The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy movie (2005)

As you all certainly know, after something like a hundred years of development hell (if you want the whole story please check the development hell section), the Hitchhiker’s movie adaptation has hit the big screen in 2005.Hired by Jay Roach (Austin Powers), Karey Kirkpatrick (Chicken Run) wrote a new version of the screenplay based on the one Douglas Adams left before he died in may 2001.

The cast is a mixture of young talented actors : Martin Freeman as Arthur, Mos Def as Ford, Zooey Deschanel as Trillian or Sam Rockwell as Zaphod. But there is also Bill Nighy (Slartibartfast) Stephen Fry (the narrator) and John Malkovich (Humma Kavula).

Director Garth Jennings and producer Nick Goldsmith (Hammer & Tongs), formerly known for their commercials and music videos, have directed and co-produced the movie for Buena Vista (Disney) and Spyglass Entertainment.

The Movie was shot at ELSTREE STUDIOS near London from the 19th April till the end of august 2004.

The Hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy was on the movie screens between the 29TH APRIL 2005 and the end of the summer (depending on the country you live in). It was not a huge commercial success (a little more more than 100 millions dollars worldwide) and the movie didn’t make enough money to secure a sequel. The reaction of the press and the public was mixed. Some hated the movie, and others loved it. It remains the most controvertial version of Hitchhiker, the movie being very different from all the previous versions with some main plot changes and a visual humour which was obviously absent from the books and radio series.

The DVD was released in september 2005 in UK and US and at the begining of 2006 for most of the other countries.

Only the UK got a two-disc editon including the great must see documentary “Don’t Crash: The Making Of Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy”.

The Hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy movie : 24 years of “development hell”


the Hitch-hiker's guide to the galaxy movie development hell
Here is the quite long, and sometimes anecdotic, story of the h2g2 movie development hell. It begins in 1979 and finishes in 2003 with the movie project being finally greenlit. There are certainly some mistakes but well what a long and complicated story ! Of course if you find some mistakes or things i forgot then email me. (LAST UPDATE : 23th August 2011) I want to thank my sources : First MJ Simpson invaluable work and help, Nick Webb’s biography, Floor42,, and others… Many thanks to Alain Omer Duranceau who helped me to polish this text.

– 1979 : the beginning

The idea of a film version is being discussed but much is quite informal. The name of George Lucas even appears somewhere sometimes but nobody seems to remember exactly if it was much more than a rumour.

– August 82 : TV and soon movie?

After the success of the BBC TV adaptation, Douglas tells to interviewers that “there is now quite a good chance that there is soon to be a film”. He is very enthusiastic too with the technical innovations shown in Tron : “The film was terrible but the techniques for transferring computer graphics directly to film were quite fascinating. Now, suddenly, we have not only the technology but also an audience skilled at picking up visual images”.

– December 82 : First signing with Columbia

First signing for a movie adaptation with Columbia Pictures. Douglas Adams deals with the script, Ivan Reitman (future director of Ghostbusters and Rainman) is the producer and Ron Cobb (Alien, Conan The barbarian) is part of the project as well. The movie should be out in 1985…

– Early 83 : Douglas moves to L.A.

Douglas rents a house in Coldwater Canyon (Los Angeles) with Jane (future Miss Douglas) and is left alone to write his stuff.

– September 83 : First draft… too long.

The first draft of the screenplay is shown to Columbia. It’s 250 pages which is far too long. The motion picture giant is nevertheless looking for a director.

– 1984 : David Cronenberg to direct Hitchhiker?

According to the New York Times, Ivan Reitman – who says he has “always thought that David Cronenberg should make a comedy” – brought him out to Beverly Hills and pitched him “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.” “I almost had him,” Reitman says. “Then like a week later Mel Brooks calls him up and offers him ‘The Fly.”.

– October 85 : Another scriptwriter is hired.

Abbie Bernstein, an other writer, is hired to rewrite the script.

– June 86 : Worst h2g2 script ever written?

Bernstein gives his script to Columbia. He has done an awful work which is being very criticised. Sadly it also circulated a lot. Douglas will say some years later : “It’s the worst script I’ve ever read. Unfortunately, it has my name on it… whereas I did not contribute a single comma to it…. I’m appalled to think how much harm that script have done my reputation over the years.”

– Later in 86 : Reitman doesn’t like 42.

Reitman thinking that forty two is NOT a good answer, and that instead the movie needs a big finish, Douglas understands that he is trapped. The movie’s rights return to Columbia.

1987 : Another team but…

Producer David Puttnam (The Killing Fields, Chariots of Fire, Midnight Express,…) works on the project. Max Headroom’s creators and Ron Lord (creator of the visuals for the h2g2 TV series) are approached, but, in May, the film definitely goes into limbo.

1992 : Douglas meets Michael Nesmith

Douglas meets Michael Nez Nesmith, TV and film producer (and also former member of The Monkees’ rock band). Douglas is sure that Michael will help him to make the movie. With Ed Victor’s help, Douglas buys the film rights back from Columbia for $350.000. He stays in Nesmith’s ranch in Santa Fe to write a new screenplay. James Cameron (Terminator, Titanic) is one of the directors who is said to be interested in the project. Once the script finished, Michael Nesmith presents the H2G2 movie project here and there but fails to attract any bid. “I just think that Hollywood at that point saw the thing as old” said Douglas in 1998.

October 93 : Douglas still believes in the movie

In an interview with “Mostly Harmless”, magazine of the international fan club ZZ9 Plural Z Alpha, Douglas says that he is sure the movie will finally be made.

July 95 : The movie…. in Any decade now

On a MSN webchat, Douglas says “he is very confident that it will actually go into production any decade now. When? I want to know when too”.

August 96 : Mike Nesmith is no longer in the running

In an interview to SFX Magazine, Douglas says “My agent and I have changed completely on that one. Mike Nesmith is no longer in the running although we parted very amicably and are still the best of friends. But it’s in the hands of someone completely different, who plans something very radical and exciting. However, as negotiations are at a delicate stage, I still can’t unfortunately give anything away.”

1996-1997 : Douglas gets excited about a possible IMAX version

“There are always plans for a movie, and I’m confident it will be made any decade now. It fits into 100 minutes very hardly. Basically it doesn’t fit. The current plan, which I find very exciting, is to make a series of 40 minute IMAX movies.”

(US newspaper, 10/96)

“I’m tremendously excited about IMAX, because I don’t feel it’s been used properly… What I realised was that you don’t have to use the whole of the screen all the time, or you can use different parts of it. So I can imagine the Hitch-Hiker’s movie opening Arthur Dent’s bedroom in the bottom corner of the screen and there’s Arthur waking up and so on. The rest of the screen is black, and at first you think it’s blank, but then gradually you can see that there are stars in the darkness, and there’s a Vogon Constructor Fleet moving through the darkness. I think this has tremendous potential. The other advantage of IMAX is that IMAX films are only at most about forty minutes long. The problem with trying to adapt Hitch-Hiker into a film script is that it has completely the wrong structure. A film has to have a certain structure and the story of Hitch-Hiker simply does not have that, and having spent years trying to shoehorn it into that structure, I’ve realised that it’s never going to fit. Hitch-Hiker’s was written in episodes, and by filming it this way, it can return to the episodic format it’s designed for, which it fits. I don’t know when the Hitch-Hiker film will happen. As I say, I’m planning other films, possibly the Starship Titanic movie, before then. But I would still
like to do it, and I think I have now found a way in which it might work.”

(Mostly Harmless’ newsletter, 9/6/97)

“There was talk at one point of doing a series of IMAX movies of HHGG (maybe 3D, maybe not). I liked the idea a lot, but what I was told fairly forcibly was that there were not nearly enough IMAX theatres to make it economically viable. Pity. However, we have talked about maybe making an IMAX version of the movie alongside the regular one. But this is just talk at the moment, nothing more. No one has figured out the actual feasibility of a dual project yet. It’s just an interesting idea.”

(, 23/1/99)

1997 : Douglas chooses Jay Roach and Spyglass

Robbie Stamp and Douglas Adams go to Los Angeles to meet a variety of potential producers. They choose to work with Jay Roach (Austin Powers) and Robert Birnbaum (working at Caravan which will become Spyglass). Douglas is straight away very enthusiastic about Jay : “The key to the whole thing was when I met Jay Roach… Here’s a measure of how bright and intelligent he is : he wants me to work very closely on his movie”.

6 January 98 : Disney says yes

After an eighteen months long negotiation, Disney buys the movie rights. Douglas and Robbie are executive producers. Jay Roach will direct the movie. Douglas gets quickly upset by worries from the fans who think that Disney will just produce a marketing movie : “There’s a lot of misunderstandings about the fact that it this is going to be a Disney movie. Disney is a huge media empire and it doesn’t just make Walt Disney pictures. Yes it made Bambi (first movie I ever saw), but it also made Pulp Fiction… The actual production company is Caravan, an independent company closely allied with Disney. “

13 September 98 : Douglas wants to kill rumours

“Jim Carrey is not going to play Arthur Dent. Here’s a clue to why not. Arthur Dent is English. All the casting at the moment is highly speculative. Nobody has been cast… Now that the contract is signed, I am about to deliver a first draft of the new screenplay. Other than me, nobody has seen it. Jay is about to go into production of Austin Powers 2. I will do rewrites to the screenplay after Jay, Roger (Birnbaum for Caravan-Spyglass) and Disney have reacted to it. Once everyone is happy that it’s right, casting will start. If all goes according to current intentions we should be filming next summer for release in the following summer. That’s it. Anything else is hearsay and Chinese whispers. Especially the stuff from unnamed ‘reliable source’. I’d like to try an experiment, and here it is : I hereby categorically deny that the part of Arthur Dent is going to be played by Oprah Winfrey”.

25 January 99 : Douglas has got ideas about the music

On, Douglas writes that “I do have ideas about how music might work for the movie… I imagine we might end up with something which is a mix of favourite old tracks and some specially commissioned stuff where it’s necessary. Luckily the producer, Roger Birnbaum, is a great music fan, and in fact came from the music biz originally”.

1999 : The big mistake?

The project is greenlit for $45 millions, while Douglas and Jay expected $80 M. Douglas does not seize the offer.

14 April 99 : Douglas emails Disney

Douglas send an email to David Vogel from Walt Disney picture. “We seem to have gotten to a place where the problems appear to loom larger than the opportunities. I don’t know if I’m right in thinking this, but i only have silence to go on, which is always a poor source of information. […] I could be in L.A. for next Monday (4/19) or early the following week. I would invite Disney to bear the cost of this extra trip over. I’ve appended a list of numbers you can reach me on. If you manage not to reach me, I shall know you’re not trying to, very, very hard indeed”

May 2000 : A script has leaked!

Robbie Stamps reports : « It appears that the script was leaked. I just got this mail from our CEO. Do they let early versions of scripts out for people to review? Having just got back from L.A. I can say that this was a leak pure and simple and *should not have happened. »

21 june 00 : Douglas sees the end of the tunnel

Douglas Adams writes on his website’s forum this message : “There are a lot of new developments at the moment, none of which I can share with you. But there is one solid, straightforward piece of good news I can pass on, which is that I finished an all-new draft of the screenplay last week and Jay loves it. It’s the first time in all these years that we’ve had a screenplay which clearly works and seems to solve all the problems of it needing to be both a real version of Hitchhiker and also a proper movie. It’s been a very hard circle to square.”

23-25 june 00 : About the casting

On the 23th, Douglas writes on his forum : “Marvin is the one character in the whole thing who presents no casting problems. Other members of the original cast are now, sadly, too old to appear as the original characters. However, Stephen Moore only does Marvin as a voice part, and has always been definitive in this role. I wouldn’t think of going to anybody else.”

On the 25th, still on the forum, he tells a little more : “I’m a great Ozophile, and I think it would be great to have an Australian or two in the cast. In fact, my ideal cast would be very international. I completely understand the point of view of those who would like the cast to be entirely British, but in fact even the radio series had a mix of accents, and I think that an all British cast would be as artificial as an all American cast. The Galaxy isn’t British or American! When it comes down to it, my principle is this – Arthur should be British. The rest of the cast should be decided purely on merit and not on nationality.”

13 October 00 : A webcast with Jay and Douglas?

Douglas posts a new message on his forum : ” Jay Roach and I are intending to do a big joint webcast interview very shortly to talk about where we are with the movie. We’ve only just decided to do this, so we have not yet fixed a date or picked a host. Hopefully that will all fall into place in the next few days. But it would be very helpful if members of this forum could start spreading the news around as far and wide as possible so that we have the biggest audience we can. We really want to make waves with this webcast! “. The webcast will never take place.

November 00 : Movie too expensive and unusual?

Jay Roach tells to : “Studios have been reluctant to take the next jump into film partly because it’s expensive, and partly because it’s an unusual, unconventional approach to this kind of movie. It’s a science fiction comedy, but it’s almost Monty Python in space. It has a very smart, sharp, satirical tone and that’s sometimes viewed as non-commercial. But my feeling is that it’s the freshness and uniqueness that actually make it commercial, as opposed to the other way around.”

May 01 : The end?

Douglas Adams dies. The project for a movie adaptation seems to have vanished with him for millions of fans.

July 01 : Still some hopes?

Jay tells to douglas’ biographer MJ Simpson : “Robbie Stamp and I have been talking about how to resurrect the film project. So difficult to imagine without the master. But would still be great to see it live.”

December 01 : The petition

A fan launches an internet petition : “Keep the hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy movie alive!” Here is the text “We, the undersigned, do hereby ask that the proposed “Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy” movie be fully funded, filmed and given a well funded worldwide distribution, in the memory of Douglas Adams’ death and in the memory of his life and all his work. Should the screenplay be incomplete, we ask that John Lloyd be called in to finish it, as he has worked with Douglas Adams before, and thus knows his style, and has a good idea of what he would approve. We also ask that Jim Carrey be left out of it at all costs. ” Some fans continue to think that douglas being dead, the movie should not be made. The petition will get 2331 signatures.

January 02 : Ed Victor talks

While talking to the BBC’s Drive program, Ed Victor spoke of the current status of the project, saying, “It’s in that place known as development hell in Hollywood. Ironically, since Douglas’s death things have started to look better for the film because a lot of people like me have determined that this film must be made in some kind of honour to him…We all want to see it made and hopefully it will be.”

Regarding how the film should be shot, he adds, “I think you’d have to shoot it as a British thing as for example JK Rowling insisted that her book was done as a British film as opposed to a Hollywood film. The things about Douglas’s books, the humour of Douglas’s books, is that you have to take them seriously, you can’t play them for laughs. They just induce laughter and I think I could see just how this could be done. I know that Douglas thought Hugh Grant would make a marvellous Arthur and one of the Hollywood actors that’s been tracking this for a long time, who wanted top play Zaphod Beeblebrox was Jim Carrey. So if you put those two together perhaps you could see a film there.”

15 February 02 : Scoop ! Karey is hired

I publish a scoop on my French-language website, “le guide galactique”. Eager to get things moving, Jay Roach has hired Karey Kirkpatrick, the guy who wrote or re-wrote the screenplays of “Chicken Run”, “James and the Giant Peach” and “The Little Vampire” to rewrite douglas adams draft. Before hiring Karey, Jay Roach agents proposed the job to different scriptwriters and some even produced their own scripts… like Jim Cirile whom I then interviewed.

17 September 02 : It’s official for Karey

It’s official. “Chicken Run” screenwriter Karey Kirkpatrick has been brought on board to brush up Adams’ screenplay

December 02 : Karey delivers a new version

Karey delivers his new draft. Then, “I really felt we were onto something” will say Robbie Stamp afterwards.

March/April 03 : “Hammer & Tongs” meets Spyglass and Disney

Spyglass is still looking for a director. They ask Spike Jonze (“Being John Malkovich”) who tells them about “Hammer & Tongs“, a creative British team, made of writer-director Garth Jennings and producer Nick Goldsmith.

Nick writes in his blog :

Fri – March 21, 2003
“First conference call with Spyglass. Today we had our first conference call with Spyglass. Robbie Stamp came by the boat, and we introduced ourselves to Roger, Gary, Jon and Derek at Spyglass. Little did we know it was the beginning of what was going to become something really special.”

Tue – April 8, 2003
“First video conference with Disney. So armed with a fantastic “Don’t Panic” curtain, as provided by Mark Mason and Asylum, we arrived at Disney UK for our first video presentation. We had put together a visual presentation of storyboards, initial designs and references.”

16 June 03 : “Hammer & Tongs” as director/producer team

Spyglass Entertainment, who partnered with Disney on the film five years ago, have set a director, and they’ve gone back to Britain for their choice. Known as ” Hammer and Tongs ” when making commercials and videos, writer-director Garth Jennings and producer Nick Goldsmith will work with Karey Kirkpatrick, who has polished the last draft Adams worked on.

“We finally cracked the story, and hired these clever English fellows to make sure that the picture is visually inventive and funny and accessible to contemporary audiences while still connected to the book Douglas wrote almost 25 years ago,” producer Roger Birnbaum said.

1 July 03 : Robbie Stamp talks

Robbie Stamp writes on : “Spyglass had always been supporters and Jay Roach, although he in the end decided that he would not direct the movie, found Karey Kirkpatrick and Karey working with material that the Estate had made available from Douglas’ hard drive, wrote a new draft…. Garth Jennings and Nick Goldsmith are a very talented pair and I have been very reassured by just how determined they are to allow the wit and intelligence and humour in the books to breathe.”

25 September 03 : AT LAST! the movie is greenlit.

The feature film version of Hitchhiker’s Guide, which as we all know has been in development hell for more twenty four years, has finally been ‘greenlit’. Garth Jennings will direct from a screenplay by Karey Kirkpatrick and the film will shoot in 2004 for release in 2005.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy movie merchandising


Of course, thanks to the movie we got some great merchandise. Not that much finally, and some collectible items were not that easy to find. In fact, if you’re still looking for some of this stuff, you should try on ebay.

All replica and toys are from NECA


– Plushes created by Neca in two versions (8 and 12 inches). Five plushes are available : Arthur, Zaphod, Marvin, Trillian, Ford. Between 12-20 euros or 15-30 dollars. They are not very easy to find anymore. The 12 inches versions are quite rare. The Marvin plush is very sought after.

– 7 inches action figures made by Neca : Zaphod, Arthur, Marvin, Kwaltz and Jenz. Between 10 and 15 euros/dollars each. There are two versions of the Zaphod figure. One with one head, and a rare one with two heads. The quality of these action figures is average. Kwaltz and Jenz are great. Arthur looks constipated, and Zapod is just a little better. Marvin’s acton figure is ok (but the best version is obviously the 10 inches one).

– 3 inches action figures. Two figures per pack. Three different packs. Arthur/Marvin, Zaphod/Jeltz, Kwaltz/Marvin. Neca. Betwen 5 and 9 euros/dollars per pack.

– 10 inches Marvin with green light up eyes. A great item. Neca. Between 15 and 20 euros/dollars.

– Marvin head knocker (Neca). 15 euros.

– Marvin’s gun (Neca). This toy can send some rubber darts and make some noise. Funny but fragile and very noisy. 20 euros/dollars.


– Replica version of Marvin’s gun (Neca. 60 euros/dollars)

– Replica of Zaphod’s gun (Neca). 60 euros/dollars.

– The Hitchhiker’s survival kit (Neca). Great pack including a towel, a babel fish and an electronic thumb (50 euros/dollars). But, despite the fact that it was officially announced by Neca, it was never released.

– The Point of View Gun. Replica created in 250 pieces by Neca. Between 150 and 200 euros/ dollars. Quite difficult to find even if it was not a best seller.

– Vogon objects replicas : the pen, the mug and the stappler. Made in hand paint resin. Limited to 1000 pieces each. Hand numbered and come with a certificate signed by filmmarkers Nick Goldsmith and Garth Jennings (50 euros/dollars each).


– Several products have been released for the national premieres of the movie. We can find them on ebay sometimes. Towels are now avalaible from 30 euros. The Marvin key ring (above) is also sought after. You can also find some promotional postcards.

– You can buy some H2G2 movie press kits from US, UK, France,…

– The making of book. Great book written by executive producer Robbie Stamp & Paul Simpson. Lot of pics and infos about the movie. You can find this book on ebay or in bookshops.

– Official promotional movie towels were released but most of them were rather poor (the one given at the Comicon 2004 was closer from the dustcloth). The australian and british towels made for the release of the movie were nice but quite simple, small white towels with just the movie logo (in UK) or “H2G2/the logo/28-04-05” sewn on it (in Australia). The only quality towel released for the movie was the one made in France (a huge blue & white towel with the french logo – which was different because Disney France thought that people wouldn’t recognize the thumn – and the tittle of the movie in french).

– The H2G2 movie soundtrack by Joby Talbot. Great. Hollywood/EMI.

– Some other products are quite rare. When I went to the Science Museum during the H2G2 movie exhibition, I found some exclusive stuff I haven’t seen anywhere else since : mugs, pencils, sugar mice, badges, t-shirt….

– You can find different T-shirts. But It’s not very easy to say if they are genuine or not. Disney made some t-shirts available in their stores, there were also promotional t-shirts, and some more diffuclt to find t-shirts (like the red one with the logo “Vote for Beeblebrox” or the grey one used by the people working at the H2G2 movie exhibition)….

– The launching of the H2G2 movie DVD in UK and US was also the opportunity for new stuff : in England, WHSmith have offered an exclusive mug for everybody who bought the DVD, and in US there was a special plastic glass for Pan Galactic Gargle Blasters.

> Teaser US 01

> Teaser US 02

> Trailer US

> French Trailer

> Zaphod Beeblebrox’s video

Note : In case of trouble with any video, they are also on the Dailymotion’s H2G2 Group :

hen I managed (2003-06) which was the first unofficial website about the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy movie, I made Hijacked versions of my website for fun.

Here you can find the three hijacked versions of :

The Vogons’ hijacking

The Hitchhiker's unofficial movie website hijacked by the vogons

The Dentrassis’ hijacking

The Hitchhiker's unofficial movie website hijacked by the Dentrassis

Zaphod’s hijacking(thanks to Nellodee for her help on this one)

The Hitchhiker's unofficial movie website hijacked by Zaphod