"The business has changed. There are less movies made, more people, more directors who want to make them. The competition for every movie is large, the business is now run by giant corporations of whom the studios only own a small part, and the question tends to be: how can we make a so-called "tentpole" movie that we can make twenty more of over the next twenty years? You know, we don´t wanna just make one-little-movie, we wanna be able to make a "series", we wanna be able to make a "franchise", we wanna be able to make SPIDERMAN 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10! Ah...which is ok, you know, we´ve always done that...there´s always been series-movies....but there´s really not much real interest in cinema in the studios right now. I think it´s all about business. It´s all about "what´s gonna sell", it´s all about "how can we get the kids in to, you know, watch people FUCK PIES, or whatever it is they do in these movies... Compare this with the 60´s, or even the 70´s, when the movies were content-oriented, they were about things, people were excited about the filmic possibilities and I see now the people who control the pursestrings are kind of giving up on that." ~Director Joe Dante on the Modern Movie Industry
Ben Crandall, an alien-obsessed kid, dreams one night of a circuit board. Drawing out the circuit, he and his friends Wolfgang and Darren set it up, and discover they have been given the basis for a starship. Setting off in the ThunderRoad, as they name their ship, they find the aliens Ben hopes they would find... but are they what they seem?
You don't need a driver's license to reach the stars.
The adventure begins in your own back yard.
Look for Rosebud, the sled from Citizen Kane, in the junkyard sequence. As the camera pans at one point, you can clearly see the sled.
A newspaper headline is "Kingston Falls 'Riot' Still Unexplained". Kingston Falls was the town in Gremlins, which Joe Dante also directed.
The school is named after animator Chuck Jones.
Cherie Currie was considered for a part but, according to her autobiography, she was in the throes of drug dependency and couldn't even make it to a meeting.
The film was never finished, and was released as a work in progress when the studio decided to move up the release date and release the film as it was, telling director Joe Dante that he was finished and they were going to go ahead and release what he had at that point.
Although Robert Picardo received the actor credit for the father alien, his voice was actually provided by Frank Welker.
Wolfgang's "talking" rat is named Heinlein, after science fiction author Robert A. Heinlein, who wrote many stories about young boys experimenting with spaceflight.
The film at the Drive In is called Starkiller. George Lucas originally intended the lead character of his Star Wars series to be called Luke Starkiller until he changed it to Skywalker at the last minute.
Ben Crandall: I've waited all my life to say this.
Darren Woods: Be my guest.
Ben Crandall: We come in peace.
Wak: Its a brand new car! The Rolls Canardly ... Rolls down one hill CanArdly get up the next!
Wak: Look, I know I must look weird to you but how do you think you look to me? Listen, I watched four episodes of "Lassie" before I figured out why the little hairy kid never spoke. I mean, he rolled over, sure, he did that fine but, I don't think he deserved a series for that.