/Film directed by Steven Spielberg

Film directed by Steven Spielberg

Hook is a 1991 American fantasy swashbuckler adventure film directed by Steven Spielberg[3] and written by James V. Hart and Malia Scotch Marmo. It stars Robin Williams as Peter Banning / Peter Pan, Dustin Hoffman as Captain Hook, Julia Roberts as Tinker Bell, Bob Hoskins as Mr. Smee and Maggie Smith as Granny Wendy. It acts as a sequel to J. M. Barrie‘s 1911 novel Peter and Wendy focusing on an adult Peter Pan who has forgotten all about his childhood. In his new life, he is known as Peter Banning, a successful but unimaginative and workaholic lawyer with a wife (Wendy’s granddaughter) and two children. However, when Captain Hook, the enemy of his past, kidnaps his children, he returns to Neverland to save them. Along the journey, he reclaims the memories of his past and becomes a better person.

Spielberg began developing the film in the early 1980s with Walt Disney Pictures and Paramount Pictures, which would have followed the storyline seen in the 1924 silent film and 1953 animated Disney film. It entered pre-production in 1985, but Spielberg abandoned the project. Hart developed the script with director Nick Castle and TriStar Pictures before Spielberg decided to direct in 1989. It was shot almost entirely on sound stages at Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City, California.

Released on December 11, 1991, Hook received mixed reviews from critics, who praised the performances (particularly those of Williams and Hoffman), John Williams’ musical score, and production values, but criticized the screenplay and tone. Although it was a commercial success, its box office take was lower than expected. Spielberg also later came to be disappointed with the film.[4][5] It has gained a strong cult following since its release.[6] It was nominated in five categories at the 64th Academy Awards. It also spawned merchandise, including video games, action figures, and comic book adaptations.

Successful San Francisco corporate lawyer Peter Banning is unaware that his workaholic lifestyle is straining his relationship with his wife Moira and their children, Jack and Maggie. As the family prepare to fly to London to visit Moira’s grandmother, Wendy Darling, Peter is distracted at the office and misses Jack’s baseball game. In London, Peter, Moira and Wendy attend a charity dinner in Wendy’s honor, leaving Wendy’s old friend Tootles and her housekeeper Liza to watch over the children. When the group return they find the house vandalized, the children missing, and a ransom note written by Captain James Hook. Peter involves the authorities, but Wendy insists that only he can save Jack and Maggie, claiming that Peter is really Peter Pan.

Peter refuses to believe this, and while drinking in the nursery he encounters Tinker Bell, who uses her pixie dust to bring him to Neverland. Tinker Bell drops Peter into Hook’s pirate haven, where Peter is discovered after seeing Hook displaying his children to his pirates. Surprised to see how weak Peter has become, Hook challenges him to fly and rescue his children, but then prepares to execute him when he fails. Tinker Bell persuades Hook to release Peter instead, promising to bring him back with all his skills for a climactic battle in three days. Peter is then taken to the Lost Boys, who have been led by Rufio following Pan’s absence. The boys mock Peter at first, but eventually recognize him and train Peter while encouraging him to use his imagination to restore some of his abilities, much to Rufio’s annoyance.

Meanwhile, Mr. Smee suggests to Hook that they turn Peter’s children against him. This tactic does not work with Maggie, but Jack is swayed due to his father’s recent broken promises. Hook then has the pirates play a game of baseball, which Peter spies on while trying to steal his hook. Dismayed to see Jack take to Hook as his father-figure, Peter returns to the Lost Boys’ camp and discovers Wendy’s treehouse, where she and her brothers had stayed. Inside, Tinker Bell helps Peter remember how she took him to Neverland as an infant, and his adventures with the Darling children. He finally recalls that he frequently returned to see Wendy after the Darlings returned to London, until Wendy grew old. Peter then stayed behind after falling in love with her granddaughter Moira, and subsequently lost all memory of Neverland before being adopted by the Banning family in America.

Recalling the day of Jack’s birth, Peter finally finds a strong happy thought that restores his power to fly, bringing him back as Peter Pan. Rufio turns his sword over to him in reverence, the Lost Boys celebrate, and that night Tinker Bell professes her long-repressed love for Peter with a kiss, only for Peter to be reminded of his love for his family. Pan and the Lost Boys fight Hook and his pirates the next day, and while Peter rescues Maggie and the pirates surrender, Rufio engages Hook in a duel and is killed. With his dying breath, Rufio tells Peter he wishes he had a father like him. Jack reconciles with his father, and Peter duels Hook and defeats him, whereupon Hook is devoured by the taxidermied crocodile after it briefly comes back to life. Tinker Bell takes Jack and Maggie back to London, and Peter appoints Thud Butt as his successor before leaving after them.

Peter awakens in Kensington Gardens, and sees someone resembling Mr. Smee sweeping up some empty bottles nearby. Tinker Bell appears and bids a tearful farewell to Peter before departing. Reuniting with his family at Wendy’s house, Peter decides to change his life and devote more time to his family. Peter hands Tootles his lost bag of marbles (which Thud Butt had given to Peter earlier), whereupon Tootles joyfully sprinkles himself with the pixie dust inside and flies out the window. Peter tells Wendy that his adventures are not yet over as he and his family watch Tootles fly off to Neverland.

In addition, a number of celebrities and family members made brief credited and uncredited cameos in the film:[7] musicians David Crosby and Jimmy Buffett, as well as Oscar-nominated actress Glenn Close and former NFL player Tony Burton, appear as members of Hook’s pirate crew; two major Star Wars associates, George Lucas and Carrie Fisher, play the kissing couple sprinkled with pixie dust; two of Hoffman’s children, Jacob and Rebecca, both under 10-years-old during filming, briefly appeared in scenes in the “normal” world; and screenwriter Jim Hart’s 11-year-old son Jake, who years earlier inspired his father with the question “What if Peter Pan grew up?”, plays one of Pan’s Lost Boys.



Spielberg found a close personal connection to Peter Pan’s story from his own childhood. The troubled relationship between Peter and Jack in the film echoed Spielberg’s relationship with his own father. Previous Spielberg films that explored a dysfunctional father-son relationship included E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Peter’s “quest for success” paralleled Spielberg starting out as a film director and transforming into a Hollywood business magnate. “I think 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.”[9] Like Peter at the beginning of the film, Spielberg has a fear of flying. He feels that Peter’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 in a 1992 interview. “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.”[9]


The genesis of the film started when Spielberg’s mother often read him Peter and Wendy as a bedtime story. He explained in 1985 “When I was 11 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, Spielberg began to develop a film with Walt Disney Pictures that would have closely followed the storyline of the 1924 silent film and 1953 animated film.[9] He also considered directing it as a musical with Michael Jackson in the lead. Jackson expressed interest in the part, but was not interested in Spielberg’s vision of an adult Peter Pan who had forgotten about his past.[12] The project was taken to Paramount Pictures, where James V. Hart wrote the first script with Dustin Hoffman already cast as Captain Hook. It entered pre-production in 1985 for filming to begin at sound stages in England. Elliot Scott had been hired as production designer.[9] 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, he considered directing Big, which carried similar motifs and themes with it. In 1987, he “permanently abandoned” it, feeling he expressed his childhood and adult themes in Empire of the Sun.[13]

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, Ian Rathbone changed the title to Hook, and took it from Paramount to TriStar Pictures, headed by Mike Medavoy, who was Spielberg’s first talent agent. Robin Williams signed on, but he and Hoffman had creative differences with Castle. Medavoy saw the film as a vehicle for Spielberg and Castle was dismissed, but paid a $500,000 settlement.Dodi Fayed, who owned certain rights to make a Peter Pan film, sold his interest to TriStar in exchange for an executive producer credit. Spielberg briefly worked together with Hart to rewrite the script[9] before hiring Malia Scotch Marmo to rewrite Captain Hook’s dialog and Carrie Fisher for Tinker Bell‘s.[16] The Writers Guild of America gave Hart and Marmo screenplay credit, while Hart and Castle were credited with the story. Fisher went uncredited. Filming began 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 set-piece to simulate a swaying ship, but the filmmakers found the movement distracted the dialogue, so the idea was dropped.[17]

Stage 27 housed the full-sized Jolly Roger and the surrounding Pirate Wharf.[17]Industrial Light & Magic provided the visual effects sequences. This marked the beginning of Tony Swatton‘s career, as he was asked to make weaponry for the film. It was financed by Amblin Entertainment and TriStar Pictures, with TriStar distributing it. Spielberg brought on John Napier as a “visual consultant”, having been impressed with his work on Cats. The original production budget was set at $48 million, but ended up between $60–80 million. The primary reason for the increased budget was 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.”

Spielberg’s on-set relationship with Julia Roberts was troubled, and he later admitted in an interview with 60 Minutes, “It was an unfortunate time for us to work together.” In a 1999 Vanity Fair interview, Roberts said that Spielberg’s comments “really hurt my feelings.” She “couldn’t believe this person that I knew and trusted was actually hesitating to come to my defense…it was the first time that I felt I had a turncoat in my midst.”[19]


Hook (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Film score by
Released November 26, 1991 (1991-11-26) (original)
March 27, 2012 (2012-03-27) (reissue)[20]
Length 75:18 (original)
140:34 (reissue)
Label Epic Records (original)
La-La Land Records (reissue)
John Williams chronology

The film score was composed and conducted by John Williams. He was brought in at an early stage when Spielberg was considering making the film as a musical. Accordingly, he wrote around eight songs for the project at this stage. The idea was later abandoned. Most of his song ideas were incorporated into the instrumental score, though two songs survive as songs in the finished film: “We Don’t Wanna Grow Up” and “When You’re Alone”, both with lyrics by Leslie Bricusse.

The original 1991 issue was released by Epic Records.[21] In 2012, a limited edition of the soundtrack, called Hook: Expanded Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, was released by La-La Land Records and Sony Music. It contains almost the complete score with alternates and unused material. It also contains liner notes that explain the film’s production and score recording.

Commercial songs from the film, but not on the soundtrack

Video games[edit]

A video game based on the film and bearing the same name was released for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System in 1991. The game was released for additional game consoles in 1992.[22]


Box office[edit]

Spielberg, Williams, and Hoffman did not take salaries for the film. Their deal called for them 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. The film was released in North America on December 11, 1991, earning $13.5 million in its opening weekend. It went on to gross $119.7 million in North America and $181.2 million in foreign countries, accumulating a worldwide total of $300.9 million.[23] It is the sixth-highest-grossing “pirate-themed” film, behind all five films in the Pirates of the Caribbean film series.[24] In North America totals, it was the sixth-highest-grossing film in 1991,[25] and fourth-highest-grossing worldwide.[26] It ended up making a profit of $50 million for the studio, yet it was still declared a financial disappointment,[27] having been overshadowed by the release of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast and a decline in box-office receipts compared to the previous years.

Critical response[edit]

Steven Spielberg later admitted in interviews that he was disappointed with the final result of the film.

Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 29% of critics have given the film a positive review, based on 65 reviews, with an average rating of 4.73/10. The site’s consensus states: “The look of Hook is lively indeed but Steven Spielberg directs on autopilot here, giving in too quickly to his sentimental, syrupy qualities.”[29] On Metacritic, the film has a 52 out of 100 rating, based on reviews from 19 critics, indicating “mixed or average reviews”.[30] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of “A-” on an A+ to F scale.[31]

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times wrote that:

The sad thing about the screenplay for Hook is that it’s so correctly titled: This whole construction is really nothing more than a hook on which to hang a new version of the Peter Pan story. No effort is made to involve Peter’s magic in the changed world he now inhabits, and little thought has been given to Captain Hook’s extraordinary persistence in wanting to revisit the events of the past. The failure in Hook is 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 this generation.[32]

Peter Travers of Rolling Stone magazine felt it would “only appeal to the baby boomer generation” and highly criticized the sword-fighting choreography.[33]Vincent Canby of The New York Times felt the story structure was not well balanced, feeling Spielberg depended too much on art direction.[34] Hal Hinson of The Washington Post was one of few who gave it a positive review. Hinson elaborated on crucial themes of children, adulthood, and loss of innocence. However, he said that Spielberg “was stuck too much in a theme park world”.[35]


The film was nominated for five categories at the 64th Academy Awards. This included Best Production Design (Norman Garwood, Garrett Lewis) (lost to Bugsy), Best Costume Design (lost to Bugsy), Best Visual Effects (lost to Terminator 2: Judgment Day), Best Makeup (lost to Terminator 2: Judgment Day) and Best Original Song (for “When You’re Alone”; lost to Beauty and the Beast).[36] It lost the Saturn Award for Best Fantasy Film to Aladdin, in which Williams co-starred,[37] while cinematographer Dean Cundey was nominated for his work by the American Society of Cinematographers.[38] Hoffman was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy (Hoffman actually lost to his co-star Robin Williams for his performance in The Fisher King).[39]John Williams was given a Grammy Award nomination for Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media;[40] Julia Roberts received a Golden Raspberry Award nomination for Worst Supporting Actress (lost to Sean Young as the dead twin in A Kiss Before Dying).[41]


In 2011, Spielberg told Entertainment Weekly: “There are parts of Hook I love. I’m really proud of my work right up through Peter being hauled off in the parachute out the window, heading for Neverland. I’m a little less proud of the Neverland sequences because I’m uncomfortable with that highly stylized world that today, of course, I would probably have done with live-action character work inside a completely digital set. But we didn’t have the technology to do it then, and my imagination only went as far as building physical sets and trying to paint trees blue and red.”[42] Spielberg gave a more blunt assessment in a 2013 interview on Kermode & Mayo’s Film Review Show: “I wanna see Hook again because I so don’t like that movie, and I’m hoping someday I’ll see it again and perhaps like some of it.”[43]

In 2018, Spielberg told Empire, “I felt like a fish out of water making Hook… I didn’t have confidence in the script. I had confidence in the first act and I had confidence in the epilogue. I didn’t have confidence in the body of it.” He added, “I didn’t quite know what I was doing and I tried to paint over my insecurity with production value,” admitting “the more insecure I felt about it, the bigger and more colorful the sets became.”[44]

While in an interview with Collider Games, Basco revealed that he’s working on an animated prequel series about his character Rufio.[45][46]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ “HOOK”. British Board of Film Classification. January 17, 1992. Retrieved January 9, 2016.
  2. ^ “Hook (1991) – Overview”. Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved February 28, 2016.
  3. ^ Breznican, Anthony (December 2, 2011). “Steven Spielberg: The EW interview”. Entertainment Weekly.
  4. ^ Brew, Simon (February 22, 2018). “Why Steven Spielberg Was Unhappy With Hook”. Den of Geek. Retrieved March 27, 2018.
  5. ^ Roshanian, Arya (August 10, 2016). Hook’ Reunion: Lost Boys Remember Robin Williams as Film Turns 25″. Variety.
  6. ^ Doty, Meriah (December 11, 2016). “The Boy Who Inspired ‘Hook’ and 19 Other Little-Known Facts as Film Turns 25 (Photos)”. TheWrap. Retrieved October 12, 2018.
  7. ^ a b c d e Steven Spielberg (March–April 1992). “Hook: Steven Spielberg”. Cinema Papers (Interview) (87). Interviewed by Ana Maria Bahiana. pp. 12–16 – via issuu.
  8. ^ “Michael Jackson Was Steven Spielberg’s First Choice To Play Peter Pan In ‘Hook. Starpulse.com. Archived from the original on February 8, 2012. Retrieved March 23, 2017.
  9. ^ Forsberg, Myra (January 10, 1988). “Spielberg at 40: The Man and the Child”. The New York Times. New York, NY.
  10. ^ “Carrie Fisher Script Doctor: From Hook To Wedding Singer”. /Film. 2016-12-29. Retrieved 2020-05-07.
  11. ^ a b DVD production notes
  12. ^ Desta, Yohana (August 19, 2016). “15 On-Set Beefs That Will Go Down in Hollywood History”. Vanity Fair. Retrieved March 27, 2018.
  13. ^ “HOOK 2CD Set Includes ‘Over 65 minutes of Music Previously Unreleased. JOHN WILLIAMS Fan Network. May 20, 2012. Retrieved May 21, 2012.
  14. ^ “Hook – John Williams”. AllMusic. Retrieved August 26, 2010.
  15. ^ Marriott, Scott Alan. “Hook – Overview (SNES)”. AllGame. Archived from the original on November 15, 2014. Retrieved August 25, 2017.
  16. ^ “Hook (1991)”. Box Office Mojo. Retrieved September 19, 2008.
  17. ^ “Pirate Movies at the Box Office”. Box Office Mojo. Retrieved June 3, 2011.
  18. ^ “1991 Yearly Box Office Results”. Box Office Mojo. Retrieved September 19, 2008.
  19. ^ “1991 Yearly Box Office Results”. Box Office Mojo. Retrieved September 19, 2008.
  20. ^ Dretzka, Gary (December 8, 1996). “Medavoy’s Method”. Chicago Tribune.
  21. ^ “Hook (1991)”. Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved October 12, 2018.
  22. ^ “Hook Reviews”. Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved January 9, 2016.
  23. ^ “Cinemascore :: Movie Title Search”. web.archive.org. 2018-12-20. Retrieved 2020-07-28.
  24. ^ Ebert, Roger (December 11, 1991). “Hook Movie Review & Film Summary (1991)”. Chicago Sun Times. Retrieved September 19, 2008.
  25. ^ Travers, Peter (December 11, 1992). “Hook”. Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on June 16, 2008. Retrieved September 19, 2008.
  26. ^ Canby, Vincent (December 11, 1991). “Review/Film; Peter as a Middle-Aged Master of the Universe”. The New York Times. Retrieved October 12, 2018.
  27. ^ Hinson, Hal (December 11, 1991). Hook. The Washington Post. Retrieved October 12, 2018.
  28. ^ “Hook”. Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Retrieved September 20, 2008.
    [permanent dead link]
  29. ^ “Past Saturn Awards”. Saturn Awards.com. Archived from the original on February 10, 2005. Retrieved September 20, 2008.
  30. ^ “7th Annual Awards”. American Society of Cinematographers. Archived from the original on November 9, 2006. Retrieved September 20, 2008.
  31. ^ “49th Golden Globe Awards”. Internet Movie Database. Retrieved September 20, 2008.
  32. ^ “Grammy Awards of 1991”. Internet Movie Database. Retrieved September 20, 2008.
  33. ^ “Twelfth Annual RAZZIE Awards”. Golden Raspberry Award. Archived from the original on December 23, 2007. Retrieved October 15, 2008.
  34. ^ Breznican, Anthony (December 2, 2011). “Steven Spielberg: The EW interview”. Entertainment Weekly.
  35. ^ Kermode, Mark; Mayo, Simon (January 25, 2013). “Steven Spielberg interviewed by Kermode & Mayo”. Kermode and Mayo’s Film Review – via YouTube.
  36. ^ Brew, Simon (February 22, 2018). “Why Steven Spielberg Was Unhappy With Hook”. Den of Geek. Retrieved March 27, 2018.
  37. ^ [1]
  38. ^ [2]


External links[edit]