The Mighty Ducks

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The Mighty Ducks
Theatrical release poster
Directed byStephen Herek
Produced by
Written bySteven Brill
Music byDavid Newman
CinematographyThomas Del Ruth
Edited by
Distributed byBuena Vista Pictures
Release date
  • October 2, 1992 (1992-10-02)
Running time
104 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$10 million
Box office$50.7 million

The Mighty Ducks (also known as The Mighty Ducks: Part 1 or D1: The Mighty Ducks) is a 1992 American sports comedy-drama film about a minor ice hockey team, directed by Stephen Herek and starring Emilio Estevez. It was produced by The Kerner Entertainment Company and Avnet–Kerner Productions and distributed by Walt Disney Pictures. It was the first film in The Mighty Ducks film series, and was filmed in several locations in Minnesota.[1]

In the UK, South Africa, and Australia, the film was retitled Champions. Subsequently, UK home releases are now titled The Mighty Ducks Are the Champions, reflecting both titles, as well as to possibly avoid confusion with D2: The Mighty Ducks (retitled as just The Mighty Ducks). The year after the film's release, Disney founded a National Hockey League hockey team, named the "Mighty Ducks of Anaheim" after the film.


Gordon Bombay (Emilio Estevez) is a successful Minneapolis defense attorney who never loses a case but whose courtroom antics have earned him no respect among his peers. After successfully defending a client resulting in his 30th win, Bombay is called into his boss's office to be congratulated but also chastised for embarrassing the judge. He responds by going out drinking and is subsequently arrested for drunken driving. Bombay is sentenced to 500 hours of community service by coaching the local "District 5" Pee-Wee hockey team. Bombay has an unpleasant history with the sport; in 1973, Bombay was the star player on the Hawks, but, struggling to cope with the loss of his father, he missed a penalty shot during the championship game, disappointing his hyper-competitive coach, Jack Reilly (Lane Smith). The Hawks would go on to lose in overtime.

When Bombay meets the team, he realizes that the children have no practice facility, equipment, or ability. The team's first game with Bombay at the helm is against the Hawks. Reilly is still the head coach and despite a string of championship wins under his belt, remains bitter about Gordon's miss years earlier. District 5 is routed as Reilly demands the Hawks run up the score; after the game, Bombay berates the team for not listening to him, and the players challenge his authority. For the next match, Bombay tries to teach his team how to dive and draw penalties, but this angers the team further. Meanwhile, Bombay discovers his old mentor and family friend Hans (Joss Ackland), who owns a nearby sporting goods store, was in attendance. While visiting him, Bombay recalls that he quit playing hockey after losing his father four months before the championship game, and due to Reilly blaming Gordon for the loss. Hans encourages him to rekindle his childhood passion.

Bombay approaches his boss, the firm's co-founder Gerald Ducksworth (Josef Sommer) to sponsor the team. The result is a complete makeover for the team - both in look, as they can now buy professional equipment, and in skill, as Bombay has more time to teach the kid's hockey fundamentals. Currently playing as the Ducks (named for Ducksworth), they fight to a tie in the next game. The Ducks recruit three new players: Figure skating siblings Tommy (Danny Tamberelli) and Tammy Duncan (Jane Plank) and slap shot specialist and enforcer Fulton Reed (Elden Henson). The potential of Ducks player Charlie Conway (Joshua Jackson) catches Bombay's eye; he takes him under his wing and teaches him some of the hockey tactics he used when he played with the Hawks.

Bombay learns that, due to redistricting, the star player for the Hawks, Adam Banks (Vincent Larusso), should be playing for the Ducks. He then threatens Reilly into transferring Banks to the Ducks. After hearing an out-of-context quote about them, the Ducks players lose faith in Bombay and revert to their old habits.

Ducksworth makes a deal with Reilly about the Hawks keeping Banks; however, Bombay refuses it, since it would be against fair play, which Ducksworth berated him about when he started his community service. Left with either the choice of letting his team down or get fired from his job, Bombay takes the latter.

Bombay manages to win back the trust of his players after they win a crucial match, and Banks, who decided he'd rather play for the Ducks than not play hockey at all, proves to be an asset, and the Ducks reach the championship against the Hawks. Despite the Hawks' massive attacks taking Banks out of the game, the Ducks manage to tie the game late, and Charlie is tripped by a Hawks player as time expires. In precisely the same situation Bombay faced at the beginning of the film, Charlie prepares for a penalty shot to win the championship. In stark contrast to Reilly - who told Bombay that if he missed, he was letting everyone down - Bombay tells Charlie to take his best shot and that he will believe in him no matter what happens. Inspired, Charlie jukes out the goalie with a "triple-deke" (taught to him by Bombay) to defeat the Hawks for the state championship.

The Ducks and family race out onto the ice in jubilation, where Bombay thanks Hans for his belief in him and Hans tells Bombay he is proud of him. Later, Bombay boards a bus headed to a minor-league tryout, secured for him by the NHL's Basil McRae of the Minnesota North Stars. Although he seems daunted at the prospect of going up against younger players, he receives the same words of encouragement and advice from the Ducks Bombay had given them, promising he will return next season to defend their title.



The film was written by Steve Brill, who later sued for royalties for the film.[2] Jake Gyllenhaal turned down the role of Charlie Conway.[3] Emilio Estevez was cast in 1991, after Herek was impressed his performances in Brat Pack films, The Outsiders (1983), The Breakfast Club (1985) and St. Elmo's Fire (1985).


The film grossed $50,752,337 domestically in the U.S, becoming a surprising success with audiences, which in turn inspired two sequels and an animated TV series (the latter taking on a science fiction angle with actual anthropomorphic ducks). While neither sequel's box-office total matched that of the first movie, they were still financially successful.[4]

Critically, The Mighty Ducks was not well-received.[5] It currently holds a 21% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 29 reviews, with an average rating of 3.9/10.[6] Roger Ebert said the film was 'sweet and innocent, and that at a certain level it might appeal to younger kids. I doubt if its ambitions reach much beyond that', and gave it a 2 star rating.[7] Rita Kempley of The Washington Post described the film as 'Steven Brill, who has a small role in the film, constructed the screenplay much as one would put together some of those particleboard bookcases from Ikea.'[8]

Emilio Estevez was surprised at the popularity of the movie series.[9] The Mighty Ducks made $54 million in home video rentals according to Video Week magazine in 1992.[10]


The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ "The 'Mighty Ducks' Trilogy: An Oral History". 2014-06-09. Retrieved 2016-10-18.
  3. ^ Peters, Chris (2015-07-27). "Jake Gyllenhaal recalls how his parents cost him 'Mighty Ducks' role". Retrieved 2016-10-18.
  4. ^ Fox, David J. (October 13, 1992). "Weekend Box Office A Bang-Up Opening for `Under Siege'". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 1, 2010.
  5. ^ Maslin, Janet (October 2, 1992). "Review/Film; Hockey That Transcends Mere Winning". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved October 9, 2010.
  6. ^ "The Mighty Ducks". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved April 10, 2018.
  7. ^ Ebert, Roger (October 2, 1992). "The Mighty Ducks". Ebert Digital LLC. Retrieved October 4, 2014.
  8. ^ Kempley, Rita (October 5, 1992). "'The Mighty Ducks' (PG)". The Washington Post. The Washington Post Company. Retrieved April 10, 2018.
  9. ^ "Emilio Estevez on the Success of Mighty Ducks Video". NHL VideoCenter. National Hockey League. October 18, 2016. Retrieved October 18, 2016.
  10. ^ Malinowski, Erik (November 25, 2015). "How Mighty Ducks the Movie Became Mighty Ducks the NHL Team". Esquire (magazine). Hearst Communications. Retrieved October 18, 2016.
  11. ^ "AFI's 100 Years...100 Cheers Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-08-14.
  12. ^ "AFI's 10 Top 10 Nominees" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-07-16. Retrieved 2016-08-19.

External links[edit]