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Trivia / The Iron Giant

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  • Acclaimed Flop: Critics gave the film overwhelmingly positive reviews (96% "Certified Fresh" on Rotten Tomatoes, and 85 out of 100 "universal acclaim" on Metacritic), moviegoers loved the film as well (earning an "A" grade from Cinemascore), and it won nine Annie Awards out of 15 nominations (winning every category it was nominated in), including Best Animated Feature Film. Unfortunately, the movie flopped at the box office, making only $31.3 million worldwide against a production budget of $48 million ($80 million including prints and advertising), mostly due to the lack of marketing by Warner Bros. The studio later did a 180 and gave it a marketing blitz on home video instead, and the movie's gathered a large cult following since then. Much of its following also comes from Cartoon Network, which used to run the film in annual all-day marathons on Thanksgiving.
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  • Actor Allusion: Kent Mansley's reaction to finding half his car missing is identical to Shooter McGavin's reaction to seeing the giant Mr. Larson.
  • Actor-Shared Background: Just like his character Shannon Rogard, the late John Mahoney served in the U.S. Army.
  • Adored by the Network:
    • After Ted Turner saw the film on an in-flight movie and declared it one of the best films he'd ever seen, he started Cartoon Network's infamous 24-hour marathons during Thanksgiving weekend in the early 2000s, which helped it gain its cult following. The crew for Transformers: Prime even cite this film as an influence on their show's friendship between the Autobots and the humans.
    • Warner Bros. seems to have gone out of its way to "apologize" for screwing up the film's theatrical run by giving it a huge marketing blitz on home video, funding the new scenes for the signature edition (and allowing a no-holds-barred documentary to be included on the DVD) and re-releasing it in theaters sixteen years later, once they discovered how popular it was.
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  • Approval of God: Ted Hughes, author of book this movie is based on, absolutely adored the movie. Sadly, he didn't live to see it completed. The film was dedicated to his memory.
  • Box Office Bomb: Even on a relatively small budget of $48 million (with another $32 million for prints and advertising), its original theatrical run grossed barely half of that amount. It would later go on to earn over $100 million in video sales, making it profitable from there.
  • Deleted Scenes
    • Two which were animated for the Signature Edition: one in which the Giant has a dream flashing back to its origin as one of an army who destroyed other alien worlds and another in which Annie and Dean chat about Hogarth at the diner, developing their relationship.
    • One scene in which Hogarth and Annie briefly talk about his deceased father after getting their car out of a mud puddle.
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    • The original opening had the Giant crashing down on a much larger sea crew as they were caught in the eye of the storm.
    • Another scene would have shown how Hogarth's above-average intelligence made him unpopular at school, explaining why he didn't have any friends his age. It also would have shown more of Cloris Leachman's performance as Hogarth's teacher. In the movie proper, this is relegated to a passing line during Hogarth's espresso-fueled monologue and Leachman's role was reduced to a single line ("Don't make me come over there!")
  • Doing It for the Art: A new rendering software was created specifically for the CGI giant to give him small imperfections so as to blend better with the 2D characters.
    • The montage of Mansley grilling Hogarth about the Giant required new layouts and backgrounds to be created for every single cut, many of which last less than a second!
  • Dueling Movies: With Disney's entry for its canon that year, Tarzan, though it was hardly a duel: the Disney film had a year's worth of hype, not to mention notoriety out the wazoo, which this scrappy little film made by a tentative subsidiary of Warner Bros. and only saw a few weeks of advertisement couldn't compete with. The Iron Giant won out in the long run, though, for Tarzan has since faded into a footnote on Disney's history while Giant is now called one of the greatest animated features ever.note 
  • Enforced Method Acting: Director Brad Bird made Eli Marienthal (the voice of Hogarth) run laps around the studio in order to sound realistically out-of-breath for one scene (he did this again later with Spencer Fox, the voice of Dash, in The Incredibles).
  • Fan Nickname: "Hog Hug", used by some fans to refer to Hogarth because of one scene.
  • Image Source:
  • In Memoriam: A dedication of Ted Hughes appears in the ending credits.
  • Invisible Advertising: And how!
    • Warner Bros.' ambitions to get into feature animation were dampened after Quest for Camelot bombed and were reluctant to spend money on advertising, constantly pussyfooting around Brad Bird's perpetual request for a release date, even when production was nearing its deadline. It eventually got to the point that a crew member had to leak a workprint of the film to several journalists just to get word-of-mouth going. Warners eventually settled on a release date after several extremely positive test screenings, but only gave the film a few weeks to advertise as a result (compare to Disney's Tarzan, which was being advertised a year in advance).
    • What little advertising that eventually saw the light of day was either vague or inaccurate. One of its only two posters was in the style of a '50s B-Movie-style with the tagline "It came from outer space!" while the trailers played it up as a Totally Radical movie about "The newest face of heavy metal," complete with cheesy thrash metal music. Brad Bird went to a multiplex in LA opening weekend and had a panic attack when he saw no posters or even a lobby card, only a disheveled cardboard cutout outside its one theater and a hand written note scotch-tapped to the times, respectively. The screening itself only had an audience of about a dozen.
    • Warner Bros. made up for it by going all-out with the home video release once it did well critically.
  • Reality Subtext: After being hired to direct the film, Brad Bird read the original Ted Hughes novel and was surprised to discover that Hughes had written to as a way to cope with his wife's suicide. Bird, in turn, decided that he would change the story for the film to an anti-gun allegory as a way of coping with his sister's murder at gunpoint a decade prior, making the titular Giant "a gun with a soul who didn't want to be a gun."
  • Throw It In!: The witness calling Agent Mansley "Mr. Manly" was actually a mistake by the actor, but they kept it in because it added to the gag of Mansley being a No Respect Guy.
  • Troubled Production: As described in the documentary, A Giant's Dream, and on This Very Wiki: an extremely short turnaround time, a crew consisting mostly of first-time feature film artists, and an apathetic studio who waited too long to decide whether or not to advertise it.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • In early storyboards, the deer died while the Giant tried to pet it, and actually squished it instead. The writers revised this to hunters shooting the deer, after deeming it implausible that Hogarth's mantra, "It's bad to kill, but it's not bad to die," could relieve the Giant of guilt caused by killing.
    • The first choice to voice the giant was Peter Cullen. That's right, Optimus Prime would have been the voice of the Iron Giant. Vin Diesel got the role instead due to Brad Bird's amazement with his soft-spoken, but still powerful, performance in the short Multi-Facial.
    • Other early casting choices included John Travolta as Dean and Arnold Schwarzenegger as Kent Mansley, whom Brad Bird passed up in favor of less well-known actors.
    • The movie was originally conceived as an Animated Adaptation of Pete Townshend's Rock Opera based on the original book, but Brad Bird didn't want to put out yet another Animated Musical in a market already so saturated with them.
    • The film was going to have a more cartoony style as seen in the very early concept art for both The Giant and Hogarth.
  • The Wiki Rule: Here is the wiki site for the movie.
  • Word of St. Paul: Christopher McDonald jokingly claimed that Kent's desperate attempts to gain respect from his government superiors by capturing the giant are all in the hope that he'll be able to eventually run for congress.
  • Writing by the Seat of Your Pants: The film was made in the span of 2-and-a-half years, half the production time of the typical animated feature. Thankfully, Brad Bird's television background, as well as his sheer tenacity, helped the film get finished ahead of schedule. It was the first animated feature to crudely animate its storyboards (using a primitive version of Adobe AfterEffects) to give a clearer idea of how shots would look in their final form, a practice used to this day.
  • Word of God: When asked about making a sequel Brad Bird said:
    "Two simple answers:
    1) On its original release, the film was a financial flop.
    2) There’s no need. The first one tells the story I set out to tell. Some stories actually end with THE END."


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