“Pulitzer and Hearst, they think we’re nothing! Are we nothing?”
The opening chords of “The World Will Know,” the anthem of 1992’s live-action Disney film Newsies, are as recognizable to a generation of cult fans as “A Whole New World,” “Under the Sea” or Celine Dion crooning “Beauty and the Beast.”
Led by Christian Bale’s horrendous “New Yoik” accent, first-time director Kenny Ortega’s film about the 1899 newsboy strike was, superficially, a huge flop. It cost $15 million to make and brought in only $2 million at the box office. And the critics hated it: Roger Ebert called it “warmed-over Horatio Alger” and included his review in his 2000 book, I Hated, Hated, Hated This Movie!
David Rooney of The New York Times was even harsher, saying that the film “suffers from sluggish storytelling, a vocally challenged cast (led by an uncomfortable-looking Christian Bale) and poorly shot dance numbers bursting with anachronisms.
“It’s Oliver! meets Annie with quasi-breakdance moves,” he added derisively.
Yet somehow the cult of Newsies survived the film and now, two decades later, it’s back and headed for Broadway; the show begins previews next week at the Nederlander Theater. And this time, it has the whole world on its side. Read More