Exclusion (2007 film)

Hairspray (2007 film)

Hairspray is a 2007 musical film produced by Zadan/Meron Productions and distributed by New Line Cinema. It was released in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom on July 20, 2007. The film is an adaptation of the 2002 Broadway musical of the same name, and a remake of John Waters' 1988 comedy film of the same name. Set in 1962 Baltimore, Maryland, the film follows a "pleasantly plump" teenager named Tracy Turnblad as she simultaneously pursues stardom as a dancer on a local TV show and rallies against racial segregation.

Adapted from both Waters's 1988 script and Thomas Meehan and Mark O'Donnell's book for the stage musical by screenwriter Leslie Dixon, the 2007 film version of Hairspray is directed and choreographed by Adam Shankman. Hairspray stars John Travolta, Michelle Pfeiffer, Christopher Walken, Amanda Bynes, James Marsden, Queen Latifah, Brittany Snow, Zac Efron, Elijah Kelley, Allison Janney and introduces Nikki Blonsky as Tracy Turnblad. Hairspray features songs from the Broadway musical written by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, as well as four new Shaiman/Wittman compositions not present in the original Broadway version.

Opening to positive reviews, Hairspray met with financial success, breaking the record for biggest sales at opening weekend for a movie musical, which the film held until July 2008 when it was surpassed by Mamma Mia!. Hairspray went on to become the fourth highest grossing musical film in U.S. cinema history, behind the film adaptations of Grease, Chicago, and Mamma Mia!. Available in a variety of formats, Hairspray's Region 1 home video release took place on November 20, 2007. The USA Network has purchased the broadcast rights to Hairspray and is scheduled to debut the film on cable television in February 2010.

Adam Shankman and John Waters are currently working on a sequel to the film.


On May 3, 1962, Tracy Turnblad (Nikki Blonsky), a cheerful, rotund high school student living in Baltimore, Maryland, endures a day's worth of school so that she and her best friend Penny Pingleton (Amanda Bynes) can race home to view their favorite TV program, The Corny Collins Show. The program, a teen dance show, is broadcast from Baltimore's station WYZT on weekday afternoons.

The teenagers featured on the show attend Tracy and Penny's school, in particular the arrogant rich girl Amber Von Tussle (Brittany Snow) and her boyfriend Link Larkin (Zac Efron), with whom Tracy is madly in love. Amber's mother Velma (Michelle Pfeiffer) manages station WYZT, and goes out of her way to make sure that Amber is prominently featured and that The Corny Collins Show remains a segregated program. Corny Collins (James Marsden) and all of his "Council Members" are white; black kids are only allowed on The Corny Collins Show on "Negro Day", held the last Tuesday of each month and hosted by local rhythm and blues radio DJ "Motormouth” Maybelle (Queen Latifah).

Neither Tracy's reclusive laundress mother Edna (John Travolta) nor Penny's strict Catholic mother Prudy (Allison Janney) approve of their daughters basing their lives around a TV show, particularly one where teens dance to "race music". Tracy's father, Wilbur (Christopher Walken), a joke-shop proprietor, is far more lenient. On one day's show, Corny Collins announces that one of his "Council Members" is going on a leave of absence, and that auditions for a replacement will be held the next morning during school hours. When Tracy attends, Velma rejects Tracy at the audition for being overweight and supportive of integration. Tracy is sent to detention for skipping school, learning that the African-American students practice their dance in the school's detention hall. Tracy befriends the detention hall's best dancer, Motormouth Maybelle's son, Seaweed (Elijah Kelley), who teaches Tracy several R&B dance moves. These moves secure Tracy a position in The Corny Collins Show.

Tracy quickly becomes one of Corny's most popular "Council Members" and a threat to Velma's wish to have Amber win the show's yearly "Miss Teenage Hairspray" pageant. Tracy also becomes a threat to Amber's courtship of Link, as the boy becomes increasingly fond of Tracy and less so of Amber. Tracy's popularity earns her a sponsorship offer from clothes salesman Mr. Pinky (Jerry Stiller), who wants Tracy to be the spokesgirl for his "Hefty Hideaway" boutique. Tracy convinces Edna to accompany her to the "Hefty Hideaway" and act as her negotiating agent, and in the process brings her mother's days as an agoraphobe to an end.

At school, Tracy introduces Seaweed to Penny, whereupon the two are instantly smitten with each other. One afternoon after Amber deliberately has Tracy sent to detention, Link causes the teacher to send him after her. There, Seaweed invites the girls and Link to follow him and his sister Little Inez (Taylor Parks) to a platter party at Motormouth Maybelle's record shop. At the party, Maybelle informs everyone that Velma has canceled "Negro Day". Tracy, in reply, suggests that Maybelle and the others stage a protest march, which they plan for the next afternoon, a day before the "Miss Teenage Hairspray" pageant. Link, scheduled to sing at the pageant and fearing for his budding career, does not attend the demonstration, disappointing Tracy.

The next morning, Tracy sneaks out of the house to join the protest march, which comes to a halt at a police roadblock set up by Velma. The entire company of protesters is arrested, although Tracy manages to escape. She flees to the Pingletons' house, where Penny lets her hide in a basement fallout shelter. Prudy discovers Tracy and calls the police while tying Penny to her bed upstairs with a jump rope. Seaweed and his friends, having been bailed out by Wilbur, arrive and help Tracy and Penny escape. The kids then concoct a plan to crash the "Miss Teenage Hairspray" pageant. Meanwhile, Link visits Tracy's house to look for her, and realizes that he is as much in love with her as she is with him. Seaweed and Penny also acknowledge their love during the escape from her house.

With the pageant underway, Velma, leaving nothing to chance, places policemen around and inside station WYZT to prevent Tracy from entering. In addition, Velma switches the tallies from the pageant's phone lines so that Amber is guaranteed to win. Penny arrives at the pageant with an incognito Edna, while Wilbur, Seaweed, and Seaweed's friends help Tracy infiltrate the studio in time to participate in the "Miss Teenage Hairspray" dance contest. Link breaks away from Amber to dance with Tracy; later, he pulls Inez, who has just arrived at WYZT with Maybelle, to the stage to dance in the pageant.

Against all expectations, Inez receives the most votes and wins the pageant, officially integrating The Corny Collins Show. A perturbed Velma loudly declares her frustration, informing her daughter of the tally-switching scheme. Unbeknownst to Velma, Edna has turned a camera on her, and Velma's outburst is broadcast live on the air, causing her to be expelled from the program. Meanwhile, The Corny Collins Show set explodes into a celebration as Link and Tracy cement their love with a kiss.


  • Nikki Blonsky as Tracy Turnblad: The film's protagonist. An optimistic, overweight teenage girl who loves to dance, Tracy's color-blindness unwittingly leads her to becoming an active supporter for the integration of The Corny Collins Show. Hairspray is newcomer Nikki Blonsky's first time as a professional actress.
  • John Travolta as Edna Turnblad: Tracy's mother, an asocial shut-in ashamed of her plus-sized figure. John Travolta's casting as Edna continues the tradition of having a man in drag portray the character, going back to the original 1988 film, which featured drag queen Divine as Edna. Executives at New Line Cinema originally expected the part to be filled by an actor accustomed to playing comic roles, tossing around names such as Robin Williams, Steve Martin, and Tom Hanks. However, Travolta was aggressively sought after by producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron for this role because he had starred in Grease (1978), the most successful movie musical to date.
  • Michelle Pfeiffer as Velma Von Tussle: The film's main antagonist. The manager of station WYZT, the racist former beauty queen Velma is primarily interested in keeping her daughter Amber in the spotlight and The Corny Collins Show segregated. Hairspray is the first film featuring Michelle Pfeiffer to be released in five years (Stardust, also featuring Pfeiffer, was filmed before Hairspray, but released almost a month after). The irony of Pfeiffer and Travolta appearing onscreen together (Travolta starred in Grease, Pfeiffer in Grease 2) was not lost on the production staff, and interestingly enough Travolta actually requested that Pfeiffer play the part of the villainess.
  • Christopher Walken as Wilbur Turnblad: Tracy's father, the easy-going proprietor of the "Hardy-Har Hut" joke shop below the Turnblad family's loft apartment. John Travolta had asked that Walken be considered for the part, and he eventually beat out Billy Crystal and Jim Broadbent for the role of Wilbur.
  • Amanda Bynes as Penny Pingleton: Tracy's best friend, a sheltered girl who falls in love with Seaweed, despite the efforts of her racist and stern mother, Prudy. A young actress famous for appearances on Nickelodeon TV shows and in feature films, Bynes was one of the few movie stars cast among the teen roles.
  • James Marsden as Corny Collins: The host of The Corny Collins Show, Corny does his best to fight his show's imposed segregation. Corny Collins is based upon Baltimore TV personality Buddy Deane, who hosted a eponymous local teen dance show in the late 1950s and early 1960s. James Marsden beat out both Joey McIntyre and X-Men costar Hugh Jackman for the part.
  • Queen Latifah as "Motormouth" Maybelle: A Baltimore Rhythm and Blues radio disc jockey who hosts "Negro Day" on The Corny Collins Show, Maybelle also runs a record shop on North Avenue. Queen Latifah appeared in the successful Zadan/Meron movie musical Chicago (2002), and worked under Adam Shankman's direction in Bringing Down the House (2003). She beat out soul legend Aretha Franklin for the role of Maybelle.
  • Brittany Snow as Amber Von Tussle: Velma's bratty daughter and the lead female dancer on The Corny Collins Show, Amber becomes Tracy's enemy when Tracy threatens both Amber's shot at the "Miss Teenage Hairspray" crown and Amber's relationship with her boyfriend Link. Brittany Snow had previously worked with Shankman in The Pacifier (2004). Hayden Panettiere was also considered for the part of Amber, but was decided against in part because of her upcoming work with the NBC television series Heroes.
  • Zac Efron as Link Larkin: Amber's boyfriend and the lead male dancer on The Corny Collins Show, Link is a singer who slowly finds himself falling in love with Tracy, who has an unrequited crush on him. The character is based in part upon rock and roll star Elvis Presley. Zac Efron, a popular teen actor from the Disney Channel TV movie High School Musical, was initially thought by Adam Shankman to be "too Disney." Shankman's sister, executive producer Jennifer Gibgot, convinced her brother to cast Efron, believing that the teen star would draw a substantial teen crowd.
  • Elijah Kelley as Seaweed J. Stubbs: Maybelle's son, an expert dancer who teaches Tracy some moves and falls in love with her friend Penny. Kelley, a relative newcomer to film, overcame other open call auditioners and several popular Rhythm and Blues stars for the part of Seaweed.
  • Allison Janney as Prudy Pingleton: Penny's mother, a zealous Catholic whose strict parenting keeps Penny from experiencing social life.
  • Paul Dooley as Mr. Harriman F. Spritzer: The owner of the "Ultra Clutch" company and the main sponsor of The Corny Collins Show, Mr. Spritzer is as anxious as Velma is to keep The Corny Collins Show segregated.
  • Taylor Parks as Little Inez: Maybelle's pre-teen daughter, Inez is a skilled dancer. Inez is based in part upon Ruby Bridges, the first black child to attend a formerly all-white school in the state of Louisiana.


In addition to the principal actors, the film contained several cameo appearances by individuals involved in the history of Hairspray:

  • Jerry Stiller as Mr. Pinky (Wilbur Turnblad in the original film)
  • Ricki Lake as William Morris Talent Agent #1, (Audio) performs "Mama, I'm a Big Girl Now" (Tracy Turnblad in the original film)
  • Adam Shankman as William Morris Talent Agent #2 (choreographer and director of the film)
  • Marc Shaiman as William Morris Talent Agent #3 (co-lyricist and music writer of the film)
  • Scott Wittman as William Morris Talent Agent #4 (co-lyricist and music writer of the film)
  • John Waters as the "flasher who lives next door" (writer and director of the original film)
  • Mink Stole as the smoking woman on the street whom Waters flashes (Tammy in the original film)
  • Corey Reynolds (Audio) as singer of "Trouble on the Line" (Original Broadway Cast's Seaweed)
  • Harvey Fierstein (Audio) as brief singing cameo in the end credits "Mama, I'm a Big Girl Now" (Original Broadway Cast's Edna)
  • Marissa Jaret Winokur (Audio) performs "Mama, I'm a Big Girl Now" (Original Broadway Cast's Tracy)


Early development

Following the success of the Broadway musical Hairspray, which won eight Tony Awards in 2003, New Line Cinema, who owned the rights to the 1988 John Waters film upon which the stage musical is based, became interested in adapting the stage show as a musical film. Development work began in late 2004, while a similar film-to-Broadway-to-film project, Mel Brooks' The Producers, was in production.

Craig Zadan and Neil Meron's Academy Award-winning film adaptation of the Broadway musical Chicago, were hired as the producers for Hairspray, and began discussing possibly casting John Travolta and Billy Crystal (or Jim Broadbent) as Edna and Wilbur Turnblad, respectively. Thomas Meehan and Mark O'Donnell, authors of the book for the stage musical, wrote the first draft of the film's screenplay, but were replaced by Leslie Dixon, screenwriter for family comedies such as Mrs. Doubtfire and Freaky Friday. After a year's deliberation on who should direct the film, Zadan and Meron finally decided to hire Adam Shankman to both direct and choreograph Hairspray. Upon learning he had been hired, Shankman arranged a meeting with John Waters, who advised him "don't do what I did, don't do what the play did. You've gotta do your own thing." Despite this, Shankman still noted "all roads of Hairspray lead back to John Waters."

(Screen to) stage to screen changes

Dixon was primarily hired to tone down much of the campiness inherent in the stage musical. The 2007 film's script is based primarily on the stage musical rather than the 1988 film, so several changes already made to the plot for the stage version remain in this version. These include dropping several characters from the 1988 version (such as Arvin Hodgepile, Franklin Von Tussle, Tammy Turner, the beatniks, et al.), removing the Tilted Acres amusement park from the story, and placing Velma in charge of the station where The Corny Collins Show is filmed.

One notable difference between the stage musical, the original movie, and the 2007 film version of Hairspray is that Tracy does not go to jail in the 2007 version. In both previous incarnations of Hairspray, Tracy is arrested and taken to jail along with the other protesters. Edna is presented in this version as an insecure introvert, in contrast to the relatively bolder incarnations present in the 1988 film and the stage musical. Among many other elements changed or added to this version are the removal of Motormouth Maybelle's habit of constantly speaking in rhyming jive talk, and doubling the number of teens in Corny Collins' Council (from ten on Broadway to twenty in the 2007 film).

Dixon restructured portions of Hairspray's book to allow several of the songs to blend more naturally into the plot, in particular "(You're) Timeless to Me" and "I Know Where I've Been". "(You're) Timeless to Me" becomes the anchor of a newly invented subplot involving Velma's attempt to break up Tracy's parents' marriage and keep the girl off The Corny Collins Show as a result. The song now serves as Wilbur's apology to Edna, in addition to its original purpose in the stage musical as a tongue-in-cheek declaration of Wilbur and Edna's love for each other. Meanwhile, "I Know Where I've Been", instead of being sung by Maybelle alone after being let out of jail, now underscores Maybelle's march on WYZT (which takes place in the stage musical only briefly during "Big, Blonde, and Beautiful").

The song "Big, Blonde, and Beautiful" was inspired by a line that Tracy Turnblad delivered in the original film, but in the stage version and this film, the song is performed by Motormouth Maybelle. A reprise of the song was added to the 2007 film, which is sung by Edna and Velma.

Pre-production and casting

Hairspray was produced on a budget of $75 million. An open casting call was announced to cast unknowns in Atlanta, New York City, and Chicago. After auditioning over eleven hundred candidates, Nikki Blonsky, an eighteen-year-old high school senior from Great Neck, New York who had no previous professional acting experience, was chosen for the lead role of Tracy. Relative unknowns Elijah Kelley and Taylor Parks were chosen through similar audition contests to portray Seaweed and Little Inez, respectively. John Travolta was finally cast as Edna, with Christopher Walken ultimately assuming the role of Wilbur. Several other stars, including Queen Latifah, James Marsden, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Allison Janney were chosen for the other supporting adult roles of Motormouth Maybelle, Corny Collins, Velma Von Tussle, and Prudy Pingleton, respectively. Teen stars Amanda Bynes, and Zac Efron were cast as Tracy's friends Penny and Link, and Brittany Snow was cast as her rival Amber. Jerry Stiller, who played Wilbur Turnblad in the original film version of Hairspray, appears as Mr. Pinky in this version.

Since Hairspray's plot focuses heavily on dance, choreography became a heavy focus for Shankman, who hired four assistant choreographers and put both his acting cast and over a hundred and fifty dancers through two months of rehearsals. The cast recorded the vocal tracks for their songs as coached by Elaine Overholt in the weeks just before principal photography began in September.

Principal photography

Principal photography on Hairspray took place in Toronto, and Hamilton, Ontario, Canada from September 5 to December 8, 2006. Hairspray is explicitly set in Baltimore, Maryland, USA, and the original 1988 film had been shot on location there, but the 2007 film was shot primarily in Toronto because the city was better equipped with the sound stages necessary to film a musical. The opening shots of the descent from the clouds and the newspaper being dropped onto the stoop are the only times that the actual city of Baltimore is shown in the film.

The majority of the film was shot at Toronto's Showline Studios. Most of the street scenes were shot at the intersection of Dundas Street West and Roncesvalles Avenue. Some of the signs for the 1960s-era stores remain up along the street. Toronto's Lord Lansdowne Public School was used for all of the high school exteriors and some of the interiors, while the old Queen Victoria School in Hamilton was also used for interiors. Scenes at Queen Victoria were shot from November 22 to December 2, and the school was scheduled to be demolished after film production was completed.

Thinner than most of the other men who have portrayed Edna, John Travolta appeared onscreen in a large fat suit, and required four hours of makeup in order to appear before the cameras. His character's nimble dancing style belies her girth; Shankman based Edna's dancing style on the hippo ballerinas in the Dance of the Hours sequence in Walt Disney's 1940 animated feature Fantasia. Although early versions of the suit created "a dumpy, Alfred Hitchcock version of Edna," Travolta fought for the ability to give his character curves and a thick Baltimore accent. Designed by Tony Gardner, the fat suit was created using lightweight synthetic materials, consisting of layered pads and silicone, which was used from the chest upwards. The suit provided the additional benefit of covering Travolta's beard, eliminating the problem of his facial hair growing through his makeup midday.

Shankman's inspirations

Shankman included "a lot of winks" to films that influenced his work on Hairspray:

  • The film's opening shot — a bird's eye view of Baltimore that eventually descends from the clouds to ground level — is a combination of the opening shots of West Side Story and The Sound of Music.
  • The dress that Penny wears during the "You Can't Stop the Beat" musical number is made from her bedroom curtains, which can be seen during "Without Love". This is an homage to The Sound of Music, where Maria uses old curtains to make play clothes for the von Trapp children.
  • Several scenes involving Tracy, such as her ride atop the garbage truck during the "Good Morning Baltimore" number and her new hairstyle during "Welcome to the 60's", are directly inspired by the Barbra Streisand musical film version of Funny Girl (1968).
  • During "Without Love", Link sings to a photograph of Tracy, which comes to life and sings harmony with him. This is directly inspired from the MGM musical The Broadway Melody of 1938 (1937), in which a young Judy Garland swoons over a photo of actor Clark Gable as she sings "You Made Me Love You".
  • During one song, a group of backup singers in “The New Girl in Town” can be heard to sing "Look out, look out, look out, look out!" which is a line from Little Shop of Horrors, another musical set in that era.

Musical numbers

  • "Good Morning Baltimore" – Tracy
  • "The Nicest Kids in Town" – Corny and Council Members
  • "It Takes Two" – Link (only coda used)
  • "(The Legend of) Miss Baltimore Crabs" – Velma and Council Members
  • "I Can Hear the Bells" – Tracy
  • "Ladies' Choice" – Link
  • "The Nicest Kids in Town (Reprise)" – Corny and Council Members
  • "The New Girl in Town" – Amber, Tammy, Shelley, and The Dynamites
  • "Welcome to the 60's" – Tracy, Edna, The Dynamites, and Hefty Hideaway Employees
  • "Run and Tell That" – Seaweed, Little Inez, and Detention Kids
  • "Big, Blonde, and Beautiful" – Motormouth
  • "Big, Blonde, and Beautiful (Reprise)" – Edna and Velma
  • "(You're) Timeless to Me" – Edna and Wilbur
  • "I Know Where I've Been" – Motormouth and Company
  • "I Can Wait" – Tracy (deleted song)
  • "Without Love" – Link, Tracy, Seaweed, and Penny
  • "(It's) Hairspray" – Corny and Council Members
  • "You Can't Stop the Beat" – Tracy, Link, Penny, Seaweed, Edna, Motormouth, and Company
  • "Come So Far (Got So Far to Go)" – Motormouth, Link, Tracy, and Seaweed (end credits)
  • "Mama, I'm a Big Girl Now" – Ricki Lake, Marissa Jaret Winokur, and Nikki Blonsky (end credits)
  • "Cooties" – Aimee Allen (end credits)

Song score production and changes

Music producer/composer/co-lyricist Marc Shaiman and co-lyricist Scott Wittman were required to alter their Broadway Hairspray song score in various ways in order to work on film, from changing portions of the lyrics in some songs (e.g., "(The Legend of) Miss Baltimore Crabs", "Big, Blonde, and Beautiful", and "You Can't Stop the Beat") to more or less completely removing other songs from the film altogether.

"Mama, I'm a Big Girl Now", a popular number from the stage musical, features Tracy, Penny, and Amber arguing with their respective mothers. Neither Adam Shankman nor Leslie Dixon could come up with a solution for filming "Mama" that did not require a three-way split screen — something they wanted to avoid — and both felt the number did not adequately advance the plot. As a result, "Mama" was reluctantly dropped from the film during pre-production, although it is used by Shaiman as an instrumental number when the Corny Collins kids dance the "Stricken Chicken". A special version of "Mama" was recorded for the film's end credits in May 2007, during the final score recording process, which featured vocals from each of the three women most famous for portraying Tracy Turnblad: Ricki Lake from the 1988 film, Marissa Jaret Winokur from the original Broadway cast, and Nikki Blonsky from the 2007 film. Harvey Fierstein, who portrayed Edna as part of the original Broadway cast, has a brief cameo moment in the end credits version of "Mama" as well.

"It Takes Two", a solo for Link, was moved from its place in the stage musical (on Tracy's first day on The Corny Collins Show) to an earlier Corny Collins scene, although only the coda of the song is used in the final release print. "Cooties", a solo for Amber in the stage musical, is present in this film as an instrumental during the Miss Teenage Hairspray dance-off. As with "Mama, I'm a Big Girl Now", a version of "Cooties", performed in a contemporary pop rendition by Aimee Allen, is present during the end credits.

The performance of a vintage dance called The Madison, present in both the 1988 film and the stage musical, was replaced for this version by a newly composed song, "Ladies' Choice". Portions of the Madison dance steps were integrated into the choreography for the musical number "You Can't Stop the Beat", and the song the dance is performed to on Broadway can be heard faintly during Motormouth Maybelle's platter party in the film, re-titled "Boink-Boink". "The Big Dollhouse" was the only song from the musical not used in the film in any way.

Shaiman and Wittman composed two new songs for the 2007 film: "Ladies' Choice", a solo for Link, and "Come So Far (Got So Far to Go)", a song performed during the end credits by Queen Latifah, Nikki Blonsky, Zac Efron, and Elijah Kelley. Another "new" song in the 2007 film, "The New Girl in Town", had originally been composed for the Broadway musical, but was deemed unnecessary and discarded from the musical. Director Adam Shankman decided to use the song to both underscore a rise-to-fame montage for Tracy and to showcase Maybelle's "Negro Day", which is never actually seen in either of the earlier incarnations of Hairspray.

One additional Shaiman/Wittman song, a ballad entitled "I Can Wait", was composed for the film as a solo for Tracy, meant to replace the stage musical's reprise of "Good Morning Baltimore". "I Can Wait" was shot for the film (Tracy performs the number while locked in Prudy's basement), but was eventually deleted from the final release print. The audio recording of "I Can Wait" was made available as a special bonus track for customers who pre-ordered the Hairspray soundtrack on iTunes, and the scene itself was included as a special feature on the film's DVD release.

Post-production took place in Los Angeles. Composer/co-lyricist Marc Shaiman continued work on the film's music, employing the Hollywood Symphony Orchestra to record instrumentation for both the songs and the incidental score.

Release and reception

Box office reception

Hairspray debuted in 3,121 theaters in North America on July 20, 2007, the widest debut of any modern movie musical. The film earned $27,476,745 in its opening weekend, behind I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. This made Hairspray the record-holder for the biggest sales at opening weekend for a movie musical. This record was later broken by the release of Mamma Mia!, which grossed $27,605,000 on its opening weekend. Hairspray has since gone on to become the fourth highest grossing musical in U.S. cinema history, surpassing The Rocky Horror Picture Show ($112.8 million) and Dreamgirls ($103 million), released seven months prior. Ending its domestic run on October 25, 2007, Hairspray has a total domestic gross of $118,871,849 and $200,627,273 worldwide. Its biggest overseas markets include the United Kingdom ($25.8 million), Australia ($14.4 million), Japan ($8 million), Italy ($4.6 million), France ($3.9 million) and Spain ($3.8 million). This made Hairspray the third musical film in history to cross $200 million internationally, behind 1978's hit Grease ($395 million) and 2002's Chicago ($307 million). It is the seventh highest-grossing PG-rated film of 2007, and has grossed more than other higher-budgeted summer releases like Ocean's Thirteen ($117 million) and Evan Almighty ($100 million).

Two weeks after its original release, new "sing-along" prints of Hairspray were shipped to theaters. These prints featured the lyrics to each song printed onscreen as subtitles, encouraging audiences to interact with the film.

On January 4, 2008, Hairspray was re-released in New York and Los Angeles for one week because John Travolta was present for Q&A and autographs.

Critical reviews

Hairspray has garnered vastly positive reviews from film critics such as Roger Ebert, The New York Times, and The Boston Globe, as well as a smaller number of reviews comparing it unfavorably to the Waters original. The film is one of the top picks on Metacritic, with an average of 81%. It scored a 91% "Certified Fresh" approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, also indicating excellent reviews, making it one of 2007's best-reviewed films. Peter Rainer of The Christian Science Monitor named it the 4th best film of 2007. Lou Lumenick of the New York Post named it the ninth best film of 2007.

Ebert gave the film 3.5 stars out of 4, saying that there was "a lot of craft and slyness lurking beneath the circa-1960s goofiness," also stating that "The point, however, is not the plot but the energy. Without somebody like Nikki Blonsky at the heart of the movie, it might fall flat, but everybody works at her level of happiness..." Ebert also noted that this film is "a little more innocent than Waters would have made it..." Krishna Shenoi, of the Shenoi Chronicle, called the movie "Shankman's masterpiece," saying that it moved away from his previous works into a different direction, making a light comedy that deals with serious issues maturely. Shenoi also said that the film was everything he wanted Grease (film) to be. Lou Lumenick of The New York Post hailed Hairspray as "The best and most entertaining movie adaptation of a stage musical so far this century — and yes, I’m including the Oscar-winning Chicago," calling it "one of the best-cast movies in recent memory... New York Daily News critic Jack Matthews called the film "A great big sloppy kiss of entertainment for audiences weary of explosions, CGI effects and sequels, sequels, sequels. The Baltimore Sun review offered Michael Sragow's opinion that "in its entirety, Hairspray has the funny tilt that only a director-choreographer like Shankman can give to a movie," pointing out that Shankman skillfully "puts a new-millennial zing behind exact re-creations of delirious period dances like the Mashed Potato. Dana Stevens from Slate called Hairspray "intermittently tasty, if a little too frantically eager to please." Stevens noted that "Despite its wholesomeness, this version stays remarkably true to the spirit of the original, with one size-60 exception: John Travolta as Edna Turnblad," saying "How you feel about Hairspray will depend entirely on your reaction to this performance..."

The New Yorker’s David Denby felt the new version of Hairspray was "perfectly pleasant," but compared unfavorably to the Broadway musical, since "[director Adam Shankman and screenwriter Leslie Dixon] have removed the traces of camp humor and Broadway blue that gave the stage show its happily knowing flavor." Denby criticized the dance numbers, calling them "unimaginatively shot," and he considered "the idea of substituting John Travolta for Harvey Fierstein as Tracy’s hefty mother... a blandly earnest betrayal." Stephanie Zacharek of Salon.com found Hairspray "reasonably entertaining. But do we really need to be entertained reasonably? Waters's original was a crazy sprawl that made perfect sense; this Hairspray toils needlessly to make sense of that craziness, and something gets lost in the translation." Zacharek was also displeased with the way Latifah's performance of "I Know Where I've Been" was incorporated into the movie, saying "The filmmakers may believe they're adding an extra layer of seriousness to the material... [but] the inclusion of this big production number only suggests that the filmmakers fear the audience won't get the movie's message unless it's spelled out for them."

Washington Blade boycott controversy

Although it was generally received well by both critics and the box office, Hairspray nonetheless garnered some criticism upon its release by individuals in the gay community. Much of this criticism surrounded Travolta's portrayal of Edna Turnblad, a role played in the original film by celebrated drag performer Divine, and in the stage adaptation by Harvey Fierstein. Kevin Naff, a managing editor for Washington, DC/Baltimore area online gay news site The Washington Blade called for a boycott of the new Hairspray film, alleging that Scientology, in which Travolta believes, was patently homophobic, and allegedly supported workshops designed to "cure" homosexuals. Adam Shankman protested Naff's proposed boycott, stating that Travolta was not homophobic, as he (Shankman), Waters, Shaiman, Wittman, and several other members of the creative staff were gay, and Travolta got along well with the entire crew. "John's personal beliefs did not walk onto my set," said Shankman. "I never heard the word 'Scientology.'"

Home video and television

Hairspray was released in standard DVD and high-definition Blu-ray Disc formats in Region 1 on November 20, 2007. The standard DVD was released in two versions: a one-disc release and a two-disc "Shake and Shimmy" edition.

Bonus features on the two-disc release include two audio commentaries, a feature-length production documentary, featurettes on the earlier versions of Hairspray, dance instruction featurettes, deleted scenes including Tracy's deleted song "I Can Wait", and behind-the-scenes looks at the production of each of the film's dance numbers. The Blu-ray Disc release, a two-disc release, includes all of the features from the two-disc DVD, and includes a picture-in-picture behind-the-scenes feature, which runs concurrently with the film. An HD DVD version of the film was originally slated for release in 2008, but has since been cancelled due to New Line Cinema's announcement that it would go Blu-ray exclusive with immediate effect, thus dropping HD DVD support.

The USA Network has purchased the broadcast rights to Hairspray, and will debut the film on cable television in February 2010.

Sky Movies Premiere UK have started showing the film since October 11 2008.


Due to Hairspray's financial success, New Line Cinema has asked John Waters to write a sequel to the film. Waters will reunite with director/choreographer Adam Shankman for the project, and songwriters Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman are set to compose the film's musical numbers. The story will likely pick up where the first film left off, and while no official casting has been announced, New Line has said that they hope to "snag much of the original Hairspray cast." The sequel is tentatively set for a mid-July 2010 release by Warner Bros.


Following is a list of awards that Hairspray or its cast have won or been nominated for.Wins

  • 2007 Hollywood Film Festival & Hollywood Awards
    • Hollywood Producers of the Year — Craig Zadan and Neil Meron
    • Hollywood Supporting Actor of the Year — John Travolta
    • Hollywood Ensemble Acting of the Year Award — Musical/Comedy
  • 13th Annual Critics' Choice Awards
  • Billboard Year End Charts (2007)
    • #1 Top Independent Album of the Year - "Hairspray"

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