WTF Happened to The Black Hole?

We take a look at the making of Disney’s big attempt to compete with Star Wars, 1979’s sci-fi epic The Black Hole.

In 1977, a little movie called Star Wars came out and changed everyone’s idea of what a blockbuster could be. Overnight, science-fiction went from being a genre consigned to B-movies to A-level epics, and within a year, every studio in Hollywood was planning their own sci-fi epic. That included Walt Disney Pictures, who had infamously passed on developing Star Wars. Now, they were going to catch up with their own sci-fi epic, 1979’s The Black Hole (which we wrote up earlier on The Best Movie You Never Saw). Sporting a hefty $20 million budget (it cost twice what Star Wars did), The Black Hole was supposed to usher Disney into a new era of movie-making, where adult audiences would be targeted just as much as kids. The movie was not the flop history remembers, but it underperformed. Yet, it was an essential part of sci-fi movie history as it used computerized camera technology to create visual effects, many of which were mind-blowing for 1979.

In this episode of WTF Happened to this Movie, we dig into how Disney made a big-budget Star Wars-style movie on their own, without using any of the effects artists from George Lucas’s ILM. We dig into the interesting cast, which included the late Robert Forster, Maximillian Shell and the voice of Planet of the Apes star Roddy McDowell as an R2-D2-style robot named V.I.N.CENT, and more. We also explain how this dark, PG-rated movie paved the way for Disney’s Touchtone Pictures, with them, at the time, wholly devoted to G-rated family fare, something that would change dramatically in the eighties. Plus, we examine the score by John Barry and the rumors that the film even get a modern remake.

Do you have fond memories of The Black Hole? Let us know in the comments!

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