Wait...is 'Airplane!' Just 'Zero Hour!' but with Jokes?

Airplane! is one of the funniest movies ever made. Does that mean Zero Hour! is too? 

One of the best movies of all time is Airplane! and I'm not just saying that because it changed my life as a 10-year-old. It's so funny. It defined all the comedy that came after it and gave structure to the idea that you needed 3 jokes every page and many layers of gags going on in the foreground and background. 

The movie was a landmark original that made you laugh so hard you never wanted it to end. 

But many people don't know the story behind Airplane!. I didn't fully understand it until this morning...

...but Airplane! is just a remake of Hall Bartlett's 1957 drama Zero Hour!...just with jokes. 

Don't believe me? 

Check out this video by Mason Wood.

While the movie is a send-up of disaster films in general, Airplane borrows the plot and the central characters from Zero Hour!. In fact, when it came time for awards, Airplane! was in the "Adapted Screenplay" category. 

Of course, none of this was a coincidence, Jerry ZuckerJim Abrahams, and David Zucker were all working as a comedy troupe in the 1970s. They used to lampoon local news ideas and would videotape late-night TV for ideas. 

That's where they saw Zero Hour!, and the script grew from there. In fact, lots of the same dialogue is shared between the movies. 

In fact, their script borrowed so much from Zero Hour! that they believed they needed to negotiate the rights to create the remake of the film and ensure they remain within the allowance for parody within copyright law. They were able to obtain the rights from Warner Bros. and Paramount for about $2,500 at the time. 

So let this be a lesson to you! 

Sometimes it's okay to look to the past for inspiration!     

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Next on No Film School: Is Scary Movie just Scream with jokes? Check out this side by side comparison.

August 31, 2020 at 1:03PM


Yes. It is mostly the same script and characters with some Airport 1975 thrown in but yeah many of the lines are the same. Many of the actors cast were cast as they looked like the original actors in Zero Hour. They even bought the rights for a remake as they were worried of being sued by the guys who made Zero Hour

August 31, 2020 at 3:55PM, Edited August 31, 3:56PM