The next article on dirty dance addresses sensitive topics, including abortion.
THE URBAN LEGEND OF THE FILM: The producers of dirty dance almost deleted the entire abortion plot from the film to appease a possible promotional link for the film with Clearasil acne cream.
It’s hard to imagine today, with every teenage girl who grew up in the 1980s owning a copy of the VHS tape of the film and every teenage girl who grew up in the 1990s owning a copy of the DVD of the film, but before it was released in theaters, nobody expected it dirty dance really be a success. In fact, the film’s producers were pretty sure it would be a big flop. This sentiment was shared by the film’s stars as well, as neither Jennifer Gray nor Patrick Swayze believed the film would become a hit. Swayze thought the title sounded too dirty for the Bible Belt of America, which actually caused problems during the film’s production, as the project’s rushes were processed in Canada and sent back to the United States, and they continued to be delayed because the Canadian authorities thought it was a pornographic film. One idea Swayze had for an alternate title was I was a teenage Mambo Queen (yuck).
THE PRODUCERS OF DIRTY DANCING HAD NEVER MADE A ‘REAL’ MOVIE BEFORE
Vestron Video was one of the pioneers of the home video market in the 1980s. Austin Furst Jr. was working for HBO when he was tasked with dismantling the Time-Life film division that HBO had presumably acquired at that time. (HBO owner Warner Bros. eventually bought out Time-Life owner Time, Inc. period). Furst realized that there was a market here to make home video versions of these products, so he decided to start his own company and bought the video licenses for these films himself and started Vestron Video.
The company was doing well enough in the mid-80s that Furst decided to try to venture into the world of film production as well, so the company could own ALL the rights to any given film and not just the video rights. . However, this was a very low-budget affair, so it only took on projects that none of the major studios were interested in, keeping the margins low enough that a flop wouldn’t affect them so long as that (losses could most likely be just written as tax losses, like how the wealthy often buy restaurants knowing they are very likely to fail, but if they do, it’s a tax deduction , and hey, you can say you own a restaurant). The company actually formed two different studios, Vestron Pictures, for mainstream films with budgets between $4 and $6 million and Lighting Pictures, for ultra-low budget horror films with budgets under $2 million. of dollars.
Eleanor Bergstein wrote the screenplay for dirty dance for MGM, but a change in direction led the studio to abandon the script. Linda Gottlieb was the film’s producer and she and Bergstein bought the script from numerous studios before finally biting Vestron by promising to halve the budget and the film was ultimately produced for less than $5 million (Bergstein later remembered how they would have to buy snacks for the crew themselves, and it was mostly stuff like cheese and crackers).
When the film was finished, Vestron was reluctant to get his money back (one executive joked that they should just burn the film negatives and collect the insurance), so he tried to find corporate sponsorship so that the movie hopefully does. money he felt was about to lose.
Thinking the film would at least be popular with teenagers, Vestron offered Proctor and Gamble to do a promotional tie-in with the film with its Clearasil acne cream and the company was interested. There would be an ad campaign and Proctor and Gamble would help fund the posters for the movie (they would have a bit on the posters with a Clearasil ad). However, Proctor and Gamble had a problem with part of the film’s plot. See, the whole reason Jennifer Grey’s Baby ends up dancing with Patrick Swayze’s Johnny is because Johnny’s normal dance partner, Penny, has an appointment for an abortion and so Baby agrees to both fund the dance. abortion with her father’s money and also to stand up for Penny for the dance performance she has the very night she is about to have an abortion.
Proctor and Gamble wanted the abortion plot cut before he made the connection and Vestron then went to Bergstein and Gottlieb to pull the plot from the film. Bergstein, however, explained that the plot was central to the story and literally couldn’t be taken out of the film at this point, otherwise the film wouldn’t make sense (there would be no reason to that Baby and Johnny dance with each other, that’s the whole point of the film). The studio conceded the point (Bergstein would later note that she deliberately placed the abortion plot at the center of the film so it CANNOT be cut, as she assumed that eventually the studio would try to get her to cut it ) and the promotional -in link collapsed.
Luckily for Vestron, he was wrong about the film’s box office chances, and it became a blockbuster. Ironically, its success proved to be a problem for Vestron, as it began to expand even further, buoyed by the success of dirty danceincluding the creation of a television division to transform dirty dance in a television series. His other projects (including the failed television adaptation) did not pan out, and the company eventually went out of business in 1992.
The legend is…
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