That Was Then... This Is Now

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That Was Then... This Is Now
That Was Then... This is Now (1985 film) poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byChristopher Cain
Screenplay byEmilio Estevez
Based onThat Was Then, This Is Now
by S. E. Hinton
Produced byGary R. Lindberg
John M. Ondov
CinematographyJuan Ruiz Anchía
Edited byKen Johnson
Music byBill Cuomo
Keith Olsen
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
  • November 8, 1985 (1985-11-08)
Running time
102 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$3.5 million[1]
Box office$8,630,068 (United States)[2]

That Was Then... This Is Now is a 1985 American drama film based on the novel of the same name by S. E. Hinton. The film was directed by Christopher Cain, distributed by Paramount Pictures, and stars Emilio Estevez (who also wrote the screenplay) and Craig Sheffer.


Troubled teen Mark Jennings has always looked up to his older friend, Bryon Douglas, who Mark sees as the older brother he never had. But when Bryon starts dating Cathy Carlson and begins to act more responsible, Mark feels left out. Without Bryon's stabilizing influence, Mark begins acting out and gets into dealing drugs. After the friends' mentor Charlie Woods suddenly dies and Cathy's brother goes missing, Bryon suspects Mark is involved.



In 1982, Emilo Estevez starred in the film version of S.E. Hinton's Tex. During filming, Estevez read That Was Then, This Is Now, also by Hinton, and enjoyed the book so much he drafted several screenplays before purchasing the rights. Estevez described the book as "a very intense, dark piece. It's kind of like the old Pat O'Brien-Jimmy Cagney movies where O'Brien becomes the priest and Cagney becomes the gangster". Estevez did a rewrite of the film during the making of The Breakfast Club, staying up all night to write after the typical 12 hour filming day. After speaking with Hinton, who recommended he also play one of the characters, Estevez attempted to sell the screenplay, but studios were reluctant.[3]

Estevez' father Martin Sheen bought the rights to That Was Then, This Is Now in 1982.[4][5] "I knew it would be hot", said Estevez of the novel, who said in 1983 he wanted to star along with Tom Cruise.[6] Estevez found two Midwest producers interested in making the film and they succeeded in raising the finance. One of them, Gary Lindberg, ran a production company that mostly made TV commercials, based in Minnesota.[1] The film was shot in the summer of 1984 in St. Paul, Minnesota, without a distributor. It was later advertised as "the first Minnesota movie".[3][1]

Sheen recommended his son play Bryon Douglas, but Estevez, wary of being typecast, chose to play what he saw as the "sympathetic bad guy".[3] Estevez said: "There's probably a lot of him in me, the alter ego screaming to get out every once in a while. Fortunately, I was able to vent it in a film and not in real life".[7]

Estevez said that they have been able to learn from the other Hinton adaptations: "We made it very contemporary, hired a brilliant cinematographer. The cast is primarily unknowns so it has a real feel – you're not watching movie stars. The emotional content is so rich, so full, it's absolutely draining. It's a terrific movie".[8]


The film opened November 8, 1985 and finished sixth place for the weekend with a gross of $2,502,780, behind other openers such as Target and Translyvania 6-5000.[9] It was a minor success at the box office,[1] grossing $8.6 million.[2]

On Rotten Tomatoes the film holds a 0% rating based on 5 reviews.[10] On Metacritic it has a score of 45% based on reviews from 6 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[11]

Home Media[edit]

That Was Then... This Is Now was released on VHS by Paramount Home Video in 1986.


  1. ^ a b c d Jones, Jim (July 28, 1986). "Minnesota movie maker loosens hollywood's grip". Minneapolis Star and Tribune. ProQuest 417687388.
  2. ^ a b That Was Then... This Is Now at Box Office Mojo
  3. ^ a b c Caulfield, DEBORAH (February 20, 1985). ""BREAKFAST CLUB": FOOD FOR THOUGHT ON A YOUTH FILM A YOUNG TURK NAMED ESTEVEZ". Los Angeles Times.
  4. ^ Smith, D. (Jul 15, 1982). "Hinton: What boys are made of". Los Angeles Times. ProQuest 153190542.
  5. ^ Christian Williams (October 8, 1982). "Hinton on the scene". The Washington Post.
  6. ^ Deans, L. (Apr 8, 1983). "LA CLIPS thomas howell: An outsider who feels left out". The Globe and Mail. ProQuest 386670534.
  7. ^ Blau, R. (Oct 31, 1985). "EMILIO ESTEVEZ: A HOT YOUNG ACTOR VENTURES INTO RISKY NEW ROLES". Chicago Tribune. ProQuest 290878425.
  8. ^ Paula Span (June 26, 1985). "Emilio estevez, seriously". The Washington Post.
  9. ^ "Fatigued B.O. Not Helped By Bows; 'Wish' Still Leads". Variety. November 13, 1985. p. 3.
  10. ^ "That Was Then... This Is Now". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2022-01-01.
  11. ^ "That Was Then... This Is Now". Metacritic. Retrieved 2022-01-01.

External links[edit]