Explorers Movie Behind The Scenes

Making Explorers

Explorers Picture
A young Amanda Peterson co-stars


Go behind the scenes on the 1985 Family movie starring Ethan Hawke, River Phoenix, Bobby Fite More Cast

We believe the following info is all legit. If it's bogus or you have additional info, please update us.

Thanks to politeintruder
From her autobiography "Neon Angel", Cherie Currie (The Runaways) was meant to be in this Film, playing the Mom I think and having acted in the Film "Foxes" years before, until they realized her drug habit was out of control and would affect production. Joe Dante had to let her go.
Rewind Archive
The homemade spaceship was christened "Thunder Road" which, as it states in the movie, is the title of a Bruce Springsteen song (from the album "Born To Run").
Rewind Archive
A 20' tree was imported from Los Angeles for Ethan Hawke's character to climb to Amanda Peterson's characters bedroom.
Thanks to Victoria
When the boys first get off of the spaceship there is a lot of fog and special effects. They had to do this scene many times because River's glasses kept reflecting! They didn't mind it because they loved working with the special effects!
Thanks to Elizabeth McCarty
In River Phoenix's biography, it says that River had a huge crush on Amanda Peterson and was very upset that she preferred Ethan Hawke.

Director Joe Dante confirms: "There was a bit of a rivalry between Ethan and River over Amanda Peterson,"¯ said the director. "They were always sort of vying for her affection and I think Ethan won"
Editor Nick
River Phoenix originally auditioned for Darren, the role that was ultimately given to Jason Presson. He didn't enjoy playing a geek at all. Director Joe Dante remembered in an interview "For him it was always a performance because he was vehemently not that guy. When a girl would come by he would always take the glasses off."

Next Section: Deleted Scenes

Deleted Scenes

There are often scenes cut from the final version of a movie. Sometimes these will have been seen by preview audiences, or be included in Blu-ray or DVD extras etc.

The following missing scenes from Explorers are believed legit. If you disagree or have additional info, please update us.

Thanks to logan5
These are some of the major scenes that were filmed but removed from the final cut of Explorers. These are taken from the novelisation. We know that they were filmed as there are images for them in some merchandising material, and because Dante himself said the rough cut was over three hours long:

After Ben has been floating outside Lori's window, she hears him and calls out; she then invites him (and Wolfgang - who she doesn't know is also there) to a party she's throwing. This leads to...

A later scene at the party. All the kids are talking about the UFO scare at the drive-in. Steve Jackson is there boasting about his experience. Wolfgang tries to submarine Ben's affection for Lori by saying that he can read lips and that he can tell she likes Steve Jackson (this is in response to Ben wanting to tell her about the flight). Ben decides to talk to her. Wolfgang advises Darren the logical way to pick up girls, Darren starts out following Wolfgang’s advice, then dumps it and gets slapped. Seeing the right moment, Ben takes Lori aside to talk to her. When alone, he gives her a ring with a martian rock in it, and then he tries to kiss her. She says she likes him but not that way.

The boys walk home and argue. Ben is upset because of Lori, and because the guys don't want to fly again.
*There is a photo of both the kiss and the argument in the storybook. There is also a photo of the kiss and Ben giving Lori the ring with a martian rock in the Starlog Explorer's Movie Magazine*

In a later scene when the boys are going up for the final flight, they are surprised by Wolfgang’s brother who is playing in the Thunder Road wearing a mask. He won't leave, so Darren has to threaten to beat him up. *Photo of Ludwig and Darren at the Thunder Road in the storybook*

A final omitted scene has the boys (after the last flight), now changed and more mature, being threatened by Steve Jackson, who takes a gift that was given to Darren (not the "Stuff that dreams are made of" gift - which has been broken in transit) and squeezes it. It releases a green gas that causes his clothes to shrink and fall off. He has to run out of school naked with everyone laughing at him (this scene shows that the aliens were having a joke at their expense, by giving them a gift that would make Wolfgang’s dream - mentioned earlier in the film - come true). *Photo of Ben, Lori and the guys all smirking together at school (after Steve has run away) in the storybook. There is also the same shot, a shot of Lori leaning on Ben's shoulder and saying something to him, and one of Ben standing behind a metal bar with his arm around Lori saying something to her, all from the same scene in the Starlog Explorer's Movie Magazine*

There are a lot more little bits involving family and stuff throughout the book: The guy at the drive-in who mocks Starkiller's effects is Ben's brother (who appears much more in the original story). There is more of Darren and his less than perfect home life scattered throughout the story. The opening dream sequence is longer - with Ben practicing flying. The final dream sequence is longer (beginning in Ben's house).

As a footnote, the original trailer for the film has the boys walking together in a tunnel at school (you also glimpse this in Darren's dream-machine sequence). They're never actually seen doing this in the film, and I think it was meant to be later footage of them at school after the final flight.
Editor Nick
Director Joe Dante had to cut a party scene at the last minute in which Ethan and Amanda would have had their first kiss. "He gives her a hideous moon rock ring that he thinks looks great,"¯ recalled Dante. "At end of the movie, when they're flying, he looks at her hand as she looks at the ring, and of course we had to cut that."
Editor Nick
Director Joe Dante said in an interview:

"There's a whole subplot that's cut out with the bullies. Our guys go back to school and there's this magic something or other they got from the aliens and the kids' clothes disappear. We shot all that stuff and we just never had a chance to put it in the movie"¯

Next Section: Alternate Versions

Alternate Versions

Sometimes, there will be several versions of a movie floating about on cable, tv or video etc. Other times, a Director may release a special cut of the movie on Blu-ray or DVD.

The following versions of Explorers are apparently real. If you disagree or have additional info, please update us.

Thanks to Sara
There are 2 versions of the movie out there. The TV version has the scene in the beginning where Ben and Wolfgang are walking to school and Steve Jackson rips Wolfgang's pants and Ben yells to him that Steve J. has Elephantitis. It also shows the boys pushing the carnival ride down the street, it runs away from them and lands in the working spot. The VHS cuts those 2 scenes out.
Rewind Archive
The two scenes cut for the US Video release are in the British release.
Thanks to Davey
I have an orginal 80s UK VHS copy of explorers which does include the two scenes you've mentioned that were ommited from the Region 1 DVD. However, what the Region 1 does include, that seems absent from the UK VHS version is a 'day-dream' sequence at the end of the film where the spaceship appears in the classroom. It's annoying that neither version seems complete. Although the Region 1 does include the 2 deleted scenes in the 'deleted scenes' feature on the DVD.
Thanks to Austin
I just bought the DVD and it has the two scenes plus a couple that were cut! I absolutely love this movie makes me feel like a kid again every time I watch it. I have shared this film with my 6 and 3 year old boys and we made it a special movie night once a month. Well I watch it at least once a week! ¯

Jump To: Filming Locations
1985 Paramount pictures
V4.0b Powered by Rewind C21 CMS