John Marshall here. My father Noel produced, directed, and wrote ROAR, which took ten years and seventeen million dollars to make. There were also over seventy injuries inflicted on cast and crew, including attacks on me, my dad, cinematographer Jan De Bont, my stepsister Melanie Griffith, and my stepmother Tippi Hedren. I still get nightmares whenever I watch it.

Watch the trailer. The film came out in 1980 and was forgotten for decades, but Drafthouse Films and Olive Films have re-released ROAR to around forty theaters across the country. Find locations here and look for it on VOD and Blu-Ray later this year.

To read more about the film, check out the press below: CBS This Morning


Entertainment Weekly

The Guardian

PROOF! Hanging out in the Alamo South Lamar's offices.

I'm doing this AMA between Q&As at the Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar in Austin, TX. /u/johnwsmith with the Austin Alamo is here with me to transcribe my answers.

Ask me anything!

EDIT: Thanks for all the questions, guys! We're headed back in the theater to do a Q&A. Make sure you check it out if it's playing in your area or grab it on Blu-Ray in October!

Comments: 61 • Responses: 28  • Date: 

paintingofamonkey16 karma

We saw ROAR last night, and we were shocked and blown away. Two questions:

Was ROAR intended as a film for kids, or as a horror film? The music seems like it's from a Disney film, but there's a remarkable amount of gore and tension.

Also, why wasn't ROAR released in America?

Thanks, and my wife and I are glad you're ok.

JohnMarshallROAR15 karma

It was originally released all over the world as a family film. It was always (music-wise) meant to be light because we knew it was an intense film and needed some light moments.

Tim League and Drafthouse Films figured out that it was and should have always been marketed as the most dangerous film ever done.

There were some legal and creditor issues that prevented it from being released in America.

murph772111 karma

Hi! Just saw Roar at the Coolidge Corner Theatre in Boston yesterday and had a great time! I read that the message of the movie was to show that humans and big cats can live together in harmony. This strikes me as ironic because it taught me the opposite! Was the original scene meant to convey a more peaceful introduction to the conservation home or was the aggressiveness of the big cats in the opening scenes planned?

JohnMarshallROAR10 karma

The answer to the first part -- it was originally intended to do that, but we've since learned that animals and people shouldn't be together. That is the message of Tippi's non-profit organization Shambala.

JohnMarshallROAR7 karma

The aggressiveness of the lions in the beginning of the movie was absolutely planned. That was in order to explain why the tigers bit the poachers and why they got killed.

Riptwo9 karma

Is it true that Togar the Lion was originally owned by Anton LaVey?

JohnMarshallROAR7 karma

My recollection is vague on that... but... I believe it's true, but the Togar in the movie was not the Togar that Anton owned.

There was a group of seven lions we had called the Wild Bunch and Togar was one of those, but we couldn't use the real Togar because he was wild, but we used Togar's name and used a different lion.

Jenny_Jac7 karma

How many people total do you think quit the film over the duration of filming?

JohnMarshallROAR11 karma

Probably more than 300. This was due to many different factors: injury, fear of injury, just not being able to hang...all of the above, and more I suppose.

Geminijak6 karma

Just saw it in Kansas City today. That was a surreal experience to say the least. How did you guys film around the more serious injuries? I know from the trailer that Melanie had facial scratches and Tippi broke her leg. How were you guys able to finish filming the movie?

JohnMarshallROAR7 karma

The filming took place over a five year period of time, so when Melanie got injured we did scenes with Dad and Mativo. When Dad was injured, we'd shoot the family.

brighteyes_bc6 karma

I'm trying to imagine what it must have been like to be injured and then return to filming after recovery.

JohnMarshallROAR7 karma

I'd say some people never returned after they got bitten -- they just decided that was something they shouldn't do. All of the family members, we HAD to complete the film, so there wasn't an option to not finish.

Monteitoro6 karma

How many things happened during the film that were not staged? For instance was the Elephant supposed to tear up the boat or were the tigers supposed to close the trunk of the car on top of Mativo?

JohnMarshallROAR6 karma

Both of those incidents were planned, but there were many many things that weren't planned. Many.

NorbitGorbit6 karma

Could such a movie be made today? What sorts of insurance or protections were in place when the movie was first made?

JohnMarshallROAR10 karma

No, the movie couldn't be done today. Maybe possibly in a foreign country with very lax laws, but... it could actually never be done.

And there was no insurance, we were "self-insured." Every time the hospital bill comes you try to settle.

NorbitGorbit3 karma

Do you think there was a cultural/legal shift or did people think this was inadvisable at the time as well?

JohnMarshallROAR5 karma

I believe there has been a tremendous legal shift and the rise in lawsuits and litigation. It was not that bad in the 70s -- nowhere near as bad as it is now.

future_forward6 karma

Hi John! Glad you're alive and able to be here today.

Did you know all of the animals on set by name? Who was your favorite and least favorite to work with?

JohnMarshallROAR12 karma

I knew them all by name -- that was really important because if you didn't know which one you'd be dead.

My favorite was Nicky, a 700 lb Siberian tiger because I'd had him since he was ten pounds and he was sooo cute. I was the coolest kid in school because all the kids wanted to come over.

Least favorite was probably the one that bit me... you know what, that's unfair...

It was probably Donnie, named after Don Johnson. Donnie never bit me but he bit Dad twice and almost bit me three times. God knows how many times other people.

gambiergump5 karma

Was this after Melanie was involved with Don Johnson?

JohnMarshallROAR6 karma

Don was Melanie's first husband and she married him when she was sixteen so he was around while filming was going on.

future_forward3 karma

When you lived with lions, did guests eventually stop coming by? Were there any mishaps around the house?

And, follow-up: were all of the lions named after specific people?

JohnMarshallROAR8 karma

Some people stopped coming by as the lions got bigger.

There were always mishaps around the house. They'd eat the furniture, you'd get clawed a little bit... and people would get clawed and bitten a little bit, but I don't think anyone went to the hospital.

We used to get called by animal control and we'd have to throw the lions into the next door neighbor (who liked us)'s yard.

The lions were named after specific people, except the tigers who were given Russian names because they were Siberian.

Arcanth5 karma

What was the most physically taxing scene of this to film? Was it worth it?

JohnMarshallROAR7 karma

Physically taxing for me or anybody? For me... I think a lot of the motorcycle things. Physically taxing because they kept nipping at me. The stunt off the roof didn't hurt -- it was me.

The lake in that roof jump, by the way, was only four and a half feet.

brighteyes_bc4 karma

Hi John! Thank you for doing this AMA! My husband and I saw ROAR last night at The Belcourt here in Nashville and I was surprised at how funny parts of the movie were. Of course I really didn't know what to expect.

My question is, how did the idea come about for your family to make this movie together, and how was that received within your family? Were some people more enthusiastic than others?

JohnMarshallROAR5 karma

We all thought it was a wonderful idea. We were all actors and were used to working with professionally trained animals. We didn't think it would be problematic at all... until we started getting our own, and we didn't have any trained animals.

dacadac4 karma

First, how is it working with drafthouse films? any news yet about the specifics of the home release?

Second, I'd just like to say that the cinematography looks really great for this film. I can't imagine what the crew was going through, but is it possible that their fear made the cinematography and camera work so cool?

What is your worst fear? Your favorite film? Director (That you aren't related to)?

If you could remake/sequel this film, would you?

JohnMarshallROAR5 karma

1) Drafthouse Films? Wonderful. They're the only people who finally understood how to release this film. It's been sitting in my garage so long and I'm glad they finally figured it out.

Olive Films had bought the release and my son emailed me saying that DHF was releasing it and I said "What's a Drafthouse?"

2) Cinematography. Jan was a great cinematographer, fear had nothing to do with it.

3) My greatest fear? I've been claustrophobic ever since I was bitten and it took six guys twenty-five minutes to get them off of me. I couldn't breathe, so ever since I've needed air movement. Can't be trapped in a room where there's no moving air.

4) The Graduate.

5) That's another tough one. I don't have a favorite, but Mike Nichols is one of them.

6) There will never be a sequel. Too dangerous, not worth it, wouldn't do it, but I am planning on doing an hour and a half documentary with interviews and behind the scenes on the making of.

murph77214 karma

Do you feel there is any correlation between Tippi's experiences of filming The Birds that led to the production of this film?

JohnMarshallROAR4 karma

Absolutely not. Just coincidence (and bad luck on her part).

JohnMarshallROAR5 karma

Hitchcock told Tippi "Go behind that door and until my voice tells you 'come out,' don't come out." Then he broke the crew for lunch.

FiREorKNiFE-4 karma

Hey John!

I've heard endless promos about ROAR lately, as I work at the Alamo Drafthouse in Littleton, CO. I have yet to actually watch the film, but as soon as it comes in, I'm gonna be sure to screen it.

I've always wondered how the process went as far as Drafthouse Films acquiring rights for distribution. How did they approach you about wanting to put a re-release out? How did you react initially, as you say it still gives you nightmares to watch?

JohnMarshallROAR7 karma

How did I hear about it? My son told me! Nobody told me.

I got the rights from my father about fifteen years ago. Tomcat Films was the overall worldwide sales distributor who sold the rights to Olive Films, who's doing the BluRay release (October 6th!).

Jenny Jacobi from Drafthouse Films: Tim League was at Telluride and a filmmaker named Greg Marcks was touching base with Tim about crazy films he'd seen and Greg asked him if he'd seen ROAR, which he hadn't, but made a point to see it. Tim saw it immediately, fell in love, and the rest was history.

Owl_B_Hirt3 karma

Has Roar inspired any future work of yours?

JohnMarshallROAR4 karma

I think that was a once in a lifetime project. Nothing would ever compare.

TheLionSleeps-19813 karma

Can you describe what the day was like when Jan de Bont was nearly scalped?

JohnMarshallROAR5 karma

It was a normal sunny day...

So, what happened was I was in the boat with the family (Tippi, Melanie and Jerry). And I watched the lionesses running down the shore and I watched them jump over the pit we'd dug for Jan, where he'd been covered with a green parachute, and when his head turned and panned to catch the family in the rowboat, the lioness turned around and bit him in the head and he screamed and they chased the lion off and we took Jan out and taken to the hospital.

And then some crew guys quit.

JohnMarshallROAR6 karma

We started calling for new DPs while Jan was in the hospital -- LOL -- but Jan got back after three days.

We offered Jan a special helmet that I made for him, but he refused and said he didn't need it. In hindsight... he should have worn it. Even afterwards he didn't wear the helmet

Monteitoro3 karma

What was the most serious injury sustained on set? I loved the film!

JohnMarshallROAR6 karma

An assistant director got bitten in the throat, a canine punctured his windpipe. As we were dragging him out he got bitten in the ass on the way out.

murph77213 karma

My girlfriend has a couple questions as well: do you currently have any exotic pets? Is there a soundtrack available? If not do you know the name of the songs in the beginning and end of the film? Thanks!

JohnMarshallROAR4 karma

1) Exotic pets. Not event a goldfish. 2) The soundtrack is available at

gambiergump3 karma

Thanks for this opportunity!

Two things: does your family still discuss this mocie, and the experiences around it?

When was the last time you dreamed of lions?

JohnMarshallROAR10 karma

My family discuss it, Jerry (my brother) and I discuss it. Tippi is not thrilled with the release of the film and Melanie's very busy.

Had nightmares? They stopped two weeks ago. I got desensitized. I used to watch this once or twice a year and would show it to a new girlfriend. This time around I've immersed myself. They finally stopped right around the time I did the CBS This Morning show.

Now I only have good memories.

PedroIsWatching3 karma

How many "accidents" (involving people and animals) that weren't in the script made it into the movie?

JohnMarshallROAR5 karma

Three or four. Dad got bitten in the hand, Tippi and the elephant, Dad bitten in the leg but that's not in the version on screen right now, will be in the Blu-Ray.

future_forward3 karma

Yikes! Is there any other footage that you'll be incorporating into the Blu-ray that's not in the cut that's in theaters? Is the current cut different than the original cut of the film, and if yes, what's different?

JohnMarshallROAR5 karma

The big difference that will be in the Blu-Ray will be a very bloodcurdling scream and bite by Donnie Lion of my father. It was in the German version but we cut it out of the Australian and UK version because it was too intense, but because it's not the Most Dangerous Film ever we're putting it back in.

Monteitoro2 karma

Did you still like Lions after filming Roar?

JohnMarshallROAR3 karma

Absolutely. And went back to what I was originally able to do -- playing with them because I wasn't afraid -- for ten years afterwards.