The Rocketeer (film) - Production - Filming


Principal photography for The Rocketeer lasted from September 19, 1990 to January 22, 1991. Filming at the Griffith Observatory took place in November 1990. The film ended up going 50 days over schedule due to weather and mechanical problems. Rocketeer creator Dave Stevens allied himself with director Joe Johnston and production manager Ian Bryce in an effort to be as heavily involved in the production process as possible and to try and secure as much artistic control as he could from Disney. Disney, in particular, was not enthusiastic with Stevens' involvement. "I was on the set day and night", Stevens reflected, "from pre-production till post-production! And initially, I had to fight to prove that I was there for the benefit of the film, and not for my own ego."

The original production budget was set at $25 million, but rose to $40 million. This happened after Disney became impressed with the dailies; "they realized this was a bigger movie than they were anticipating", Johnston explained, "and they approved overages. It never got completely out of control." An abandoned World War II runway at the Santa Maria, California airport set the scene for the fictional Chaplin Air Field. Additional scenes were shot at Bakersfield. For the air circus scene, 700 Santa Maria extras and 25 vintage aircraft were employed. Aerial coordinator Craig Hosking remarked in an interview, "What makes The Rocketeer so unique was having several one-of-a-kind planes that hadn’t flown in years," including a 1916 Standard biplane and a Gee Bee Model Z racer. The sequence where Cliff rescues Malcolm was adapted shot-for-shot from Stevens' comic book.

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