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Hook (film)

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Theatrical poster
Theatrical poster

Hook is a 1991 family fantasy film directed by Steven Spielberg. The film stars Robin Williams, Dustin Hoffman, Julia Roberts, Bob Hoskins, Charlie Korsmo and Amber Scott. Hook acts as a sequel to Peter Pan's original adventures, focusing on a grown-up Peter who has forgotten his childhood. Now known as "Peter Banning", he is a successful corporate lawyer with a wife and two children. Captain Hook kidnaps his two children, and he must return to Neverland and reclaim his youthful spirit as Peter Pan in order to challenge his old enemy.

Spielberg began developing the film in the early-1980s with Walt Disney and Paramount Pictures, which would have followed the storyline seen in the 1953 animated film and 1924 silent film. Peter Pan entered pre-production in 1985, but Spielberg abandoned the project. James V. Hart developed the script with director Nick Castle and TriStar Pictures before Spielberg decided to direct in 1989. Hook was shot entirely on sound stages at Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City, California. The film received mainly negative reviews by critics, but was a success with audiences, grossing over $300 million worldwide, and was nominated for multiple categories at the 64th Academy Awards. The film has gained a strong cult following over the years. It also spawned merchandise, including video games and comic book adaptations



Peter Banning (Robin Williams) is a successful corporate lawyer whose relationship with his family, especially his two young children Jack (Charlie Korsmo) and Maggie (Amber Scott) is strained by continuous absences and broken promises. His wife Moira (Caroline Goodall) struggles to keep them together and grows frustrated at Peter for his callous behavior. The family flies to London to visit Moira's grandmother, Wendy Darling (Maggie Smith), aged ninety two or three (as Wendy is twelve or thirteen in the original novel) who helped Peter find a family when he was a young orphan.

Upon arrival, they meet an old man who has "lost his marbles", Tootles (Arthur Malet), Wendy's first orphan - and, unbeknownst to Peter at the time, one of the originagl Lost Boys. Peter, Moira, and Wendy attend a ceremony for the expansion of Wendy's orphanage at which Wendy stumbles for a moment, as if sensing something wrong. While they are out, Hook kidnaps the children, leaving a signed note. Wendy tells Peter that he is in fact Peter Pan and that his old enemy has returned and taken his children for revenge, but he fails to remember anything.

Tinker Bell (Julia Roberts) appears before Peter that night and knocks him unconscious and flies him to a pirate port in Neverland. There he awakens in disbelief, and is discovered by Captain Hook (Dustin Hoffman) and his second in command Smee (Bob Hoskins), who threaten the children unless he accepts Hook's challenge to a duel. Tinker Bell intervenes and is granted three days in which to prepare him for it. The Lost Boys, now led by a boy named Rufio (Dante Basco) at first dismiss him as an old man who has no hope of regaining his former glory, but he begins to learn the magic of Neverland.

Meanwhile, Hook uses Jack's frustration over his father's continuous broken promises to steal his affection. Peter is heartbroken when he sees Hook treating Jack like a son and becomes determined to win his family back. He finally remembers his past and learns how to fly by recalling his "happy thought": being a father. Peter regains the leadership of the Lost Boys and they challenge Hook and his pirates in an all-out battle. Peter regains Jack's love and saves Maggie, but during the fight Rufio is killed by Hook. Peter and Hook engage in a climactic sword fight, where the Captain is defeated and eaten by the ticking Crocodile he thought he had killed. Peter returns home with Jack and Maggie and designates the largest member of the Lost Boys, Thud Butt (Raushan Hammond) as leader of the Lost Boys in Peter's absence.

Returning home, Peter realizes the love he has for his family and the importance of having a youthful heart. Toodles, a former Lost Boy, is dismayed at missing the adventure, but discovers pixie dust in his bag of lost marbles and uses it to go flying around London. Wendy remarks to Peter that his adventures are now over, but Peter says to live would be a great adventure too.


  • Robin Williams as Peter Banning / Peter Pan: He has forgotten his childhood in Neverland, and becomes a successful corporate lawyer with a wife and two kids. Captain Hook kidnaps his two children, thus Peter Banning must reclaim his youthful spirit as Peter Pan in order to challenge Hook.
  • Dustin Hoffman as James Hook: A villainous pirate who has had a long enemy-relationship with Peter Pan. Hook's motives over the years after escaping from his death include revenge against Peter, by kidnapping his two children.
  • Julia Roberts as Tinker Bell: A fairy who helps Peter gain memory of his childhood and "happy thoughts". She is in love with Peter, but understands why he must continue his relationship with his family.
  • Charlie Korsmo as Jack Banning: Peter's son who begins to rebel against his father by looking towards Captain Hook as a father figure.
  • Amber Scott as Maggie Banning: Peter's daughter and Jack's younger sister who, after the kidnapping, does not fall under Hook's ploy of "why parents hate their children".
  • Bob Hoskins as Smee: Hook's henchman who creates the plan of trying to convince Peter's children to "love" Hook. Hoskins also portrays a garbage sweeper in Kensington Gardens.
  • Caroline Goodall as Moira Banning: Wendy's granddaughter and Peter's loving wife and mother to Jack and Maggie.
  • Maggie Smith as Wendy Darling: After her adventures with Peter Pan, she becomes well-known for helping orphans. Gwyneth Paltrow appears as young Wendy Darling in flashbacks.
  • Dante Basco as Rufio: Leader of the Lost Boys since Peter's departure from Neverland. Rufio is initially resentful of him but soon wishes he had a father like Peter. He is killed by Captain Hook during a duel.
  • Arthur Malet as Tootles: A senile old man living with Wendy. A former Lost Boy, Tootles is also Wendy's "first orphan". Peter helps giving him the ability to fly by finding his lost marbles, which he left in Neverland.

Unnamed Lost Boys are played by Bogdan Georghe, Adam McNatt, and René González Jr.

Gwyneth Paltrow makes a cameo appearance as young Wendy, and Genesis vocalist/drummer Phil Collins appears briefly as an English police inspector. Singers David Crosby and Jimmy Buffett appear as members of Hook's pirate crew, and Glenn Close similarly appears as a male pirate who is punished by Hook. George Lucas and Carrie Fisher were extras, seen from a distance kissing on the Westminster Bridge as Tink carries Peter to Neverland.


"Teaser" poster
"Teaser" poster

J.M. Barrie considered writing a story in which Peter Pan grew up; his 1920 notes for the latest stage revival of Peter Pan included possible titles for another play: The Man Who Couldn't Grow Up or The Old Age of Peter Pan. The genesis of Hook started when director Steven Spielberg's mother often read him Peter and Wendy as bedtime story. Spielberg explained in 1985, "When I was eleven years old I actually directed the story during a school production. I have always felt like Peter Pan. I still feel like Peter Pan. It has been very hard for me to grow up, I'm a victim of the Peter Pan syndrome.

In the early 1980s, with Walt Disney Pictures, Spielberg began to develop the film which would have closely followed the storyline of the 1953 animated film and 1924 silent film. He also considered directing Peter Pan as a musical with Michael Jackson in the lead. The project was taken to Paramount Pictures, where James V. Hart wrote the first script with Dustin Hoffman already cast as Captain Hook. Peter Pan entered pre-production in 1985 for filming to begin at sound stages in England. Elliot Scott had been hired as production designer. With the birth of his first son, Max, in 1985, Spielberg decided to drop out. "I decided not to make Peter Pan when I had my first child," Spielberg commented. "I didn't want to go to London and have seven kids on wires in front of blue screens. I wanted to be home as a dad." Around this time, Spielberg considered directing Big, which carried similar motifs and themes with Peter Pan. In 1987, Spielberg "permanently abandoned" Peter Pan, feeling he expressed his childhood and adult themes in Empire of the Sun.

Meanwhile, Paramount and Hart moved forward on production with Nick Castle as director. Hart began to work on a new storyline when his son, Jake, showed his family a drawing. "We asked Jake what it was and he said it was a crocodile eating Captain Hook, but that the crocodile really didn't eat him, he got away," Hart reflected. "As it happens, I had been trying to crack Peter Pan for years, but I didn't just want to do a remake. So I went, 'Wow. Hook is not dead. The crocodile is. We've all been fooled'. In 1986 our family was having dinner and Jake said, 'Daddy, did Peter Pan ever grow up?' My immediate response was, 'No, of course not'. And Jake said, 'But what if he did?' I realized that Peter did grow up, just like all of us baby boomers who are now in our forties. I patterned him after several of my friends on Wall Street, where the pirates wear three-piece suits and ride in limos."

By 1989, Hart and Castle changed the title of Peter Pan to Hook, and took it from Paramount to TriStar Pictures, ran by Mike Medavoy, who was Spielberg's first talent agent. Robin Williams signed on, but Williams and Hoffman had creative differences with Castle. Medavoy saw Hook as a vehicle for Spielberg and Castle was fired, but paid a $500,000 settlement. Spielberg briefly worked together with Hart to rewrite the script before hiring Malia Scotch Marmo to rewrite Captain Hook's dialog and Carrie Fisher for Tinker Bell's dialog. The Writers Guild of America gave Hart and Marmo screenplay credit, while Hart and Castle were credited with story. Fisher went uncredited. Filming started on February 19, 1991, occupying nine sound stages at Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City, California. Stage 30 housed the Neverland Lost Boys playground, while Stage 10 supplied Captain Hook's ship cabin. Hidden hydraulics were installed to rock the setpiece to simulate a swaying ship, but the filmmakers found the movement distracted the dialogue, so the idea was dropped.

Stage 27 housed the full-sized pirate ship Jolly Roger and the surrounding Pirate Wharf. Industrial Light & Magic provided the visual effects sequences. Hook was financed by Amblin Entertainment and TriStar Pictures, with TriStar distributing the film. Impressed with his work on Cats, Spielberg brought John Napier as a "visual consultant". The original production budget was set at $48 million, but ended up between $60–80 million. This was also largely contributed by the shooting schedule, which ran 40 days over its original 76 day schedule. Spielberg explained, "It was all my fault. I began to work at a slower pace than I usually do." He also found it difficult to work with Julia Roberts, who was suffering from a mental disorder after her breakup with Dylan McDermott.


Spielberg found close personal connection to the film. The troubled relationship between Peter and his son echoed Spielberg's relationship with his father. Previous films of Spielberg that explored a diminishing father-son relationship included E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Peter Banning's "quest for success" paralleled Spielberg starting out as a film director and transforming into a Hollywood business magnate. This led to Spielberg's divorce from Amy Irving, which would possibly lead to Banning's relationship with his family. "I think a a lot of people today are losing their imagination because they are work-driven. They are so self-involved with work and success and arriving at the next plateau that children and family almost become incidental. I have even experienced it myself when I have been on a very tough shoot and I've not seen my kids except on weekends. They ask for my time and I can't give it to them because I'm working." Similar to Peter Banning at the beginning of Hook, Spielberg also has a fear of flying. He feels that Peter Pan's "enduring quality" in the storyline is simply to fly. "Anytime anything flies, whether it's Superman, Batman, or E.T., it's got to be a tip of the hat to Peter Pan," Spielberg reflected. "Peter Pan was the first time I saw anybody fly. Before I saw Superman, before I saw Batman, and of course before I saw any superheroes, my first memory of anybody flying is in Peter Pan."


  1. "Prologue" (Peter Pan theme)
  2. "We Don't Want To Grow Up" (Tinkerbell theme) *
  3. "Banning Back Home"
  4. "Granny Wendy" (Childhood theme)
  5. "Hook-Napped" (Prologue Theme, Captain Hook theme)
  6. "The Arrival of Tink and the Flight to Neverland" (Tinkerbell theme, Childhood theme)
  7. "Presenting the Hook" (Pirate theme, Captain Hook theme)
  8. "From Mermaids to Lost Boys" (Mermaid theme, Neverland Theme, Lost Boys theme)
  9. "The Lost Boy Chase" (Lost Boys chase theme)
  10. "Smee's Plan" (Captain Hook theme)
  11. "The Banquet" (Lost Boys theme)
  12. "The Never-Feast" (Lost Boys, Childhood, When You're Alone *)
  13. "Remembering Childhood" (Childhood theme, Neverland theme, Peter Pan theme)
  14. "You are the Pan" (Peter Pan theme #2)
  15. "When You're Alone"
  16. "The Ultimate War" (Peter Pan, Captain Hook, Tinkerbell, Childhood, Lost Boys)
  17. "Farewell Neverland" (Neverland, Lost Boys, Peter Pan theme #2, and Tinkerbell)

The film score was composed by John Williams. The lyrics for tracks 2 and 15 were written by Leslie Bricusse.


Spielberg, Williams and Hoffman did not take salaries for the film. Their deal called for the trio to split 40% of TriStar Pictures' gross revenues. They were to receive $20 million from the first $50 million in gross theatrical film rentals, with TriStar keeping the next $70 million in rentals before the three resumed receiving their percentage. Hook was released in North America on December 11, 1991, earning $13.52 million in its opening weekend. The film went on gross $119.65 million in North America and $181.2 million in foreign countries, accumulating a worldwide total of $300.85 million. Hook was declared a financial success, and is the fourth-highest grossing "pirate-themed" film, behind all three films in the Pirates of the Caribbean film series. In North America totals, Hook was the sixth-highest grossing film in 1991, and fourth-highest worldwide.

Based on 37 reviews collected by Rotten Tomatoes, 22% of the critics enjoyed Hook. Roger Ebert felt "the crucial failure in Hook was its inability to re-imagine the material, to find something new, fresh or urgent to do with the Peter Pan myth. Lacking that, Spielberg should simply have remade the original story, straight, for the '90s generation. Peter Travers of Rolling Stone felt Hook would "only appeal to the baby boomer generation" and highly criticized the sword-fighting choreography. Vincent Canby felt the story structure was not well balanced, feeling Spielberg depended too much on art direction. Hal Hinson of The Washington Post was one of few who gave the film a positive review. Hinson elaborated on crucial themes of children, adulthood and loss of innocence. However he observed that Spielberg "was stuck too much in a theme park world".

Despite some negative reviews, Hook was nominated for five categories at the 64th Academy Awards. This included Art Direction, Costume Design, Visual Effects, Makeup, and Original Song ("When You're Alone"). Hook lost the Saturn Award for Best Fantasy Film to Aladdin, in which Robin Williams co-starred, while cinematographer Dean Cundey was nominated for his work by the American Society of Cinematographers. Dustin Hoffman was nominated the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor (Musical or Comedy). John Williams was given a Grammy Award nomination, but with Julia Roberts receiving a Golden Raspberry Award nomination for Worst Supporting Actress. Also, certain critics praised the performances of Robin Williams and Dustin Hoffman in particular, saying that Williams' performance does not become truly comedic until two-thirds into the film, proving that he can be both dramatic and comedic in a film and that Hoffman is truly transformed into Hook and is unrecognizable.

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