In the late-1980s, someone connected with McDonald’s thought making a Hollywood movie would help sell hamburgers. The end result was one of the biggest box office bombs of all time. Here’s everything you need to know about the 1988 sci-fi cinema disaster, Mac And Me.
If you haven’t seen Mac and Me already, don’t bother unless you’re turning it into a drinking game. The movie reeks of bad acting, cheesy special effects, McDonald’s product placements, and the plagiarism of Steven Spielberg‘s E.T. (1982). At the time, Washington Post writer, Richard Harrington, wrote “MAC and Me could just as well have been called “O.T. – The Other Terrestrial,” so frequent and clumsy are its references to “E.T.” Forget about calling home; E.T., call lawyer.” Audiences agreed with the critics, and Mac And Me made history as one of the biggest box office flops of the 1990s and is widely considered to be one of the worst films ever made.
Beyond the bad reviews, pitiful box office performance, and being an E.T. rip-off, there are still a lot of interesting things about the movie Mac And Me. From an uncredited cameo by Jennifer Aniston to an ongoing Paul Rudd Mac And Me joke on Conan O’Brien, here are some things that you probably didn’t need to know about the movie Mac And Me.
Jennifer Aniston Was In Mac And Me (Briefly)
Before being cast in the role of Rachel on the hit TV show Friends in 1994, one of Jennifer Aniston‘s first “acting” gigs in Hollywood, was an uncredited background extra in Mac And Me.
Unless you know exactly where to look, you’ll never be able to spot her in the film. Aniston is one of the girls standing outside of McDonald’s as a station wagon pulls into the parking lot. She’s only on camera for a brief moment and is in the bottom right of the screen.
Mac And Me Introduced “Product Placement” To The General Public
Savvy corporations had been paying movie and TV producers to get their products featured in entertainment projects. From James Bond’s Aston Martin to the Reece’s Pieces in E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, products have been discretely added to entertainment content for years. But even TV shows like Knight Rider, which featured a specific model car, didn’t make the show feel like a forced Trans-Am commercial.
However, that’s not the case with Mac And Me. McDonald’s and Coca-Cola references are not discrete at all. At one point in the film, Coca-Cola is used to bring a dying alien back to life. Not to mention, the film includes an entire 4+ minute dance scene that takes place inside a McDonald’s restaurant. Besides McDonald’s and Coca-Cola, Sears and Skittles also paid to have their products and brands featured in Mac And Me. From the viewer’s perspective, the blatant product integration in Mac And Me is gross. It’s like watching an extended commercial that you just paid your own money to watch with your movie ticket.
Funding for Mac And Me came from individuals connected to two major corporate contributors, Coca-Cola and McDonald’s. Although McDonald’s didn’t directly write a check to fund Mac And Me, one of their major subcontractors did. At the time, Jim Williams, the president and CEO of Golden State Foods, supplied and distributed many McDonald’s locations with most of their food products. He provided a majority of the funding for Mac And Me.
The Star Of Mac And Me Had Spina Bifida In Real Life
In a major victory for actors with disabilities, Jade Calegory, the young actor cast to play the lead role in Mac And Me, had spina bifida in real life. His wheelchair in the film wasn’t a prop, it was real.
Mac And Me Was An Embarrassing Box Office Bomb
Mac And Me was a major embarrassment and a total box office bomb, especially when compared to E.T.’s incredible cumulative worldwide gross of $793,000,000+. But what you might not know is how financially unsuccessful Mac And Me was.
Although Mac And Me isn’t the biggest box office bomb of all time, it’s definitely on the shortlist. Even McDonald’s participation in Mac And Me’s marketing efforts, the film’s cumulative worldwide gross of $6,424,112 didn’t come close to recouping its $13,000,000 production budget. Add when you add all the film’s marketing and advertising costs on top of that, the total loss is probably closer to $12M. But that’s just a guess.
The film’s poor earnings don’t even help place it in the top 100 movies of 1998 in the United States. Terrible sequels like Iron Eagle II and Arther 2: On The Rocks made millions of dollars more than Mac And Me. Even Police Academy 5: Assignment: Miami Beach made 3x more than Mac And Me at the box office in 1988.
NERD NOTE: With a 0% score, Mac And Me is one of the worst movies ever rated on the site Rotten Tomatoes.
A Portion Of Box Office Sales Was Donated To The Ronald McDonald House Charities.
A positive aspect of the film was its charity involvement. Part of the film’s ticket sales was donated to the Ronald McDonald House Charities. Unfortunately, the film’s poor box office performance dramatically limited these contributions.
The Crew Was On A Payroll Before They Even Had A Script
To say the production was rushed on Mac And Me is an understatement. It’s very rare to begin production on a film without a final script. In some cases that is possible, for example, This Is Spinal Tap, when you have a talented group of actors that can ad lib their scenes. But this was not the case with Mac And Me.
When recounting how he got involved in the Mac And Me movie project, director Stewart Raffill told this story:
“I was hired out of the blue. And the producer asked me to come down to the office. So I did and he had a whole crew there, a whole crew on the payroll. It was amazing. He had the transportation captain. The camera department head. The A.D. The Production Manager. He had everybody already hired and I said, “Well, what’s the script?” And he said, “We don’t have a script. I don’t like the script. You have to write the script. You’re gonna have to write it quick so prep the movie and write the script on the weekends.”
So keep that in mind when you’re watching Mac And Me. They started shooting the movie without a final script. And they wrote the script on the weekends while they were filming the movie.
Being Connected To Mac And Me Was Career Suicide
It’s probably a good thing that Jennifer Aniston didn’t have a speaking role in Mac And Me. For the most part, being connected to Mac And Me was career suicide.
Director Stewart Raffill (Passenger 57, Bad Girl Island) and composer Alan Silvestri (Forrest Gump, The Avengers, The Polar Express) successfully rebounded after Mac And Me. They were the lucky ones. Most of the actors and major crew members never got to work on a major film project again.
- Jade Calegory: Calegory played the lead role of Eric in the film. After Mac And Me, he had a role in the TV Movie Alien Nation (1989) before retiring from acting. He’s now an artist and photographer in Chandler, AZ.
- Jonathan Ward: Prior to accepting the role of Michael Cruise, the big brother in Mac And Me, Ward was the lead in the short-lived TV show The New Adventures of Beans Baxter (1987). But after Mac And Me, he was reduced to small roles on TV shows and movies and gave up acting in the late 1990s.
- Tina Caspary (Katrina Caspary): The year before she accepted the role of Courtney in Mac And Me, Caspary was the original Kelly Bundy in the pilot episode of Married With Children. Producers replaced her with Christina Applegate before Season 1 started production. After her role as Courtney in Mac And Me, Caspary had a few acting roles in TV shows and the low budget thriller My Mom’s a Werewolf (1989). She stopped acting professionally in 1994 and now is a choreographer and has a line of activewear.
- Lauren Stanley: Stanley was the younger sister Debbie in Mac And Me. She only has two minor TV acting roles listed in her bio before retiring from acting. Her incomplete IMDB page doesn’t even have a photo.
- Christine Ebersole: The only name that you might recognize today from the Mac And Me cast is the actress who played the Mom in Mac and Me, Christine Ebersole. After Mac And Me, Ebersole secured featured roles in Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) and Ri¢hie Ri¢h (1994). But in the years after Mac And Me, she’s mostly focused on Broadway, where she’s won multiple Tony awards.
- Steve Feke: After Mac And Me flopped in 1988, writer-producer Steve Feke gave up on movies and switched to writing TV shows.
Multiple Hollywood Stars Turned Down Offers To Be In Mac And Me
Anjelica Huston and Kim Basinger were both offered the female lead role in Mac And Me. Both actresses wisely declined. Instead, Basinger took the role of Vicki Vale in Batman (1989) and Huston was cast as Clara Allen in the TV miniseries Lonesome Dove (1989).
The “Mac And Me Paul Rudd Prank” On Conan O’Brien
Whenever Paul Rudd is a guest on Conan O’Brien‘s late night talk show, he always teases a clip from his latest project. Instead, he pranks everyone by showing the scene from Mac And Me where Eric rolls off a cliff in his wheelchair. The Paul Rudd Mac And Me prank first started in 2004 and has been going on ever since.
McDonald’s Has A Special Restaurant That They Use For Movies And Commercials
The McDonald’s scenes in Mac And Me where Mac is dressed up as a teddy bear were all filmed at a special restaurant set in the City of Industry, CA. The set is a fully functional McDonald’s capable of cooking menu items like Big Macs, but it was built especially for movies and marketing purposes, like commercials.
The Mac And Me Death Scene That American Audiences Never Got To See
Unbelievably, Eric is shot and killed in the international version of Mac And Me. That’s right, a kid in a wheelchair was murdered by the Police in this “family movie” full of McDonald’s product placement. Spoiler Alert: Eric doesn’t stay dead for long. His alien friends use their alien magic to bring Eric back to life.
However, Americans never got to see Eric being shot to death. The film was recut to make it appear that he died in an explosion. If you search hard enough, you might be able to find an international version of Mac And Me on Amazon or eBay.
Mac And Me 2: The Mac And Me Movie Sequel That Never Happened
This film ends with a freeze-frame and the superimposed title “We’ll be back!” It was such a dismal box office failure that the proposed sequel was never made. Not even a direct to VHS sequel was even considered.
NERD NOTE: The word “Mac” in Mac And Me is an acronym for Mysterious Alien Creature (M.A.C.). “Mac” was also the nickname of McDonald’s Co-Founder Maurice McDonald.
Frank Wilson is a retired teacher with over 30 years of combined experience in the education, small business technology, and real estate business. He now blogs as a hobby and spends most days tinkering with old computers. Wilson is passionate about tech, enjoys fishing, and loves drinking beer.