In November 1987, DeLaurentiis
Entertainment Group (DEG) informed the filmmakers that they wanted the film by
Christmas, when all that was done so far was a rough
cut. Stephen Herek said he knew something was going on because while they
were cutting the movie, people were coming in and taking the
What became clear soon enough was that the production company was in serious
financial trouble. The company's first releases had been in 1986, but a
string of films which did poorly at the box office spelled its doom. The company obviously hoped that
Excellent Adventure would be its last hope of
solvency. DEG had already started promoting the
movie. There is even a promotional flyer for the movie with the DEG logo
on it (and oddly enough, a different Napoleon pictured in the phone booth (see
photo, left)! It has never been established if this was an early casting choice
who was replaced or someone who just sat in on a photo shoot when Terry couldn't
appear.) Part of their promotional campaign was the catchline, "Equal parts Mark Twain, Monty Python and
rock ‘n’ roll." Herek thought this description didn’t do the
movie justice. As Herek explained, "But I am a huge Monty Python fan
and so are Keanu and Alex. They would keep doing routines on the set and
consistently crack us up. I hired production designer Roy Forge Smith
solely because he worked on Jabberwocky and Monty Python and the Holy
Grail. I wanted the kind of strange historical feel he gave to those
movies. Otherwise the tag-line was pure publicity hype."
Scott Kroopf recalled that he showed the
film to the new head of production and he passed on it. Bill and Ted would
once again need to find someone to believe in the project. At this point, it
looked like the film was destined to become a straight-to-video deal. Someone even said it would be a waste of money to put it on video, because it
wouldn’t even make one penny. DEG was even reportedly working on a deal
to sell the film to the HBO cable channel. The idea of the film being
relinquished to video bargain bins or late-night cable television was
distressing for Alex Winter, who admitted, "It depressed me a lot.
This was a lot of hard work and a lot of fun. I really wanted to see that
work come to fruition." Movie fans were taunted with theatrical
trailers for a movie which never seemed to materialize. Throughout 1988,
fans wondered, "Did that movie come out? Did I miss it? What
Test screenings of the film brought
very positive reactions. Audiences, both kids and adults, really responded
to even early cuts of the movie. Over the year and a half between the
wrap-up of filming and the eventual release, the movie was tweaked, re-edited
and re-worked. At one time the movie was tested with a completely
different soundtrack which everyone agreed didn't really work. The movie
was rescored by David Newman with much better results. The search
continued for a company that would agree to release the movie. No one
seemed to want to touch the film, citing many of the reasons that the film was
originally rejected for production . . . ‘The film is five
years too late. These people don’t exist.’ Reportedly, word of mouth
for the film was pretty poor.
At last, an angel arrived in
the form of a co-operative deal between Orion Pictures and Nelson
Entertainment. Orion would handle the theatrical release of if Nelson Entertainment
purchased the video rights and
shared with the advertising costs. Maybe not coincidentally, half of the people with Nelson had
originally been with DEG, including executive Rick Finkelstein. Nelson
made a better offer to DEG that they had received from HBO, and reportedly put
$1 million into the film to complete the effects and do a bit more reshooting.
The marketing design was put together and finally the filmed was released on
February 17, 1989, two years after the filming had first begun. But how
would audiences receive this unusual, nice and offbeat teen comedy coming out in
the middle of winter?
These two poster mock-ups were
created when the movie was still under the helm of DEG.
The official poster for the
movie's release. The film's tag line was
"History is about to be rewritten by two guys who can't spell."
The tagline "Time flies when you're having fun" is also featured
on the poster artwork.
to Press Kit Information . . .
Bill & Ted's Most Excellent Collection - Non-Bogus Disc: The Most Triumphant