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 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 mixed 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 is a successful corporate lawyer whose commitment to his job causes friction with his wife Moira and children Jack and Maggie, missing Jack's baseball game but attending Maggie's play. The Bannings fly to London to meet Moira's grandmother Wendy Darling to celebrate her charity work for orphans including Peter. Peter angrily shouts at his children when they interrupt an important phone call, prompting Moira to toss his cell phone out a window. While Peter, Moira, and Wendy attend a banquet ceremony hosted by Great Ormond Street Hospital, a strange presence abducts Jack and Maggie. Tootles, another of Wendy's orphans, says Captain Hook took the children to Neverland. Wendy informs Peter that he is actually Peter Pan, has forgotten who he was, and must regain his memories to save his children.

That night, Tinker Bell arrives at the house and flies Peter to Neverland where they land in the pirate port. Captain Hook addresses his crew but is confronted by Peter. Hook is disgusted by Peter's adult self and becomes depressed, with Mr. Smee concluding Peter forgot his past by being away from Neverland for so long. Tinker Bell and Hook make a deal to give Peter three days to return to his former self for a climatic battle, and Peter is accidentally knocked off Hook's ship. He meets the Lost Boys led by Rufio who has no faith in Peter. Nevertheless, the boys agree to train Peter and he begins to regain traits of his childhood as well as a sense of fun.

Meanwhile, Smee suggests to Hook that he manipulates Jack and Maggie into loving him as a karmic defeat for Peter. Maggie refuses to like Hook, while Jack ends up seeing him as a father figure, smashing Peter's pocket watch, and then plays a baseball game with the pirates. Peter witnesses the match and walks off in shame after seeing Hook treat Jack as his own son. Peter encounters his shadow which leads him to the old tree home of the Lost Boys. He reunites with Tinker Bell and regains the memories of his past, recalling how he fell in love with Moira as a teenager and grew up. Realizing being a father is his happy thought, Peter learns to fly again and dons his childhood outfit once again. Tinker Bell declares her love for Peter, but he kindly rejects her, loyal to Moira.

On the third day, Peter and the Lost Boys launch an attack on the pirates much to Hook's delight. Peter rescues Maggie and fixes his relationship with Jack. During the mayhem, Rufio is mortally wounded by Hook and dies in Peter's arms. Peter and Hook have a final duel, ending in Peter's victory. Refusing to leave honorably, Hook attacks Peter only to have the stuffed crocodile that once tormented him collapse on him and eat him whole. Peter departs from Neverland after his children, waking up in Kensington Gardens, where he says goodbye to Tinker Bell.

Returning to Wendy's house, a jovial Peter reunites with his loved ones and hands a bag of marbles to Tootles, who discovers they contain pixie dust and flies off out the window to Neverland. Wendy asks Peter if his adventures are over, but Peter replies that "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 the 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]

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