The unexpected success of this film meant an international release, with other countries enjoying theatrical releases of Excellent Adventure throughout 1989 and well into 1990. It proved to not only strike a chord with American audiences but with audiences worldwide and a cultural phenomenon was born. Kids and fun-loving adults alike were heard to exclaim, "Excellent!" "Bogus!" and "Party On!" with alarming frequency. Bill and Ted was THE must-see movie of the time. Fans responded mostly to the strong message of friendship and good will in the film. Pretty much everyone agreed that they knew of a Bill and Ted in their own lives . . . the characters were universally recognizable and loved. It didn't matter that critics, for the most part, panned the movie outright, throwing about accusations along the lines that the movie "glorified stupidity." Imagine trying to make a point of saying Laurel and Hardy are a bad influence because they're stupid! A few critics took the film for what it was and didn't criticize it because it wasn't Ghandi. More importantly, movie-goers really didn't care what the critics thought . . . they knew a fun movie when they saw one, and they dragged their family and friends to the theaters again and again to share their enjoyment.
Excellent Adventure also became a lasting and memorable experience for those who worked on the film. Swing gang member Jim Meyer recalled that years after the film's release he happened to spot Clarence Clemons near a hotel swimming pool. Clarence stopped, pointed at Jim, and then gave him an exuberant air guitar. Alex and Keanu also became lifelong friends during the making of the film and still speak fondly of the experience making it.
With success came merchandising and talk of sequels, both of which happened pretty quickly. Discussions about a sequel began pretty much as soon as the impressive box office returns were in. Early merchandising began with t-shirts and other apparel items being made available through mail order offers that were sent out with the video game and videotape releases. Tie-ins with breakfast cereals (Cheerios, for example, which offered an exclusive comic book adaptation of the film), book covers, posters and other premiums were offered through various promotions (the Play*Doh Fun Factory.) (More information about tie-ins and promotions can be found on our Collectibles pages.)
The series would eventually spawn a cartoon series with its own merchandising line, toys from Kenner and even a live-action series (although that would not reach the airwaves until 1992.) Bill and Ted became part of the collective consciousness and were very much a part of 80's culture, even though they arrived at the tail end of that decade. The movie did somewhat typecast Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves as "airheads," which only proved the strength and energy of their performances. People liked Bill and Ted and definitely wanted more of them. A year and a half later, fans would get their wish.
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BILL & TED characters are trademarks of Nelson 1991 Inc. The motion picture BILL & TED'S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE ? 1989 Nelson Films Inc. All Rights Reserved. The motion picture BILL & TED'S BOGUS JOURNEY ? 1991 Orion Pictures Corporation. All Rights Reserved.