Jon Merrill (no login) Posted Sep 28, 2008 12:52 PM
I think the whole idea of the movie "saluting" Hollywood was the idea of the producer, Ray Stark, not John Huston. Ray Stark and company bought the rights from Martin for $9.5 million and then went with what they wanted to do. I think they wanted to make something "different" from the Broadway show and instead make it more like the Little Orphan Annie comic strip, the whole thing Martin was trying to get AWAY from.
I have met Aileen on several occasions, most recently about ten years ago, but we always seemed to be talking about her current project(s) at the time rather than rehashing ancient history. The reviews on the movie certainly weren't all negative, but most of the people who didn't like it were people who were expecting it to be just like the play, which it wasn't intended to be. The movie was done in the style of 1965, when movie musicals were among the most popular films, but by 1982, the culture was different, and so was the movie-going public. Everything by then was space and sci-fi. It was not hard to imagine why "E.T." steamrollered over Annie in that summer and killed its popularity. Annie was a great movie done at the wrong time.
Martin hated the way the movie was done, and so did the kids who were currently doing the play. Martin had to caution them not to badmouth the movie in public, even though they didn't like it. Eventually, the movie began to eat into the play's business, and this is one reason the Broadway show closing was announced at the end of October 1982.
Martin talks at length about all this in the interview Tricia Trozzi did with him in 1986 for our newsletter Annie People. Check out his interview on my Web site:
I was fortunate in that when I saw the movie for the first time, I had seen the play only once, and that was eight months before, so I went into it with no preconceived notions about what I thought it should be. Those fans who had been following the show since 1977 felt otherwise.