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Theatrical release poster by John Alvin
Directed byMel Brooks
Written by
Produced byMel Brooks
CinematographyNick McLean
Edited byConrad Buff IV
Music byJohn Morris
Distributed byMetro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date
  • June 24, 1987 (1987-06-24)
Running time
96 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$22.7 million[2]
Box office$38.1 million[3]

Spaceballs is a 1987 American space opera parody film co-written, produced and directed by Mel Brooks. It is primarily a parody of the original Star Wars trilogy, but also parodies other sci-fi films and popular franchises including Star Trek, Alien, The Wizard of Oz, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Planet of the Apes, and Transformers. The film stars Bill Pullman, John Candy, and Rick Moranis, with the supporting cast including Daphne Zuniga, Dick Van Patten, George Wyner, Lorene Yarnell, and the voice of Joan Rivers. In addition to Brooks playing a dual role, the film also features Brooks regulars Dom DeLuise and Rudy De Luca in cameo appearances.

In Spaceballs, heroic mercenary Lone Starr (Pullman) and his alien sidekick Barf (Candy) rescue Princess Vespa (Zuniga) of Druidia and her droid, Dot Matrix (Yarnell, voiced by Rivers), from being captured by the Spaceballs, led by President Skroob (Brooks), who wants to use Vespa as ransom to obtain Druidia's air for their own planet. However, the heroes get stranded on a desert moon, where they encounter the wise Yogurt (also Brooks), who teaches Starr about the metaphysical power known as "the Schwartz". Meanwhile, Spaceball commanders Dark Helmet (Moranis) and Colonel Sandurz (Wyner) lead the search for them but are hindered by their own incompetence.

The film was released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) on June 24, 1987. Despite initially getting a mixed reception from critics and audiences, the continuing popularity of the Star Wars franchise has meant it has since become a cult classic,[4] and is one of Brooks's most popular and well-known films.


Planet Spaceball, led by the incompetent President Skroob, has squandered all of its fresh air. Skroob schemes to steal the atmosphere from the neighboring planet of Druidia by forcing its ruler King Roland to give him the code to the shield surrounding it. Roland's daughter Princess Vespa flees Druidia in order to avoid an arranged marriage to the narcoleptic Prince Valium. The ship Spaceball One, commanded by Colonel Sandurz and carrying Skroob's enforcer Dark Helmet, is dispatched to kidnap Vespa and her droid servant Dot Matrix.

Mercenary Lone Starr and his "Mawg" (half man, half dog) companion Barf are contacted by crime boss Pizza the Hutt to get him the money he owes them or else. When Barf asks "or else what", Pizza the Hutt's robotic minion Vinny quotes "or else Pizza is gonna send out for you". Roland contacts Lone Starr and offers them a high reward if they bring Vespa and Dot back to Druidia. In their Winnebago spaceship Eagle 5, the pair retrieve Vespa and Dot and escape via light speed before they can be brought aboard Spaceball One. Dark Helmet and a reluctant Sandurz use "Ludicrous Speed", but overshoot the group badly when they try to follow. Eagle 5 runs out of fuel and Lone Starr is forced to crash-land on a desert moon.

The four escapees travel on foot for a time, but ultimately pass out in the relentless heat. They are found by the Dink-Dinks, a group of diminutive aliens in sparkly robes, and taken to the hidden cave of the sage Yogurt. He advertises the film's tie-in merchandising, then begins to instruct Lone Starr in the ways of a mysterious power known as the Schwartz (which Helmet can also control). Lone Starr and Vespa develop romantic feelings for each other, despite Vespa's insistence that she can only marry a prince, and Lone Starr shows Yogurt a medallion bearing an indecipherable message that was found with him when he was abandoned as a baby.

The Spaceballs break the fourth wall by going through a VHS copy of the film to locate the Eagle 5's whereabouts. Helmet disguises himself as Roland to lure Vespa and Dot out of the cave. As Lone Starr and Barf prepare to chase Helmet, Yogurt gives Lone Starr a ring that he can use to channel the Schwartz.

Helmet extorts the air shield code from Roland by threatening to have a plastic surgeon reverse Vespa's nose job, then imprisons her and Dot. Lone Starr and Barf infiltrate the prison and break them out, and all four escape in Eagle 5 while leaving their stunt doubles to be captured. Spaceball One re-configures itself into a giant maid (Mega-Maid), opens the shield, and uses a vacuum cleaner to suck the air from Druidia. Lone Starr taps into the Schwartz to reverse the flow and return the air (saving Roland and the Druidians), then pilots Eagle 5 into the head of Mega-Maid.

Lone Starr finds a self-destruct button, but Helmet interrupts and they engage in a duel using lightsaber-like weapons that extend from their Schwartz rings. Helmet steals Lone Starr's ring and drops it through a floor grate, but Lone Starr gets a telepathic message from Yogurt telling him that the power lies within him instead of the ring. As Helmet prepares to attack, Lone Starr levitates a mirror and reflects Helmet's blast, knocking him into the self-destruct button. Lone Starr returns to Eagle 5 and pilots it to safety; Skroob, Helmet and Sandurz fail to reach any escape pods in time and discover the "cancellation button" is out of order as Mega-Maid explodes.

Lone Starr and Barf discover that Pizza the Hutt had locked himself in a limousine and ate himself to death, absolving them of the debt. The duo return Vespa and Dot to Roland, but take only enough money to cover their expenses. The remnants of the Mega-Maid crash lands on a nearby planet populated by talking apes, who express dismay at the stranded Spaceballs.

Lone Starr and Barf find a final message from Yogurt hidden in a fortune cookie, telling them that Lone Starr's medallion means he is a prince and can thus marry Vespa. The two return to Druidia just in time to stop her wedding to Valium, and Lone Starr announces his royal lineage and marries Vespa. The film ends with them riding off in Eagle 5 and a message to the audience stating, "May the Schwartz Be With You".


  • Bill Pullman as Lone Starr, mercenary who travels the galaxy in his flying 1986 Winnebago Chieftain 33, Eagle 5. He is a parody of Luke Skywalker and Han Solo.
  • John Candy as Barf, Lone Starr's "mawg" (half-man, half-dog) sidekick. He is a parody of Chewbacca.
  • Daphne Zuniga as Princess Vespa, the spoiled princess of Planet Druidia. She is a parody of Princess Leia.
  • Joan Rivers as the voice of Dot Matrix, Princess Vespa's droid of honor and guardian. She is a parody of C-3PO.
  • Rick Moranis as Lord Dark Helmet, the Spaceballs' short-statured, bratty, and often childish chief enforcer, who can wield the "down-side" of the Schwartz. He is a parody of Anakin Skywalker / Darth Vader.
  • Mel Brooks as:
    • President Skroob, the incompetent leader of Planet Spaceball. He is a parody of Emperor Palpatine with his name "Skroob" being an anagram of "Brooks".
    • Yogurt, the wise and powerful keeper of the "up-side" of the Schwartz. He is a parody of Yoda.
  • George Wyner as Colonel Sandurz, the commander of Spaceball One. He is a parody of Grand Moff Tarkin and his name is a reference to Colonel Sanders.
  • Dick Van Patten as King Roland, the ruler of Planet Druidia and Princess Vespa's father.
  • Michael Winslow as a radar technician on Spaceball One who can re-enact the radar's sounds.
  • Ronny Graham as the minister.
  • Jim J. Bullock as Prince Valium, a narcoleptic prince.
  • Leslie Bevis as Commanderette Zircon, a minion of President Skroob on Planet Spaceball.
  • Sandy Helberg as Dr. Irving Schlotkin.
  • Brenda Strong as Nurse Gretchen, Dr. Schlotkin's assistant.
  • Dom DeLuise as the voice of Pizza the Hutt, a crime boss described as being half-man and half-pizza. He is a parody of Jabba the Hutt and his name is a reference to Pizza Hut.
    • Richard Karron (original takes) and Rick Lazzarini (reshoots and final takes) portrayed Pizza's on-screen presence. Lazzarini spoke Pizza's lines for the character's on-camera scenes with DeLuise's voice dubbed in later.
  • Rudy De Luca as Vinnie, Pizza's robotic subordinate. He is a parody of the 1980s TV personality Max Headroom.
  • Rhonda Shear as a woman in the diner.
  • Jeff MacGregor as Snotty (uncredited),[5] a minion of President Skroob on Planet Spaceball based on Scotty from Star Trek.

John Hurt makes a cameo appearance credited as himself, parodying his character Gilbert Kane's death in the film Alien (1979).[6] Various actors and comedians appear in unnamed roles, with Sal Viscuso, Michael Pniewski, Stephen Tobolowsky, Robert Prescott, Tom Dreesen, Rick Ducommun, Rob Paulsen (who was uncredited), Tommy Swerdlow, and Tim Russ all appearing as soldiers of Dark Helmet. Additional unnamed appearances include Dey Young as a waitress, Jack Riley as a newsman covering the news about Pizza the Hutt's death, Ken Olfson as the head usher, and Bryan O'Byrne as an organist. Denise and Dian Gallup appear as Charlene and Marlene, two twin girls in Spaceball City who President Skroob keeps mixing up the names for. Ed Gale, Felix Silla, Tony Cox, Antonio Hoyos, Arturo Gil, and John Kennedy Hayden appear as the Dinks (based on the Jawas) while their uncredited voices are provided by Corey Burton, Phil Hartman, Tress MacNeille, John Paragon, and Rob Paulsen.[7]


A helmet from the film at a convention in Stockholm

When Brooks developed Spaceballs, he wanted his parody to be as close to the original as possible. Even though the Yogurt character (Mel Brooks) mentions merchandising in the film, Brooks's deal with George Lucas on parodying Star Wars was that no Spaceballs action figures be made. According to Brooks, "[Lucas] said, 'Your [action figures] are going to look like mine.' I said OK."[8][9] However, this agreement inspired Brooks to write Yogurt's "Merchandising" scene and include multiple Spaceballs-branded products at other points in the film, such as placemats and toilet paper. While no mass produced Spaceballs merchandise was ever created, Max Brooks revealed in 2023 that he is in possession of the Yogurt doll used in the merchandise scene.[10]

Brooks also had Lucas' company handle the post-production, saying, "I was playing ball with the people who could have said no." Lucas later sent Brooks a note saying how much he loved the film, including its story structure,[11] and that he "was afraid [he] would bust something from laughing".[9] According to Rick Moranis, "In the original script, the description of [Dark Helmet] was that the whole costume was one gigantic helmet. Then it got scaled back to just an exaggerated version of the Darth Vader helmet."[12]

Pullman got the part of Lone Starr when Brooks and his wife Anne Bancroft saw him in a play—he had never seen Star Wars prior to filming.[13] Brooks had been unsuccessfully trying to sign on big-name actors such as Tom Cruise and Tom Hanks for the film. Pullman said,

I think [Mel] was hurt that they didn't take him up on it ... but then it attract[ed] two of the big comics at that time: John Candy and Rick Moranis. Once that was secured, then he said, "Heck, I'll get somebody nobody knows!" And I got a chance to do it.[14]

Zuniga initially found Brooks' film parodies "too crass and not too funny", but after working with Brooks, she said, "I have this image of Mel as totally wacko and out to lunch. And he is. But he's also really perceptive, real sensitive in ways that make actors respond."[15]


An official soundtrack was released on Atlantic Records on LP, CD, and cassette, featuring many of the songs heard in the film, as well as three score cues by frequent Brooks collaborator John Morris. The track list is as follows:

  1. "Spaceballs Main Title Theme" – John Morris
  2. "My Heart Has a Mind of Its Own" – Jeffrey Osborne and Kim Carnes; the song was made into a hit in 1990 by Sally Moore (U.S. AC #42).[16]
  3. "Heartstrings" – Berlin
  4. "Spaceballs Love Theme" (Instrumental) – John Morris
  5. "The Winnebago Crashes"/"The Spaceballs Build Mega-Maid" – John Morris
  6. "Spaceballs" – The Spinners
  7. "Hot Together" – The Pointer Sisters
  8. "Good Enough" – Van Halen
  9. "Wanna Be Loved by You" – Ladyfire

"Raise Your Hands" by Bon Jovi is also used prominently in the film.

In the film the Dinks (based on Jawas) perform the 1914 marching song "Colonel Bogey March", though they sing "Dink dink, dink dink dink dink dink dink... Dink dink" rather than whistle, parodying the scene from The Bridge on the River Kwai.[17][18]

In 2006, La-La Land Records released Spaceballs – The 19th Anniversary Edition CD of the film's score, with bonus tracks of alternate takes and tracks not used in the film.[19]


Box office[edit]

The film had an estimated $22.7 million budget, and ultimately grossed $38,119,483 during its run in the United States, taking in $6,613,837 on its opening weekend, finishing behind Dragnet.[20]

Critical reception[edit]

The film has received mixed reviews from critics. Rotten Tomatoes reports that, as of 2024, 52% of critics have given positive reviews based on 104 reviews with an average rating of 5.9/10. The site's consensus reads; "There's fine spoofery and amusing characters in Spaceballs, though it's a far cry from Mel Brooks' peak era."[21] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 46%, based on 14 reviews.[22] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B−" on an A+ to F scale.[23][failed verification]

At the time of the film's release, Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film 2.5 stars out of 4, and remarked "I enjoyed a lot of the movie, but I kept thinking I was at a revival ... it should have been made several years ago, before our appetite for Star Wars satires had been completely exhausted."[24] Gene Siskel of the Chicago Tribune gave the film 3 out of 4 stars, saying that there were "just enough funny visual gags to recommend this wildly uneven film".[25] Variety said that the film was a misguided parody and not very funny.[26]

The film won Worst Picture at the 1987 Stinkers Bad Movie Awards.[27]

Home media[edit]

Spaceballs was first made available on VHS and LaserDisc in February 1988; they were re-released in the late 1990s. The VHS edition was issued twice; the latter edition was presented in widescreen. Meanwhile, the laserdisc also gained a commentary track with Brooks; this was transferred over to the DVD and Blu-ray releases. The film was first released on DVD on April 25, 2000. This version also contained "the making of..." documentary and a collectible "making-of" booklet. The film was then released in the "Collectors Edition" on May 3, 2005. This edition contained more extras including the documentary and the video conversation about the making of the film with Brooks and Thomas Meehan. On August 7, 2012, the "25th Anniversary Edition" was released on Blu-ray containing many of the same bonus features as the 2005 DVD release with the addition of a new featurette.[28] An Ultra HD Blu-ray edition of the film was released on April 12, 2021 by Kino Lorber, with all of the special features from previous home video releases included.[29]

In other media[edit]

  • A novelization for the film was released on June 1, 1987.
  • Spaceballs was developed into an animated television show which debuted in September 2008 as Spaceballs: The Animated Series on G4 (US) and Super Channel (Canada).[30][31]
  • Moranis claimed in a 2013 interview that he and Brooks had discussed a potential sequel, with Moranis pitching the title Spaceballs III: The Search for Spaceballs II. However, he and Brooks were unable to structure a deal that would allow the project to move forward.[32] In February 2015, Brooks said that he would like to make a sequel to be released after the next Star Wars film and hoped that Moranis would reprise his role. This proposed film, Brooks said, may be called Spaceballs 2: The Search for More Money.[33] However, in February 2020, Bill Pullman said during an interview with Daily Blast Live, "It's up to Mel. Ask him if he has too much money and that's why he doesn't do it."[34]
  • In the episode Robot Chicken: Star Wars of the American adult sketch comedy television series Robot Chicken the segment George Lucas At The Convention features a Star Wars fan wearing a Barf costume from Spaceballs.
  • Moranis vocally reprised his role as Dark Helmet in the episode "Spaceballs" of the American sitcom The Goldbergs.[35]


Tesla Motors has used Spaceballs' starship speeds (Light Speed, Ridiculous Speed, Ludicrous Speed, Plaid Speed) as inspiration for naming their acceleration modes. In homage to Spaceballs, Tesla has Ludicrous Mode for acceleration beyond its Insane Mode, and Plaid Mode, overtop Ludicrous.[36][37]

As part of its merchandising, The Boring Company sold 20,000 "flamethrowers" in 2018[38] inspired by the Spaceballs merchandising scene.[39]

A clip from the film, alongside clips of other Star Wars parody works, was used in a "special look" internet video used to promote Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker in order to show the cultural impact of Star Wars.[40]


A 112-scale model of the Winnebago, Eagle 5, was auctioned on December 11, 2018.[41] The model was created by film special effects designer Grant McCune, who also created models for Star Wars and Star Trek.[41] The model makes an appearance early in the film with the introduction of Barf and Lone Starr.[42] The model, along with other special effects artifacts from then-current films such as Masters of the Universe and Jaws: The Revenge, was displayed at Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry in the summer of 1988.[43]


  1. ^ "Spaceballs (PG) (CUT)". British Board of Film Classification. July 14, 1987. Archived from the original on February 23, 2019. Retrieved September 18, 2016.
  2. ^ "Spaceballs (1987) - Financial Information". The Numbers. Retrieved May 4, 2021.
  3. ^ "Spaceballs (1987)". Box Office Mojo. August 18, 1987. Archived from the original on July 14, 2019. Retrieved April 12, 2022.
  4. ^ "Spaceballs - Cast, Reviews, Summary, and Awards - AllRovi". June 24, 1987. Archived from the original on February 7, 2010. Retrieved August 12, 2011.
  5. ^ "Snotty". FictionalPersona. Retrieved May 18, 2022.
  6. ^ Matloff, Jason (November 10, 2011). "John Hurt". The A.V. Club. Archived from the original on May 17, 2018. Retrieved May 16, 2018.
  7. ^ Brooks, Mel (director) (1987). Spaceballs (Motion picture). Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.
  8. ^ Carone, Patrick (February 6, 2013). "Interview: Icon Mel Brooks". Archived from the original on February 23, 2014. Retrieved January 20, 2014.
  9. ^ a b Heisler, Steve (December 13, 2012). "Mel Brooks on how to play Hitler, and how he almost died making Spaceballs". Retrieved January 20, 2014.
  10. ^ "George Lucas Talk Show Podcast". YouTube. Retrieved November 2, 2023.
  11. ^ Trzcinski, Matthew (June 17, 2020). "How George Lucas Reacted to the 'Star Wars' Parody 'Spaceballs'". Showbiz Cheat Sheet. Archived from the original on June 18, 2020. Retrieved June 18, 2020.
  12. ^ "Rick Moranis Interview Expanded: Dirty Jokes, Full-Body 'Spaceballs' Helmet and Slow-Motion 'Horrors'". The Hollywood Reporter. October 8, 2015.
  13. ^ Parker, Ryan (June 23, 2017). "Spaceballs at 30: Bill Pullman Says Crew Worried Blue Screen Would Make Them Go Blind". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on February 21, 2020. Retrieved February 19, 2020.
  14. ^ Pearson, Ben (January 13, 2011). "Q&A with Actor Bill Pullman". Archived from the original on February 2, 2014. Retrieved January 20, 2014.
  15. ^ "Spaceballs". Turner Classic Movies. Archived from the original on February 3, 2014. Retrieved January 20, 2014.
  16. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1993). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961–1993. Record Research. p. __.
  17. ^ The Big Screen Comedies of Mel Brooks. McFarland. 2015. p. 154.
  18. ^ "Order of songs for Thunder Over Louisville". Courier Journal. Retrieved April 16, 2022.
  19. ^ "Spaceballs" (Press release). Archived from the original on September 7, 2011. Retrieved August 12, 2011.
  20. ^ "Spaceballs". 2006. Archived from the original on July 14, 2019. Retrieved February 12, 2010.
  21. ^ "Spaceballs Movie Reviews, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes. IGN Entertainment. Archived from the original on April 27, 2021. Retrieved April 12, 2024.
  22. ^ "Spaceballs (1987): Reviews". Metacritic. Archived from the original on February 10, 2010. Retrieved May 16, 2009.
  23. ^ "Find CinemaScore" (Type "Spaceballs" in the search box). CinemaScore. Retrieved April 7, 2021.
  24. ^ Ebert, Roger (June 24, 1987). "Spaceballs". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on October 13, 2012. Retrieved May 4, 2022.
  25. ^ Siskel, Gene (June 26, 1987). "Flick of Week: Kubrick's 'Jacket' full of raw irony". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved January 23, 2023.
  26. ^ "Spaceballs". Variety. December 31, 1985.
  27. ^ "Past Winners Database". The Envelope at LA Times. Archived from the original on August 15, 2007. Retrieved September 18, 2021.
  28. ^ Katz, Josh (June 6, 2012). "Spaceballs: 25th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray". Archived from the original on September 19, 2012. Retrieved September 18, 2012.
  29. ^ "Kino: Spaceballs 4K Blu-ray Detailed". December 9, 2020. Archived from the original on December 10, 2020. Retrieved December 12, 2020.
  30. ^ Guider, Elizabeth (January 19, 2005). "'Spaceballs' rolls to TV". Variety. Archived from the original on May 5, 2021. Retrieved February 15, 2017.
  31. ^ Vozick-Levinson, Simon (September 26, 2006). "Mel Brooks readies a Spaceballs cartoon for TV". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on February 16, 2017. Retrieved February 15, 2017.
  32. ^ Abrams, Brian (June 23, 2013). ""You Don't Do Liner Notes With The Dead Sea Scrolls": Rick Moranis In Conversation". Heeb. Archived from the original on December 7, 2016. Retrieved February 15, 2017.
  33. ^ Heller, Corinne (February 6, 2015). "Spaceballs 2 a Go? Mel Brooks Talks Sequel, Its Perfect, Obvious Title and Rick Moranis". E! Online. Retrieved February 15, 2017.
  34. ^ Bill Pullman Chats "The Sinner", archived from the original on February 24, 2020, retrieved February 11, 2020
  35. ^ "Spaceballs". The Goldbergs. Season 5. Episode 21. May 9, 2018. ABC.
  36. ^ Tracy, David (November 17, 2017). "Watch The New Tesla Roadster's "Plaid" Mode Rocket The Car From Zero To 81 MPH In An Instant". Jalopnik. Archived from the original on November 23, 2017. Retrieved November 18, 2017.
  37. ^ "'Ludicrous Mode'? Tesla adds power to already-fast Model S". Associated Press. July 17, 2015. Archived from the original on December 1, 2017. Retrieved November 18, 2017.
  38. ^ "Flamethrower—The Boring Company". Archived from the original on January 29, 2018. Retrieved January 29, 2018.
  39. ^ @elonmusk (December 3, 2017). "The *real* money comes from merchandising. I learned it from this documentary" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  40. ^ Plainse, Josh (November 25, 2019). "Star Wars 9's New Trailer Is Nostalgic & Awesome (Despite No New Footage)". ScreenRant. Retrieved December 18, 2022.
  41. ^ a b Kautonen, Antti (November 13, 2018). "'Spaceballs' Winnebago Model to Be Auctioned". Autoblog. Archived from the original on November 14, 2018. Retrieved November 29, 2018.
  42. ^ "Bon Jovi and Barf (1080p)". YouTube. Archived from the original on April 3, 2019. Retrieved April 17, 2020.
  43. ^ "Museum of Science and Industry Keeps up with the Times". Chicago Tribune. July 22, 1988. Archived from the original on June 18, 2020. Retrieved June 17, 2020.

External links[edit]