11. It helped launch the career of Kenny Ortega.
If you remember the production for the song “Dancin’,” then you probably know that quite a bit went into the dance numbers in Xanadu. “Dancin’ ” is in particular a marvel, if one that’s very of-the-era. Kenny Ortega, who planned the choreography alongside Jerry Trent, went on to a high-profile career. Today, he counts among his hits Pretty in Pink, Dirty Dancing, Newsies, Hocus Pocus and the High School Musical movies.
12. It also features a Conan the Barbarian cohort in a small role.
Sandahl Bergman, who is perhaps most famous for playing the female warrior Valeria in Conan the Barbarian in 1982, was originally a dancer. In Xanadu, she plays one of the muses.
13. It spawned a No. 1 hit.
People may not have initially flocked to theaters to catch Xanadu, but they loved the soundtrack, and the single “Magic” scored Newton-John a No. 1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 for four weeks in August 1980.
14. The title track also went to No. 1, just not in the U.S.
Newton-John collaborated with Electric Light Orchestra for the title track. Though it fared well enough in the U.S., reaching No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100, the track was a huge international hit, reaching No. 1 in England, Spain, Norway, the Netherlands, Israel, Ireland, Germany, Belgium and Austria.
15. In fact, the soundtrack was a bigger success than the movie.
The album went double platinum in the U.S. and managed five Top 20 hits, including “Magic,” “Xanadu,” “Suddenly,” “All over the World” and “I’m Alive.”
16. The reviews for the movie, however, were not so enthusiastic.
In fact, two of them stand out as being especially pithy in their meanness. Esquire famously summed up the movie in a single sentence: “In a word, Xana-don’t.” Variety got in a good jab too, describing Newton-John’s character – who glowed periodically, because, you know, muse magic, I guess? – as “a roller skating lightbulb.” Womp womp.
17. It helped start the Golden Raspberry Awards.
The Golden Raspberries, for those who are too nice to pay attention, honor the worst of a given year’s cinematic efforts. They were born after their creator, John Wilson, sat through Xanadu and another not-so-kindly reviewed musical from 1980. As Wilson explained to TIME, “I happened to pay 99 cents for a double feature of Can’t Stop the Music and Olivia Newton-John in Xanadu and was refused my money back afterward.” At the inaugural awards, Can’t Stop the Music beat out Xanadu for Worst Picture, and Brooke Shields in The Blue Lagoon beat out Newton-John for Worst Actress.
18. The nightclub was a real place – but it is no longer.
The beautiful streamline moderne building that becomes the eponymous nightclub in the film was actually the Pan Pacific Auditorium, which was once a popular venue in Los Angeles. When Xanadu used it for its exterior scenes, it had fallen into disrepair, and in 1989, it burned to the ground. Today, the site is a park that in part reflects the beautiful architecture seen in Xanadu.
19. There’s also a darker footnote to Xanadu‘s legacy.
In 1983, Newton-John’s starring role in Xanadu prompted Louisiana resident Michael Owen Perry to think that the actress actually was a Greek goddess who used her eyes to communicate with him. The story, as summarized by Entertainment Weekly, ended with Perry going on a killing spree. Speaking to EW, Newton-John said the incident marked a frightening moment in her high-profile career. “I guess because I was playing this ethereal character, he got reality and show business confused,” she said. “I left the country for a while. That was a very scary time.”
20. Xanadu the musical got all the praise that Xanadu the movie didn’t
Preserving many of the hit songs from the original movie but substantially rewriting the story and dialogue, the Broadway musical Xanadu opened in 2007 and proved to be a success with critics and audiences alike. It was nominated for four Tony Awards and and closed in 2008, after 49 previews and 513 performances.
And just for the record, this play would be a Broadway adaptation of an ’80s film that was a remake of a sequel to a 1941 movie that was originally a play. Whew. That’s enough to necessitate a disco nap.
Courtesy of People