Randal Kleiser discusses the Grease phenomena, the new Sing-A-Long and more
In the late 70s, a TV director made his feature film directorial debut with a little musical that ended up changing the game as we know it. In 1978, Randal Kleiser's Grease was unleashed on the world and it was a smashing success. The film took in just shy of $160 million at the domestic box office which, if you count the nearly $30 million it took in during re-releases and adjust for inflation, would equate to $611.5 million today. Clearly, this film is a blockbuster in any day and age and it is set to prove that once more with a brand new re-release entitled Grease Sing-A-Long, which will be released with a fully restored print and song lyrics for the audience to sing-a-long to starting on July 9. (For more information on where you can find the film and how you can even Demand It to come to your area, you can CLICK HERE for all the details, as well as take a look at the new Sing-A-Long trailer). I had the distinct pleasure to speak with director Randal Kleiser over the phone about this new theatrical event and here's what he had to say.
This has to be a little surreal for you, this whole process of restoration and bringing your first film back into theaters. Can you just talk a bit about how this whole process has been for you?
Randal Kleiser: It's been great. I was just down at the Hollywood Bowl for a sound check and the movie has never looked better, ever. It's so incredible what they can do with today's technology with the negatives. They were able to add some colors and sharpen the picture and I've never seen that in the movie before. They're able to pull out all of these details and I'm really happy with it.
What does this whole aspect of being able to sing along in the theater to these wonderful songs really bring to this experience of seeing in in the theater again?
Randal Kleiser: It's so exciting because they all know the words and all these fans have been watching this for years and years and years. It's fantastic to see these kids jump to their feet and do all the moves.
There have been stories that when you were making the film, that you weren't a fan of certain musical numbers and, since this was your first film, that you didn't have the clout to change things. How different would this film have been if you would have been able to change things? Would that have been a better thing or a worse thing for this film?
Randal Kleiser: If I had total control of the movie, it probably wouldn't have been as good. I didn't really understand what demo's were. I had never heard of them and they brought me all these demo's of songs and I thought, 'Wow, this sounds really horrible.' But the producers called me down and said, 'Well I like it,' so I said, 'OK, all right, we'll do it.' With the title song, I thought the lyrics were all wrong.
At what point in the process did you realize that, despite what you originally thought, that it actually did work and would turn into the classic that it became?
Randal Kleiser: Well, I think during the mix, when everything was all together and I heard the final songs performed. I couldn't really tell on the set because we didn't have the final tracks.
Besides this being your first film, can you talk about some of the biggest production challenges in getting this film made?
With this re-release, I believe there is a two-week run in theaters and with the Demand It campaign, will this extend beyond those two weeks?
Randal Kleiser: Yeah, that's the idea behind the Demand It campaign, to see who in America wants to see this. Once they get a certain amount of people, then Paramount will have it out for another two weeks. It all depends on the fans out there and if they Demand It.
Will there also be a new DVD and Blu-ray of this restored version, with all the lyrics on the screen? Is that in the works as well?
Randal Kleiser: I wouldn't be surprised. This is the first I've heard of it, but why not?
Yeah, absolutely. Especially with all the interactivity with Blu-ray, it would be a perfect fit.
Randal Kleiser: Yeah, it seems like it would be.
Is there anything that you're working on right now that you can tell us about?
Randal Kleiser: I have a couple of projects that are getting closer that I can't really talk about.
When I was doing some research for this, I found out that you were college roommates with George Lucas. This came out a year after Star Wars and they were these two revolutionary movies within a year of each other. Have you kept in touch with George and have you talked about the kind of impact your films have had over the years?
Randal Kleiser: Yeah, yeah, I talk to George. He actually helped me produce a DVD about a famous teacher at the USC film school.
Great. Well, that's my time. Thanks so much, Randall.
Randal Kleiser: Thanks, Brian.
You can watch Randal Kleiser's legendary film Grease in a way you've never seen it before at the Grease Sing-A-Long, which will be out in select theaters on July 9. You can visit GreaseMovie.com for information on what cities the film is playing in this weekend, how to Demand It, the new Sing-A-Long trailer and much more.