Study Guide

Ferris Bueller's Day Off Production Studio

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Production Studio

Paramount Pictures knows a thing or two about successful movie franchises. The Godfather, Transformers, Mission: Impossible, Paranormal Activity, Indiana Jones—these are all Paramount productions. The studio even had a hand in the Marvel cinematic universe at one point in time.

So how does Ferris Bueller fit in with mobsters, giant robots, and Tom Cruise's almost maniacal devotion to doing his own stunts? The short answer is, because Ferris Bueller's Day Off was a giant hit. Released on June 13, 1986, the film grossed over $70 million in the United States and was one of the top ten highest grossing films of the year (source).

Don't let the numbers fool you, though: Ferris Bueller's Day Off was far from a sure thing. In fact, the movie's first screening made the executives at Paramount all kinds of nervous. "It was a disastrous screening," explains Ned Tanen, then head of Paramount's motion picture division, in Susannah Gora's book You Couldn't Ignore Me If You Tried: The Brat Pack, John Hughes, and Their Impact on a Generation (Three Rivers, 2011).

According to Tanen, the film, shot for roughly $6 million over three months in 1985, was in need of a major re-edit, so writer-director-producer John Hughes swooped in like Batman and saved the day (source). "Hughes said, 'Leave me alone for two weeks,'" Tanen recalls. "He took the thing and edited it, and it was brilliant." We're sure the film's actual editor, Paul Hirsch, was thrilled.

Hughes's micromanaging worked, though, and the final cut of the film was a smash, pulling in a cool $6.2 million in its first weekend in theaters. The high school comedy was a bona fide hit for Paramount, and it increased Hughes's already expanding cachet in Hollywood.

It was also the last teen film Hughes would direct for Paramount, or anywhere for that matter, as he turned his attention behind the camera to more grown-up fare like Planes, Trains, and Automobiles and She's Having a Baby, two more Paramount productions, both of which showed that Hughes could do more than teen angst.

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