15 Major Facts About Minority Report

Twentieth Century Fox
Twentieth Century Fox

The 2002 movie Minority Report was a long-planned collaboration between actor Tom Cruise and director Steven Spielberg. Based on Philip K. Dick’s short story of the same name, the movie explores a future in which criminals are captured before they commit their crimes. Here are 15 things you might not have known about the first Hollywood movie to feature a completely digital production design, on its 15th anniversary.

1. IT WAS ORIGINALLY INTENDED AS A SEQUEL TO TOTAL RECALL.

Total Recall was another movie adaptation of a Philip K. Dick story. The Minority Report movie rights were held by cinematographer-turned-director Jan de Bont (Speed, Twister) at one point, who ended up getting a producer credit on the film without ever setting foot on set. Eventually Cruise approached Spielberg about an early version of the script, written for de Bont by Jon Cohen, which Spielberg hired Scott Frank to rewrite. When Cruise and Spielberg’s schedules were finally both clear at the same time, they went to work.

2. IT WAS INTENDED AS A FUTURISTIC VERSION OF THE FRENCH CONNECTION.

Spielberg and screenwriter Scott Frank met for months to talk about the story for Minority Report before the outlining stage even began. The general idea the two came up with was doing The French Connection, but set in the year 2050.

3. MERYL STREEP SIGNED UP TO PLAY DR. IRIS HINEMAN.

Streep's casting was reported in March of 2001, but she didn’t end up in the film at all (Lois Smith played the part). Matt Damon was offered the role of Danny Witwer, but couldn’t do it because of Ocean’s Eleven. Cate Blanchett was offered the part of the precog Agatha, Jenna Elfman was offered Lara Clarke, and Sir Ian McKellen could have been Lamar Burgess.

4. STEVEN SPIELBERG TOLD TOM CRUISE NOT TO TAKE A SALARY.

At the time, Spielberg claimed that he had not taken a salary on a movie in 18 years. And he wanted Cruise to do the same. Instead, the two reportedly agreed to receiving no upfront money in exchange for approximately 15 percent of the box office apiece. (The film made more than $358 million worldwide.)

5. SPIELBERG WANTED TO GET DIRTY.

Spielberg told his longtime cinematographer, Janusz Kaminski, that he wanted Minority Report to be the “ugliest, dirtiest movie” he had ever made. This was partially achieved by Kaminski’s “bleach bypass” approach to post-production, which pulled “about 40 percent” of the color out of the final images, but more color was added to the lights. The bleached-out feature gave the film deep shadows and bright highlights.

6. A THINK TANK WAS ORGANIZED TO HELP IMAGINE THE FUTURE.

In order to determine what the world might be like in the year 2054, Spielberg brought together 23 futurists for a brainstorming session. He wanted a reality-based future instead of a science fiction-informed one. All 23 of the participants believed that privacy was going to be a thing of the past. An 80-page “2054 bible” was on hand to keep the movie’s universe consistent.

7. TIM BLAKE NELSON WAS TOLD TO USE A BOSTON ACCENT.

The Oklahoma-born Nelson (Gideon) was thrown a little bit when Spielberg and Cruise went through his rehearsed lines and made some last-minute changes, including the addition of a Boston accent. "It seemed so arbitrary," Nelson told The A.V. Club, "but it was really a brilliant piece of direction because everything suddenly started to click. Not only did it click in terms of pushing me to an extreme that he would appreciate and would work for his movie but every single change they made suddenly made sense rhythmically."

8. THE PRECOGS WERE NAMED AFTER FAMOUS AUTHORS.

Arthur, Agatha, and Dashiell were named for the mystery writers Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie, and Dashiell Hammett.

9. THE CAR FACTORY SCENE WAS BASED ON AN UNFILMED SCENE IN A HITCHCOCK MOVIE.

Hitchcock wanted to put something similar in North by Northwest.

10. CRUISE DID HIS OWN BATHTUB STUNTS.

Cruise's John Anderton managed to make an air bubble in the tub because of the actor playing him, not from CGI, which Spielberg was prepared to use. Cruise wanted to do it naturally.

11. COLIN FARRELL NEEDED 36 TAKES TO NAIL ONE LINE.

“I’m sure you all understand the fundamental paradox of Precrime methodology” was the one Witwer line that gave Farrell trouble. The actor’s defense was that it was the morning after his birthday. "And I got worse as we went along," Farrell told IGN.

12. A FOURTH OF THE BUDGET WAS FINANCED BY PRODUCT PLACEMENT.

Toyota paid $5 million to get a futuristic Lexus called the Mag-Lev in Minority Report. Nokia shelled out $2 million for the characters to wear Nokia headsets. The Gap, Pepsi, American Express, and Reebok got in on the sci-fi action, too.

13. CAMERON DIAZ AND CAMERON CROWE MADE CAMEOS ON THE TRAIN.

YouTube

After Spielberg made a cameo in Cameron Crowe's Vanilla Sky (which starred Cruise and Cameron Diaz), Crowe returned the favor. Originally Crowe was going to be a futuristic bum, but his role was changed to a businessman reading the newspaper. Diaz played a businesswoman talking on her cell phone right behind Crowe.

14. PAUL THOMAS ANDERSON WAS ALSO ON THAT TRAIN.

But even Anderson couldn’t find himself in the movie.

15. JOHN WILLIAMS SCORED THE FILM, BUT CAME TO THE PROJECT RATHER LATE.

Typically, longtime collaborators John Williams and Steven Spielberg begin discussing and working on the score for a project in the very early stages of production. In the case of Minority Report, Williams didn't come aboard until the film was mostly shot. Which ended up working out well for Williams, as he was able to experience the many twists and turns of the film before creating its music, and create an emotional arc to complement that. His noir-style composition for Minority Report was meant to end on a hopeful note for the future. "That surprises a lot of people," Williams said. "We've been in a dark, futuristic mode and then, unexpectedly, there's this lyricism reflecting a sense of innocence and hope."

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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