- It’s been 31 years since “Home Alone” debuted, but it’s still beloved around the holidays.
- Fans may not know that Macaulay Culkin improvised one of the film’s most iconic moments.
- The cast almost looked a little different, and Culkin’s brother also made a guest appearance.
Ultimately, they chose a house in Winnetka, Illinois, because they thought it was both warm and menacing.
“I took some pictures and sent them over to John, and I remember John saying: ‘This is perfect. This is exactly how I imagined the house,'” he told the publication.
According to Chicago magazine, a budget dispute occurred three weeks before production of “Home Alone” was set to start.
“The question was, ‘Do we lay everyone off?'” the associate producer Mark Radcliffe told the publication. “John [Hughes] said to just hold tight.”
Luckily, 20th Century Fox acquired the rights to the film and production continued as planned.
“I haven’t seen him for years and years, but I saw him two years ago — a year and a half ago? — at a Martin Mull art opening, and he was coming out, and he went, ‘Mommy!’ And I said, ‘Baby!'” she recalled.
She added that her husband made them take a picture and that she was happy to see him.
The film held this impressive record for 27 years, until the Chinese film “Never Say Die” surpassed it in 2017 (without accounting for inflation).
Regardless, “Home Alone” is still one of the highest-grossing live-action comedies in the US.
According to the same Chicago magazine article — which was written by his son, James — the film was written after a family trip to Europe in response to his father’s severe traveler’s anxiety.
“I was going away on vacation,'” Hughes told Time magazine in 1990, “and making a list of everything I didn’t want to forget. I thought, ‘Well, I’d better not forget my kids.’ Then I thought, ‘What if I left my 10-year-old son at home? What would he do?'”
“When I’m watching it, I’m seeing like — I’m remembering that day on set. You know, like, how I was hiding my Pepsi behind the couch,” he said. “I can’t watch it the same way other people can.”
In the same interview, he referred to the film as “background radiation at Christmastime.”
“John was very understanding. About two weeks later, I got two scripts at my in-laws’ house in River Forest. One was ‘Home Alone,’ with a note from John asking if I wanted to direct,” he told the publication. “I thought, ‘Wow, this guy is really supporting me when no one else in Hollywood was going to.'”
“He was on the movie for only one day, but it resulted in so much great improvisation. None of that stuff was in the script,” he said. “The funeral-parlor story, that was all improvised at 4:30 in the morning. We could barely keep a straight face on set just listening to John.”
Though the scene in the church was always in the script, the director added to the conversation between Kevin and Marley.
“I added the moment when Marley talked about not being able to see his granddaughter. I also added the very end of the movie when Kevin sees that Marley is reunited with his granddaughter,” Columbus told Insider. “That is probably my proudest addition to the movie.”
But Culkin apparently didn’t do it the way Columbus told him to.
“If you put something on your face that burns, most people move their hands right away. So my direction to him was when you pat your face, move your hands and scream. And I think it was the first take, he kept his hands on his cheeks,” the director told Insider.
He added, “It’s funny, the iconic moment from ‘Home Alone’ was an accident.”
During the scene in which Kevin shoots Marv in the head with a BB gun, the pellet was actually animated.
“We paid a guy living in his mother’s basement in Chicago $US600 ($AU844) to hand-paint that BB going into Marv’s head. So that was an animated effect. A guy with a paintbrush in a basement for six frames hand-painted a BB,” Columbus told Insider.
He continued: “This was an $US18 ($AU25) million film, so, for our budget, I’m pretty happy how it turned out.”
The scene was created specifically for “Home Alone,” but there’s a reason it looks so real.
He explained that they used the same technique for “Angels With Filthy Souls.”
“That richness of black and white made it look like a movie from that era, and I think that’s why some people think it’s a real movie,” he added.
According to the “Home Alone” episode of Netflix’s “The Movies That Made Us,” after watching the actor play Miles Russell, Hughes was inspired to write a film with a young boy at its helm.
Once the idea started taking shape, he thought Culkin would be great in the role.
Hughes liked to make his movies in the Chicagoland area, so they set up their production offices in the same building where some of his other classics, such as “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” and “Uncle Buck,” were shot.
They also ended up building the interior sets for the McCallisters’ house in the school’s gym, and they inventively built the set for the Murphys’ house — which floods at the end of the film — in the swimming pool.
According to the episode of “The Movies That Made Us,” the actor did the cameo as a favor to Hughes, and he received “scale” pay — the minimum pay rate that a studio agrees to.
In the end, Candy ended up making less than Danny Warhol (aka Dan Charles Zukoski), who played the pizza boy.
Fake snow can eat away at a budget, so when a snowstorm rolled in on the second day on set, everyone jumped at the chance to film the “money shot” where Kevin wakes up on Christmas morning and reunites with his family.
To enhance the natural flurries, the crew used potato flakes to make it look as if snow was blowing around — which was said to be effective but left them with a whole heap of rotting starch when the snow melted a few days later.
They didn’t use any special-effect tricks, and there weren’t any pads built into the ground, according to the episode of “The Movies That Made Us,” so the film crew was under a lot of pressure to get the shots right on the first take.
Pesci’s stunt double for the film, Troy Brown, said on the docuseries that for his first fall on the icy stairs, he “just launched myself as far and as high as I could.”
The film’s wild stunts had a long-lasting impact.
“Now when someone does a fall where they get a lot of air, and they fall on their back, they’d call it the ‘Home Alone,'” the director of photography Julio Macat said on the episode.
In addition to taking on some fantasy classics, Columbus recently directed Netflix’s “The Christmas Chronicles 2,” marking his return to holiday films.