14 Facts About The NeverEnding Story On Its 35th Anniversary

Warner Home Video
Warner Home Video

The movie adaptation of German writer Michael Ende's 1979 fantasy novel The Neverending Story () was released during that special era in the 1980s when a PG rating almost certainly meant nightmares for children under the age of 10 (see: Labyrinth and The Dark Crystal). But that didn't stop Wolfgang Petersen's magical adventure story from becoming a bona fide cult classic.

In honor of the movie's 35th anniversary, now seems like the perfect time to revisit the world of Fantasia with some things you might not have known about The NeverEnding Story.

1. At the time of its release, The NeverEnding Story was the most expensive movie in Germany's history.

At the time of its release, The NeverEnding Story was the most expensive film production in the history of German cinema. With a price tag of about $27 million, the project supplanted 1981's Oscar-nominated Das Boot—also directed by Wolfgang Petersen—as the country's priciest film. Luckily for Petersen and the studio, The NeverEnding Story managed to rake in approximately $100 million worldwide.

2. The book's author called the movie "revolting."

Despite having worked with Petersen on the script, The Neverending Story author Michael Ende publicly bashed the finished product. Following the film's release in Germany, Ende organized a press conference where he referred to the film as "the revolting movie" and demanded that his name not appear in the credits, claiming that "The makers of the film simply did not understand the book at all. They just wanted to make money."

3. Michael Ende was embarrassed by Fantasia's "strippers."

Ende was definitely not on board with the busty, laser-shooting Sphinx statues that Atreyu encounters in the film. "The Sphinxes are quite one of the biggest embarrassments of the film," Ende said. "They are full-bosomed strippers who sit there in the desert."

4. Not everyone got along on the set of The NeverEnding Story.

When asked about working with such a young cast in an interview with SciFiNow, special effects director Brian Johnson said "Barret Oliver (Bastian) was an absolute gem" and Tami Stronach (the Childlike Empress) "was fine ... Noah Hathaway (Atreyu) was a bit of a pain in the arse, frankly. It was very difficult for Wolfgang to get anything out of him. Barret Oliver delivered all the time, he was just brilliant, absolutely brilliant."

5. Wolfgang Petersen was a perfectionist.

There are two sides to every story, of course. And Noah Hathaway remembers things a bit differently. In a 2015 interview with The News Tribune, the actor—who is now 47 years old—says that Petersen, whose English was limited, was a perfectionist who sometimes required up to 40 takes before he was satisfied with a single scene. “A three-month movie turned into a year," Hathaway said, who noted that two iconic scenes—Artax's death in the Swamp of Sadness and the introduction of the giant turtle Morla—took two months to shoot. "It was a lot of work."

6. It took a while to train a horse to "drown."

There's a reason why the Swamp of Sadness scene took so long to shoot. The short version? Most horses won’t walk into deep pools of mud if they have a choice. It took two trainers seven weeks to teach the horse playing Artax to stand still on a hydraulic platform in the swamp with mud up to his chin without trying to swim or run away.

7. Falkor is a luckdragon, not a dog—but he's also part airplane.


Towohlfahrt // CC-BY-SA-3.0, Wikimedia Commons

The 43-foot-long luckdragon’s face looks a lot like a dog's, but according to the source material, his official breed is zero percent canine. While even the special effects director referred to the creature as a “golden retriever/dragon,” Falkor’s appearance was simply the director’s interpretation. At least two Falkor models were constructed; the first, built by Giuseppe Tortora, used airplane steel for the frames and the head alone weighed more than 200 pounds.

8. Bastian is a Canuck.

The real world does not play a major role in The NeverEnding Story, so the city is never explicitly identified. While the bulk of the film was made at Bavaria Studios in Munich, the scenes of Bastian at home, in the bookstore, and running away from the bullies down an alley were all shot in Gastown, a neighborhood in downtown Vancouver, British Columbia.

9. The story doesn't end with the credits (but it does have an ending).

If you’re the type of moviegoer who avoids sequels, you may want to rethink that policy in this case—or at least pick up a copy of Ende’s book. Because the film version of The NeverEnding Story ends at around the halfway point of the book, audiences never find out what happens to the beloved characters. George T. Miller's 1990 sequel, The NeverEnding Story II: The Next Chapter, includes plot points from Ende’s novel, but also adds new elements to the storyline. There is a third film in the series (1994's The NeverEnding Story III), but it is an extended adventure that was not part of the book.

10. The movie's theme song was a smash hit.

Written by Keith Forsey, composed by Giorgio Moroder, and performed in French and English by pop singer Limahl (with additional vocals by Ann Calvert and Beth Anderson), the earworm title song is not featured in the German version of the film, but it did infect other parts of the world. The song reached the top spot on music charts in Sweden and Norway, number 17 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, and sold more than 200,000 copies in the UK.

11. Two of the book's biggest scenes were never shot.

Because of the limitations of special effects in the 1980s, two scenes from the book that were written into the script had to be removed. The first was the real introduction of Falkor, during which Atreyu helps him escape from a shape-shifting monster known as Ygramul the Many. In the film, Falkor appears out of the clouds when Atreyu is near death in the Swamp of Sadness, and in the next scene, they are on the mountain where the gnomes Engywook and Urgl live.

The other cut scene found Falkor and Atreyu caught in a fight between four Wind Giants. Instead, the scene was edited to be a brush with The Nothing, where Atreyu falls off of Falkor and comes to on a beach.

12. Some lucky people have The NeverEnding Story tattoos inked by Atreyu himself.

After making a few more movies, Noah Hathaway left acting behind and tried out several other careers, including martial arts trainer and tattoo artist, the latter of which required him to revisit his NeverEnding past. “I wouldn’t do another Auryn (talisman) tattoo because I did 15 in three weeks,” Hathaway told The News Tribune. “It is very flattering though.”

Read more here: http://www.thenewstribune.com/entertainment/article29910505.html#storylink=cpy

13. Steven Spielberg owns the original Auryn prop.

Spielberg helped Wolfgang Petersen cut the U.S. version of the film, which is seven minutes shorter than the German version. The pacing needed to be a little quicker for U.S. audiences, Petersen told MTV News, so he asked his friend Spielberg—who had learned his editing technique from George Lucas—for help. “There were little snippets, bits and pieces here and there," Petersen said. “Nothing major. Nothing that’s like ‘take the entire sequence out.’ It was just a polish kind of thing. A pacing thing; a few seconds here, a few things here.” As a thank you for his help, Petersen gave Spielberg the Auryn.

14. The NeverEnding Story book prop allegedly still exists.

Someone claiming to have the original prop has tried to sell it on eBay a couple of times, once in 2012 for $75,000 and again in 2015 for $28,500. He even tracked down Noah Hathaway and had him pose with the book for the listing. Neither listing ended with a sale, so if you’re a big fan of the film, there may still be hope.

This story was updated in 2019.

Rewind Time With This Blockbuster-Themed Party Game

Amazon/Big Potato Games
Amazon/Big Potato Games

With only one Blockbuster location left in the world, the good old days of wandering video rental store aisles and getting chewed out for late fees are definitely a thing of the past—but like so many relics from the '90s, the pull of nostalgia has ensured that Blockbuster (or at least the brand) won't disappear for good. Now the video store is back in the form of a party game from Big Potato Games that is designed to test the movie knowledge of you and up to 11 friends.

Marketing itself as “a movie game for anyone who has ever seen a movie,” the Blockbuster party game consists of two parts. In part one, players from each team compete head-to-head to name as many movies as they can that fit under specific categories (e.g., movies with Tom Cruise, famous trilogies, movies with planes). In the second half, two teams face off against each other to test their skills at a game of movie-related charades. The catch? Players can only describe movies in one of three randomly chosen ways: acting out scenes, rattling off a famous quote, or describing the films with one word.

The real selling point of the whole package is that Big Potato fit all the game cards and buzzer into a box that is virtually identical to the old-school Blockbuster VHS rental cases, right down to its distinct color scheme and shape. All it's missing is the membership card. 

The Blockbuster board game costs $26 on Amazon and $20 at Target. That’s a fair price for getting the chance to rewind time.

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8 Festive Facts About Hallmark Channel Christmas Movies

The holiday season means gifts, lavish meals, stocking stuffers, and what appear to be literally hundreds of holiday-themed movies running in perpetuity on the Hallmark Channel, which has come to replace footage of a crackling fireplace as the background noise of choice for cozy evenings indoors. Last year, roughly 70 million people watched Hallmark's holiday scheduling block. If you’re curious how the network manages to assemble films like Check Inn to Christmas, Christmas at Graceland: Home for the Holidays, and Sense, Sensibility & Snowmen with such efficiency—a total of 40 new films will debut this season on the Hallmark Channel, Hallmark Movies and Mysteries, and Hallmark Movies Now—keep reading.

1. The Hallmark Channel Christmas movie tradition started with ABC.

The idea of unspooling a continuous run of holiday films started in the 1990s, when ABC offshoot network ABC Family started a "25 Days of Christmas" programming promotion that would go on to feature the likes of Joey Lawrence and Mario Lopez. The Hallmark Channel, which launched in 2001, didn’t fully embrace the concept until 2011, when ABC Family moved away from the concept in an effort to appeal to teen viewers.

2. Most Hallmark Channel Christmas movies are shot in Canada.

To maximize their $2 million budget, most Hallmark Channel holiday features are shot in Canada, where tax breaks can stretch the dollar. Wintry Vancouver is a popular destination, though films have also been shot in Montreal and Toronto. One film, 2018's Christmas at the Palace, was shot in Romania to take advantage of the country's castles.

3. Each Hallmark Channel Christmas movie only takes a couple of weeks to film.

If you’re wondering why a holiday movie on basic cable can regularly attract—and keep—a list of talent ranging from Candace Cameron Bure to Lacey Chabert, the answer is partly scheduling. Most Hallmark holiday movies take just two to three weeks to shoot, meaning actors don’t have to commit months out of the year to a project. Actors like Rachael Leigh Cook, who stars in this year's A Blue Ridge Mountain Christmas, have also complimented the channel on giving them opportunities to be with their families while on location: Cook said that the production schedule allowed her time to FaceTime with family back home.

4. Hallmark Channel Christmas movies use a variety of tricks to create snow.

Even more pervasive than Dean Cain in the Hallmark Channel Christmas line-up is snow. Because some of the films shoot in the summer, it’s not always possible to achieve that powder naturally. Producers use a variety of tricks to simulate snowfall, including snow blankets that mimic the real thing when laid out; foam; commercial replica snow; crushed limestone; and ice shavings. Actors might also get covered with soapy bubbles for close-ups. The typical budget for snow per movie is around $50,000.

5. There’s a psychological reason why Hallmark Channel Christmas movies are so addictive.

Like a drug, Hallmark Channel Christmas movies provide a neurological reward. Speaking with CNBC in 2019, Pamela Rutledge, behavioral scientist, director of the Media Psychology Research Center, and a faculty member in the Media Psychology department at Fielding Graduate University, explained that the formulaic plots and predictability of the films is rewarding, especially when viewers are trying to unwind from the stress of the holiday season. “The lack of reality at all levels, from plot to production, signals that the movies are meant to be escapism entertainment,” Rutledge said. “The genre is well-defined, and our expectations follow. This enables us to suspend disbelief.”

6. Hallmark Channel Christmas movie fans now have their own convention.

Call it the Comic-Con of holiday cheer. This year, fans of Hallmark Channel’s Christmas programming got to attend ChristmasCon, a celebration of all things Hallmark in Edison, New Jersey. Throngs of people gathered to attend panels with movie actors and writers, scoop up merchandise, and vie for prizes during an ugly sweater competition. The first wave of $50 admission tickets sold out instantly. Hallmark Channel USA was the official sponsor.

7. Hallmark Channel Christmas movies are helping keep cable afloat.

Actors Brooke D'Orsay and Marc Blucas are pictured in a publicity still from the 2017 Hallmark Channel original movie 'Miss Christmas'
Brooke D'Orsay and Marc Blucas in Miss Christmas (2017).
Hallmark Channel

In an era of cord-cutting and streaming apps, more and more people are turning away from cable television, preferring to queue up programming when they want it. But viewers of Hallmark Channel’s holiday offerings often tune in as the movie is airing. In 2016, 4 million viewers watched the line-up “live.” One reason might be the communal nature of the films. People tend to watch holiday-oriented programming in groups, tuning in as they air. The result? For the fourth quarter of 2018, the Hallmark Channel was the most-watched cable network among women 18 to 49 and 25 to 54, even outpacing broadcast network programming on Saturday nights.

8. You can get paid to watch Hallmark Channel Christmas movies.

If you think you have the constitution to make it through 24 Hallmark Channel holiday films in 12 days, you might want to consider applying for the Hallmark Movie Dream Job contest, which is sponsored by Internet Service Partners and will pay $1000 to the winning entrant who seems most capable of binging the two dozen films and making wry comments about them on social media. You can enter though December 6 here.

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