On February 8th, the day before the official start of the 2018 Winter Olympics, the El Capitan Theatre hosted a very special Throwback Thursday screening. To kick off the Olympics celebration in Hollywood, they paid tribute to the 25th anniversary of Cool Runnings, an underdog film released in 1993 based on a true story. The evening promised a few special guests in addition to the rare chance to see the film back on the big screen.
John Candy headlined Cool Runnings, one of his final films, playing disgraced bobsled coach Irving Blitzer, whose Olympic gold medal was revoked after it was discovered that he weighed down his bobsled. Now living in Jamaica, a track team that didn’t make the Olympic cut seeks Blitzer’s help to become the first Jamaican bobsled team. With optimism and good humor, they take Calgary by storm and upset the traditional dynamics of winter sports in 1988.
Cool Runnings was an instant success, with a box office haul that made it the highest grossing live action Disney film up to that point ($69 million). In 2014, Jamaica sent its second ever Olympic bobsled team to Sochi, who called themselves “Cool Runnings: The Second Generation.” This year, Jamaica has sent their first women’s bobsled team to pyeongchang, who call themselves “Cool Bolt,” a nod to both Cool Runnings and the Disney animated feature Bolt Usain Bolt, Jamaica’s most winning Olympic athlete.
Before the screening, the El Capitan welcomed Director John Turteltaub to the stage, whose other Disney credits include The Kid, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, and the National Treasure films. He explained that the last time he saw Cool Runnings on the big screen was at the El Capitan on opening night (the theater had been under Disney ownership for just 2 years at the time). That particular screening was poorly attended, causing him to worry that the film would be a flop.
Editor Bruce Green joined Turteltaub on stage, sharing that Cool Runnings was that last movie he edited on film. His next project was Disney’s Angels in the Outfield, which was edited on a computer. His other Disney editing credits include both Princess Diaries films, Freaky Friday, and the upcoming Magic Camp, expected to debut on Disney’s upcoming streaming service. He also served as an Assistant Editor on the original Star Wars, plus two Indiana Jones films. Turtelaub gives Green a lot of credit for the success of Cool Runnings thanks to his brilliant editing.
Last to join the Director on stage were Rawle Lewis (Junior Bevil) and Leon (Derrice Bannock), two of the stars of the film. They shared anecdotes about working with John Candy and his belief in this film. After the discussion, the lights dimmed and the audience was transported back to 1993 via Cool Runnings, the same year that also brought us Hocus Pocus, The Nightmare Before Christmas, and the grand reveal of Toontown, a land that always existed behind Disneyland (we just never knew it was there until then).
There are always fun and exciting happenings at Disney’s El Capitan Theatre. To celebrate Valentine’s Day, there are special dinner and a movie dates with Lady and the Tramp back on the big screen. And to celebrate the release of Marvel’s Black Panther, they have a special opening night fan event. For more information, be sure to check out their official website.