The screenplay is by Adams (who died in 2001) and Karey Kirkpatrick; the film is dedicated "For Douglas."
Arthur Dent wakes up to find his house about to be demolished in order to make way for a bypass. He tries delaying the bulldozers by lying down in front of them. Ford Prefect, a friend of Arthur's, convinces him to go to the pub with him. Over a pint of beer (as "muscle relaxant"), Ford explains that he is an alien from a planet in the vicinity of Betelgeuse, and a journalist working on the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, a universal guide book, and that the Earth is to be demolished later that day by a race called Vogons, in order to make way for a hyperspace bypass. Suddenly, a Vogon Constructor Fleet appears in the sky and destroys the planet. Ford saves himself and Arthur by hitching a ride on a Vogon ship. The two are discovered and thrown out an airlock, but are picked up by the starship Heart of Gold. They find Ford's "semi-half brother" Zaphod Beeblebrox, the President of the Galaxy. He has stolen the ship along with Tricia "Trillian" McMillan, an Earth woman whom Arthur had met previously, and Marvin the Paranoid Android.
Zaphod explains that he is seeking the planet Magrathea, where he believes he can discover the Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything to match with the answer "42" given by the supercomputer Deep Thought. Zaphod stole the Heart of Gold to use its improbability drive to get to Magrathea through trial and error.
During one of these attempts they end up on the planet Viltvodle VI. Zaphod decides to visit Humma Kavula, his opponent from the election. Upon learning of Zaphod's plan, Kavula announces that he has the coordinates to Magrathea. He takes one of Zaphod's two heads hostage and demands they bring him the Point-of-view gun created by Deep Thought, which allows the target to understand the shooter's point of view. As they are leaving the planet, Trillian is captured by Vogons. The others travel to rescue her from the Vogon home world bureaucracy, facing long lines and frustrating form processing. Trillian is outraged to learn that Zaphod signed the authorization for the destruction of Earth thinking it was a request for an autograph.
The Heart of Gold is chased by the Vogons, led by Galactic Vice-President Questular Rontok, who is attempting to rescue Zaphod from himself. As the Heart of Gold arrives in orbit above Magrathea, Arthur triggers the improbability drive to avoid the automated missile defense systems. The missiles transform into a bowl of petunias and a sperm whale.
On the planet, Zaphod, Ford and Trillian take a portal to Deep Thought. When they ask the computer whether it has calculated the ultimate question, it reveals that it designed another supercomputer to do so - Earth. When the trio finds the Point-of-View gun, Trillian shoots Zaphod, making him understand how she feels about the destruction of Earth. She also finds out how much she loves Arthur. Arthur and Marvin miss the portal and encounter a Magrathean called Slartibartfast, who takes Arthur on a tour of the construction floor where Earth Mark II is being built. Slartibartfast takes Arthur home, where the others are enjoying a feast provided by pan-dimensional beings who resemble a pair of mice. Arthur realizes he has fallen into a trap. The mice, who constructed Deep Thought, used the supercomputer to build an even larger supercomputer, the planet Earth, to determine the Ultimate Question. Believing Arthur, the last remaining supercomputer component, may hold the Ultimate Answer, the mice attempt to remove his brain. Arthur kills the mice.
As the crew regroup outside the house they are surrounded by Vogons and take shelter in a caravan as the Vogons open fire. Marvin is left outside and shot in the back of the head, and uses the Point-of-View gun on the Vogons, causing them to become depressed and unable to fight. As the Vogons are taken away and Questular rejoins with Zaphod, Arthur chooses to explore the galaxy with Trillian and lets Slartibartfast finalize the new Earth without him. The Heart of Gold crew decide to visit the Restaurant at the End of the Universe while Marvin points out they are going the wrong way.
- According to the back cover of a 2005 novel, this film was originally going to be released by Walt Disney Pictures. This likely happened before it got its rating, because the final version was released by Touchstone Pictures.
- Martin Freeman as Arthur Dent
- Zooey Deschanel as Tricia McMillan / Trillian
- Mos Def as Ford Prefect
- Sam Rockwell as Zaphod Beeblebrox
- Bill Nighy as Slartibartfast
- Anna Chancellor as Questular Rontok
- John Malkovich as Humma Kavula
- Warwick Davis as Marvin the Paranoid Android
- Kelly Macdonald as Reporter
- Jason Schwartzman (uncredited) as Gag Halfrunt
- Edgar Wright (uncredited) as Deep Thought Tech
- Stephen Fry as Narrator, The Guide
- Richard Griffiths as Jeltz
- Thomas Lennon as Eddie the Computer
- Alan Rickman as Marvin the Paranoid Android
- Bill Bailey as The Whale
- Helen Mirren as Deep Thought
- Mak Wilson as Vogon Interpreter
- Ian McNeice as Kwaltz
- Garth Jennings as Frankie Mouse (uncredited)
- Directed by Garth Jennings
- Produced by Douglas Adams, Nick Goldsmith, Derek Evans, Robbie Stamp
- Screenplay by Douglas Adams, Karey Kirkpatrick
- Based on The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
- Narrated by Stephen Fry
- Music by Joby Talbot
- Cinematography by Igor Jadue-Lillo
- Editing by Niven Howie
- Studio: Walt Disney Pictures, Spyglass Entertainment, Hammer & Tongs, Everyman Pictures
- Distributed by Buena Vista Pictures (United States)
- Buena Vista International (United Kingdom)
- Release date(s) April 28, 2005 (United Kingdom) April 29, 2005 (United States)
- Running time 110 minutes
- Language English
- Budget $45-50 million
- Box office $104,478,416
The movie was released on April 28, 2005, in the UK, making £4,200,000 in its first week in the UK. It was released a day later in North America, making $21,103,203 in its opening weekend, opening in first place. The movie remained in the US box office top ten for its first four weeks of release. The movie's total box office gross was $104,478,416 worldwide.
The complete motion picture soundtrack was released as an iTunes Music Store exclusive (in the US and UK) on April 12, 2005, two weeks before the scheduled CD release. The iTunes Music Store also has two further exclusive sets of tracks related to the movie:
- The Marvin Mixes are remixes of a new version of Reasons To Be Miserable, here performed by Stephen Fry, as well as a new vocal and a new instrumental track for "Marvin," also performed by Fry. Stephen Moore had recorded the vocals of both tracks in 1981.
- The Guide Entries are new spoken "Hitchhiker's Guide" entries, all read by Fry, with accompanying music by Joby Talbot (with further orchestrations by Christopher Austin), who wrote the film score.
The soundtrack CD was released on April 26, 2005, by Hollywood Records, a division of The Walt Disney Company. The CD has the same 33 tracks as the previous iTunes release. The enclosed booklet includes acknowledgements from Joby Talbot and notes on the creation of the song "So Long and Thanks for All the Fish," written by Garth Jennings.
The track "Huma's Hymn" on the soundtrack is notable for the fact that it was sung in St. Michael's Church in Highgate, London by members of local church choirs along with a congregation consisting of members of the public. The recording was open to anyone wishing to attend, and was publicised on the internet, including in a post to the Usenet group alt.fan.douglas-adams.
The first version of the song "So Long, and Thanks For All The Fish" is a Broadway-style, lively version sung by the dolphins before they leave Earth. The second plays over the end credits and is in the style of 1950s male singers. The song was written by English composer Joby Talbot, conductor Christopher Austin, and Director Garth Jennings and performed by the Tenebrae Choir. Neil Hannon, founder and frontman of the Irish pop group Divine Comedy, lent his vocals to the version of the song played during the end credits. The song, in its "bouncy", opening version, was translated into and performed in Spanish for the Latin-American Region 4 DVD release.
The movie was released on DVD (Region 2, PAL) in the UK on September 5, 2005. Both a standard double disc edition and a UK-exclusive "Gift Set" edition were released on this date. The standard double disc edition features:
- Additional guide entries, a collection of sound recordings read by Stephen Fry, set to music by Joby Talbot and written by Tim Browse and Sean Sollé (with the exception of the How to be Cool entry, which was also co-written by Yoz Grahame). Four were released on the iTunes Music Store to promote the Hollywood movie version of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and a fifth, the Guide to Websites, can be heard on the official UK movie website.
- Deleted scenes
- Really deleted scenes (scenes that were never meant to be in the movie)
- Audio commentaries
- Set Top Games: Marvin's Hangman
- Don't Crash (68 minute UK exclusive "making of" documentary, directed by Grant Gee)
The "Gift Set" edition includes a copy of the novel with a "movie tie-in" cover, and collectible prints from the film, packaged in a replica of the film's version of the Hitchhiker's Guide prop.
Single disc widescreen and full-screen editions (Region 1, NTSC) were released in the U.S. and Canada on September 13, 2005. They have a different cover, but contain the same special features (except the Don't Crash documentary) as the UK version.
Single disc releases in the UMD format for the PlayStation Portable were also released on the respective dates in these three countries.
The movie was made available as a paid download in the iTunes Store starting in September 2006, for the American market only. A region-free Blu-ray Disc version was released on January 2007.
The film trailer featured voice over work by Stephen Fry as the Guide, describing the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy's entry on movie trailers.
The "Hitchhiker's Guide to Technology" claims that if you make yourself a cup of tea and attempt to get an object working and the tea goes cold before you finish, you are dealing with technology. Other guides include the Hitchhiker's Guide to Blogging and the Hitchhiker's Guide to Deadlines and the Hitchhiker's Guide to How to be Cool which discusses how an individual can truly be cool, instead of by following crowds, but concludes by suggesting the listener attend a showing of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. The Guide to websites HitchhikersMovie.co.uk describes a website as "a wonderful new invention that allows people you neither know nor care about to inform you what they had for breakfast this morning, without all that tedious mucking about in the postal system". The 'Guide to fanboys, written by Disney's copywriters as part of their promotion of the movie, only ever appeared as website text. Though released at the same time as the iTunes entries, it was never intended to be recorded and is otherwise unconnected with the Fry/Talbot/Browse works.
The movie was nominated for seven different awards and won one. It won the Golden Trailer Award under the category Most Original. It was nominated for: the Artios award from Casting Society of America, USA under the category Best Featured Film Casting-Comedy in 2005; the Empire Awards from Empire Awards, UK under the categories Best British Film and Best Comedy in 2006; the Golden Trailer from Golden Trailer Awards under the category Best Voice Over; and Teen Choice Award from Teen Choice Awards under the categories Choice Movie: Action/Adventure and Choice Rap Artist in a Movie: Mos Def.
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