ROAR: The Most Dangerous Movie Ever Made

ROAR: The Most Dangerous Movie Ever Made

Photo: indiewire.com

Photo: indiewire.com

Before the Tiger King and Joe Exotic, there was ROAR. I'm going to start by saying this movie is insane. I saw a screening of it a few years ago during its re-release. It's bizarre, terrifying, anxiety inducing, and despite it’s somewhat groundbreaking creation, it’s pretty bad. However, the claim that ROAR is the most dangerous movie ever made is well supported.

For 11 years producer/director, Noah Marshall, who was the producer on The Exorcist, his wife, actress Tippi Hedren, sons John and Jerry, and daughter Melanie Griffith lived, ate and slept with 150 lions, tigers, cheetahs and jaguars…in their Sherman Oaks, California home. They made the film as a response to poaching. Pre-production began in 1970, filming began in October 1976, completed in 1979, and released in 1981.

The film shoot was plagued from the start both by financial difficulties as Noel Marshall and Tippi Hedren sold almost everything they had to finance it. It also included a series of horrific and seemingly random plagues, including floods, wildfire and disease, and of course, many many injuries. Also, it's important to note that this movie is billed as an action comedy. Some of the injuries sustained during production include cinematographer Jan De Bont was scalped requiring 220 stitches. Melanie Griffith was mauled by a lion which required facial reconstructive surgery, and an AD narrowly escaped death when a lion missed his jugular by an inch. Tippi Hedren, who was also attacked by birds on the set of The Birds, endured a fractured leg and multiple scalp wounds,. Noel Marshall himself was wounded so many times he was hospitalized with gangrene.

Photo: The Daily Beast

Photo: The Daily Beast

ROAR’s worldwide gross was less than $2 million and had a $17 million budget. Along with its mix to poor reviews, it made the movie a box office bomb. Tippi Hedren had predicted that it would be a hit projecting a gross of 125 to 150 million, and claimed in 1982 that was making $1 million a month. Although it was well received in Germany in Japan, it was never released in the United States. The reason for lack of domestic distribution was the claim that not enough money would be made to reinvest back into the care of the animals. Other claims indicate that it was because it was a non union production. It had an opening weekend gross of $15,000, and on its re-release, a domestic gross of $110,000 when Drafthouse Films released the film in 2015. The tagline read: “No animals were harmed in the making of this movie. 70 members of the cast and crew were.”