No One Believed 'Bill & Ted' Would Succeed — Not Even Bill & Ted
Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure is an '80s comedy classic and inarguably the best movie in which Joan of Arc leads a Jazzercise class. And except for one random homophobic slur, plus the hour or so it takes to explain the concept of a phone booth to younger viewers, it still holds up today. But the film's success was in no way a guarantee; in fact, even the stars of the film were dubious about Bill & Ted's potential …
On a recent episode of the Inside of You podcast, Bill S. Preston, Esq. himself, Alex Winter, described how no one making Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure thought it'd be the smash hit it eventually became, spawning TV spin-offs, video games, and the only breakfast cereal to ever feature a cartoon George Carlin on the box.
Winter saw it as just a "weird indie movie" made by a bunch of people in their twenties that seemingly "no one gave a s**t about." Between takes, Winter and Keanu Reeves would even say to each other: "No one is ever, in a million years, ever going to see this f**king movie," further speculating: "This is gonna be on HBO at like 4 in the morning … this is gonna be sandwiched between some T&A horror movie." Which would have been a most heinous outcome.
But the cast's doubts were soon… totally confirmed? After completing the movie, Winter and Reeves were told: "No one's ever going to see this film; it's being shelved." The production company, De Laurentiis Entertainment Group, had just filed for bankruptcy, and Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure was immediately "scrapped." But according to director Stephen Herek, a few executives moved from DEG to a company called Nelson Entertainment, and they "got the negative rights for basically nothing." Nevertheless, Winter was still skeptical since the movie was bought "not by a studio, but by this little bitty company."
It wasn't until the movie's opening weekend, and a resulting Variety article featuring an image of Bill and Ted "sitting on top of piles of cash" that Winter realized that the movie would do well – paving the way for the also-great sequels and eventually, the worst stage show in human history.
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