Rumble Fish was released on October 8, 1983 and grossed $18,985 on its opening weekend, playing in only one theater. Its widest release was in 296 theaters and it finally grossed $2.5 million domestically.
To mix the black and white footage of Rusty James and the Motorcycle Boy in the pet store looking at the Siamese fighting fish in color, Burum shot the actors in black and white and then projected that footage on a rear projection screen. They put the fish tank in front of it with the tropical fish and shot it all with color film. Filming finished by mid-September 1982, on schedule and on budget.
THE OUTSIDERS / RUMBLE FISH | American …
Rumble Fish is a taste, possibly an acquired one but it spoke deeply to me about life when I first saw it. You could say that as art it's leaning dangerously close to pretentious (even Coppola himself concedes that) but at the time it said something private to me and that makes it special. It said that life is not so easily deconstructed and mystery abounds and the search for enlightenment is a long one... The book Rourke is reading while his brother recovers from his wound is the famous 'As A Man Thinketh' (James Allen's literary Essay published in 1902) and sharp-eyed viewers will even discern a readable page on screen...
With Matt Dillon, Mickey Rourke, Diane Lane, Dennis Hopper
Rumble Fish was booed when it debuted at the . It took part in the , where it won the . It went on to gross only $2.5 million domestically, well below its estimated $10 million budget. Most mainstream reviewers reacted negatively to Coppola's film, criticizing its overt style and lack of characterization.
Rumble Fish (1983) - Rotten Tomatoes
was not happy with an early cut of The Outsiders and passed on distributing Rumble Fish. Despite the lack of financing in place, Coppola completely recorded the film on video during two weeks of rehearsals in a former school gymnasium and afterwards was able to show the cast and crew a rough draft of the film. To get Rourke into the mindset of his character, Coppola gave him books written by and a biography of . The Motorcycle Boy's look was patterned after Camus complete with trademark cigarette dangling out of the corner of his mouth - taken from a photograph of the author that Rourke used as a visual handle. Rourke remembers that he approached his character as "an actor who no longer finds his work interesting".
Rumble Fish (1983): nowhere to go | Perhapses
Audio Commentary by Francis Ford Coppola
Francis Ford Coppola is always engagingly erudite. In the seventies so much was expected from the director of The Godfather that he almost keeled over from the weight of it. The making of Apocalypse Now has passed into legend and so he gently landed on the S.E. Hinton runway and got back to personal film-making. The Outsiders and Rumble Fish were shot back to back but the cinematic weight and legacy has lasted best on the shoulders of the latter and it was refreshing to hear just how personal this movie was to Coppola. He had an older brother of whom he was in awe (the movie is dedicated to August Coppola, Augie) and it's clear that film director and original novelist have connected so well. The best quote I ever heard a novelist say about a cinematic rendition of their work was Chuck Palahniuk on Fincher's Fight Club. He said that after seeing the movie he was embarrassed by the novel! Well, the author is in the movie and by all accounts pleased with the result. Coppola recorded the commentary in 2005 for the DVD special edition release (he refers to the DVD a few times and would have been much more effusive if he could see the images I was watching). In fact all the extras have been ported over from this release with the exception of the "Don't Box Me In" music video and the varied choice of soundtracks.