It’s no secret that we absolutely love The Rocketeer.
A few weeks ago, a bunch of us stayed after work and watched the movie on one of the big TVs in the office.
I actually watched it again this weekend and was just as thrilled as I was when I was 8-years-old, watching it for the first time on the big screen. And if you haven’t seen it, now is the time: The movie celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. The film, about an accident-prone pilot (Billy Campbell) who happens upon an experimental jetpack that is being chased by villainous gangsters, FBI agents, and a treacherous Hollywood star, is an absolute delight. The movie is set in 1938 Los Angeles, and its period setting lends it a timeless feel (aided by James Horner’s all-time great score and the honeyed cinematography of Hiro Narita). It’s just the best.
And while we’ll be celebrating the film’s anniversary all year (we’ve got plans for a special screening from the film, as well as a brand new art print from our friends at Cyclops Print Works), we wanted to start the celebration with a bang, in the form of a limited edition T-shirt from our friends at the Disney Store. The shirt is as bold and dynamic as the movie itself—with the title on the front and a rocket pack illustration on the back. There have been a few Rocketeer T-shirts released over the years but none have been as outrageously cool as this. As an added bonus, if you buy the shirt through our exclusive link, you will save 10%.
Typically, these timed release T-shirts celebrate some aspect of the Parks. And, truth be told, there is a huge connection between The Rocketeer and Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida. The Rocketeer appeared during the nighttime spectacular Sorcery in the Sky (the nighttime spectacular originally narrated by Vincent Price) in 1991, zooming above the Chinese Theater. That same year, The Rocketeer Gallery, a kind of living museum, opened across the courtyard from Muppet*Vision 3D. And, of course, the façade for the Bulldog Café, one of the more memorable locations from the movie, was a part of the Backlot Studio Tour.
There are still reminders of the film at Disney’s Hollywood Studios today. In the courtyard in front of the Chinese Theater (home to the awe-inspiring Great Movie Ride) are the footprints and blast mark of the Rocketeer himself. (Bonus trivia: these were inspired by a scene that was ultimately deleted from the film and was to have actually been shot at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, wherein The Rocketeer rescues a spotlight operator who has fallen off the roof of the Chinese Theater and accidentally leaves his footprints/scorch marks in some wet cement.) There’s also Peevy’s Polar Pipeline, named after a character from the film, that features one of the film’s jetpacks, a blueprint, and a Rocketeer helmet (this is one of the stunt helmets for the film–you’ll notice that it’s slightly wider than the “hero” helmet, and the eye holes are bigger, to give the stunt person more visibility.) Also, if you look closely on your way to the main dining area at the glorious Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater, you’ll notice the menus from the Seven Seas Club sequence, another jetpack, and a prop newspaper from the movie.
So yes, the Disney Parks connection to this anniversary flash sale is still alive and well. I got to talk to Cortney Williams, who designed this awesome Rocketeer tee, to talk about her relationship with the movie, where the inspiration came from, and what it’s like seeing people wear her shirts out in the wild. She also reiterated how thrilled she was to give Oh My Disney readers an exclusive early chance at owning the shirt, calling it a “great opportunity.”
Did you have any personal affinity for the movie?
I do, I absolutely love that movie. I did not see it in the theater, though, but I did have it on laser disc, I will say that! I think I had it on VHS as well, but I think I watched the laser disc a lot because it was the only way you could get it in widescreen, like, you had to do it that way. I watched that movie a lot and I absolutely loved it. I mean, mostly, I think I had a thing for Billy Campbell, mostly. But I also think that James Horner’s score in that movie was iconic now. It’s nice—we have it in a couple of places in the Park, I know we play the music at Epcot in the Fountain of Nations. I believe they play the music in the queue for Soarin’. Besides that, I think we only have—we used to have it in the Backlot Tour.
Right, it’s still all over Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
Yes, at the ice cream stand they have the rocket, the helmet, and maybe the blueprint of the rocket? It’s called Peevy’s, after the character. I absolutely love that it’s there. We used to have in our backlot, the Bulldog Café, the actual one from the film, I think in ’94-’95, it was back there. But yeah, I absolutely love The Rocketeer, so I was like, I want to make something!
How did you settle for what ended up being the final design?
I like classic shirts, sorts of things like this that don’t have a lot of stuff. So, if I was going to get one shirt, I would like something with the logo, and then we were looking into it, and thinking, have they ever done a costume type thing – have they ever really done that? So looking into it, possibly in the ’90s they might have done something, but we haven’t officially done something in our company for a really long time, so we thought it would be really neat to combine those two, you know, doing a costume tee, we did that idea kind of on the back, but more of a graphic. It isn’t like you’re wearing his outfit, but it lends itself to that. It’s a combination of a logo tee with a costume tee.
Does it surprise you that this property has so much juice?
It really does. I think it’s a generational thing. It’s kind of the same vein of —I’m in my 30s—people who grew up with Honey I Shrunk the Kids, like that kind of era. Like Roger Rabbit, it’s still kind of romanticized in our heads because that was our childhood. So even just doing this kind of art, we put it up in the hallway and a couple of artists and fellow fans walk by and go, “OMG are you doing that shirt?” They even get really excited. It is nice—I think a lot of our properties still have legs. It’s kind of nice to have a reminder to those that are having kids and families now going, “OMG I do remember that movie!” I think it’s great to remember that kind of stuff, now that it’s a part of my childhood that’s becoming retro-cool. The romanticized 30s, I think it’s really hot right now. It’s like Captain America stuff! I love it.
Are you excited when you see people in Parks wearing shirts?
Oh yeah, all the time. In the Parks it’s great, but when you see them in an odd location … like, I went to Vegas once and I saw somebody wearing something that I did and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh!’ Even seeing it outside of Walt Disney World or Disneyland was really fun.
Again: you can order this right now (with a 10% discount), exclusively through Oh My Disney!