The Rocky Horror Picture Show
The Rocky Horror Picture Show is a 1975 British-American musical-comedy-horror film produced by Lou Adler and Michael White and is distributed by 20th Century Fox. Directed by Jim Sharman, the film is based on the stage play The Rocky Horror Show written by Richard O'Brien, with musical arrangements by Richard Hartley, which had its initial run at the Theater Upstairs at the Royal Court Theatre in London in 1973, and was imported to the U.S. by Lou Adler to his Roxy Theatre in West Hollywood, CA, debuting on March 21, 1974. An Australian Cast production, also directed by Jim Sharman, opened in Sydney on April 19, 1974 at the New Arts Cinema in Glebe as well. The film is a send up of '50s horror films, inspired by various RKO Pictures, as well as the obscure drama The Yesterday Machine. It stars members from the original London Cast production including Tim Curry, Richard O'Brien, Patricia Quinn, Little Nell (aka Nell Campbell), Jonathan Adams, and joined by American actors Susan Sarandon, Barry Bostwick, and Meat Loaf (from the Roxy Cast). The cast is rounded out by Peter Hinwood (a model), veteran character actor Charles Gray, and a couple of dozen carefully chosen extras as the Transylvanians and wedding guests.
Filming began October 21, 1974 at the Oakley Court Hotel and Bray Studios with a modest budget of $1,200,000. Filming wrapped on December 19, 1974. It was first released in London with an exclusive engagement at the Rialto Cinema on Coventry Street, beginning August 14,1975, with a short run that included midnight screenings. After a sneak-preview in Santa Barbara, California in August of 1975, a Canadian premiere in the theater at the Ontario Science Center on September 22, and special midnight preview at the Fox Venice Theater in Los Angeles on September 25, the film had its official U.S. debut at the UA Westwood in Los Angeles on September 26, 1975. The initial week had many sold-out performances, as tickets were sold in advance though a special 10-week mail-order campaign headed by Fox's advertising executive Tim Deegan for September 26 through October 2, a marketing move that had previously proved successful with the play at the Roxy. There was also radio promotion via the Rocky Horror Radio Commercials, featuring short messages recorded by Richard O'Brien, and thousands of fliers passed out all over Los Angeles.
The week of Wednesday, October 1, the movie was scheduled to (but didn't necessarily) open at 10 other theaters in the U.S. but with poor reviews and a first week box office take of $21,245 (around what most hit films made in one day), at least one of the locations (New York City) backed out of the run. The opening week was essentially its closing week, with no fanfare or success outside of Los Angeles where the attendance was healthy enough and grew steadily, mainly due to word of mouth and repeat viewings by a group of the same people. Although on a much smaller level, the same thing was happening at many of the first theaters to screen Rocky Horror. The audiences were small, but the same people returned multiple times to see the film.
In the first couple of weeks at the UA, producer Lou Adler visited many screenings, and observed the audience singing along, but was bothered by the film's down beat ending. At that point, he had the ending of the film recut to remove most of the song "Super Heroes", and replacing the slow and sad "Science Fiction, Double Feature (Reprise)" with a repeat of "The Time Warp". The result, brilliantly, had people dancing in the aisles on their way out of the theater and leaving early enthusiasts of the film wondering if there was ever a full Super Heroes Cut of the film. A very limited number of prints were in the UK, but were not edited and remained in circulation in Europe and the U.K. as the film made its return over time. There was also a six week run in Canada, where the film had enough success to issue the previously dropped-in-the-U.S. The Rocky Horror Picture Show Original Soundtrack Album. The film closed quietly in most locations, though remained open in Los Angeles. On December 25th, it moved to the neighboring UA Cinema Center in Westwood, a few blocks away from the UA, where it remained through 1983 (with one six month hiatus from March 20 to October 6, 1976, when it moved to the Holly Theater on Hollywood Blvd).
Because it was noticed that the attendance was at it's peak at midnight screenings, The Rocky Horror Picture Show was tested at midnight in Columbus, Ohio in February of 1976, as well as at the Varsity Theatre in St. Louis, Missouri, followed a few weeks later at The Stage Door Theater in Madison, Wisconsin in March of 1976 (with promise of a free promotional t-shirt, while supplies lasted). Less than a month after that, on April 2 (Midnight on April 3, to be precise), The Rocky Horror Picture Show began screening at the Waverly Theater in New York City in an exclusive midnight engagement. Soon after, in late April, it opened at the Riverside Twin (aka the Riverside ll) in Austin Texas.
There were a few attempts to circulate the limited number of prints of Rocky Horror in short engagements at various theaters from the time it opened (including a poorly received run at Arizona's UA Chris-Town Mall Cinemas 6). It began a very successful midnight run at the Gentilly Orleans Theater on September 3, 1976 which included a brief prime-time engagement as well. The biggest push came in October of 1976, when Fox Marketing decided to spark the growing interest by pairing Rocky Horror with the Fox-distributed rock musical, Phantom of the Paradise, booking them at college cinemas across the U.S. Additionally, it was widely re-issued in Southern California as a standard release in first-run theaters (including Hollywood's famed Egyptian on Hollywood Blvd) and drive-ins for several weeks, where Rocky Horror inspired costumes popped up at Halloween events and costume contests. As was customary for the era, beginning in 1976, The Rocky Horror Picture Show played once monthly at several popular revival houses, including the Nuart Theater in West Los Angeles, and The Oriental Theater in Milwaukee, WI, both where regular Rocky Horror screenings presently continue (only suspended while Covid 19 Quarantine issues still pending). In Los Angeles, The Rocky Horror Picture Show has remained in circulation since its opening day, making it the longest original-release film in motion picture history.
Spontaneously, the film developed a cult following wherever it played, and there is evidence that Audience Participation in the form of talking back to the screen and fans making costumes was happening as early as the initial run at the UA Westwood. Interestingly, the same phenomenon was experienced all the way over in Johannesburg, South Africa, where the film had opened March of 1976 and became a instant sensation, raking in over $150,000 in 12 weeks in 3 separate theaters, ultimately running for over 22 weeks in standard circulation. The most early media attention to the cult came from New York's Waverly Theater, where the film had its first long-term midnight-only engagement, and was birthplace of The Rocky Horror Picture Show Official Fan Club.
By the end of 1977, The Rocky Horror Picture Show was playing regularly in The First 30 US Theaters and was starting to get media attention from a variety of publications and programs. A year later, it had expanded to 200 theaters as a midnight movie, and the numbers grew until reaching its distribution zenith in the early 1980s. With an ever growing audience, the first fan celebration of the film, The Rocky Horror Birthday Party, took place in Austin, Texas on April 23, 1977 at the one-year mark of its arrival in that city. It included performances by early shadow casters, a costume contest and a guest appearance by Tim Curry. On February 20, 1978, The First Official Rocky Horror Show Convention was held in Long Island, New York, and the List of Conventions has grown at least once annually, ever since.
Along with word of mouth and local news stories, The Rocky Horror Picture Show got a weekly boost in attention via the syndicated radio program The Dr Demento Show. Los Angeles DJ Barry Hanson had a live, weekly, 4-hour radio program on KMET-FM that showcased novelty songs. The show was syndicated nationally in 1974, and by 1977, fans of Rocky Horror were requesting "The Time Warp" and "Sweet Transvestite" for his weekly "Top 10" (and later, "Funny 5" for the 2-hour, syndicated version of the show). Both songs became ongoing weekly favorites for several years, and "The Time Warp" was included on the 1970s volume of the Rhino release Dr Demento Presents the Greatest Novelty Hits of All Time.
It wasn't until 1979 that the first Officially Licensed Merchandise for ''The Rocky Horror Picture Show'' emerged in the form of a set of 6 badges, produced by A&B Creations. Before that, aside from the soundtrack LP and one-sheet, the only official item produced was the very limited, promotional T-Shirt given out the first weeks of the films release. Not surprisingly, a tradition of bootleg and ''Rocky Horror'' Fan Made Merchandise appeared as early as late 1975 with a hand-drawn T-Shirt of Frank N Furter, illustrated by art student Holly Field, who attended the UA Westwood.
Repeat viewing of the film became the norm for its fans, and audience participation became a huge part of the draw. One reason for this was there were pauses in the films dialogue that left a perfect space for a snappy retort. In the early years as the cult grew, the audience responses were spontaneous and costumed attendees generally sat in their seats to watch the film. The "callbacks" got laughs, and were repeated by folks who either made them up or heard them and repeated them at their next visit to the movie. Because patrons at the time had to travel to multiple theaters to see Rocky Horror on a regular basis, the callbacks spread quickly. It was a tradition that began with the original stage productions in London and at The Roxy, which were described as interactive experiences with people singing along from multiple visits. Present day participation has become structured with a Shadowcast performing throughout the film at most locations, and carefully scripted but ever-evolving audience callbacks to the on-screen movie. The modern, uniform structuring of the shadowcasts can be traced directly to the portrayal of the cult in the 1980 feature film Fame, which included a detailed scene involving the pre-show from the second home of the fan club, the 8th Street Playhouse.
The late '70s were filled with rumors of a Rocky Horror Picture Show sequel and several scripts surfaced, but it wasn't until 1981 that anything came to fruition. The result was Shock Treatment, which had several of the original actors, and the now married characters of Brad and Janet as its central focus. Although it was not the success the producers had hoped for, it eventually attracted a smaller, but enthusiastic, following of shadowcast performers.
Initially considered a bomb earning only $450,000 in its first six months in theaters, The Rocky Horror Picture Show's current gross is estimated at $340,000,000 with an indefinite run still in effect in over 75 theaters. It hit its box office peak in 1981, when it ranked as #18 in terms of all-time box-office (compiled January, 1982), and is currently ranked 513 for all films, of all time, with an adjusted box office take of #7 for R-rated films. In 2005, The Rocky Horror Picture Show was added to the National Film Registry by the U.S. Library Of Congress for being "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant".
The Rocky Horror Picture Show was released on VHS on November 8, 1990. It was broadcast on TV for the first time on October 25, 1993. It was released on DVD format on October 2, 2000. It was released on Blu-ray format on October 19, 2010, coinciding with the 35th Anniversary of the films release.
The film continues to have one-off screenings and special events at various venues and occasional revivals at mainstream cinemas around Halloween time, most notably at a wide-scale national revival at multiple AMC theaters in the US for the 40th anniversary in 2015, playing at 10PM on Fridays and Saturdays.
Because of its ongoing, sweeping success, The Rocky Horror Show and The Rocky Horror Picture Show have had many revivals and tributes.
In 2016, the movie was re-imagined as The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let's Do the Time Warp Again with a new cast, airing on the Fox television network on October 20, 2016. A new soundtrack and was released followed by an extended-cut DVD on December 6, 2016. Although the new version spawned mixed reaction from legions of fans, interest was increased part by the casting of Tim Curry in the role of The Criminologist and transgender actress Laverne Cox as Dr. Frank-N-Furter.
During the 2020 COVID-19 Quarantine and social distancing period, movie theaters globally were forced to shut down for all indoor screenings (of all films) but The Rocky Horror Picture Show found life in outdoor screenings at drive-in theaters (and other make-shift viewing from cars only) with limited audience participation for the 45th Anniversary. Portland's Clinton Street Theater was forced to close as part of the pandemic on March 15, 2020 but the cast's Emcee, Nathan Williams, ran the film to an empty theater (or with a couple of friends allowed inside) for 54 weeks to keep that theater's 43 year tradition of Saturday night screenings alive.
Brad Majors and Janet Weiss, a newly engaged couple from Denton, seek refuge in the castle of Dr. Frank-N-Furter during a rainstorm after getting a flat tire. Welcomed in by handyman Riff Raff, the couple discover a celebration in progress, where they are introduced to their host, a "Sweet Transvestite, from Transsexual, Transylvania." Puzzled and a little shocked, Brad and Janet are invited to stay for the unveiling of Dr. Furter's creation, a muscle-man named Rocky Horror. Over the course of the night, Frank seduces both Brad and Janet. Janet and Rocky become involved physically as well. As the drama unfolds, rival scientist (and former teacher of Brad and Janet), Dr. Everett Scott, arrives looking for his nephew, Eddie. Eddie had been a victim of Dr. Furter earlier in the evening. Over dinner, Dr. Scott reveals to Brad and Janet that their host is an alien, who is developing a Sonic Transducer, an "audio-vibratory-physio-molecular transport device which is capable of breaking down solid matter and then projecting it through space and, who knows, perhaps even time itself!" The guests are then forced to participate in a kinky "Floor Show", where it is revealed that Brad, Janet and even Dr. Scott have been changed forever by the experience.
Tim Curry—Dr. Frank-N-Furter (A Scientist)
Susan Sarandon—Janet Weiss (A Heroine)
Barry Bostwick—Brad Majors (A Hero)
Richard O'Brien—Riff Raff (A Handyman)
Patricia Quinn—Magenta (A Domestic)
Nell Campbell (as Little Nell)—Columbia (A Groupie)
Jonathan Adams—Dr. Everett V. Scott (A Rival Scientist)
Peter Hinwood—Rocky Horror (A Creation)
Meat Loaf—Eddie (Ex Delivery Boy)
Charles Gray—The Criminologist (An Expert)
Jeremy Newson— Ralph Hapschatt
Hilary Farr (as Hilary Labow) — Betty Munroe
Perry Bedden — Transylvanian
Christopher Biggins — Transylvanian
Gaye Brown — Transylvanian/Wedding Guest
Ishaq Bux — Transylvanian
Stephen Calcutt — Transylvanian
Hugh Cecil — Transylvanian/Wedding Guest (uncreditied)
Imogen Claire — Transylvanian/Wedding Guest
Tony Cowan — Transylvanian
Sadie Corré — Transylvanian
Fran Fullenwider — Transylvanian
Lindsay Ingram — Transylvanian/Wedding Guest
Peggy Ledger — Transylvanian/Wedding Guest
Annabel Leventon (as Annabelle Leventon) — Transylvanian
Anthony Milner — Transylvanian/Wedding Guest
Pamela Obermeyer — Transylvanian
Tony Then — Transylvanian
Kimi Wong — Transylvanian
Henry Woolf — Transylvanian
Rufus Collins — Transylvanian (uncredited)
Gina Barrie — Bridesmaid (uncredited)
Mark Johnson — Wedding Guest (uncredited)
Petra Leah — Bridesmaid (uncredited)
Frank Lester — Wedding Dad (uncredited)
John Marquand — Father (uncredited)
Koo Stark — Bridesmaid (uncredited)
Richard Nixon — (Archival VO) (uncredited)
"Science Fiction, Double Feature"
"Over At The Frankenstein Place"
"The Time Warp"
"The Sword Of Damocles"
"I Can Make You A Man"
"Hot Patootie – Bless My Soul"
"I Can Make You A Man (Reprise)"
"Touch-a, Touch-a, Touch-a, Touch Me"
"Once In A While" (Cut from the final print of the film.)
"Planet, Schmanet, Janet"
"Planet Hot Dog"
"Rose Tint My World"
"Fanfare: Don't Dream It"
"Wild And Untamed Thing"
"I'm Going Home"
"Science Fiction, Double Feature (Reprise)"
Jim Sharman — Director
Richard O'Brien — Original musical play
Jim Sharman and Richard O'Brien- Screenplay
Lou Adler — Executive producer
Michael White — Producer
John Goldstone — Associate producer
Peter Suschitzky — Cinematography (director of photography)
Graeme Clifford — Film Editing
Terry Ackland-Snow — Art Direction
Sue Blane — Costume Design (original costume design)
Ramon Gow — hairdresser
Pierre La Roche — original makeup designs creator
Peter Robb-King — makeup artist
Graham Freeborn — assistant makeup artist (uncredited)
Ernest Gasser — assistant makeup artist (uncredited)
Helen Lennox — assistant hair stylist (uncredited)
Mike Lockey — assistant hair stylist (uncredited)
Jane Royle — assistant makeup artist (uncredited)
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Terry de Havilland
Brian Thomson — production design
Dick Frift—construction manager
Ian Whittaker—set dresser
Don Bradburn—dressing props (uncredited)
Norman Dorme—assistant art director (uncredited)
Bob Douglas—stand-by props (uncredited)
Bob Hedges—stand-by props (uncredited)
John Leuenberger—property master (uncredited)
Bryn Siddall—property buyer (uncredited)
John Siddall—draughtsman (uncredited)
Bob Spencer—scenic artist (uncredited)
Ron Barron—sound recordist
Ian Fuller—dubbing editor
Bill Rowe—dubbing mixer
Peter Glossop—boom operator (uncredited)
Doug Smith—sound maintenance (uncredited)
Len Tremble—assistant dubbing editor (uncredited)
Ken Sheppard—stunt double: Eddie (uncredited)
Camera and Electrical Department
Dennis C. Lewiston—camera operator (as Denis Lewiston)
Mike Roberts—camera focus
Fred Anderson—electrician (uncredited)
John Jay—still photographer (uncredited)
Jack Roche—grip (uncredited)
Ronnie Fox Rogers—camera operator: second unit (uncredited)
Celestia Fox—casting consultant: (UK)
Rodney Glenn—assistant editor
Nigel Galt—assistant editor (uncredited)
Richard Hartley—composer: incidental music / music arrangements / musical director / principal musician
Richard O'Brien—composer: original music and lyrics
Count Ian Blair—guitar
John "Rabbit" Bundrick—keyboards (as Rabbit)
Dave Wintour—bass (as David Wintour)
Mick Grabham—rhythm guitar (uncredited)
Graeme Clifford—music editor
Keith Grant—music recording
Trevor White—Singing voice for "Rocky" (uncredited)
Helen Chapelle—background singer (uncredited)
Brian Engel—background singer (uncredited)
Barry St. John—background singer (uncredited)
Liza Strike—background singer (uncredited)
Clare Torry—background singer (uncredited)
David Toguri—dances staged by
Gillian Gregory—assistant choreographer (uncredited)
Charles Cox—unit driver (uncredited)
1967 Ford Country Squire
Harley-Davidson WLA 750
John Comfort—production manager
Susanna Merry—continuity (as Sue Merry)
Ron Swinburne—production accountant
Maureen Campbell—accounts secretary (uncredited)
Maureen White—production secretary (uncredited)
Sue Edwards—secretary to producer (uncredited)
Robin Demetriou—cast and crew chef (uncredited)
John Birkinshaw—stand-in: Barry Bostwick (uncredited)
Liz Coke—stand-in: Susan Sarandon (uncredited)
Alan Harris—stand-in: Peter Hinwood (uncredited)
Eric Kent—stand-in: Meat Loaf (uncredited)
Dave Murphy—stand-in: Richard O'Brien (uncredited)
Gerry Paris—stand-in: Tim Curry (uncredited)
Erica Simmons—stand-in: Little Nell (uncredited)
Melita Smith—stand-in: Patricia Quinn (uncredited)
Richard Smith—stand-in: Richard O'Brien (uncredited)
Tuppence Smith—stand-in: Patricia Quinn (uncredited)
Geoff Freeman—publicist (uncredited)
Ode Records Soundtrack Releases
1975: The Rocky Horror Picture Show Original Soundtrack Album Ode Records - UK
1975: The Rocky Horror Picture Show - Ode Records - Canada, Distributed by CBS
1978: The Rocky Horror Picture Show - Ode Records (Distributed by JEM Records), 1978
1978: The Rocky Horror Picture Show – Selected Selections From The Original Soundtrack From The Original Movie - Ode Records
1979: The Rocky Horror Picture Show [Limited Edition I] (LP, Album, Ltd, Picture Disc) - Ode Records, US,1979
1981: The Rocky Horror Picture Show [Limited Edition lI] (LP, Album, Ltd, Picture Disc) - Ode Records, US,1981
1983: Say It! The Rocky Horror Picture Show Audience Participation Album - Ode Records, US, 1983
1990: The Rocky Horror Picture Show 15th Anniversary Box Set (4 CD or Cass, Comp + Box and booklet) - Ode Sounds & Visuals, Distributed by Rhino
1995: The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Sing It! (The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack Minus The Lead Vocals) - Ode Sounds & Visuals, Distributed by Rhino
1997: The Rocky Horror Collection (4 CD box, reconfigured from 15th Anniversary Set) - Ode Sounds & Visuals, Distributed by Rhino
2000: The Rocky Horror Picture Show 25 Years Of Absolute Pleasure! - Ode Sounds & Visuals
2015: The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Absolute Treasures (The Complete Soundtrack From The Original Movie) - (2xLP Red Vinyl) - Ode Sounds & Visuals
2015 The Rocky Horror Picture Show - (Red Vinyl) - Ode Sounds & Visuals
2015: The Rocky Horror Picture Show - (White Vinyl) - Ode Sounds & Visuals
2020: The Rocky Horror Picture Show - 45th Anniversary Limited Edition Vinyl Picture Disc - Ode Sounds & Visuals
- VHS - November 8, 1990
- DVD - October 2, 2000
- Blu-ray - October 19, 2010
The Rocky Horror Picture Show at IMDb 
The Rocky Horror Picture Show Official Fan Club 
Blu-ray Review at The Rocky Horror Picture Show Official Fan Site 
Blu-ray Review at Time Warp Fan Club 
The Rocky Horror Picture Show (Transcript)