How 1991's The Addams Family Nearly Got Derailed

Orion was in dire straits by then though. It’s not as if The Addams Family was going wildly over budget. Originally costed at $25 million, it came in $5 million over budget, courtesy of some new material that had been added to the script once cameras started rolling. It would have expected a modest return for its investment too – although Hook was still expected to steamroller the Christmas 1991 box office (which it didn’t) – but it simply couldn’t wait for the cash. Orion was out of options.

Just as an aside here, the film was also one affected by the growing Hollywood trend of test screenings. Originally, the Mamushka music sequence, one of the highlights of the film, was a lot longer. However, as Entertainment Weekly reported back in 1991, that scene was butchered by a test screening.  Why was it cut? “Perhaps the blame lies with a couple hundred Valley Boys who considered ‘The Mamushka’ a real showstopper. Their negative reaction to a preview of the movie evidently helped shape its final form,” EW reported.

But back to Orion. Perhaps the one saving grace was that its sale of The Addams Family was completed quickly, but it was still being done while the film was shooting. One day, Scott Rudin was reporting into one studio. The day after, he had another on the phone, wanting to get up to speed on what was happening. Rudin had to juggle that, all the while whilst his first time director fought to get the film finished.

As it turned out, Paramount would get a bargain. The studio finally gave the project some security, and filming would wrap in April 1991. The major hassles were over. But there was still a slight sting in the tail.

Release

The journey seemed to have come to an end when the film was finally released in November 1991. But even then, there were problems. One of them, oddly enough, was only resolved last year.

That’s because ongoing rights problems gave the film unforeseen issues come the DVD era. For when Paramount bought the project from Orion, it turned out that it didn’t get the full foreign distribution rights, which are now held by MGM. MGM titles are distributed in some territories by Fox. Are you still following this? The bottom line here is that when it came to the DVD release of the film, outside of the UK and US and one or two territories, rights problems meant that most countries couldn’t get a release of The Addams Family on DVD until 2013. Yep: over a decade on, the shadow of Orion’s sudden sale of the project was still being cast.

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