• In 1985, while the Ishtar script was still in development, Elaine May used the working title 'Blind Camel'. And for a while, the movie studio even considered it seriously as a title... along with 'Ishtar Hotel'.
• Ishtar was the number one box office attraction in many countries during it's first week in theatres, only to be usurped by Eddie Murphy's "Beverly Hills Cop II" sequel. In fact, here's a short, approximate world-wide box office break down of Ishtar:
• The initial VHS rental tally for the USA was $7,700,000.
• Footage for a music video for 'Little Darlin' was shot in New York City, directed by Gary Weis (Saturday Night Live; producer of The Rutles' 'All You Need Is Cash') & produced by Kathryn Ireland (Paul Simon, The Bangles, Foreigner, George Harrison).
• The movie in the UK had 2 slightly different rated releases. To achieve a 'PG RATING', 8 seconds were cut from the original 1987 release (removing the word 'f***'...). Then, in 2004, the cuts were waived for the 'UNCUT' DVD, with the rating upgraded to '15'. See BBFC Video Cuts.
• Among those present at the premiere on May 13th, 1987, were: Bette Midler, Susanna Hoffs, Emilio Estevez, Heather Locklear, Jane Seymour, O.J. Simpson, Penny Marshall, Robert Stack, Sally Struthers, Tom Cruise & Mimi Rogers. SEE PHOTOS OF PREMIERE GUESTS AT WIREIMAGE.COM.
• ISHTAR is also available on DVD as part of the German SIGNATURES series DVD boxed set of Dustin Hoffman films. The other movies included are Hook, Johanna of Orleans, Kramer Vs. Kramer, Papillon, Tootsie and Hero.
• Jonathan Rosenbaum, the well-respected critic and film historian, was asked to take part in compiling extras for an official American DVD release, and had this to say in CINEMA SCOPE MAGAZINE :
Some time ago, I was contacted about contributing to the extras of an ambitious DVD being planned for Elaine May's infamous and underappreciated Ishtar (1987) - a project developed with loving care by some maverick film buffs at Columbia/Tristar over many months, eventually soliciting the unprecedented cooperation and input of May herself.
It seemed like a golden opportunity for some thoughtful studio revisionism - especially in light of how much this prescient farce has to say about the dangerous blunders of American innocence and stupidity in the Middle East and how blind American reviewers were to this aspect of the movie back in 1987. Indeed, a recent spot check of the unadorned VHS version of Ishtar on Amazon revealed that 73 customer reviews were posted with an overall average rating of four and a half stars, suggesting that the audience by now is well ahead of most critics on this score. But only a few days after I enthusiastically accepted the film buffs' invitation, a studio executive nixed the whole project without a second thought, letting perhaps a year of concerted planning go down the drain. And Ishtar, which recently came out on DVD in the UK, remains unavailable in that format in North America.
• In one of Gary Larson's much-loved 'The Far Side' comic panels, captioned "Hell's Video Store", an entire store is stocked with nothing but copies of the movie Ishtar. Larson later apologized in one of his printed anthologies, stating "When I drew the above cartoon, I had not actually seen Ishtar.... Years later, I saw it on an airplane, & was stunned at what was happening to me: I was actually being entertained. Sure, maybe it's not the greatest film ever made, but my cartoon was way off the mark. There are so many cartoons for which I should probably write an apology, but this is the only one which compels me to do so."
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• As an homage to both the movie & defunct home video format, a softball team based out of Chicago, Illinois, named itself "Ishtar On Beta". The team began in 1993 and has been a fixture in Chicago's 16-inch softball leagues, currently recognized as the longest actively playing, co-ed team in the city. Visit their site here.
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CLICK to visit their site...
• For decades, filmmakers have suspected that the automatic language rule regarding film ratings make no contribution to the country's moral health & challenge it in their scripts. When Dustin Hoffman & Warren Beatty finally best the bad guys in Ishtar, Hoffman shouts at them, "F*** you." Beatty was also supposed to shout, but rumor has it that for his whole career, Beatty had wanted to say "f***" two times in a movie without getting an 'R' rating. So, to the bad guys in Ishtar he said "F*** you twice", & got away with it.
• Connections to & because of the movie 'The Graduate' (beyond Hoffman-As-Chuck's references and Beatty-As-Lyle's attempts at playing 'songs from the Simon And Garfunkel songbook'):
- The Graduate was directed and co-produced by Elaine May's comic partner Mike Nichols
- Additional music for both movies was by Dave Grusin
- Paul Simon contributed exclusive music to Beatty's movie "Shampoo" (1975) (particularly a version of "Silent Eyes"), as well as S&G's "Feeling Groovy".
• ON TV:
- In "The New Adventures of Casper: The Friendly Ghost", Ishtar is shown in the Hell's theater continuously as a torture method.
- In "Growing Pains", Jason & Carol had plans to spend a romantic evening together, but Carol got stuck covering some big event in her job as a television news reporter. Unfortunately, that event got rained out, & the whole family was left watching Ishtar, being run in its place.
- In "The Animaniacs", a video copy of Ishtar is used as a weapon, an exploding 'bomb'.
- In the "Red Dwarf" episode Timeslides, Lister suggests travelling back in time in order to prevent Dustin Hoffman from making the film.
- In "Everybody Hates Chris", a scene shows people running out a cinema in despair. The cinema was playing a fictitious continuation for Ishtar, called Ishtar 2.
• The brown helicopter used to attack Hoffman & Beatty at the end of the film is a Bell 222 (called a "Bell Gunship" by Grodin's character Jim Harrison), with cannons & rockets mounted on its landing gear side "wings." This same series of helicopter was used in the tv show Airwolf. The other helicopter (white) was a German MBB BO 105.
• Hoffman's screen father, David Marguilies, is only six months older than his screen son - both Hoffman & Marguilies were born in 1937.
• The very first camel considered for the blind camel's role would not make it into the final film. Many were checked out, and by the time the offer had been made for the first animal, it was too late... the camel had been eaten. Concerned by this reality, after the movie had wrapped, all 3 camels which had been used for specific 'performances' in the film were found a new home as part of a circus in Spain.
• In 1986, Beatty considered riding a camel in that years Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade to promote the movie.
• Though many reviewers claim the film's initial shoot went way over schedule, it only ran 7 days over it's original shecdule of 16 weeks.
• Elaine May & Charles Grodin were both born on April 21.
• Beatty and Hoffman both offered to defer their salaries for the movie to help offset the movie's budget issues. The movie studio declined both their offers.
• OTHER 'ISHTARS' INCLUDE: a goddess of fertility, love, war, and sex • a holistic training and healing centre in the Middle East • an Iraqi broadcasting company • 'Ishtar's Avalon' - a 'Witch Shoppe' in Plymouth, Massachusetts • lead singer of the band Alabina • an online magazine • a restaurant in London, England • a typeface font • an ultimate frisbee team in Australia • guidelines for healthcare security in the UK • a hard rock band from New Zealand • an integrated software package • a grocery store in West Bloomfield, Michigan • a Belgian folk group • a hotel in Jordan • an anime/manga character from Yu-gi-oh • a 'bellyrock' band in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania • a fine wine from Australia • and a big area of high land on the planet Venus!
• OTHER 'ROGERS & CLARKE's INCLUDE: an optical grinder/polisher machine manufacturer • a pair of naturists who spearheaded the The Pacific Crest Trail • and two students at the University of British Columbia who studied Psychometric Characteristics of the Test of Syntactic Abilities.
• FOR THE NUMBER CRUNCHERS: The Top 20 Biggest U.S.-Made Worldwide Money Losers, based on absolute loss. Courtesy of www.the-numbers.com (see the full & most current list here), as of May 12, 2011:
| ||Release Date||Movie||Distributor||Budget||Worldwide Gross||Loss|
|1||3/11/2011 ||Mars Needs Moms || ||$150,000,000 ||$37,041,767 ||-$131,479,117|
|2||4/27/2001 ||Town & Country ||New Line ||$105,000,000 ||$10,364,769 ||-$99,817,616|
|3||7/29/2005 ||Stealth ||Sony ||$138,000,000 ||$76,416,746 ||-$99,791,627|
|4||8/16/2002 ||The Adventures of Pluto Nash ||Warner Bros. ||$100,000,000 ||$7,094,995 ||-$96,452,503|
|5||12/17/2010 ||How Do You Know? || ||$120,000,000 ||$48,651,585 ||-$95,674,208|
|6||7/11/2001 ||Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within ||Sony ||$137,000,000 ||$85,131,830 ||-$94,434,085|
|7||8/27/1999 ||The 13th Warrior ||Buena Vista ||$125,000,000 ||$61,698,899 ||-$94,150,551|
|8||6/22/2007 ||Evan Almighty ||Universal ||$175,000,000 ||$173,219,280 ||-$88,390,360|
|9||4/8/2005 ||Sahara ||Paramount Pictures ||$145,000,000 ||$121,671,925 ||-$84,164,038|
|10||11/24/2010 ||The Nutcracker in 3D || ||$90,000,000 ||$12,606,721 ||-$83,696,640|
|11||12/22/1995 ||Cutthroat Island ||MGM/UA ||$92,000,000 ||$18,517,322 ||-$82,741,339|
|12||4/9/2004 ||The Alamo ||Buena Vista ||$92,000,000 ||$23,911,362 ||-$80,044,319|
|13||2/12/2010 ||The Wolf Man ||Universal ||$150,000,000 ||$142,634,358 ||-$78,682,821|
|14||9/2/2005 ||A Sound of Thunder ||Warner Bros. ||$80,000,000 ||$6,300,451 ||-$76,849,775|
|15||6/14/2002 ||Windtalkers ||MGM/UA ||$115,000,000 ||$77,628,265 ||-$76,185,868|
|16||6/16/2004 ||Around the World in 80 Days ||Buena Vista ||$110,000,000 ||$72,004,159 ||-$73,997,921|
|17||5/9/2008 ||Speed Racer ||Warner Bros. ||$120,000,000 ||$93,394,462 ||-$73,302,769|
|18||4/2/2004 ||Home on the Range ||Buena Vista ||$110,000,000 ||$76,482,461 ||-$71,758,770|
|19||11/24/2004 ||Alexander ||Warner Bros. ||$155,000,000 ||$167,297,191 ||-$71,351,405|
|20||2/18/2005 ||Son of the Mask ||New Line ||$100,000,000 ||$59,918,422 ||-$70,040,789|