Bill Murray as Phil Connors in 'Groundhog Day' (Photo: Columbia Pictures/Everett Collection)
"Well, it's Groundhog Day... again," said Phil Connors, played by Bill Murray, in 1993's "Groundhog Day."
February 12 marks the 20th anniversary of the release of the romantic comedy that had Murray reliving the same day over and over again until he finally learned how to be a better man.
The movie, directed by Harold Ramis and written by Ramis and Danny Rubin, was a box-office hit at the time, grossing over $70 million (more than 4.5 times it's budget). But -- much like a day in Punxsutawney, PA -- experiencing the movie repeatedly just makes you appreciate it all the more. "Groundhog Day" didn't receive any major awards or even nominations at the time, but now it is regarded as a modern classic. The American Film Institute placed it on their lists of the best comedies and best fantasy films, and in 2006 it was added to the National Film Registry of historically significant films.
One of the pleasures of watching "Groundhog Day" time after time is trying to put together how all the little pieces of Phil Connors' day fit together. But even if you've seen the movie more times than you can count, there are still some bits about the making of it you might not know...
Rita: What did you do today? Phil: Oh, same-old, same-old.
How long is Phil actually stuck?
There's been some debate about how long Bill Murray’s character is in his looping limbo. Director Harold Ramis originally said 10 years, then revised it to 30-40 years, saying it would take Phil that long to learn everything he does, like becoming an expert pianist (Murray actually had a piano double for the close-ups). But in the original screenplay, he was supposed to be stuck for 10,000 years. He marked each day by reading one page of a book in the library, and eventually read everything in the place.
How did he get stuck?
There was a scene in an earlier draft of the script where Phil had a spurned ex-girlfriend who used a magic spell to curse him. But then Ramis changed his mind and cut the scene in subsequent drafts to leave it unexplained.
How the film was conceived
Writer Danny Rubin says he built the script around the core idea that one lifetime isn't enough. "There are some people, those arrested development-type men who can't really outgrow their adolescence. And I thought, 'Well, maybe one lifetime isn’t enough. Maybe you need more,'" he said in 2010. However, his original script began with Phil already repeating the day and explaining to the audience in voice-over how he got there. When Ramis re-wrote the script, he started the story at the beginning so you could see the first day.