Trailer Throwbacks

Trailer Throwback Thursday: SpaceCamp (1986)

“An impossible mistake launched them into space -the adventure of their lives will be getting back home!”

Released less than five months after the Space Shuttle Challenger broke apart just 73 seconds into flight, SpaceCamp – as many have put it – seemed destined to flop. Despite the trailer above boasting a “multi-million dollar box office”, in actuality the returns were much lower than expected and failed to cover the $18 to $25 million dollar investment that is said to have been pumped into the picture.

The film – about teenagers accidentally launched into space after a test-run goes awry – is more fondly remembered by children of the video store era, though. I can recall almost renting this one a number of times based off the conceit alone, though other reviewers have said the premise is “tough to accept” and noted the film as a “first-class mess.”

Not only that, the SpaceCamp bashing party extends right-on through to the cast themselves, as Wikipedia notes actress Lea Thompson claimed:

“We had T-shirts printed up that said, “SpaceCamp: It’s Not Just A Movie, It’s A Career.” Oh, actually, instead of SpaceCamp, it actually said SpaceCramp.”

A leaf era Joaquin Pheonix has yet to weigh in on the film – as far as I know!

Elsewhere in 1986, the movie business continued to boom with blockbuster releases such as Back To The Future, RAMBO, Top Gun and more. Other more niche genre films, though, weren’t so lucky – according to the Chicago Tribune:

Also on the funeral list are Fox’s $20 million ”Big Trouble in Little China,” ABC’s $25 million ”SpaceCamp,” and Tri-Star’s $25 million ”Labyrinth,” a Gothic fairy tale created by Jim Henson and George Lucas. Warner Brothers’ somewhat less expensive ”Under the Cherry Moon,” a $15 million movie starring and directed by the rock star Prince, had the double distinction of being a box-office failure and the summer’s most disliked movie by the critics.

Despite all of this, SpaceCamp – according to the aforementioned Thompson – proved even more influential than any dollar-figure could prove:

“I’ve had a lot of people come up to me and say that they became physicists or inventors, how much they loved that movie and how much it inspired them.”

So, have you seen SpaceCamp recently – and if so, what did you think? How does it stack up to other, more high-profile children’s sci-fi films of the era?

Put your comments in our discussion thread below!

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  • Matt Brown

    I loved this one when I was a kid. I have sense enough not to revisit it as an adult.

    Reply to Matt Brown
    • Dan Gorman

      I’m considering popping in my yet-to-be-viewed VHS copy of it tonight, so I’ll have to let you know how it all pans out upon a fresh viewing, haha.

      Reply to Dan Gorman

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