Bill Murray has built an almost-legendary comedy career over more than four decades, and one of the classics on his filmography is 1993's Groundhog Day. Revolving around a man who keeps living the eponymous holiday over and over again, the movie's continues to be a pop culture favorite 23 years later, and it was even entered into the National Film Registry back in 2006. As Groundhog Day's musical adaptation edges closer to premiering, the movie's screenwriter, Danny Rubin, has revealed that in the midst of rewriting the original draft, there were two important changes the studio wanted to implement before shooting the movie.
Rubin recently penned a piece for The Telegraph reminiscing about his Groundhog Day experience, from writing the first draft in just under a week to how much of an impact Groundhog Day has had on the public. In the rewrite process (as all scripts go through), director Harold Ramis and the brass over at Columbia Pictures asked Rubin to make two alterations, despite the fact that Ramis originally said he liked the story as it was. One, they wanted the movie to start "before the cycle of repetition" so audiences could see Bill Murray's Phil Connors react to his unusual situation, whereas Rubin's original draft started in the middle of the insanity. Two, they wanted a "gypsy curse scene" to explain why Phil had been caught in a time loop while on assignment in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.
As those who've seen Groundhog Day know, the first change was implemented in the theatrical movie. Phil Connors goes to Punxsutawney with his news team to cover the Groundhog Day celebration, and after being forced to spend the night there, he starts reliving the February holiday repeatedly. As for the gypsy curse, the final cut of Groundhog Day never specifically reveals what caused Phil to relive the same day over and over again. It was just one of those freak magical moments, but once he improved himself as a person and got his producer, Rita Hanson, to like him, then the cycle was broken. A gypsy curse might have taken away some of the uniqueness of the predicament.
Although he was at first worried that Harold Ramis and the studio would "take away everything that was innovative and interesting" about his Groundhog Day story, Danny Rubin admitted later in the piece that the combination of him "sticking to his guns" and Ramis' efforts to keep the studio interested in the movie proved to be a good combination. Elements from Rubin's first draft were changed, but in the end, those adjustments, along with Bill Murray being cast as the lead protagonist, resulted in moviegoers getting an excellent comedy that's still treasured.
Groundhog Day remains a satisfying comedy to watch no matter what days of the year it is, while the stage musical version, which Danny Rubin contributed to, opens tomorrow at The Old Vic in London.