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Casper is the spooky family-friendly comedy that tells the heartwarming story of a friendly ghost and the unlikely bond he forms with Kat (Christina Ricci), the daughter of paranormal expert Dr. James Harvey (Bill Pullman). Casper (Malachi Pearson) lives in a grand mansion called Whipstaff Manor along with his three ghostly Uncles, Stretch, Stinkie, and Fatso. Driven by the desire to communicate with his deceased wife, Dr. Harvey embarks on a quest to rid Whipstaff Manor of its ghostly inhabitants. However, Kat befriends Casper and is determined to help him find peace.
Casper is a family-friendly staple that has remained popular with audiences since the 90s due to its timeless themes of friendship, love, and the importance of embracing one's true self. The enchanting portrayal of Casper's character, along with the charismatic performances by Bill Pullman and Christina Ricci, adds to the film's charm and appeal.
Casper’s special effects have actually held up for its time, seamlessly blending live-action with CGI to bring the ghosts and supernatural elements to life.
Our Casper facts include how it had the most impressive CGI of the time, which cast member forgot they were actually in the film, and why Christina Ricci found Casper problematic.
1. Casper Is Based On The Character From Harvey Comics
Casper, released in 1995, is based on the character Casper the Friendly Ghost from Harvey Comics, created by Seymour Reit and Joe Oriolo. The movie stars Christina Ricci, Bill Pullman, Cathy Moriarty, and Eric Idle. Additionally, it features the voice talents of Joe Nipote, Joe Alaskey, Brad Garrett, and introduces Malachi Pearson as Casper.
2. The First Film To Have A Fully CGI Character In A Leading Role
Casper utilises ground-breaking computer-generated imagery (CGI) to bring the ghosts to life, making it the first movie to have a fully CGI character in a leading role. Unlike previous adaptations in comics, cartoons, and films, Casper takes a darker approach to the Friendly Ghost, exploring themes of death and delving into the character's tragic backstory.
3. Casper Earned US$287.9M On A $55M Budget
Casper was distributed by Universal Pictures and hit theatres on May 26, 1995. The movie received mixed reviews from critics. While they praised its faithfulness to the source material, particularly in the portrayal of the title character, as well as its visual effects, music score, and performances, they criticised its dark storyline and humour. Nonetheless, the film was a financial success, earning $287.9 million on a $55 million budget.
4. Casper Has Two Prequels And An Animated Spin Off
The popularity of Casper led to the creation of two indirect prequels, Casper: A Spirited Beginning (1997) and Casper Meets Wendy (1998), released by 20th Century Fox as direct-to-video or made-for-TV movies. Additionally, an animated television spin-off called The Spooktacular New Adventures of Casper was produced.
5. Casper Takes Place In Friendship, Maine
Casper takes place in Friendship, Maine, following the death of Carrigan Crittenden's father. Carrigan, a neurotic and spoiled heiress, inherits only Whipstaff Manor in her father's will, while his substantial wealth goes to various charities. Alongside her lawyer, Dibs, Carrigan discovers a map hidden in the will's papers, which supposedly leads to a hidden treasure within the haunted manor. However, they encounter Casper, a friendly ghost, and his mischievous uncles, the Ghostly Trio, who haunt the property. Carrigan and Dibs' attempts to expel the ghosts using paranormal experts and a demolition team prove futile.
6. Steven Spielberg Had Plans To Adapt Casper The Friendly Ghost
Producer Steven Spielberg had plans for a film adaptation of Casper the Friendly Ghost. After seeing an episode of the television series Brooklyn Bridge directed by Brad Silberling, he recognized Silberling's potential and enlisted him as the director for Casper. Initially, Alex Proyas had been signed on as the director but left due to creative differences with the screenplay. In an interview, Proyas expressed his interest in creating a darker film in the vein of The Wizard of Oz.
7. J.J. Abrams Contributed To Casper As An Uncredited Writer
J.J. Abrams also contributed to the script as an uncredited writer on the film Casper.
8. Casper’s Backstory Differs In The Film And The Comics
The screenplay provided a backstory for Casper, presenting him as the ghost of Casper McFadden, a boy who died of pneumonia at the age of 12. However, some comic iterations, particularly those from the 1960s, depicted him as a ghost born to ghost parents.
9. Steven Spielberg Was Meant To Cameo In Casper
In one scene, there was originally a cameo planned for director Spielberg, who was supposed to transform into Dr. Harvey in a mirror. However, the scene was ultimately cut for pacing reasons, much to Spielberg's relief as he admitted feeling uncomfortable in front of the camera. Principal photography took place from January 27, 1994, to June 8, 1994.
10. Casper’s Soundtrack Was Composed By Amblin Entertainment’s James Horner
The film's soundtrack was composed by the acclaimed James Horner, known for his work on various Amblin Entertainment films like "An American Tail" and "The Land Before Time." The track "One Last Wish" gained recognition as it became part of Universal Pictures' "Logos Through Time" Montage, celebrating the studio's centennial anniversary.
Another track, "Descent into Lazarus," was featured in a trailer for Universal Pictures' film "The Grinch," also composed by James Horner.
The soundtrack was reissued in a commemorative twenty-fifth anniversary edition by La-La Land Records on August 4, 2020, after its original release on April 29, 1995, preceding the film by nearly five weeks.
11. Casper Was Released On VHS And LaserDisc
Casper was first released on VHS and LaserDisc on October 10, 1995, followed by a DVD release on September 23, 2003.
12. Casper Claimed The Number One Position On It’s Debut Weekend
During its debut over the Memorial Day weekend, Casper claimed the top spot at the box office, earning $16.8 million in its first three days from 2,714 cinemas, with an average of $6,205 per cinema. Over four days, it accumulated $22.1 million, averaging $8,140 per cinema.
The film maintained its #1 position in the second weekend, adding another $13.4 million and reaching a cumulative total of $38.9 million in just ten days.
It continued to perform well throughout the summer, ultimately grossing $100.3 million in North America and an additional $187.6 million internationally, resulting in a worldwide total of $287.9 million. The film surpassed its $55 million budget, establishing itself as a commercial success.
13. Casper Has A 51% Approval Rating On Rotten Tomatoes
On Rotten Tomatoes, it holds a 51% approval rating based on 41 professional reviews, with an average rating of 5.1/10.
The site’s critical consensus states that the film is a "meandering, mindless family movie that frequently relies on special effects and transparent sappiness."
14. Critics Found Casper To Be Middle Of The Road
The film received acclaim for its cutting-edge CGI effects, which were considered groundbreaking at the time. The performances of the main cast were also praised, particularly given the challenging nature of their interactions with the ghosts.
Leonard Maltin, in his 2015 Movie Guide, gave the film a "BOMB" rating, expressing his objection to the portrayal of Casper as a deceased child rather than a traditional ghost.
15. Pullman And Ricci Had To Act With Stand In Maquettes
In scenes where the Harveys interacted with the ghosts, actors Pullman and Ricci had to act with nothing or stand-in maquettes used as references for the animators. The pair also had to interact with tennis balls instead of the ghosts, as the ghosts were added in during post-production.
16. Casper Launched Brad Silberling’s Directorial Career
The success of Casper solidified Silberling's directorial career, leading him to helm the 1998 film "City of Angels," a remake of "Wings of Desire" starring Nicolas Cage and Meg Ryan.
17. The Spooktacular New Adventures of Casper Was Released In 1996
In 1996, a cartoon series titled "The Spooktacular New Adventures of Casper" was released, based on the film. The actors from the film provided the voices for characters such as Fatso, Stinkie, Stretch, and Casper, while Dr. Harvey was voiced by Dan Castellaneta and Kat was voiced by Kath Soucie.
18. Casper 2 Was Planned But Cancelled In 2000
A planned sequel to "Casper" called "Casper 2" had a screenplay co-written by Simon Wells, who was also set to direct. However, in July 2000, Universal Pictures announced the cancellation of the sequel due to disappointing sales from the direct-to-video Casper films and the hesitations of Christina Ricci.
19. There Have Been Several Casper Video Games
Several video games tied to the film were released on various major consoles of the time, including the 3DO, Super NES, Sega Saturn, PlayStation, Game Boy Color, and original Game Boy.
Although a Casper game for Sega Genesis was planned, it was ultimately never released.
Additionally, Tiger Electronics released an LCD handheld game based on the film in 1995.
20. We See Casper’s Uncles As Human In A Deleted Scene
During the production of "Casper," there were several interesting details and changes made to the film. In a deleted scene set in the attic, Kat discovers an old photograph of Casper's uncles, Stretch, Fatso, and Stinkie, when they were still human. This scene was featured in the storybook released alongside the film.
21. Wendy The Good Witch Was In Early Drafts Of The Script
An early draft of the Casper script included Wendy the Good Little Witch, another character from Harvey Comics, befriending Casper. However, the studio decided to drop her from the film as they only wanted to acquire the rights for one Harvey Comics character. It is worth noting that Kat wearing a red, baggy sweater in the movie is a homage to Wendy.
22. Casper’s Uncles Had Their Original Names Changed
The names of The Ghostly Trio were changed to Stretch and Stinkie, and their personalities were altered from the Harvey Comics characters. Lazo, the loafer, was transformed into Stretch, while Fusso, with a persnickety personality, became Stinkie.
23. An Elaborate Musical Number Was Cut From The Final Film
An elaborate musical scene titled "Lucky Enough to Be A Ghost" was scripted and filmed, where the three ghosts sang about their mental problems during a session with Dr. James Harvey. However, this scene was ultimately cut from the final film due to the high costs of the visual effects, which would have added several million dollars to the production budget.
24. There Is A Poltergeist Themed Deleted Scene
Another scene filmed for Casper but later cut featured Zelda Rubinstein, known for her role in "Poltergeist" (1982), shooting out of a chimney and shouting "Go toward the light!" as a playful nod to her previous film. Unfortunately, this scene did not make it into the final version of "Casper."
25. Casper’s Screenwriters Approached It As An Animated Film
According to Steven Spielberg, the film's producer, the screenwriters, Sherri Stoner and Deanna Oliver, initially approached the movie as if it were an animated film since they had no prior experience writing for live-action features. When they presented the script to Spielberg, they asked if it should be treated like animation. Spielberg responded by saying that it could be treated that way and expressed his desire for more films to embrace the creative freedom of animation.
As a result, the writers had no limits in their script, allowing for the portrayal of Dr. Harvey and Kat as live-action characters while everyone else was portrayed as exaggerated cartoons, following the whimsical logic of animation throughout the story.
26. Steve Barron Was Approached To Direct Casper But Turned It Down
After multiple viewings of "Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles" (1990), executive producer Steven Spielberg approached director Steve Barron to helm "Casper." However, Barron declined the offer and later admitted that turning it down was a mistake.
27. Anthony Hopkins Was Originally Going To Be Dr. James Harvey
The role of Dr. James Harvey was offered to Anthony Hopkins, but due to scheduling conflicts with the film "Nixon" (1995), Hopkins couldn't accept the offer despite his interest in the project.
28. Austin O’Brien And Jonathan Taylor Were Considered For Casper
During the casting process for the voice of Casper, Austin O'Brien and Jonathan Taylor Thomas were among the considered candidates.
29. There Is A Connection With The Film “The Guilty”
Bill Pullman, who portrayed Dr. James Harvey in the film, later appeared alongside Devon Sawa in "The Guilty" (2000).
30. Bill Pullman’s Middle Name Is James
In an interesting coincidence, the character played by Bill Pullman shares the same middle name, James, as the actor himself.
31. Casper Means “Treasurer”
The word Casper is derived from an ancient Semitic word meaning "Treasurer." In the film, Casper unknowingly becomes the guardian of his father's Lazarus machine, and a hidden treasure within Whipstaff is revealed to be a gift from his father.
32. Cathy Moriarty Plays Two Casper Characters
Cathy Moriarty, who portrayed Carrigan in "Casper," later played Aunt Gert in "Casper Meets Wendy" (1998).
33. This Is Not Christina Ricci’s First Spooky Role
It is interesting to note that Christina Ricci, who portrayed Kat in "Casper," had previously appeared as Wednesday in "The Addams Family" (1991) and "Addams Family Values" (1993). Both of her characters in these films reside in haunted houses.
34. Christina Ricci Had Never Seen A Casper Cartoon Before The Film
Despite being 15 years old at the time, Christina Ricci had never seen a Casper cartoon before joining the film. She had to remind director Brad Silberling that she was born in 1980 because he kept making references to things from the 1950s.
35. Clint Eastwood Makes A Brief Cameo Appearance
In a fun cameo appearance, Clint Eastwood is one of the individuals that Dr. Harvey transforms into while possessed by The Ghostly Trio.
36. Dan Akroyd Appears As His Ghostbusters Character Dr. Raymond Stantz
Dan Aykroyd makes an appearance as Dr. Raymond Stantz from the first two "Ghostbusters" films. This marked Aykroyd's last portrayal of the character in a feature film until "Ghostbusters: Afterlife" (2021), which was released 26 years later.
37. Casper’s CGI Totals 350 Shots And 40 Minutes Of Screen Time
While "Jurassic Park" (1993) featured 63 shots of CGI effects lasting less than 6 minutes, "Casper" surpassed that with over 350 computer-animated shots appearing on screen for approximately 40 minutes. These shots included the ghosts, objects, and wide shots of Whipstaff Manor. One particularly challenging scene involved Casper lifting a dress out of a trunk and dropping it over Ricci's head.
38. Malachi Pearson Still Voices Human Casper
Devon Sawa portrayed Casper in human form, but his voice was still provided by Malachi Pearson.
39. Devon Sawa Is Still Asked “Can I Keep You?” In Real Life
In a 2016 interview, Devon Sawa mentioned that he is frequently asked if he ever uses Casper's famous line, "Can I keep you?" as a pickup line. He admitted that he hasn't used those words since filming "Casper" and is too shy to employ it in real life. Nonetheless, he receives those comments daily, especially on Twitter, and people still send him the video as if he hasn't seen it before. He finds it cute but hasn't used it personally.
40. Don Novello Plays A Priest In Casper And Saturday Night Live
Don Novello appeared as Father Guido Sarducci from "Saturday Night Live," portraying the Catholic priest hired by Carrigan Crittenden to perform an exorcism on the mansion.
41. Steven Spielberg Gave Casper Kinder Eyes
Early CGI models of Casper initially resembled his appearance in the comics, with oval eyes and blue rings around them. However, this made his face seem lifeless and unsettling. Steven Spielberg decided to change Casper's look, giving him more sympathetic eyes, similar to E.T.
42. Eric Idle Isn’t A Fan Of Casper
Eric Idle hasn't spoken much about the film, and he appears to be so disinterested in it that he doesn't even remember shooting it when asked in interviews!
43. Christina Ricci Wears Fishing Line Round Her Wrist In One Scene
For the scene where Casper drags Kat out the window and takes her to the lighthouse, Christina Ricci had a piece of fishing line tied to her wrist to create the illusion of being pulled by a ghost.
44. Cathy Moriarty Is A True Fan Of Casper
In a 1995 interview, Cathy Moriarty revealed that she was the only cast member who was an original fan of the Casper cartoons. She confessed to still having video tapes of some of the shows, considering them precious. While she didn't like Wendy, the good witch, she found Casper to be sweet and pleasant. Moriarty described the film as being more "'90s and hip.'"
45. Christina Ricci Didn’t Like Her Performance In Casper
In a 2022 podcast, Christina Ricci openly admitted her dissatisfaction with her performance in "Casper," stating, "If you look at Casper, I'm really terrible. People get really upset when I say that. Everything was very difficult at that time. I was still upset, and I guess I didn't try too hard, to be honest. Shame I don't think I tried as hard as I should."
46. The Harvey’s First Night At Whipstaff Is 8th October 1995
In an early scene, Casper suggests having a meal "under the Harvest Moon" to prevent his uncles from discovering that the Harveys have moved into their house. Assuming the film's events occur in the same year as its release, the Harveys' first night at Whipstaff would be Sunday, October 8, 1995, while Kat's first day of school and subsequent trip to the lighthouse with Casper take place on Monday, October 9.
47. Dr. James Harvey’s Transformation Links To The Ghostly Trio
During Dr. James Harvey's possession scene by the three ghost uncles, it is implied that the three cameos (Clint Eastwood, Rodney Dangerfield, and Mel Gibson) match the personalities of each uncle when they were alive (Stretch - Eastwood, Fatso - Dangerfield, and Stinkie - Gibson).
48. Some Casper Props Were At Universal Studios
For many years, items from the set were displayed at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida.
49. The Surname “Harvey” Links To Harvey Comics
The characters of James and Kat Harvey are named after Harvey Comics, the long-time publisher of "Casper the Friendly Ghost."
50. Many Actors Declined The Role Of Dr. James Harvey
As well as Anthony Hopkins, several other well known actors were offered the role of Dr. James Harvey. Several actors, including John Ritter, Tom Hanks, Dennis Quaid, John Travolta, Hugh Grant, Kurt Russell, Robin Williams, Jim Carrey, and Tim Allen, were offered but declined the role of Dr. James Harvey.
51. Some Elements Were Inspired By The 1941 Film “Topper Returns”
Many elements of Casper were inspired by "Topper Returns" (1941). Both films feature a haunted house inherited by a woman named Carrington/Carrigan, secret passages beneath the house, railway tracks leading to a secret lair, and a friendly ghost who befriends the woman who inherits the house.
52. Hundreds Of Children Were Auditioned For The Role Of Casper
Finding the right voice for Casper was one of the most challenging tasks in the movie. Director Brad Silberling listened to hundreds of children, but many came across as overly sweet, influenced by their parents. He wanted someone who had the right balance of adolescent enthusiasm and the innocence he envisioned for Casper. Eventually, Malachi Pearson was cast for the role, despite not having prior experience in movies.
53. Whipstaff Manor Was Inspired By Antoni Gaudi
To create Whipstaff Manor, production designer Leslie Dilley suggested deviating from the typical nineteenth-century Victorian style and instead drew inspiration from the 19th-century modernist architect Antoni Gaudí. Whipstaff Manor took its primary inspiration from Gaudí's Casa Batlló in Barcelona. The exterior of Whipstaff reflected the distinctive undulating features of Batlló, with "whale jaw" balconies, while the painted diamond "tiling" inside the entry mirrored the "dragon scale" roof of Batlló. The main room incorporated stained glass, woodwork, and organic shapes reminiscent of the Noble Floor in Batlló, and the swirled ceiling in Whipstaff Manor was an almost identical replica of the ceiling in Batlló.
54. Russell Harvey (Harvey Comics) Disliked The Dark Backstory In Casper
Russell Harvey, the heir to the Harvey Comics legacy, strongly disliked the film, criticizing its inclusion of child-unfriendly humor and an overly dark and pointless backstory that deviated from the innocence beloved by many. He also expressed disappointment in Steven Spielberg, believing that he missed the opportunity for a genuinely heartfelt adaptation.
55. Many Actors Were Considered For The Role Of Carrigan Crittenden
A long list of actresses, including Sigourney Weaver, Debi Mazar, Michelle Pfeiffer, Sandra Bullock, Nicole Kidman, Famke Janssen, Kelly Preston, Lea Thompson, Stockard Channing, Geena Davis, Tilda Swinton, Elizabeth Perkins, Fran Drescher, Jamie Lee Curtis, Heather Locklear, Jennifer Tilly, Rene Russo, Teri Hatcher, Glenn Close, Kathy Najimy, Carrie Fisher, Rebecca De Mornay, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Miranda Richardson, Sharon Lawrence, Elisabeth Shue, Robin Wright, JoBeth Williams, and Kathleen Turner, were considered for the role of Carrigan Crittenden.
56. The Breakfast Scene Is The First Scene Animated
The breakfast scene was the first scene animated, resulting in Casper and the Ghostly Trio appearing more solid compared to the rest of the movie. Additionally, the pancakes that Casper serves the Harveys were completely animated and not physically present on the set.
57. Whipstaff Manor Was Actually In A Backstreet Boys Video
The house used for Whipstaff Manor also served as a filming location for scenes in the Backstreet Boys' music video, "Everybody (Backstreet's Back)". The ballroom dance sequence from the music video was particularly notable.
58. Casper’s CGI Was 28,000 Gigabytes
The special effects in Casper were crafted by ILM (Industrial Light and Magic), encompassing over 40 minutes of remarkable visual effects. The film marked a significant milestone as one of the earliest instances of a digital performer, capable of displaying a full range of facial expressions. Even the pupils in Casper's eyes were designed to adapt to changes in lighting conditions. The digital work on Casper and the Ghostly Trio spanned nearly two years and resulted in a staggering 28 trillion bytes (28,000 gigabytes) of data.
59. It Is The Same Town As Silvertown
The town depicted in the movie is the same town used in David Spade's Joe Dirt, known as Silvertown. Friendship, Maine, the name of a real village in mid-coast Maine near Camden and Rockport, served as the main filming location.
60. The Casper Vacuum Is A 1970s Kirby Classic
The vacuum that Dr. Harvey trips over and later employs to deal with the ghostly trio is a maroon Kirby Classic III Upright Vacuum manufactured in the 1970s.
61. Casper Is The First Live Action Appearance Of Voice Actor Brad Garrett
This movie also marks the first live-action appearance of voice actor Brad Garrett, who portrays Fatso. His subsequent live-action voice roles can be found in Garfield (2004) as Luca, Night at the Museum as the Easter Island Head, Underdog (2007) as Riff Raf, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows (2016) as Krang, and Christopher Robin (2018) as Eeyore.
62. Christina Ricci And Devon Sawa Have Worked Together Before
Casper represents the second collaboration between Christina Ricci and Devon Sawa, where Ricci plays the love interest of Sawa's character, Casper, in his human form. The other collaboration is Now and Then (1995).
63. Casper Is Universal Pictures’ First Live Action/Animated Movie
Casper is Universal Pictures' inaugural live-action/animated hybrid movie, receiving a PG rating from the MPAA.
64. Here Are Some Of The Other Actors Considered For Kat
Thora Birch, Anna Chlumsky, Kirsten Dunst, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Katharine Isabelle, Scarlett Johansson, Anna Paquin, and Natalie Portman were among the actresses considered for the role of Kat.
65. Cathy Moriarty Improvised One Of Her Lines
When Carrigan and Dibs initially arrive at Whipstaff Manor, Cathy Moriarty improvised the line "What a dump," which served as a spontaneous reference to Bette Davis's famous line from Beyond the Forest (1949).
66. Bill Pullman Actually Tripped On The Staircase
In an unplanned moment, when Dr. James Harvey visits the room chosen by his daughter Kat upon their arrival at Whipstaff Manor, he trips on the small stairs. Although it was not part of the script, Bill Pullman maintained his composure professionally, and the moment was kept in the movie.
67. Christina Ricci Found Casper’s Premise To Be Problematic
Years after the film's release, Christina Ricci highlighted the problematic nature of the Casper character in an interview. She stated, "Casper has always been problematic. When we made the movie, he was like 50 and it was about his crush on a 13-year-old girl I mean, what kind of storyline is that?"
She would later claim that she wanted to move on from children's films as she got older, one of many reason a sequel never happened.
Thanks for reading "67 Casper Facts (1995) To Get You Ready For Halloween" on January Media.