Who Framed Roger Rabbit was considered a landmark blend of animation and live action when it came out in 1988; it also signaled the renaissance of the then moribund Walt Disney Animation Studios. In celebration of the Robert Zemeckis-directed film's 25th anniversary, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will present a new digital restoration of Who Framed Roger Rabbit at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 4, 2013, at the Academy's Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills. (Photo: Robert Zemeckis and Roger Rabbit in Who Framed Roger Rabbit publicity shot.)
Robert Zemeckis, who has since made his mark on the art of performance capture animation (e.g., The Polar Express, starring Tom Hanks; Beowulf, starring Angelina Jolie), will be in attendance for a post-screening onstage discussion. Accompanying Zemeckis will be actress Joanna Cassidy (the replicant Zhora in Ridley Scott's Blade Runner), voice actor Charles Fleischer, supervising animator Andreas Deja, screenwriter Peter S. Seaman, and associate producers Don Hahn and Steve Starkey. The Who Framed Roger Rabbit panel will be moderated by Wreck-It Ralph director Rich Moore.
'Who Framed Roger Rabbit': International blockbuster and winner of four Academy Awards
According to Box Office Mojo, Who Framed Roger Rabbit grossed $156.45 million in North America, in addition to $173.35 million internationally, for a worldwide total of $329.8 million. Not taking currency fluctuations into account, that represents approximately $640 million today — and let's not forget that back in 1988 countries such as Russia (then part of the Soviet Union) and China were insignificant markets for Hollywood movies.
Who Framed Roger Rabbit won Academy Awards for Best Film Editing, Best Sound Effects Editing, and Best Visual Effects, in addition to a Special Achievement Award for Richard Williams' animation direction. Robert Zemeckis' movie was also nominated for Best Cinematography (the winner was Alan Parker's Mississippi Burning), Best Art Direction (the winner was Stephen Frears' Dangerous Liaisons), and Best Sound (the winner was Clint Eastwood's Bird). Robert Zemeckis was himself nominated for that year's DGA Award, but in the Academy's Best Director roster Zemeckis was replaced by Martin Scorsese for the unDisneyesque The Last Temptation of Christ.
Based on Gary K. Wolf's novel Who Censored Roger Rabbit?, Robert Zemeckis' Who Framed Roger Rabbit was adapted by Jeffrey Price and Peter S. Seaman. In the cast: the recently retired Bob Hoskins (a 1986 Best Actor Academy Award nominee for Neil Jordan's Mona Lisa, and most recently seen supporting Chris Hemsworth and Kristen Stewart in Rupert Sanders' Snow White and the Huntsman), Blade Runner's aforementioned Joanna Cassidy, Back to the Future's Christopher Lloyd, and film and television veteran Stubby Kaye (Guys and Dolls, Sweet Charity). Who Framed Roger Rabbit voice actors included Charles Fleischer (as Roger Rabbit), Body Heat and Prizzi's Honor femme fatale Kathleen Turner (as femme fatale Jessica Rabbit), and veterans Mel Blanc and June Foray.
Lincoln's Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy were two of Who Framed Roger Rabbit's executive producers, as the film was partly financed by their production company, Amblin Entertainment. The credited producers were Robert Watts and Amblin's Frank Marshall.
According to the Academy's press release, the digital restoration of Who Framed Roger Rabbit was provided by the Walt Disney Studios. The Disney restoration team used the original 35mm film, VistaVision optical work, and original sound elements.
Tickets for Who Framed Roger Rabbit are $5 for the general public and $3 for Academy members and students with a valid ID. The Samuel Goldwyn Theater is located at 8949 Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills. For more information, call (310) 247-3600 or visit oscars.org.
Bob Hoskins and Robert Zemeckis' Who Framed Roger Rabbit photos: © Walt Disney Studios.