“Well, it’s Groundhog Day… again.” – Phil Connors
On February 12, 1993, Columbia Pictures released the iconic GROUNDHOG DAY. Directed by Harold Ramis and starring Bill Murray, the film was a box office blockbuster, grossing over $70 million (with a budget of only $14.6 million). In honor of Groundhog Day, DMG Entertainment highlights some fun facts about the classic romantic comedy. Even if you watched GROUNDHOG DAY hundreds of times, here are some things you may have missed or didn’t know:
When Philosophy Meets Comedy Friedrich Nietzsche’s novel, “The Gay Science”, was the original inspiration for GROUNDHOG DAY’s screenwriter Danny Rubin. In the book, Nietzsche gives a description of a man who is living the same day over and over again.
Somethings are Better Left Unsaid
In the early stages of GROUNDHOG DAY’s development, the studio wanted to explain the film’s time loop. Although writer Danny Rubin and director Harold Ramis preferred no explanation, they wrote a draft which included a gypsy curse as the cause of the time loop. Luckily, the studio decided in favor of Rubin and Ramis’ original version, ultimately persevering the film’s existential essence.
Nice Guys Can Finish Last
Some actors considered for the lead role included Tom Hanks, Chevy Chase, Steve Martin and John Travolta, however Ramis decided against them because they all appeared, “too nice”.
Murray, Groundhog. Groundhog, Murray
Bill Murray was bitten by the star groundhog twice on set.
There is Always Room for Family
Murray’s siblings frequently appear in his movies, GROUNDHOG is no exception. Brother Brian Doyle-Murray made a cameo in GROUNDHOG DAY as local official.
Bill Murray Stepped Here
Woodstock, Illinois, GROUNDHOG DAY’s filming location, created two plaques in honor of the film. The first plaque reads “Bill Murray stepped here”. The plaque is on the curb where Murray repeatedly steps into a puddle. The second plaque reads “Ned’s Corner”. The plaque commemorates one of GROUNDHOG DAY’s most notable characters.
The Dispute of the Decade
Harold Ramis and Bill Murray continuously argued throughout production. Although many believe Murray and Ramis’ tiff stemmed from their disagreement on the film’s tone, other sources state Murray’s personal life interfered with the film’s production. The two former pals did not speak to each other socially for 21 years until they reconciled shortly before Ramis’ 2014 death.
Due to conflicts on set, the studio encouraged Murray to hire a personal assistant to improve communication. Murray agreed. Several days later, Murray hired a deaf personal assistant. No one on set, including Murray, knew American Sign Language.
The Questions We’ve all Wondered…
Although GROUNDHOG DAY only depicts 38 days, Phil was actually stuck in his time loop for 12,395 days (that’s 34 years! No wonder he drove off the cliff…)
February 29th: The Original GROUNDHOG DAY
Danny Rubin original thought Phil would be trapped during a leap year, February 29th, but decided on Groundhog Day because “it’s a completely unexploited holiday.”
Not All Endings Are Happy
In the first draft of GROUNDHOG DAY, the film ends with Phil waking up on February 3rd, escaping the time loop and lying next to the love of his life, Rita. However, when Rita wakes up, she reveals she has relived February 3rd for weeks.
On GROUNDHOG DAY’s first day of shooting, Bill Murray stopped filming to buy Danishes for roughly 500 local residents.
Let the Games Begin
Before shooting the snowball fight scene, Harold Ramis directed the kids to hit Bill Murray as hard as they could. Murray thought it was only fair to throw snowballs back as hard as he could.
Small Animals and Murray Don’t Get Along
In early versions of GROUNDHOG DAY, Phil murdered the groundhog in his den, however the script removed this scene because it was too similar to CADDYSHACK (1980).
Art Imitates Life
Bill Murray came up with the idea of Phil reading to Rita while she slept. Turns out, on the night of Murray’s wedding, his wife drank too much and fell asleep early, leaving Murray to read aloud to her until he could fall asleep too.
To the Groundhog!
GROUNDHOG DAY is ranked 8th on the AFI’s 10 greatest fantasy films.
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