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Trivia / Xanadu

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  • Actor Allusion: Danny's "oh, I've been known to twinkle a toe or two".
  • Box Office Bomb: It made $22 million at the box office, enough to earn back its budget (which was somewhere in the $15-20 million range), but a very weak take compared with all the hype the film had gotten, plus the soundtrack album going double platinum and spawning some big hits.
  • Breakaway Pop Hit: "Magic", "Suddenly", and the title song. "Magic" was a hit to the point where most people who have heard it have no idea it was originally from a motion picture soundtrack.
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  • Executive Meddling: Universal Pictures moved the release of the film from Christmas 1980 to summer 1980, which in particular affected the film's special effects.
  • Genre-Killer: Granted, live action movie musicals weren't all that in style in the late 70s/early 80s, and the failures of both this film and fellow disco musical Can't Stop the Music ensured that it remained dead for another couple of decades. And neither helped the already dismal reputation that disco music itself had earned by that point.
  • Money, Dear Boy: The reason for Gene Kelly's involvement. That and the job was close to his home. Still, everybody on the film talked about Kelly he was a pleasure to work with, and Kelly in turn stated that working with Olivia Newton-John was great.
  • Non-Singing Voice: Michael Beck doesn't sing in this movie. He was dubbed by Cliff Richard.
  • Old Shame:
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    • For Electric Light Orchestra, who wrote and performed several of the songs. Jeff Lynne eventually came to terms with it, though, and released an album with rerecorded Xanadu tracks.
    • For director Robert Greenwald, whose next-most-famous work is The Burning Bed, and who reinvented himself in the 21st century as a left-wing muckraking documentary director (Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism, Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price).
    • Michael Beck (the guy from The Warriors). As mentioned below in Star-Derailing Role, he has been quoted as saying that The Warriors opened a lot of doors for him, which Xanadu then closed.
  • Older Than They Think: This was not the first time Gene Kelly has been seen in a film on roller skates. He was also on roller skates in 1955's It’s Always Fair Weather.
  • Release Date Change: Joel Silver, Robert Greenwald and Victor J. Kemper wanted more elaborate special effects, but that became impossible when Universal Pictures moved the release from Christmas 1980 to summer 1980.
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  • Romance on the Set: This is where Olivia Newton-John met her first husband, Matt Lattanzi - he played young Danny in the flashback sequence.
  • Star-Derailing Role:
  • Unintentional Period Piece: A veritable time capsule of late 70s - early 80s fads, fashion, and music styles.
  • Vindicated by Cable: The movie was trashed by critics but it picked up its core audience on pay cable channels. Especially in the early 80s era, when HBO (which until 1981 didn't even operate on a 24-hour schedule) had a very small library of movies to air.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • Olivia Newton-John had to choose between doing this movie or Can't Stop the Music. All things considered, she probably chose wisely.
    • Andy Gibb was originally cast as Sonny. John Travolta was also offered the role, which would have paired him again with Newton-John after Grease.note 
    • Gene Kelly originally refused to dance when he accepted the role. He only warmed up to the idea after getting to know the choreographers. Even the big number of him with Olivia Newton-John was only added after production had wrapped, and Kelly demanded a closed set with only the minimal essential crew present. Still, everybody on the film talked about how he was a pleasure to work with.
  • Writing by the Seat of Your Pants: According to Olivia Newton-John (and confirmed by Robert Greenwald), the script was written during filming.
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