down on enemy territory, only to reveal he survived at the very end and become the mayor of New York City. The Dahl estate was especially against the idea of having James father turn out to be alive.
      • Rubin's script would have had the entire movie turn out to be just a dream, and end with James waking up in bed.
    • Early plans for the aunts getting to New York were simply to have them take an airplane or a cruise ship, until story artist Kelly Asbury suggested having them show up in their flattened car covered with seaweed and kelp, implying that they were so determined to get their peach back, they literally drove across the Atlantic ocean floor. The story team liked this idea much better and figured that since the movie was a fantasy, the audience would have an easier time accepting it.
    • Selick, Burton and Skellington Productions announced plans for an adaptation of Carol Hughes's book Toots and the Upside Down House in the same live-action/stop-motion hybrid style as James, with Miramax Films (which was owned by Disney at the time) handling production and a Fall 1997 release date. Sadly, when James and the Giant Peach underperformed at the box office, Disney closed down Skellington Productions and canceled the film.
    • Bruno Kirby tested for the role of Centipede.

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