Hook (film)

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Hook poster transparent.png
Theatrical release poster by Drew Struzan
Directed by Steven Spielberg
Produced by Frank Marshall
Kathleen Kennedy
Gerald R. Molen
Screenplay by James V. Hart
Malia Scotch Marmo
Story by James V. Hart
Nick Castle
Based on Characters created 
by J. M. Barrie
Starring Dustin Hoffman
Robin Williams
Julia Roberts
Bob Hoskins
Maggie Smith
Music by John Williams
Cinematography Dean Cundey
Edited by Michael Kahn
Distributed by TriStar Pictures
Release dates
  • December 11, 1991 (1991-12-11)
Running time 144 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $70 million[1]
Box office $300,854,823

Hook is a 1991 American fantasy adventure film directed by Steven Spielberg and written by James V. Hart and Malia Scotch Marmo. It stars Robin Williams as Peter Pan/Peter Banning, Dustin Hoffman as the character of Captain Hook, Julia Roberts as Tinker Bell, Bob Hoskins as Smee, Maggie Smith as Granny Wendy, Caroline Goodall as Moira Banning, and Charlie Korsmo as Jack Banning. The film acts as a sequel to J. M. Barrie's 1911 novel Peter and Wendy, focusing on a grown-up Peter Pan who has forgotten his childhood. Now known as Peter Banning, he is a successful corporate lawyer with a wife and two children. Hook kidnaps his children, and Peter must return to Neverland and reclaim his youthful spirit in order to challenge his old enemy.

Spielberg began developing the film in the early 1980s with Walt Disney Productions and Paramount Pictures, which would have followed the storyline seen in the 1924 silent film and 1953 animated film. Peter Pan entered pre-production in 1985, but Spielberg abandoned the project. James V. Hart developed the script with director, Nick Castle and TriStar Pictures before Spielberg decided to direct in 1989. Hook was shot almost entirely on sound stages at Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City, California. The film received mostly negative reviews by critics, and while it was a commercial success, its box office intake was lower than expected. However, it was nominated in five categories at the 64th Academy Awards. It also spawned merchandise, including video games, action figures, and comic book adaptations.


Peter Banning (Williams) is a successful corporate lawyer whose career constantly conflicts with his family life. His son, Jack, feels neglected when he attends a play starring his daughter, Maggie, but shows up too late for Jack's baseball game, which causes a strain in their relationship. They travel to London for a banquet honoring his wife Moira's grandmother, Wendy, for her charity work regarding orphans. While the adults are out, a mysterious force comes and kidnaps the children. Upon their return, Toodles, an elderly former ophan living in Wendy's home, tells them that Captain Hook has returned, kidnapped Jack and Maggie and taking them to Neverland. Wendy tries to convince Peter that he is in fact Peter Pan and that he must remember who he is to save his children.

That night, Tinker Bell confronts a drunken Peter and forcibly takes him to Neverland. She convinces Peter to disguise himself as a pirate, but when he sees Hook with his captive children he reveals himself. Hook, disgusted with Peter's adult self, does not believe him to be Pan and wants to kill him and the children. His henchman Smee deduces that spending so long away from Neverland had wiped away Peter's memory of who he was. Hook challenges Peter to fly up and save his children from a hoisted fishing net, which he tries to climb to but can't reach. The climb also reveals Peter's fear of heights. Tinker Bell negotiates with Hook that she can get him ready to fight in three days. Peter is knocked overboard, but he is saved by a school of mermaids and arrives in the Lost Boys' home. Not convinced that the adult is Peter Pan, the boys put him through several humiliating and infuriating trials until he manages to convince them. The current leader of the Lost Boys, Rufio refuses to believe but is forced to go along with it. Meanwhile, Smee convinces Hook to try to turn Jack and Maggie against their father. Maggie refuses to give up, but Jack begins to view Hook as a father figure. When Peter and the boys come to play a prank on Hook as part of his training, Peter sees Jack strike a home run during a pirate baseball game, but becomes upset when Hook calls Jack "son".

Peter returns to the camp determined to learn how to fly. He finds the home the boys had made for Wendy and her brothers. Peter begins to remember who he is, how he originally met Wendy and how he used to go back to London and visit her until she grew too old. With Tinker Bell's help, Peter realizes his happy thought is being a father, which he learned he wanted when he returned to Earth for the final time and met Moira. With his memory restored, he transforms back into Peter Pan and flies around the camp. The Lost Boys celebrate his return, and Rufio returns his sword and accepts him as Pan. Tinker Bell grows sad as she realizes once Peter rescues his kids he'll have to return to Earth again. Her desire for him causes her dream of becoming human-sized to come true. They start kissing, but he remembers Moira and his family and she bids him to go save his children.

On the 3rd day, Peter and the boys prepare for an assault at the Pirates' base, where Hook has brainwashed Jack into thinking he is his son. The Lost Boys manage to rescue Maggie, and Peter wins Jack's love back. Hook stabs Rufio during the fight, and while dying in Peter's arms he tells him that his happy thought was the idea of having a father like him. Peter fights with Hook, but his children beg him not to kill him. Hook uses this to his advantage and pins Peter down, but with Tinker Bell, the Lost Boys and his children sharing their belief in him, Peter outwits Hook. This causes Hook to awaken the long-dead crocodile that had taken his hand. It falls on Hook and devours him. With Neverland free of Hook's tyranny, Peter leaves the largest Lost Boy, Thud-butt, in charge and follows his children home.

Awakening outside of Wendy's home, Peter bids a fond farewell to Tinker Bell and realizes his true priorities are to his family. Locked out of the house, he climbs the drainpipe up to the room where Moira, Wendy and the children are celebrating their return. He comes in, pretending for a moment that he's returned to his former curmudgeonly self before celebrating with them. Toodles, who was once a lost boy himself and is sad about having missed the adventure again. Peter gives him his bag of marbles back, which he lost in Neverland. It contains enough fairy dust for him to fly. As he flies around London, Wendy asks if Peter's adventures are over, and Peter says "No. To live. To live would be an awfully big adventure."



Spielberg's connection[edit]

Spielberg found close personal connection to the film. The troubled relationship between Peter and his son echoed Spielberg's relationship with his father. Previous films of Spielberg that explored a diminishing father-son relationship included E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Peter Banning's "quest for success" paralleled Spielberg starting out as a film director and transforming into a Hollywood business magnate. [2] "I think a lot of people today are losing their imagination because they are work-driven. They are so self-involved with work and success and arriving at the next plateau that children and family almost become incidental. I have even experienced it myself when I have been on a very tough shoot and I've not seen my kids except on weekends. They ask for my time and I can't give it to them because I'm working."[3] Similar to Peter Banning at the beginning of Hook, Spielberg also has a fear of flying. He feels that Peter Pan's "enduring quality" in the storyline is simply to fly. "Anytime anything flies, whether it's Superman, Batman, or E.T., it's got to be a tip of the hat to Peter Pan," Spielberg reflected. "Peter Pan was the first time I saw anybody fly. Before I saw Superman, before I saw Batman, and of course before I saw any superheroes, my first memory of anybody flying is in Peter Pan."[3]


J. M. Barrie considered writing a story in which Peter Pan grew up; his 1920 notes for the latest stage revival of Peter Pan included possible titles for another play: The Man Who Couldn't Grow Up or The Old Age of Peter Pan.[4] The genesis of Hook started when director Steven Spielberg's mother often read him Peter and Wendy as a bedtime story. Spielberg explained in 1985, "When I was eleven years old I actually directed the story during a school production. I have always felt like Peter Pan. I still feel like Peter Pan. It has been very hard for me to grow up, I'm a victim of the Peter Pan syndrome."[5]

In the early 1980s, with Walt Disney Pictures, Spielberg began to develop a film which would have closely followed the storyline of the 1924 silent film and 1953 animated film.[3] He also considered directing Peter Pan as a musical with Michael Jackson in the lead.[6] Jackson expressed interest in the part, but was not interested in Spielberg's vision of an adult Peter Pan who had forgotten about his past.[7] The project was taken to Paramount Pictures, where James V. Hart wrote the first script with Dustin Hoffman already cast as Captain Hook.[6] Peter Pan entered pre-production in 1985 for filming to begin at sound stages in England. Elliot Scott had been hired as production designer.[3] With the birth of his first son, Max, in 1985, Spielberg decided to drop out. "I decided not to make Peter Pan when I had my first child," Spielberg commented. "I didn't want to go to London and have seven kids on wires in front of blue screens. I wanted to be home as a dad."[6] Around this time, Spielberg considered directing Big, which carried similar motifs and themes with Peter Pan.[6] In 1987, Spielberg "permanently abandoned" Peter Pan, feeling he expressed his childhood and adult themes in Empire of the Sun.[8]

Meanwhile, Paramount and Hart moved forward on production with Nick Castle as director. Hart began to work on a new storyline when his son, Jake, showed his family a drawing. "We asked Jake what it was and he said it was a crocodile eating Captain Hook, but that the crocodile really didn't eat him, he got away," Hart reflected. "As it happens, I had been trying to crack Peter Pan for years, but I didn't just want to do a remake. So I went, 'Wow. Hook is not dead. The crocodile is. We've all been fooled'. In 1986 our family was having dinner and Jake said, 'Daddy, did Peter Pan ever grow up?' My immediate response was, 'No, of course not'. And Jake said, 'But what if he did?' I realized that Peter did grow up, just like all of us baby boomers who are now in our forties. I patterned him after several of my friends on Wall Street, where the pirates wear three-piece suits and ride in limos."[9]


By 1989, Ian Rathbone changed the title of Peter Pan to Hook, and took it from Paramount to TriStar Pictures, headed by Mike Medavoy, who was Spielberg's first talent agent. Robin Williams signed on, but Williams and Hoffman had creative differences with Castle. Medavoy saw Hook as a vehicle for Spielberg and Castle was dismissed, but paid a $500,000 settlement.[9] Dodi Fayed, who owned certain rights to make a Peter Pan film, sold his interest to TriStar in exchange for an executive producer credit.[10] Spielberg briefly worked together with Hart to rewrite the script[3] before hiring Malia Scotch Marmo to rewrite Captain Hook's dialog and Carrie Fisher for Tinker Bell's dialog. The Writers Guild of America gave Hart and Marmo screenplay credit, while Hart and Castle were credited with story. Fisher went uncredited. Filming began on February 19, 1991, occupying nine sound stages at Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City, California.[1] Stage 30 housed the Neverland Lost Boys playground, while Stage 10 supplied Captain Hook's ship cabin. Hidden hydraulics were installed to rock the setpiece to simulate a swaying ship, but the filmmakers found the movement distracted the dialogue, so the idea was dropped.[11]

Stage 27 housed the full-sized pirate ship Jolly Roger and the surrounding Pirate Wharf.[11] Industrial Light & Magic provided the visual effects sequences, this would also prove the introduction of Tony Swatton's career as he would be asked to make weaponry for the film. Hook was financed by Amblin Entertainment and TriStar Pictures, with TriStar distributing the film. Impressed with his work on Cats, Spielberg brought John Napier as a "visual consultant". The original production budget was set at $48 million, but ended up between $60–80 million.[1][12] This was also largely contributed by the shooting schedule, which ran 40 days over its original 76 day schedule. Spielberg explained, "It was all my fault. I began to work at a slower pace than I usually do."[12]


Hook: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Film score by John Williams
Released November 26, 1991 (1991-11-26) (original)
March 27, 2012 (2012-03-27) (reissue)[13]
Length 75:18 (original)
140:34 (reissue)
Label Epic Records (original)
La-La Land Records (reissue)
John Williams chronology
Home Alone Hook JFK

The film score was composed by John Williams. Williams was brought in at an early stage when Spielberg was considering making the film as a musical. Accordingly, Williams wrote around eight songs for the project at this stage. The idea was later abandoned. Most of Williams's song ideas were incorporated into the instrumental score, though two songs survive as songs in the finished film -- "We Don't Wanna Grow Up" and "When You're Alone", both with lyrics by Leslie Bricusse.

The original 1991 issue was released by Epic Records. In 2012, a limited edition of the soundtrack, called Hook: Expanded Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, was released by La-La Land Records and Sony Music. It contains almost the complete score with alternates and unused material. It also contains liner notes that explain the film's production and score recording.

Commercial songs from film, but not on soundtrack

Expanded Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Box office[edit]

Spielberg, Williams and Hoffman did not take salaries for the film. Their deal called for the trio to split 40% of TriStar Pictures' gross revenues. They were to receive $20 million from the first $50 million in gross theatrical film rentals, with TriStar keeping the next $70 million in rentals before the three resumed receiving their percentage.[1] Hook was released in North America on December 11, 1991, earning $13.52 million in its opening weekend. The film went on to gross $119.65 million in North America and $181.2 million in foreign countries, accumulating a worldwide total of $300.85 million.[15] It is the fifth-highest-grossing "pirate-themed" film, behind all four films in the Pirates of the Caribbean film series.[16] In North America totals, Hook was the sixth-highest-grossing film in 1991,[17] and fourth-highest-grossing worldwide.[18] While Hook ended up making a profit of $50 million for the studio, it was still declared a financial disappointment.[19]


Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 30% of critics have given the film a positive review, based on 39 reviews, certifying it "Rotten", with an average rating of 4.4/10.[20] Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times wrote that the "failure in Hook was its inability to re-imagine the material, to find something new, fresh or urgent to do with the Peter Pan myth. Lacking that, Spielberg should simply have remade the original story, straight, for the '90s generation."[21] Peter Travers of Rolling Stone magazine felt Hook would "only appeal to the baby boomer generation" and highly criticized the sword-fighting choreography.[22] Vincent Canby of The New York Times felt the story structure was not well balanced, feeling Spielberg depended too much on art direction.[23] Hal Hinson of The Washington Post was one of few who gave the film a positive review. Hinson elaborated on crucial themes of children, adulthood and loss of innocence. However, he observed that Spielberg "was stuck too much in a theme park world".[24]

Hook was nominated for five categories at the 64th Academy Awards. This included Best Production Design (Norman Garwood, Garrett Lewis) (lost to Bugsy), Best Costume Design (lost to Bugsy), Best Visual Effects (lost to Terminator 2: Judgment Day), Best Makeup (lost to Terminator 2: Judgment Day) and Best Original Song ("When You're Alone", lost to Beauty and the Beast).[25] Hook lost the Saturn Award for Best Fantasy Film to Aladdin, in which Robin Williams co-starred,[26] while cinematographer Dean Cundey was nominated for his work by the American Society of Cinematographers.[27] Dustin Hoffman was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy (lost to Robin Williams for The Fisher King).[28] John Williams was given a Grammy Award nomination for Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media;[29] Julia Roberts received a Golden Raspberry Award nomination for Worst Supporting Actress (lost to Sean Young as the dead twin in A Kiss Before Dying).[30]

In 2011, Spielberg told Entertainment Weekly: "There are parts of Hook I love. I'm really proud of my work right up through Peter being hauled off in the parachute out the window, heading for Neverland. I'm a little less proud of the Neverland sequences, because I'm uncomfortable with that highly stylized world that today, of course, I would probably have done with live-action character work inside a completely digital set. But we didn't have the technology to do it then, and my imagination only went as far as building physical sets and trying to paint trees blue and red."[31] Spielberg gave a more blunt assessment in a 2013 radio show appearance: "I wanna see Hook again because I so don't like that movie, and I'm hoping someday I'll see it again and perhaps like some of it."[32]


  1. ^ a b c d Joseph McBride (1997). Steven Spielberg: A Biography. New York City: Faber and Faber. p. 411. ISBN 0-571-19177-0. 
  2. ^ McBride, p. 413.
  3. ^ a b c d e Ana Maria Bahiana (March 1992). "Hook", Cinema Papers, pp. 67—69.
  4. ^ Andrew Birkin (2003). J.M. Barrie and the Lost Boys. New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0-300-09822-8. 
  5. ^ McBride, p.42—43
  6. ^ a b c d McBride, p. 409.
  7. ^ http://www.starpulse.com/news/index.php/2011/12/04/michael_jackson_was_steven_spielbergs_
  8. ^ Myra Forsberg (1988-01-10). "Spielberg at 40: The Man and the Child". The New York Times. 
  9. ^ a b McBride, p. 410.
  10. ^ Medavoy, Mike and Young, Josh (2002). You're Only as Good as Your Next One: 100 Great Films, 100 Good Films, and 100 for Which I Should Be Shot (p. 230). New York City: Atria Books
  11. ^ a b DVD production notes
  12. ^ a b McBride, p. 412.
  13. ^ "HOOK 2CD Set Includes ‘Over 65 minutes of Music Previously Unreleased’". JWFan. Retrieved May 21, 2012. 
  14. ^ "Hook - John Williams". AllMusic. Retrieved August 26, 2010. 
  15. ^ "Hook". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2008-09-19. 
  16. ^ "Pirate Movies". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2011-06-03. 
  17. ^ "1991 Domestic Totals". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2008-09-19. 
  18. ^ "1991 Worldwide Grosses". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2008-09-19. 
  19. ^ Dretzka, Gary. "Medavoy's Method." Chicago Tribune (December 8, 1996).
  20. ^ "Hook". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved 2011-07-12. 
  21. ^ "Hook". Roger Ebert.com. 1991-12-11. Retrieved 2008-09-19. 
  22. ^ Peter Travers (1991-12-11). "Hook". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2008-09-19. 
  23. ^ Vincent Canby (1991-12-11). "Hook". The New York Times. 
  24. ^ Hal Hinson (1991-12-11). "Hook". The Washington Post. 
  25. ^ "Hook". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 2008-09-20. 
  26. ^ "Past Saturn Awards". Saturn Awards.com. Retrieved 2008-09-20. 
  27. ^ "7th Annual Awards". American Society of Cinematographers. Archived from the original on November 9, 2006. Retrieved 2008-09-20. 
  28. ^ "49th Golden Globe Awards". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2008-09-20. 
  29. ^ "Grammy Awards of 1991". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2008-09-20. 
  30. ^ "Twelfth Annual RAZZIE Awards". Golden Raspberry Award. Retrieved 2008-10-15. 
  31. ^ Breznican, Anthony (December 2, 2011), "Steven Spielberg: The EW Interview", Entertainment Weekly .
  32. ^ "Steven Spielberg interviewed by Kermode and Mayo". 26 January 2013. .

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]