“The Shawshank Redemption” began as a novella by Stephen King, a story called “Rita Hayworth And The Shawshank Redemption” that told a tale of enormously bad timing and of hope. It went on to become one of the most successful, popular films of all time…and 20 years later, it still holds up. The mistaken imprisonment of a truly innocent man under the rule of a wicked warden–and the tale of how he outsmarted everyone to regain his freedom–has resonated with millions of people over the past two decades, so much so that it has become a classic that gets substantial play on television. And every time it creates a viewer surge, the actors get residual checks.
“I suspect my daughter, years from now, will still be getting checks,” 68-year old Bob Gunton, who played the warden, said.
Though the film wasn’t a huge box office draw when it premiered in 1994–due in large part to the simultaneous release of Pulp Fiction and Forrest Gump–it got a good amount of attention at the Oscars that year, and when it made the jump to cable, it took off. And let’s face it, most of us have done the just-got-out-of-the-shower-but-Shawshank’s-on-I’m-sitting-in-a-towel-to-finish-it.
“Mr. (Ted) Turner, bless his heart, chose to show the movie every five minutes,” said director Frank Darabont.
This year, as the film turns 20, many are wondering what exactly has made it such a success that it still brings in buckets of money, but the answer isn’t a clearly defined one. It may just be the combination of a great story, a wonderful director, and the perfect actors for the roles. In fact, it’s such a good movie that the actors themselves can’t help but watch it when it comes on TV.
“I get stuck on it like everybody else,” actor William Sadler said.
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