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It Runs in the Family (2003) - movie notes

It Runs in the Family (2003)

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Shooting Locations

Directed by
Fred Schepisi

Written by
Jesse Wigutow

Michael Douglas, Kirk Douglas, Rory Culkin, Cameron Douglas, Diana Douglas [more]

Release Date
• USA: Apr 25, 2003
• UK: 5 Sep 2003
DVD Release Date
• R1: Oct 21, 2003

Official Website:
It Runs in the Family Website

MPAA Rating
Rated PG-13 for drug content, sexual material and language.

Running Time
1 hour, 49 minutes

Country USA

Studio Buena Vista International, Fred Schepisi Film, Furthur Films, GreeneStreet Films, MGM

More info on

Other Titles
• It Runs in the Family
• Family Jewels
• A Few Good Years
• Smack in the Kisser
• Smack in the Puss

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 Behind the Scenes

     About The Production

About The Production


Oscar-winning Hollywood legend Kirk Douglas and his two-time Academy Award-winning son, Michael, tried for over twenty years to find a film project in which to work together. "This is my father’s 86th film, made in his 86th year, and it’s the first time we’ve ever actually worked together as actors," says Michael. Both men have enjoyed remarkable film careers of their own, but they had long wanted to do something together, something they could share as father and son in a business they both understand extremely well. Through the years there had been several possibilities for a collaboration, but for one reason or another it never happened – it wasn’t the right project, it didn’t work out logistically, or it just didn’t come together.

Time passed, and in the meantime Kirk suffered a stroke as a result of a helicopter accident, leaving his speech impaired. Then came the tragedy of September 11th. Like the rest of the world, the Douglases were deeply affected by the events of that day. In an age where things move faster and faster with people taking less and less time to stop and think about what’s important, the notion of family quickly became significant again as everyone struggled to come to terms with what had happened.

Michael was set to start production on The In-Laws in October 2001, but because of the subject matter in light of 9/11 the picture was postponed. At around the same time, young screenwriter Jesse Wigutow sent a writing sample to Michael for consideration for another project Michael was developing. The script was It Runs in the Family, and it was a story about one particular family – and all families.

"My goal was to portray this family in a realistic light – one that is unforgiving, but one in which you sense the love and connection beneath it all," says Wigutow. "You see a family’s issues with each other and with themselves, how those issues are manifested in their interaction with each other, and how those issues are passed on through three generations."

Wigutow is a 29-year-old New Yorker who sold his first script, Urban Town, within two weeks of graduating from the American Film Institute. He followed with It Runs in the Family, something he had started about three years ago. "It began with this idea I had about a story revolving around a certain character – an elderly man. He was inspired by both my girlfriend’s grandfather and my own," he says. "The more I developed the idea, the supporting characters started to make more and more noise and came up with their own stories.

"Halfway through writing the piece," he continues, "I realized I was following the lives of four men from one family, and I felt like that was too much. I went back and re-outlined the piece to cover just three men – three generations of a single family." The Gromberg family was born.

Michael Douglas says, "I was in New York with my family on September 11th, and the events that happened made us all feel much closer to each other. We realized how important each day had become." Michael decided that if he and Kirk were ever going to work together in a film, the time had come. "At some point, if it had gotten too late to make a film together, I just wouldn’t have felt complete," he says. He put the project on the fast track, climbed aboard as producer, and It Runs in the Family went into pre-production.

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