Gremlins is a 1984 American comedy horror film directed by Joe Dante and written by Chris Columbus. Steven Spielberg was the film’s executive producer, and had also a cameo in the movie.
The story follows a young man who receives a strange creature as a pet, which then spawns other creatures who transform into small, destructive, aggressive monsters that all wreak havoc on a whole town on Christmas Eve. The film was the center of large merchandising campaigns and opts for black comedy, balanced against a Christmas time setting.
Financially, Gremlins was a success. Produced on an $11 million budget, it was more expensive than Spielberg had originally intended but still relatively cheap for its time. Many people complained about the violence depicted in the film, not shown in the movie trailer. These complaints were particularly present in people who had brought their children to see the film, many of whom walked out of the theater before the film had ended. Dante admitted to reporters later that “the idea of taking a 4-year-old to see Gremlins, thinking it’s going to be a cuddly, funny animal movie and then seeing that it turns into a horror picture, I think people were upset… They felt like they had been sold something family friendly and it wasn’t entirely family friendly”
Gremlins was released on June 8, 1984, the same day as Ivan Reitman’s Ghostbusters. Gremlins ranked second, with $12.5 million in its first weekend. By the end of its American screenings on November 29, it had grossed $148,168,459 domestically. This made it the fourth highest-grossing film of the year, behind Beverly Hills Cop, Ghostbusters, and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.